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Ultimate Guide to Speak Beautiful English: The Style of Andrew Hozier

The name of Andrew Hozier-Byrne, commonly known by just the first part of his last name, sounded on every radio station back in 2013 when his mid-tempo soul song "Take Me to Church" went viral worldwide. Not only the balance of darkness and light that he re-invoked on the FM; the old soul emotions of pain and loneliness in words, proportionately mixed with powerful, raw and melodic tune, but also the charisma of the artist himself, helped Andrew to stand out of the crowd. The cloud of curly dark hair, that he himself described as "enough to knit another one of him", and the creative approach to his lyrics is ready to inspire you to advance your English. The lyrics of every song are not fluff that causes spontaneous rhythmic moves in you when heard on the radio, but allow all six human senses (yes, six!) to trace the depth of meaning behind it. Here, Hozier satisfies an essential human need for art in everyday life, and even if your English is not advanced enough, he, perhaps, will give you sufficient motivation to face the fury of English language textbooks again. Hozier's songs cover multiple relevant subjects, such as religion, with alluring references from sacred scriptures, politics, history and art - a tempting combination of features for someone who is always in search of new expressions and words. So, by singing along with Hozier, not only will you improve your vocabulary and pronunciation, listening and speaking skills, simultaneously learning words and phrases that you would never learn anywhere else, but also dive deep into creativity and the poetic essence of music.

The study of the profundity of Hozier's lyrical genius can easily become the work of someone's life. However, let's fall into the rabbit hole and glance into some of his songs to see;

Austerity in the tune but richness and elegance in the words of “Take Me to Church”.

Recorded in an attic it managed to become a timeless piece of music. “Take Me to Church” blended themes of politics and morality, stigma and choice, with a secret ingredient of dark humour. It contains the rarity of contradictions hidden in the metaphors. You can hear the magnificence of cathedrals, the controversy of religious confession, the petit mort in just one song.

"In the madness and soil

Of that sad earthly scene

Only then I am human

Only then I am clean"

Nonetheless, despite the long lasting popularity of this hit, Hozier manages to stay afloat in the music industry, surpassing the role of being a one-hit wonder. The newly made album “Unreal Unearth”, the eerie cover of which differs significantly from the two previous ones, suggesting its uneasy content, continues to amaze its listeners with fathomless allegories, literary references and rich vocabulary that would be possibly useful to English learners. Here, Hozier takes us to the 14th century and back, with 16 tracks one way or another inspired by Dante’s “Inferno”. Let’s shortly discuss some of the songs below.

“Eat Your Young”, a phrase steeped in hundreds of years of politics and art, recently gave an inspiration and a title to Hozier's new grotesque song, which similarly astonishes us with its relevance with today’s events and multiple layers of literary references. For instance, a book called "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" by James Joyce, noted to be one of Hozier’s favourites, partly explains the main idea of the song. In chapter five of the book, it says, "Do you know what Ireland is? Asked Stephen with cold violence. Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow", revealing an idea that is to the point even today; the state often fails to protect those most vulnerable in society. This is something that we can see in his song, the attitudes of those in power, seeing the unfortunate as a burden and using children as pawns in the culture war. This not only displays Hozier as a very well-read young man, but also the disclosed potentiality of a discussion about literature and politics held by you, by virtue of his songs. I wonder if Joys knows that his book is as applicable today, as it was a hundred years later?

"Skinning the children

for a war drum

Putting food

on the table

Selling bombs and guns

It's quicker and easier

To eat your young"

Moreover, the voice of Jonathan Swift speaks to us throughout the song. In his satirical essay “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being Burden to their Parents and the Country” published in the late 1720s, Swift tells the story of Ireland under colonial occupation, where the children were suffering under the artificially created conditions of poverty, without the rights to own property or speak in the Irish language. Essay’s main character expresses disgust from seeing beggars on the streets of Dublin and proposes a sarcastic potential course that may be taken to ease the nation's “issue” with impoverished and other “unwanted” people, which could “contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing of many thousands”. Swift continues to elaborate on the ways that the children can be harvested and prepared for eating, becoming a delicacy on the tables of fortunate gentlemen of the country.

Another string of Hozier’s inspiration for “Eat Your Young” stretches towards the main theme of the album as a whole - Dante’s Inferno. It is an allegory of The Third Circle of Hell, where ruled by Cerberus, the three headed dog, the souls charged with gluttony are forced to wallow in disgusting smelling mud, pelted by endless rain, sleet, snow, and hail. From looking at Hozier’s song, we can see that its narrator is not a stranger to a bit of gluttony and ruthless greed.

Hozier's satirical song is the vocalisation of similar critique towards the attitude that people had towards the colonial societies, and the today’s world full of inequality, where the lives of children are being played with for political gains, while the insatiable higher classes step back with their hands white clean suggesting solutions that do not have a negative impact on them.

I'm starving, darling

Let me put my lips to something

Let me wrap my teeth around the world

Start carving, darling

I wanna smell the dinner cooking

I wanna feel the edges start to burn

These bizarre, almost cruel lyrics are accompanied by unusually lively music, reminiscent of a spaghetti Western film. Here Hozier displays his magical way of understanding what people are anxious about and putting out a song that talks about that exact thing in the most comprehensive manner.

“Francesca” is another song from the album that is eager to be unravelled. Considering the aforementioned source of Hozier’s inspiration - 14th century Dante’s masterpiece “Inferno”, we can easily provide parallels between it and “Francesca”. Like most of the characters in inferno, Francesca da Rimini was a real historical character, a noble woman brutally murdered by her husband Giovanni Malatesta, as an act of revenge upon discovery of her affair with his younger brother Paolo. The story of Francesca and Paolo described in the Second Circle of Hell which punishes the sin of lust is taken by Hozier to raise the topic of forbidden love and injustice. Their punishment, a Dantean contrapasso, and it's wrong, inspired Hozier to review their story from a position of tribute to the enduring power of love. As Hozier rejects Dante’s view on Francesca, giving her a well deserved complexity and individuality.

Do you think I'd give up

That this might've shook the love from me

Or that I was on the brink?

How could you think, darling, I'd scare so easily?

Now that it's done

There's not one thing that I would change

My life was a storm, since I was born

How could I fear any hurricane?

Through Hozier’s lyrics Francesca tells Dante that she does not regret loving Paolo, despite the infinite punishment they are experiencing. This song is a true testament to couples that face challenges on their way to happiness and a powerful dedication to significant others.

Another song I wanted to talk about is in my opinion probably one of the best songs Hozier has written so far. The best for the last. Coming from the same album - "Unreal Unearth",the song "First Time" has a provocative meaning, however, an overwhelming poetic substance. It's all about feeling wrong in one's own skin, the metaphysics and the human souls, references to Buddhism and the enormity of the idea of existence. All of that and more is to be found in this masterpiece.

"To share the space with simple living things

Infinitely suffering, but fighting off like all creation

The absence of itself",

Says Hozier to us, sharing an almost sensed feeling of sorrow for the fragility of things with his breathtaking and utterly, completely insane lyrics.

After talking about the allure of Hozier's songs, it would be prudent of me to talk a little bit about his personality as an artist, as he puts his old soul energy not just into his lyrics but in the music videos and concerts too. Known for the love of performing in small clubs, he cultivates a special bond with his audience. "The crowds are really everything about what makes a show enjoyable and makes it an experience," he said. "And a club show feels like it's something that very few people are in on and share together".

Additionally, his music videos, as well as the aforementioned cover of "Unreal Unearth", done by Julia Johnson, who truly succeeded in capturing Hozier's character, are also worthy of attention. The almost theatrical music video for "Eat Your Young" and the tender, poignant lyrics video for his new song "De Selby" exhibit much more than meets the eye, like everything else that Hozier produces.

Coming to the conclusion, it took me a while before I finally decided to write an article about Andrew Hozier, patiently waiting for inspiration to visit. Why have I decided to do so if we mostly write about education here? Because education is not just what you find in textbooks, but also what you see, the people you talk to, and undoubtedly the music that you listen to. The vocabulary and the vastness of thought that Hozier provides us with are priceless. It allows you to grasp new vocabulary, learn how to express your thoughts beautifully and introduce art into everyday life by simply putting earphones into your ear. Finally, I hope that Hozier's music will continue to bring joy and inspire you to experience the world in new, vivid ways.