This paper is a “claim-driven” essay. That means, your goal is to persuade your audience to think the way you do about a particular issue regarding music. You will state a thesis and support this thesis with convincing evidence. Your “convincing evidence” will include analyses of lyrics, CD covers and videos and secondary sources about your musician or genre of music. There are three ways to approach this assignment:
Write an essay modeled after “All the Rage” by Crowley and “Peter, Paul and Mary – Anachronism or Adaptation” in which you first construct a detailed description of a band whose music you know very well (or are interested in getting to know well). Then, analyze the themes embodied in that artist’s songs. Discuss the effects that band’s music has on listeners and some possible reasons for the band’s popularity, or lack thereof, with mainstream listeners.
You will need to explore the social issues this musician is concerned with, as shown through an analysis of the lyrics, a textual analysis of CD covers/posters, and any commentary on the artist. You do not need to paint a positive portrayal of this artist. You may claim that the musician is a detriment to society. The important part is that you support a thesis.
Americans receive a great deal of information about important issues – from presidential elections to gender-role attitudes to the legalization of drugs – from popular music and the media that surrounds it. Write an essay in which you examine the representation of one important social issue or problem through music. For instance, you might focus on how AIDS is represented in recent song lyrics, on the radio, and in videos and advertisements on channels such as MTV and VH1. In this essay you will explore the work of various artists and perhaps various genres of music.
This essay is similar to the first one. However, instead of focusing on one particular band or artist, you will focus on a genre of music. You may choose to analyze rap music or heavy metal, for instance. Describe the genre of music; then, analyze the themes embodied in this type of music. You will need to explore the social issues that the artists from this genre focus on. Discuss the effects such music has on its listeners and some possible reasons for its popularity, or lack thereof, with mainstream listeners. Again, you will need to explore the social issues this genre of music is concerned with or the message it attempts to get across.
The paper must:
1) Anticipate any pre-conceived notions that your audience may have about the musician(s). What are these notions? Are they accurate or inaccurate? You need to either disprove these notions or justify them.
2) Include an analysis of your musician’s lyrics. What social issues is your musician concerned with, according to these lyrics? How is your musician (or genre) a social commentator on his/her/its own times? Does the artist(s) merely expose the problems, or does (s)he provide solutions as well?
3) Provide a visual analysis of your musician’s CD covers, posters and videos. How do these visual texts support your claim about the artist’s social impact? How are they another example of the artist’s social concern?
4) Include quotes on your artist, genre or social issue from secondary sources such as magazines and newspaper articles. You need to have at least two quotes from two different sources.