Final year English students were surprised to find lyrics by troubled singer Amy Winehouse on their unseen exam yesterday.
Her acclaimed hit single, ‘Love is a Losing Game’, was included for comparison with a lyric by 16th century poet Sir Walter Ralegh in Cambridge’s famous Practical Criticism paper, which features a series of unseen passages. Third year candidates could also look at the Ralegh poem in conjunction with songs by blues singer Billie Holiday and cult hero Bob Dylan.
This year’s exam included extracts from Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth, as well as the pop single.
The Winehouse song, co-written with Mark Ronson, won the artist an award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically at the prestigious Ivor Novello ceremony.
In 2001, students were similarly bewildered to find a quotation from the Bee Gees on the compulsory Tragedy exam. They were invited to construct an essay on the basis of the lyrics: “Tragedy / when the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on / it’s tragedy…Tragedy / when you lose control / and you’ve got no soul / it’s tragedy”.