Background: As there are many reasons for listening to music, so there are many ways of
explaining its popularity and studying its influence within the fabric of contemporary American
culture. From a sociological perspective, music can reflect, define, or even redefine social norms.
Artists often use their music as a forum to address various social and political conditions
surrounding them. Through this assignment, you will gain critical insight into how this important
medium (music) shapes or does not shape the social attitudes and behaviors of the listener
Using 3-4 (or 2-3) songs as your primary sources,
Compose a college-level essay in which you insight-fully analyze the representation of
one contemporary social issue or problem and argue [take a stand] the influence [or lack
thereof] of the songs messages on a specific target audience.
Questions to Ask when Conducting a Semiotic Analysis of Song Lyrics
1. What social issue[s] is/are being presented within the song?
2. What is the songs message/purpose? [be sure to discuss message in relation to the
chosen social issue]Who is the target audience? [consider age, sex, ethnicity, and/or
type of person]
3. How would you describe the tone of the song? [be sure to discuss the genre, beat, tempo,
the speakers words, the use of musical instruments, ]
4. How does the songs message affect [or NOT affect] the chosen target audience?
5. Consider any political or historical events/climate that the song may be inferring.
EvaluationEssays will be evaluated using the following criteria:
utilization of critical thinking skills to develop an original argument on the chosen topic;
locate, gather, and skillfully implement 3-4 primary sources [the chosen song lyrics] with
2-3 secondary sources into the paper
compose and support a debatable thesis that directly responds to the purpose of the
includes a catchy title, engaging introduction, and powerful conclusion;
each body paragraph includes a clear topic sentence, relevant evidence from the primary
and secondary sources, and insightful analysis from the student author to support the
development of ideas to 6+ paragraphs;
acute audience awareness: paper is addressed to a scholarly audience
students own ideas, not the sources, control the paper;
paper reflects a mature and effective style [sentence pattern variety, college-level diction,
consistent voice, effective transitions, clear organization of ideas, ]
essay is free of repetitive sentence-level errors in grammar and/or punctuation that
impede the readability of paper [written in third person, NO first or second person
follows strict MLA policy and procedure [in-text citations, Works Cited page, formatting
of essay, ]
need to critical read/examine/study the song lyrics multiple times to extract deeper
paper represents a clear progression of the students writing and critical thinking skills
This analysis is NOT about why you like or dont like a song, or what is the right or
wrong interpretation of the lyrics, it is about what you can PROVE about the song in relation
to your claim.
4 page MLA
3-4 (or 2-3) songs as your primary sources