How to Analyze a Song for English Class

By Sara Hickman

Song lyrics are one form of creative writing comparable to limericks and poetry. The analysis of song lyrics can serve as a method for students to explore the connection between emotions and writing. Analyzing song lyrics also shows students another way that writers can tell a story. When analyzing a song, you must explore all angles of the song to create a comprehensive analysis.

Research the song's subject. Explore what the song is written about and why the artist chose the topic. Read about the artist to understand why he wrote the song; for example, an artist may have written a song about San Francisco because he lived there for six months. Understand the song completely before breaking it down for analysis.

Explain the meaning of the words. Break the song down line-by-line to interpret it. Discuss how it reaches out to the audience and what the artist is trying to say. Single out specific phrases or words that capture your attention, and explain why they do.

Analyze how the song is executed with instruments, melodies and tempos. The melody and tempo affect how the song sounds; explore how they relate to the lyrics. The melody and tempo may or may not match the lyrics in mood; explore how this affects the meaning of the song.

Show the emotional effects of this song. Point out specific emotional parts of the song and what people may relate to in the song.

Decide upon the overall meaning of the song, and explain how successful the artist is in conveying that meaning to the audience.

About the Author

Sara Hickman owns a preschool science-based entertainment business in the Greater Cincinnati area. She has a bachelor's degree in communication and psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.