But why should anyone whose grade doesn’t depend on it care? The book could simply be explained away as a classic cool professor move — the English department equivalent of a chemistry teacher dabbing through a molecular breakdown of the old Mentos and diet Pepsi gag. “There are lots of terrible poems in the works and lots of terrible song lyrics. Not exactly.  
In “The Poetry of Pop,” his latest book (Yale University Press), Bradley wrests poetry from the realm of obscure prose experiments to serve one of the commercial art community’s sturdiest pillars: the Top 40 charts. The more music that bombards us, the more we forget its raw magic, its mysterious ability to transmit viscerally felt emotions. Bradley got his PhD in English from Harvard, where he counted vaunted philosopher Cornel West as a mentor. 1 single is a rote recitation of a bar hook-up, from the chat-up to that wonderful smell of night-after bed sheets.) “The Poetry of Pop” argues that performance is just as important to what makes a given song sing as its words. They grow richer by virtue of repeated listenings. The same goes with close attention.”
This is a lesson Bradley is still learning. “I’ve taken up the challenge.” Just as slam poetry comes to life live, pop poetry tends to breathe through speakers. It’s the Socratic aim of knowing thyself paired to a form we engage with on a daily basis. A thorough breakdown of the first verse of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” would seek to objectively prove the singer-songwriter’s prowess, pointing out how the iambic trimeter and glissando employed define what makes Morrison’s songs his own and, by extension, so great. “With a song, one goes through layers of connection with multiple listenings. According to Bradley, there are a few reasons. “Poetry is not an honorific; it’s a descriptor,” Bradley, 42, said. But remember: It was written in an era when hoop rolling was a thing. Like all forms of indulgence, this generation gets its emotional resonance from paths of lesser resistance like movies, television and music. Most mornings, he drives his daughter to kindergarten before work, playing music in the car for her on the ride. (Full disclosure: I enrolled in that class as a senior at CU.)
But that sells “The Poetry of Pop” and its author short. In fact, if you ask author and University of Colorado English professor Adam Bradley, it’s never been more prevalent. “The Poetry of Pop,” Adam Bradley’s latest book, challenges us to fall back in love with the music that bombards us every day. (A portrait of Adam Bradley, painted by his mother, Jane Bradley)
Semester after semester, an exceedingly difficult challenge plays out between literature teachers and their students: How do you make kids care about what some dead poet wrote about a wet red wheelbarrow?  
“I just did this event with (comedian) Shane Moss, and we were talking about the difference between a song and a joke,” Bradley said. On a deeper level, Bradley would contend that to understand why, say, Rihanna’s 2012 single “Diamonds” hits us like a wrecking ball is to understand ourselves. But like any mindful writer, he makes sure the reader stays awake to see them. Watching her listen to songs by the Beatles and Fred Astaire for the first time has been revelatory for him. What I propose isn’t an evaluation, but an analysis.”
Lucky for Sheeran, that means more than just dumbly reading the lyrics. “Book of Rhymes” was a thoroughly annotated and occasionally ingenious (a popular excerpt from the book evokes Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as a proto-“Rapper’s Delight”) exploration of a genre whose lyrics had recently been deemed so base as to merit a congressional dressing down. “The other day, she said something wonderful. Adam Bradley’s “The Poetry of Pop.” (Provided by Yale University Press)
Like any good academic paper, these syllable-level geek-outs are the foundation on which “The Poetry of Pop” stands. If you’re a music fan, it’s a way to deepen your appreciation for the songs you spend so much time with in your headphones, and may even allow you to discover new elements the artist intended you to experience. She said, ‘I want you to show me every song that’s ever been recorded,” Bradley recalled. (His current No. Are we to believe that Ed Sheeran is a modern-day Arthur Rimbaud? And ultimately, despite how Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat” may crumble on its umpteenth consecutive spin, conscious analysis isn’t going to do the song (or you) any harm. Bradley is widely credited with awarding the form a manner of literary legitimacy. William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” is, after all, one of the most famous poems of all time. Bradley devotes pages to subjects that might have otherwise gone absent in print, like Rod Stewart’s voice (“weird,” and occasionally a cause for “dyspepsia”) and a collection of lyrics that rhyme the words “moon” and “June.” (The book’s appendix is flush with Buzzfeed-esque lists of these diversional research takeaways, like “Ten Songs Supposedly Written in Ten Minutes (or So)” and “Twelve Songs That Use the Second Person.”)
This is all well and good for Bradley’s students, who are currently dog-earring the book for CU’s graduate-level “The Poetics of American Song Lyrics” class. But that doesn’t mean poetry is dead. Perhaps, Bradley’s book suggests, the only way back to that plane of wonder is to again pay attention to the form as it once demanded: with boundless fascination. It wouldn’t be his first: In 2009, Bradley released “Book of Rhymes,” an investigation into the poetic form of rap lyrics, which spawned a class that featured an in-class DJ. His latest book brings the same penchant for close reading to pop music, which he defines, as the author Nick Hornby did, “to encompass just about anything that isn’t classical music.” What shakes out is a hearty mix of bookish rigor and fun, music critic analogies.