• MUSIC FOCUS: Proper, Machine Gun Kelly, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, The Cure, Kittie, Ava Max, LOLO, Maggie Lindemann.
  • ACTIVITY FOCUS: Develop your understanding of different types of rhyme and why those different rhymes might be employed.


Match each of the lyrics below with the relevant type of rhyme. Choose from:

  • absent: no rhyme.
  • assonant: rhyming vowel sounds.
  • rhyming couplet: a rhyming pair of successive lines.
  • triplet: three successive lines that follow the same rhyme.
  • slant: words that have similar, but not identical sounds. Most slant rhymes are formed by words with identical consonants.
  • internal: rhyme within the same line (as opposed to an end rhyme when the last syllables of the lines are the ones that match).
  • thorn lines: most lines follow some sort of rhyme but there is one line that does not.
  • perfect: when two words match exactly in sound.
  • imperfect: when words sound nearly alike, but not exactly. 

1. Proper, ‘Jean’

And the last time we spoke I was chasing you down for money you owed
I don’t have a rhyme for this, I’m just ashamed

2. The Cure, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’

“I would break down at your feet
And beg forgiveness, plead with you
But I know that it’s too late
And now there’s nothing I can do”

3. Taylor Swift, ‘willow’

“The more that you say
The less I know
Wherever you stray
I follow”

4. Proper, ‘Jean’

“You should’ve turned 30 this year
You should’ve been pursuing an art career
Would’ve made a great civil engineer”

5. Machine Gun Kelly, ‘Twin Flame’

“So take me anywhere outside
I cannot kiss you yet, you’re magic
So I’ll just stare at you instead
I get insecure and panic”

6. Olivia Rodrigo, ‘driver’s license’

“I got my driver’s license last week
Just like we always talked about
‘Cause you were so excited for me
To finally drive up to your house
But today I drove through the suburbs
Crying ’cause you weren’t around”

7. Kittie, ‘Spit’

“I think I’ll spit
For all those girls
Who speak contradiction
The guy who crept through the shadows every day”

8. Ava Max, ‘Kings & Queens’

“If all of the kings had their queens on the throne
We would pop champagne and raise a toast”

9. Taylor Swift, ‘dorothea’

“Ooh, you’re a queen selling dreams
selling make up and magazines”

10. LOLO & Maggie Lindemann, ‘Debbie Downer

“Drain a bottle straight to the face doing hot shit
She’s at the show front row throwing up in the moshpit”


Read the question and answer below to get a sense of what we’re trying to do with our rhyme analysis.

Read below to see what the incredibly talented Daisy wrote. Focus on her last few sentences where you can see she begins to concentrate on rhyme.


Read the section from Machine Gun Kelly’s ‘poem’ below.

  1. Look at the rhyme: ‘magic’ and ‘panic’. Do these words feel like they belong together? Why? Why not?
  2. What about the ‘outside’/’instead’ pairing. Why don’t these words rhyme? What’s the effect of this kind of ABAC structure?
  3. Taking all the above into account, how is Machine Gun Kelly feeling and how does his use of rhyme emphasise those feelings?

Machine Gun Kelly: Twin Flame

So take me anywhere outside
I cannot kiss you yet, you’re magic
So I’ll just stare at you instead
I get insecure and panic


Sometimes, a poet will write a poem that doesn’t rhyme at all. The two lines from ‘Jean’ below, for example, do not rhyme. 

  1. Why does the poet – clearly deliberately – decide not to use rhyme?
  2. What kind of mood or feeling might a rhyme suggest that would not feel appropriate here?

Proper: jean

And the last time we spoke I was chasing you down for money you owed
I don’t have a rhyme for this, I’m just ashamed

Now, listen to what Erik had to say to Sound of Pen about his own use of rhyme.


Now, analyse lyrics 6-9 (Olivia Rodrigo, Kittie, Ava Max and Taylor Swift) from the list you explored during the first activity. What is the effect of the rhyme – or lack of rhyme? Write some notes or have a go at putting together whole paragraphs.


Sometimes a rhyme just sounds great because it’s fun, original and takes you by surprise. This LOLO/Lindemann poem makes use of exactly that kind of rhyme.

LOLO & Maggie Lindemann: Debbie Downer

Drain a bottle straight to the face doing hot shit
She’s at the show front row throwing up in the moshpit

Think of some words you love – maybe they’ll be words specific to an activity you get up to in your own time (e.g. I cycle every weekend to the museum on my BMX / ‘Cause I love dinosaurs especially the T-Rex). Try coming up with a selection of rhyming couplets. You could even challenge yourself to throw in an extra internal rhyme (like ‘show’ and ‘row’) to keep things sounding especially bubbly!

Now, write your own poem!

Write about what you want – or choose from the below:

  1. A poem about the female position.
  2. A poem about something you regret.
  3. A poem about having a good time / doing something you enjoy.
  4. A poem about someone you would like to have a relationship with – or someone you have just started a relationship with.
  5. A poem about male stereotypes.


Before moving onto the final poetry writing exercise, you might want to scan through some of the ideas we had regarding some the poems we’ve explored over the course of this lesson. Do they match with yours? Maybe not. But perhaps they’ll be useful.

  1. Perhaps Machine Gun Kelly’s ‘magic’ / ‘panic’ rhyme hints at the direct relationship between those two things. Maybe it’s the ‘magic’ he feels that causes him to ‘panic’ – he is terrified by the thought of losing that ‘magic’. Without the ‘magic’, there would be no ‘panic’ – and the rhyme cements the link between those two words. Often, then, when you look at rhyming words you will notice that they reflect a cause/effect relationship between the words being rhymed.
  2. A rhyme can offer a sense of things fitting together and feeling complete. Listening to the Proper track, it’s clear that the speaker feels a great sense of guilt and loss. He does not feel that things fit together. He let his friend down and that makes him feel uncomfortable. Using rhyme could make things feel too comfortable. When they things don’t rhyme, they can feel more awkward and less ‘bouncy’.
  3. Sometimes the main effect of a good rhyme is simply to make a poem feel fun and bouncy. When things rhyme, it feels like things ‘fit’. Perhaps for Maggie Lindemann and LOLO there’s a feeling of happiness in the moment because things ‘match’ – they make sense and, as a result, life feels awesome. (In contrast, when things don’t rhyme – or only sometimes rhyme – perhaps it hints at a loss of control, or a feeling of things not ‘fitting’ or making complete sense).

If you’re studying for A-Level exams, Taylor Swift can help you with your unseen poetry!

If you’re studying for GCSE exams, Against The Current can help you with your unseen poetry!