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A Content Analysis of Popular Lyrics, Article Review Example

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Article Review

“Top Songs in the Sixties: A Content Analysis of Popular Lyrics” by Richard Cole is an article relaying the topic, methodology, and results of a study on the effects popular music has on the teenage audience. As a basis for the study, the influence of popular bands, such as The Beatles, on teenagers’ hair styles and clothing styles is cited. Another basis is the occurrence of teenagers to identify with and view recording stars as a representation of a significant other in their lives. The study analyzed lyrics from the annual Top 10 Billboard lists for each year during the 1960s. Each song’s lyrics were analyzed and grouped as happy, unhappy, or balanced and notes taken according to four specific topics: love-sex, religion, violence, and social protest. The results showed a shift in the grouping and topic focus of songs from the first half of the decade as compared with the last half of the decade, but did not identify any discernable pattern as to what would qualify a song for popularity among teenagers. The results of this study differed from the only previous study noted on song lyrics and it is suggested that more research should be pursued in this area.

The article, “Semantic Analysis of Song Lyrics,” by Beth Logan, Andrew Kositsky, and Pedro Moreno describes their study of using song lyrics to automatically index artists into similar genres. The study sought to propose a new method for indexing similar artists and songs that would fill the gaps left by the current genre indexing methods that are based on analysis of acoustic information, or on metadata collected from users and found on the web. The study was done by applying standard semantic text analysis to a collection of lyrics, and then comparing results to a currently used acoustic technique and set of user responses collected in a web survey. The researchers concluded that lyric similarity did not group songs and artists as well as acoustic similarity, but that a combination of techniques would work best.

The article, “Things We Said Today: A Linguistic Analysis of the Beatles,” is a study of the band’s lyrics throughout their career, from 1960 to 1970. The analysis was focused on a link between lyrics and how the group changed over time, changes in various members writing styles, and any overlap in lyrical styles among composers. Songs analyzed were selected by downloading music and creating a random sample of lyrics from songs written and performed by the Beatles for a final count of 185 songs. Contrasting results with popular held Beatles stereotypes showed that McCartney was actually the more intellectually complex writer, not Lennon, though evidence in writing style of various members shows Lennon did have the strongest group influence. This success of this study suggests the positive use of computerized text analytic tools in psychobiography studies.

The final article, “Male and Female Roles in the Lyrics of Three Genres of Contemporary Music,” analyzed lyrics of 151 songs from country, soul, and easy listening genres for conformity or lack of to certain stereotypical sex role traits. The sample was taken from the year November 1972 to November 1973. The songs were analyzed by three different approaches: content analysis of song lyrics into themes, Kaplan and Goldsen’s symbol analysis, and sex-role analysis. The article provides charts on the findings of these analysis and notes that all analysis is done with the consideration of the originating artist’s point of view, since men’s and women’s roles differ by sub-culture. Findings from the study suggest that men conform to sex-roles much more readily than do females, that women are presented more positively than men, that female traits are more variable across the genres than male traits are, and that lyrics perpetuate stereotypical sex roles.

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