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Where Dreams Are Made...Of...Wait.

Where Dreams Are Made...Of...Wait.

By Miss Marm

Oh, lyrics! They're lovely, they're odd, they're easy to misunderstand, and they're only rarely aware of the rules of grammar.

I love Jay-Z with the fiery passion of a late-summer BBQ. Therefore, I'm going to blame the following grammatical mishap on Alicia Keys. A Sparkler explains the problem:

My mum and I were watching a chart show sort of thing, and Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z came on.  In the lyrics she says, "New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of." Is that right? Or should it be a) concrete jungle where dreams are made in or b) concrete jungle what dreams are made of?

c) none of the above. It should be "concrete jungle where dreams are made"—or, more awkwardly, "concrete jungle in which dreams are made." The second suggestion is clearly ludicrous—you can't use the phrase "in which" on Top 40 radio—and the first is also out. Hum a few bars of Empire State of Mind, and you'll see the problem: Alicia and Jay needed one more syllable to make that line work rhythmically.

I have a few suggestions for a rewrite:

1. Concrete jungle where dreams are ma-ade (time-honored solution of adding a second syllable to a one-syllable word)

2. Concrete jungle where dreams are dreamed up (terrible)

3. Concrete jungle where you can dream dreams (even worse)

4. Concrete jungle where you will get rich (a lie)

Can you do better? Obviously!

Leave your suggestions in the comments—and tell us about other grammatically iffy lyrics that drive you bananas.

To tell me about your grammar issue, English concern, or lyrical morass, email

Topics: grammar, lyrics, Jay-Z, alicia keys, syllables

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