"To be or not to be" or "Is it too late to say sorry/'Cause I'm missing more than just your body?" Believe it or not, when it comes to picking out a Shakespeare quote or a Justin Bieber lyric, the Biebs beats the Bard.
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According to a new study commissioned by streaming platform Deezer to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the lyrics to such Bieber hits as "Girlfriend" and "Sorry" were way more relevant than Shakespeare to a group of 1,000 UK adults between 18-25. The survey found that an average of 43% of respondents could identify Bieber lyrics, while only 38% could correctly pick out Shakespeare couplets. In fact, fully 33% could not recognize what is perhaps Shakes' most famous quote, "to be or not to be" from Hamlet.
"Like Shakespeare, Justin Bieber is undoubtedly one of the most well-known figures of his time and his popularity means people nowadays seem to know their 'baby, baby, baby, ohs' more than their 'wherefore art thou Romeo's,'" Sam Lee, Deezer's UK and Ireland music editor told the Guardian.
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Bieber is the most-streamed artist on Deezer this year and based on the results of the survey shared with Billboard either the respondents are obsessed with his music or just don't have time for the classics. Only 12% could correctly identify that Shakespeare wrote the King John line "strong reasons make strong actions" and 17% knew one of his most famous quotes from The Merchant of Venice, "all that glitters is not gold."
In one shining light to the literary darkness, nearly 77 percent knew the Romeo and Juliet query "O Romeo, O Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?," while Bieber's highest numbers (69.3%) were for the "Baby" lyric "And I was like baby, baby, baby, oh."