Music Content Analysis Assignment

Music Content Analysis 
Music Content Analysis

Music Content Analysis

Crime in the Media 4080
Spring 2019

Students will need to observe, analyze, and respond to music.


  • Identify differences and similarities in various lyrics, melodies, and imagery of music for examples
  • Evaluate the media messages portrayed in music
  • Critically consider the potential impacts depictions have on communities

1. Observation
a. Students should pay attention during their typical week, consider the different
genres, lyrics, and popularity of songs
b. Students should also revisit 5 of their favorite songs with this same consideration
c. Listen to at least five songs from the playlist provided on YouTube “Crime and
Music” by the instructor
d. Use these experiences as inspiration. Students will identify 10 categories they
believe would capture the potential relationships between music, crime, and the criminal justice system.
i. Three categories should denote the identifying markers of the songs (i.e. name, genre)
ii. Three categories should be qualitative differences (meaning they are answered through words statements. “How were drugs depicted?” which
might be answered with “fun,” “dangerous,” etc.)
iii. Four categories should be quantitative (answered through numbers, i.e. how many times did the song mention murder?”)
e. Create a table using these categories and fill it out with information based on two songs (one song of your choice from your personal music collection and one from the class playlist).
f. Upload it to iCollege either in the same or as a separate document to the written response.

2. Written Response
a. Please use the information recorded in the table and your own observations to write a response to the music. Please think critically about the likely implications and how it would be interpreted by community members.
i. Choose one of the following subject areas for inspiration: (Note under each are three songs that you might consider listening to for that specific
prompt, however there are many other songs on the playlist for each subject not specifically listed here)

1. Landmark Events: There have been several points throughout history when historical events have been marked or remember through music.
a. Jimi Hendrix The Star Spangled Banner American Anthem Live at Woodstock
b. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young Ohio 1970 Kent State
c. Penderecki: Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima

2. Intimate Partner and Domestic Violence:
a. Eminem—Love the Way You Lie ft. Rihanna
b. Carrie Underwood – Church Bells
c. Christina Aguilera – I’m Ok (live) [05/05/2010] HDTV 1080p

3. Sexual Harassment and Assault
a. Baby It’s Cold Outside
b. Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines ft. T.I., Pharrell
c. Kesha – Praying (Official Video)
4. Drugs and Alcohol: Write an argument about the portrayal of drugs and alcohol in music. It doesn’t have to address how all music portrays these substances, but it simply one perspective that
is commonly found in the lyrics, imagery, and melodies of songs.

Address the following questions. How does music portray the lifestyle of those who use drugs or alcohol? For what purpose, do they use substances? Does it transform their lives? For the better?
For the worse? Is it glamourous? Are they happy? How does it impact their interactions with other people?
a. Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High) – Hippie Sabotage Remix
b. Cab Calloway – The Reefer Man (Original)
c. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. (official)

5. Homicide and Violence: Specifically, how does the portrayal of violence visually or lyrically in music videos relate? For example, some videos describe violence lyrically, but the visuals are unrelated, others have limited references to violence in the lyrics themselves but there is violence in the video. Was the connection to violence apparent without careful listening or the accompanying video? Did the tone and melody effect of the song indicate
i. Queen—Bohemian Rhapsody
ii. Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks
iii. Childish Gambino – This is America
iv. Tom Jones – Deliah 1968 (1973) (HQ Audio)

6. Police
a. NWA – Fuk Da Police
b. Chamillionaire – Ridin’ ft. Krayzie Bone
c. 99 Problems

7. Prison
a. Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison (1968) (Full album)
b. Sam Cooke – Chain Gang (High Quality)
c. Michael Jackson – They Don’t Care About Us (Prison
Version) (Official Video)

8. Pessimism About the State of The World and Crime
a. Harry Styles – Sign of the Times
b. The Chainsmokers – Sick Boy
c. Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On

9. Defining/Labeling “Criminals”
a. Public Enemy – Don’t Believe the Hype
b. Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal (Official Video)
c. Coolio Gangsta’s Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official music video]

10. Showtunes and Operas
a. Chicago – Cell Block Tango
b. The World Was Wide Enough Hamilton Animatic
c. Raimondi, Domingo, Malfitano – Tosca Act 2 – Scarpia’s Death

b. Must be 2 pages
c. Double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman Font with 1-inch margins
d. Must include at least 2 direct quotes from the lyrics to back up analysis

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