If you want to sing in English, the word love is hard to avoid. Sadly, it’s a word that lots of non-native speakers of English find hard to pronounce. Try this: does love rhyme with prove, drove or above? After all, they’ve all got ‘ove‘ in the middle, haven’t they? So they must rhyme with each other, mustn’t they? Well…let’s see… Here’s Tom Jones singing “Delilah.” Listen out for love and drove (1.04). Do they rhyme?
Here’s Doris Day singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” Listen out for above (0.20) and love. Do they rhyme?
Julie London’s singing “Cry me a River” here. Do love, drove (1.46) and prove (2.25) all rhyme? Do any of them rhyme?
Love isn’t the only English word that’s full of surprises. Expect the unexpected when you sing in English. Do your homework when you’re working on a song. Check that you’re singing every word as it actually sounds in English, not as you think it should sound. Never, ever, ever be led by English spelling. Spelling alone is no clue to English pronunciation. Grove, prove and love look, on the page, as if they should rhyme. They don’t. Trust your ears. Then double check the written lyrics with your eyes.
Good luck with love. It’s worth doing everything you can to get it right.
© Sing Better English, 2014