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Pop Froze the Easel: Decoding the Cultural Significance of Top Ten Pop Songs from Two Eras

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PAGE 1

1 POP FROZE THE EASEL: DE CODING THE CULTURAL SI GNIFICANCE OF TOP TEN POP SONGS FROM TWO ERAS By CHAD SWIATOWICZ A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVESITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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2 Copyright 2006 by Chad Swiatowicz

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3 To Music and all who love what can be the most honest and interactive expression of the human character

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For all those who had time and patience for me while I saw this project through, I extend my sincerest appreciation. My committee cons isted of two excellent humans. Dr. Monika Ardelt kept me realistic and entertained my whim sical irreverence for structure and formality. Dr. Hernan Vera lent me focus and granted me th e liberty to be myself while helping me pause to understand who that self is. I would also like to thank Dr. Henr etta and the sociology departments admissions committee for taking a chance on a guy who, while capable of academics, would rather be rocking. And finally, I would like to recognize the three professors who helped that committee decide to take that chance by their sp arkling letters of recommendation: Dr. Charles Gattone, Dr. Terry M ills, and Dr. Marian Borg. The impact that Dr. Gattone has had on my growth as a scholar, a musician, and a person exceeds the scope of this page. Dr. Mills has challenge d me to think about topics I neve r knew I was so interested in, and has shown me a respect few others have ha d the opportunity to. While I have only had one class worths of interaction with Dr. Borg, he r approach to building a learning environment restored my faith in the classroom setting and bolstered my desire to become a teacher. And for those about to rockI salute you!

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........6 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ..............7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................... .8 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE..............................................................................10 Overview....................................................................................................................... ..........10 The Sociology of Popular Music............................................................................................12 3 MATERIALS AND METHODS...........................................................................................26 Selection of Data.............................................................................................................. .......26 Methods of Analysis............................................................................................................ ...29 4 ANALYSIS....................................................................................................................... ......33 Demographic Comparisons....................................................................................................37 Relationships/Love............................................................................................................. ....41 Global/Conscious/Commentary..............................................................................................53 Fun/Party/Club/Sex............................................................................................................. ....56 Introspective.................................................................................................................. .........58 5 CONCLUSION..................................................................................................................... ..67 LIST OF REFERENCES............................................................................................................. ..71 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................73

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6 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3-1 Master list of songs by era................................................................................................ .32 4-1 Categories of analysis..................................................................................................... ...64 4-2 Classic era dem ographic breakdown.................................................................................65 4-3 Modern era demographic breakdown................................................................................66

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7 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts POP FROZE THE EASEL: DE CODING THE CULTURAL SI GNIFICANCE OF TOP TEN POP SONGS FROM TWO ERAS By Chad Swiatowicz December 2006 Chair: Monika Ardelt Cochair: Hernan Vera Major Department: Sociology The popular music of the United States serves as a set of cultural artifacts. Interpreting the song lyrics of this music provides a means to discover the cultural clim ate of the era during which the songs were authored and released in ma instream media. This study selects two eras of pop music, the period 1968 through 1971 and th e period 2002 through 2005, and compares and contrasts the content of the ly rics, tracking what themes a nd discourses have changed or remained constant between the two eras. What is most evident in this analysis is the dominance across eras of songs treating the subject of romantic relationships, and the departure from polite or proper language moving chronologically from the first era to the second.

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8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION It is said that you know you are getting old wh en you no longer like anything on the radio. A broad generalization indeed, fo r there continues to be an ab undance of radio stations that specialize in delivering the good ol d songs that played an integral part in defining the culture of eras passed. What is intended by the above adag e however is the identifi cation of a truth that has existed since the distribution of radio tec hnology became widespread: as quickly as time may pass, the passing of popular trends will occur just as, if not more, quickly. What was hip back before the explosion of communication techno logy may have had more longevity, primarily because it simply took longer for what was new to circulate and effectively become old. Whatever it is that prevents people from appr eciating new musical styles bands, and songs after they mature beyond young adulthood is not necessarily within the scope of this paper, nor could such a study necessarily ge nerate significant evidence to support the adage. What is important to this paper is more th e significance of what the music of a generation is saying about that generation. In other words, we can use music, specifically music with lyrics, as analyzable cultural artifacts to decode th e social, political, cultural, and even economic characteristics of an era. In order to narrow the field of possibl e musical selections to analyze, there must be some filtering criteria employed, lest the hundredseven thousandsof songs released in a given time period generate countless hours of resear ch. The primary criterion used for this study is popularity. Wide scale accepta nce and appreciation for a song is indicative of cultural relevance. The relations hip may work in both directions: either the cultural climate of the era solidifies the appeal of the song, or the appeal of the s ong solidifies the climate of that era. In either case, the songs popularity accoun ts for a larger audience and more frequent encounters with that song. The discussion of the selection process will be expanded in the

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9 Materials and Methods section late r on. But before that, a look at what others have said about culture and music could serve to not only put into c ontext a societys selection criteria for popular music, but also enhance the validity of my later analyses.

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10 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Overview Since the purpose of this study is to use popul ar music to determine how American culture has changed in over thirty years, there are ke y components of the soci ology of music worth reviewing in order to build a foundation on which to make analyses. This review of literature will cover five subjects in the sociology of music in particular, all of which are variously related. The subjects in question include the relationshi p between music and cultu re, the role of the musician, the role of the audience, the nature of musical meaning constr ucted by both artist and audience, and the industry aspects that decide what is heard and how often. These categories are inspired, in part, by sociol ogist Paul Honigsheims extensive work in the sociology of music, but where this studys and his categories diverge will become apparent momentarily. The categories were actually out lined in the introducti on, written by editor K. Peter Etzkorn (1989), to a compilation of Honigsheims later works entitled Sociologists and Music Honigsheims intention with these categories was to investigate forms of music and their relationship to social structures They are: The Intended Me aning of Music, The Cultural Evaluation of Music, The Socioeconomic Position of the Musician, The Social Structure of the Audience, and Social Forms and Musical Forms (Etzkorn, 1989). I will briefly treat each individually before exploring in depth my own categories. The Intended Meaning of Music can account for two elements of a piece of music. First is the actual sounds being produced: musical notes, ti mbres, rhythms, chord progressions, etc. The second is the content of th e lyrics, if any. In eith er case, Honigsheim seems to be implicating the artist or composer of the piece and what me ssages s/he is hoping to convey. Whether the audience derives the same meaning as what was intended plays a crucial role in the interplay

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11 between the categories of this study, though this is not explici tly stated in Etzkorns (1989) review of Honigsheims categories. Nevertheless, it is the meani ngs that can be discerned from the lyrics of music that are most integral to the purpose of this study, regardless of the lyricists intentions behind them. As will be discovered during the analysis section of this paper, when it comes to pop music, the obvious point of the so ng usually garners littl e cause to delve any deeper. A prime example would be Edwin Star rs 1970 song War, in which he reminds us what it is good for (a bsolutely nothing!). The Cultural Evaluation of music is comparable to my category of the relationship between music and culture. The cultural climate of a societ y engages in an interac tion with what music is being produced in that society, as hi nted at in the introduction of th is paper. In other words, the state of affairs of a given society, from politics to social norms and practices to current events, influences the production of music, while the musi c that is most highly di sseminated can in turn influence the state of affairs. Concerning the Socioeconomic Po sition of the Musician, this specific detail bears little weight on this study, but parallels the importance of the musicians role in the types of sounds reaching a vast audience. We obviously cannot have music without the individuals who are inspired and skilled enough to create it. Thei r socioeconomic position actually factors in more heavily with the industry aspects of music, mo stly because of the phenomenon of stardom and how that can affect the reception of musicians works, and consequently the revenues generated for the businesses promoting them. Musicians ha ve had a variety of ro les throughout history, but the one that will be most important here is the role of being the voice of the people.

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12 The Social Structure of the Audience more or less sums up the goal of my category. It is difficult to detach the role of the audience from th e culture in which that audience is situated, so there will be some overlap between thes e two categories within this review. The category Social Forms and Musical Forms e ffectively gets co-opted into my category of the relationship betwee n culture and music. Regarding musi cal forms, this will receive very little attention; as already state d, the song lyrics themselves will be more important to this study than the musicological quality of the selections. The final category, which has completely escaped Hongisheims five but serves as my fifth is the industrial aspects of music. It would be impossible to singl e out any of the five as being the most important to the phenomenon of popular music, but in a sense, the music industry serves as the final word on what enters, and wh en it exits, the mass market Popular music is a business, and it happens to involve a vast bureaucratic network, most of which is invisible to the average music lover who gets his/he r fix with the turn of a radio di al. It should be stated up front that the songs covered in this study will not undergo a massive deconstruction under which the producers and record labels providing these song s will be implicated and analyzed from within their industrial contexts. That would be an interesting possible future study, but for now, it is important to at least call attention to the ope rating channels of the music biz to provide a backdrop for how these songs achieved such popularity. So all of the gear is set u p. Now let us do a sound check. The Sociology of Popular Music What good is music anyway? What is it for, what does it do? Music has had a long history and has undergone a world of changes, a nd has been applied and used in a variety of settings and functions. Nowadays, we think of it primarily as a form of entertainment. It was not always so.

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13 In fact, through his historical analysis of th e uses of music in society, Honigsheim (1973) discovered that its use as entertainment or for personal enjoyment is quite rare indeed. He writes, a study of history and of various cu ltures reveals that these extramusical and individualistic associations with the experience and practi ce of music have appeared infrequently, adding that music has usually be en considered principall y as a supportive tool with immediate use for collec tivistic and social purposes (Honigsheim, 1973). While words such as extramusical and individualistic associ ations appear vague, th e point being made is clear: music has historically been used primarily to reinforce the goals of certain social events. These events were most likely religious services and rituals, or even events that involved primitive magical practices (Honigsheim, 1973). This conjures images of robed figures saturating the halls of a cat hedral with their haunting unisons at a mass, or funeral, etc. Another image could be a Native American tribe drum ming and dancing, accompanied by the breathy accents of a flute, in a ritual intended to ward off bad fortune. In either case, the music is functional. Accordin g to Gaston (1951), functional music is far older and more abundant than music played or composed for aesthetic purposes, which would be in accordance with Honigsheims (1973) assertion. But why music? What is it about a deliberat e collection of sounds that stimulates the participants of a social event like a religious/spir itual ceremony? The answer to this is quite in depth and could warrant its own chapter, but the simple response is that music serves as an alternative form of communication. What is usually being communicat ed at such social events is a set of symbols. For now, I will ignore the use of words in music. The human brain can interpret the musics nonverbal communication to abstractly re present the importance of the event (Gaston, 1968; Merriam, 1964) in addition to whatever spoken rites are employed. The

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14 ritual or service in qu estion has specific sounds and patterns associated with it; certain notes, phrases, rhythms, etc. are used for certain events distinguishing them from other events. What occurs as a result of this is a so cializing effect on participants. That is, the impact of music can help validate the significance of so cial institutions and/or religious rituals, se rving as a means of cultural indoctrination (Merriam, 19 64; Honigsheim, 1973). It will later be argued that a similar phenomenon occurs with popular music. Before that, however, it is important to not e how music made the transition from being functional to being a source of ente rtainment and enjoyment. This is not at all to say that there was no room to enjoy the musical sounds featured at ceremonies; it was just not the express purpose. Any aesthetic appreciati on for those sounds was likely very private. This of course depends on the culture and the nature of the event, but it is reasonable to assume that one would not find church members groovin to the soundtrack of a 14th-Century mass. Likewise, the fact that most music was historically functiona l certainly does not mean that all of it was. The transformation deals more with our general perception of music. Functional music still exists, but the amount of music for pleasure, at least within modern American culture, far exceeds the amount of music for function (although music fo r pleasure can still be used functionally) (Radocy and Boyle, 1979). We may find the root s of the transformation in traditional folk music. It is impossible to know which musici ans from which cultures played a role in the transformation, and at what times in history, primar ily because the transforma tion itself is neither precise, nor region specific. Regardless, the examination of traditional folk music has shown that it historically has a str ong association with lower, uneduc ated classes, being performed almost exclusively by and for them, with thei r wishes and sentiments in mind (Honigsheim, 1973). More precisely stated, the favored music of such groups reflects and reinforces the kinds

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15 of behaviors essential to [their] main subsistence efforts and [t heir] central and controlling social institution, a detail which could extend to any cultural setting (Lomax, 1968). For rural folk cultures, subsistence farming and trades wo rk was physically taxing and monotonous. Music and dance (and perhaps a barrel of mead) facilitated the refres hment of peoples spirits and enriched their sense of community, and was indeed quite enjoyable. In pop culture phraseology, work hard, play hard. Music for enjoyment was not reserved for th e lower and uneducated classes, however. What happened was a sort of co-optation of ente rtainment music by the higher and elite classes. This is the point where the notion of popular music begins to arise, but as will be seen, involves a sort of call and response between hi gher and lower classes. Elites discovered the charms of music for enjoyment a nd featured musicians from the lo wer classes in their courts and theaters, sometimes more to serve as comic exhi bitions of class different iation. Yet, musicians playing for higher strata were of ten granted special distinction fr om other performers, even if they hailed from the same lower classes. H onigsheim (1973) offers the examples of the low caste Hindu musicians, the minstrels and jongleurs in France, and the Fahrende in medieval Germany. However, as everyday life in the higher strata became more rationalized, so too did the art (Honigsheim, 1973). In addition, musicologist Gerhar d Pinthus indicates that the differentiation of a society lends itself to a differentiation in the appreciation of arts and music, varying by social subclasses (Etzkorn, 1989). In a sense, the higher classes wanted more. According to Wilensky (1964), there are two ope rating characteristics of high culture in the relationship to the arts: it is created by, or under the supervis ion of a cultural elite operating within some aesthetic, literary or scientific tradition, and seco ndly, critical standards independent of the consumer of the product are systematica lly applied to it. This seems more like one

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16 characteristic, since the critical standards mentioned in the s econd are directly related (if not identical) to the aest hetic tradition of the first. What is important is that the culture elite are focal in the process of high arts genesis. So as educated appreciat ors of music draw upon the influence of folk musics success and apply more rationalized musical fo rms and structures to address the aesthetic traditions of their contem poraries, the music changes. As Honigsheim (1973) writes, a new situation te nds to arise, consisting of hi ghly specialized art for the upper and middle classes, unrelated to th e life of the masses. Masses, here, refers to the lower, or working classes. This new music does not stay am ongst the elite, however. High culture tends to have a trickle down effect, in that, what is fashionable or st ylish or appealing to the higher strata often in some way finds a path back to the lower st rata. Perhaps the goal of certain benevolent monarchs and especially democratically minded members of the middle class was to acculturate the masses, by bringing them into direct cont act with the culture and art from above (Honigsheim, 1973). Musical theaters became open to the public, or tickets were available at discount rates for poorer classes. Their seating may have been isolated from the bourgeoisie and aristocracy, but everyone was sti ll experiencing the same music. The lower classes can derive inspiration from such exposure and create adapta tions based on their subcultural aesthetic and concerns. Then all it takes is another handful of enterprising musicians from the working classes to bring their ideas back into the musical theaters and rede fine (again) for everyone the possibilities of musical form and style. It is an ongoing proc ess. As expressed by Middleton (1990): Particularly in complex, internally di fferentiated societies, musical styles are assemblages of elements from a variety of s ources, each with a variety of histories and connotation, and these assemblages can, in appropriate circumstances, be prised [ sic ] open and

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17 the elements rearticulated in different contexts. This is effectively what is occurring as music serves as a metaphorical tennis ball in a match between classes. The shortcoming of the analogy is that the ball sounds different with each return. Popular culture is generally thought to bel ong to the majority group of a population, which in most cultures would in fact be the working and lower middle classes. Thus, we could assume that popular music also belongs to that group. Our concept of popular culture in the United States has changed since the Industrial Re volution and the subsequent emergence of communication technology. Because of three inve ntions in particular, art and culture was influenced by a new catalyzing factor: mass media. The three inventions in question are movies, radio, and television (Honigsheim, 1973). Suddenl y, the same images and sounds were available to people from different geographical locations, and from different social backgrounds, assuming of course some access to the technology. As a re sult, the concept of mass culture came about, although in the 1980s music sociologists began to withdraw from the notion that such a thing exists (Scott, 2000). What the sociologists resisted was the noti on of a mass audience passively consuming the mass-produced commodities of a culture industry (Scott, 2000). Whether passive consumption is what truly occurs or not is irrelevant; in this paper, the term mass culture will be used to implicate the combined fo rces of mass media, mass production, and mass marketing on consumer choices. And it is thes e combined forces that developed the robust entertainment industry we are familiar with today. The terms popular culture and mass culture ar e often used interchangeably, aside from some semantic differences, but there is no such thing as mass music. The variety of musical styles and genres that are popular may be the result of mass culture, but are by no means uniform, as a term like mass music may imply. At th e same time, a particular style of music that

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18 is popular within a particular subculture may be mass produced, but would not be labeled pop music. An example is goth music. Goth musi c is part of mass culture because it is a response to and rejection of pop music and culture, but is s till widely available to those who seek it. The means of mass production for these different styl es are also often owned by the same set of companies. What distinguishes pop music is th at it tends to connote mu sic that has widespread appeal, is what is most often heard through conve ntional media outlets (r adio, TV, movies), but is relatively ephemeral. Part of the reason for this transience may be the market pressures to continuously pump out new material. Once the population has accepted (and purchased) one cross-section of music, there w ould be little continued revenue by letting that music fester. The record companies then promote a new set of acts and market them until it is time to repeat the process. One factor that relates very closely to th e transience of pop music is the transience of youth. In fact, upon closer examination, it is adolescents interests that the pop culture industry is most able to capit alize on. The concept of youth having its own subculture was introduced by Talcott Parsons in 1951, and can still be used to demonstrate the differing values of youth and society as a whole (E pstein,1995). Epstein ( 1995) defines youth subculture as: the expressive form of young people s shared social and material experiencedistinguished by the distinct values, beliefs, symbols, and actions which certain youth employ to attend to, and cope with, their shared cultural experience. It is these distinct symbols, values, and manners of expression that are generally in opposition to, often in direct cont radiction with, societal values, norms, and expectations (Epstei n, 1995). Epstein (1995) more na rrowly defines those societal values as belonging to, and perhaps created by, white middle-class adult male[s].

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19 The person responsible for fathering this expressively dissimilar dimension of youth subculture, as many of the author s agree, is Elvis Presley. Hi s fateful 1956 appearance on the Ed Sullivan show marked a transformation of youth cu lture into something which adults considered menacing and fearful (Epstein, 1995). Elvis and the popularization of rock music came to symbolize a rejection of adult values, which for youth in the 1950s were characterized as rigid, boring, and restraining (Grossberg, 1 992). It is perhaps the restrain ts of adult routine like career and family that even todays youth is most wary of. Elvis youthful energy and disregard for adult conventions was clearly antithetical to such routines, but the subse quent generations would require their own figureheads. As stated by Epst ein (1995): As generation of rock fans grow up, they bring their rock music w ith themrequiring rock music to change, to mutate, in order for it to remain a viable center of youth culture. This could obviously extend to any style of music beyond rock, but it was an early form of rock that Elvis sold, and thus rock that served as the backbone of the pop music industry for many years after, arguably even today. The discussion of youth and pop music can go even deeper. Adolescence in particular is a brief period in life, serving as a transitional period in which childlike ideals are met with certain adult desires and sensibilities. There is no way I could put it better than Weinstein (1983): To be beyond dependency, but still dependent, a nd moving toward responsibility, but not responsible yet, releases the adolescent into a suspended stat e of social freedom that tends to become an end-in-itself. In addition, this ti me in life is a period of significant identity construction, wherein lies the use of music. It has already been stated that certain music, particularly rock, can be used by youth to disti nguish itself from adults Simultaneously, music can be used to distinguish youths from other youths. According to Epstein (1995), musical preference contributes to the creation of subcultural identity, and thus what you listen to, or

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20 dont, partially defines who you are within youth culture. A similar statement, though much more brazen, is that all adolescents have the sa me problems, all adolescents pass through peer groups, all adolescents use music as a badge and a background, a mean s of identifying and articulating emotions (Frith, 1983). Pe rhaps we could allow for at least some variation within the experience of adolescence, but it is this consistency of youth that lends itself to the development of targeted marketing strategies by record companies. Furthermore, while music is produced to a ddress the concerns of youth, it may also be produced to popularize, and thus capitalize on, new concerns. Recall the earlier discussion of musics role in religious ceremonies as an enha nced means of cu ltural indoctrination. The same can be said for popular music used secula rly. Honigsheim (1973) called it negative indoctrination, using examples of periods in wh ich political leadership or aristocracies were ridiculed publicly in operas and theater. The result was a broadening of awareness among citizens, concerning social and economic injustices perpetrated by the ruli ng classes. For such reasons, and depending on ones pol itical affiliation, American pop music can be reviled as an agent of moral or civil corruption, [or] hailed as a stimulant to social r econstruction (Weinstein, 1983). Perhaps one of the greatest examples in the last century was the way in which rock and pop music served to rally the American public, especially youth, against the Vietnam War and other social policies in the late s and early s, containing r adical criticism of the existing society and calls to arms for change (Weinstein 1983). Whether it successfully manifested in the desired changes or not is irrelevant; the role that music played in the discourse of that generation is significant. However, rock and pop music did not invent these concerns; it simply offered a medium to make these concerns cool and thus prevalent, or popular.

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21 So far, this review of literature has been focusing primarily on music and culture, but has also addressed the categories of the audience and the i ndustry. Not much atte ntion has been paid to the role of the artist or the nature of musical meaning, so those should be engaged before concluding with more detail on the music busine ss itself. Musical meaning is a broad category that could incite its own subcateg ories, but I will only focus on so me general ideas that are more relevant to this study. Often, the meaning depend s on the audience, so again, there will be some overlap in this discussion be tween the audience category and a different category. One of the first points to make about meaning and music is that, as with any cultural item, its value and meaning could be totally socially given (Willis, 1978) In other words, the item itself is without inherent structure or meaning, so that it is th e social group and its expectations which supply a content (Willis, 1978). This sta nds to reason since music is crea ted by people, and it is people who create meaning. Their meanings are also in pa rt determined by their social contexts, so a set of symbols that characterize thei r social experiences will inevitably enter their music. At the same time, there is no privileged point of m eaning, no point where mean ing can be definitely read (Shepherd, 1991). The reason fo r this is that the different intentionalities that producers and consumers bring to bear on musical practices ar e specific to concrete conjectures of social, cultural, and biographical processe s (Shepherd, 1991). This is to say that both the artist and each individual listener have their own framewor ks of interpretation, wh ich may not necessarily align to the same meaning. However, there is so me authority granted to the social and cultural contexts in which music is being both create d and heard. Take pop music for example. As already mentioned, pop musi cs dissemination is the result of marketing acts that appeal to common senses. As offered by Weinstein (1983), since rock [and pop] as commodity is aimed at the largest possible number of consumers, it must be geared to the lowest common

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22 denominator. Hence, regardless of any possibil ity for hidden meaning in pop music, it is often the obviousness of the text that the record companies are counting on to resonate with the greatest number of potential buyers. This is an important detail since one of the main goals of this study is to interpret songs lyrics and group them by similar theme. Were there more space for alternative interpretations in these pop songs, this study would never have been feasible. That said, pop music romanticizes and my stifies the everyday life of everyman, particularly in its sexual dime nsion, at least according to Weinstein (1983). The sexual dimension of pop music is especially important to adolescents because, according to Frith and McRobbie (1979), it is often through music that teenagers learn adult sexual behavior and are socialized into the already constructed sex roles provided by a patriarchal, capitalist society. It is the content of the lyrics specifically that g lamorizes stereotypical at tributes (Taylor, 1979). Certainly not all pop songs are a bout sexuality specifica lly, nor do all even convey subtle sexual undertones, but even the act of pairing off is a sexual behavior to some extent. Songs about relationships, as will be discovered in the analys is portion of this paper, account for the largest percentage of subject matter in the top popular music. Perhaps it is the conveyed meanings of these pop songs which help the teenage audien ce disambiguate the meanings of their relationships. Whether the stereotypical role s they may learn present a favorable set of conditions for romantic interacti ons is a different question all t ogether and certainly not within the scope of this paper. There is nothing more that must be attended to in the discussion of meaning in pop music. Any attempt to expand the discussion would onl y complicate the issue since pop has proven its straightforwardness. We may now turn to the role of the musician, which will also be brief. The primary reason for this is that once the artist ha s created the product, it is out of his/her hands,

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23 and wholly dependent upon the music industry a nd of course the audience to process it. However, it is not uncommon for the artist him/ herself to be a commodified product as well. The process of this may begin with saturation marketing, in which record companies douse the market with a variety of acts to determine which can create consistently favorable responses in the audience, then devote fullscale promotional campaigns to them (Epstein, 1995). What happens next is the production a nd promotion of other acts that are similar in style or sound, so as to maximize the profits of a successful formul a. The result is a certain homogeneity of pop music, and the solution is the distinction of the pop star. Theodor Adorno, who was quite critical of pop culture, recognized that the star system is what would pr eserve the aura of uniqueness for certain cultural products (Scott, 2000). Offering her own cynical commentary, Weinstein (1983) adds, celebrity and image rather than artistic profundity and proficiency are the requirements for successful audience appeal. This leaves out the importance of the musics ability to move the audience; no amount of glitz and glamour can make up for that, but this may still be achieved fairly easily without requiring gr eat proficiency or profundity from the artist. Often all that is required is a cl ever and catchy chorus line. Ne vertheless, the point being made by these authors is that the pop/rock star is an integral part of the business. Peter Wickes (1990) contributions will further illuminate this phenomenon. Wicke (1990) uses the phrase star cult to desc ribe an audiences attachment to an artists image. What it is about the audience that makes th em susceptible to joining a star cult is less of Wickes (1990) concern than the economics behi nd the promotion of a star. The life of a record is short compared to the potential life of an act. One reason for this is that the audience will desire new material, and if they have alread y approved of one iteration of an acts material, they would be optimistic about future releases. This ensures more long term sales for the record

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24 company. As Wicke (1990) writes, if the band has a stable image, this can be carried over onto each of their records with considerably reduced costs, since the established image circumvents the need for further promotion. He also notes that it tends to be more effective if the image is centered on a single musician (t ypically the singer) than a whole band. It is through this rationale that certain singers ha ve become the voices of the pe ople, especially if they employ broadly applicable themes in their music. Even Honigsheim (1973) agrees, the United States never ceased to emphasize the individual singer, further asserting that this is because of an individualistic philosophy which has been dominant in the U.S. Not surprisingly, individualism and egocentricity are themes that emerge in a nu mber of the top pop songs this study analyzes. The analysis portion of this paper will not focus on individual singers or bands, however it will feature a general demographic breakdown of the arti sts in order to demonstrate how the ratios of artists have changed, along the dimensions of gender and race, in the 30-year span. I would like to conclude this review with some additional remarks about the music industry. The analysis portion also will not direc tly address these aspects, but since the business of pop music is the channel through which the so ngs analyzed became popular, the following are some important points to keep in mind. It was already stated that cert ain changes in technology resulted in the emergence of mass culture. Su ch changes made it possible to mass produce the kinds of goods that suited the common needs of millions of people (Honigsheim, 1973). Also hinted at is that mass art is produced for prof it and both its content and form is determined by that pursuit (Epstein, 19 95). Thus, what occurs is standardiz ation in order to ensure that the fruits of mass production will be commercially viable (Vuillamy, 1977). What it is that the public actually wants is only a concern of the music business if those desires are accompanied by an ability and willingness to pay (Wicke, 1990) Standardization will inevitably leave many

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25 desires unsatisfied. However, the product must meet an average of tastes, and it loses in spontaneity what it gains in accessibility and cheapness (Haa g, 1959). Artists will even specifically compose with pop sens ibilities in mind, a sort of self -standardization, in order to increase their likelihood of being offered a record contract. However, the formulas the record executives have in mind immediately preclude many artists from having even the remotest chance of signing to a label. This is an especially ugly detail about the business. Talent, creativity, innovation, and passion are not what talent scout s seek in a band. Their criteria have a more superficial basis, and looks do matter. Plus, the business is domin ated by men. That is not necessarily enough to vilify it, but when men occupy most of the impor tant roles in the music industry, two things happen. First, those men are responsible for the creation and construc tion of suitable female images (Frith, 1979). Can you think of many fema le pop stars who did not have standardized sex appeal? And second, masculine styles, de sires, and interests are what wind up being marketed, and thus diffused as normal. Aggr essively masculine behaviors are often condoned or endorsed in pop music, as will be witnessed in the analysis of some of the songs from the modern era. All of these details point to th e ability the music business (and most mass media businesses) has to influence, even force, culture into the acceptance of marketable stereotypes. Does the influence last? Or do new concerns disp lace the old stereotypes? Let us turn now to the methods this study used to inve stigate these and other questions.

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26 CHAPTER 3 MATERIALS AND METHODS Selection of Data In this papers introduction, our pool of potentia l songs has effectively been shallowed but is still deep enough to warrant additional siphon ing. Popularity was a good start; no longer are unaired B-sides and no-name acts a concern. We can take popularity to the extreme, however, and ask what the most popular songs were. Spec ifically, the 10 most popular songs of a given year. With a little help from the Billboard ma gazines rating system, t hose top 10 songs have already been determined and documented by genre. Now all we must do is select a genre and the years to focus on. Since popularity is the primary criterion, popular or pop music will serve as the genre. This is, however, a peculiar genre. Arguably, it has no dedicated style. That is, there are no musical characteristics that define a song as pop. In contrast, jazz can be differentiated from rock, from classical, and from R&B by virtue of each genres stylistic components, such as the rhythms, instruments, and melodic and chorda l patterns typically used. But pop songs can stylistically be any of the above; they just happen to be popular. There are some common features that tend to character ize pop music, regardless of styl e, including short song length (anywhere from two to four minutes), intelligible lyrics, recognizable themes and subject matter, predictable or formulaic song structure, and at le ast one hook. Briefly, the hook is the part of the song (usually the chorus) that most people remember, usually an effective combination of a distinctive melody line and a lyri cal summation of the songs main theme. An example would be from Diana Rosss 1970 hit Aint no Mount ain High Enough, in which the hook actually features the title of th e song, a fairly common practice. It is important to note, however, that

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27 while these features are common, they are by no mean s rules. Even instrumentals can make it to the top 10 pop charts, like Paul Mauriats 1968 hit Love is Blue. The original intention of this project was to single out one ye ar from the late 1960s and one from the 2000s, and take the top 10 pop songs of those two years to draw comparisons and contrasts. However, one year per era is hardly enough material to make claims about the eras, so both eras now incorporate a four year span. Fo r the 2000s, the most curre nt list (at the time of writing) is 2005, so the modern era will encomp ass the top 10 songs of the year from 2002 to 2005. The classic era was not as easy to select since there is no such limiting factor off of which to anchor the span of years. The span selected is 1968 to 1971. The following are some of the details that helped in this decision. On e national concern that is common to both eras is war. After the attacks on the World Trade Ce nter on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush promptly decided to wage a War on Terror, which mutated into a war with Iraq in 2003. The war in the 1960s was with North Vietnam, a lthough that war began for the United States in 1957 and had been raging for almost twelve years before the first year of this studys decided span. The United States military involvement in the conflict increased significantly in 1965, and American troops were not withdrawn until 1973. That places the four year span approximately in the middle of the United Stat es increased involvement. A few other details helped reinforce this decided span. In January of 1968, North Vietnam launched the Tet offensive on major cities in South Vietnam, wh ich, while successfully suppressed, marked for many Americans that the situation was more dire than expected. Months later, the My Lai Massacre occurred, in which American troops des cended on the village, populated primarily by women and children civilians, and executed hundreds of inhabitants, though news of the incident did not surface until 1969. This further garnered cri ticism for the war among Americans. Also

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28 significant in 1968 was the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., who had been an outspoken advocate for civil rights and a known detractor of the war, the assassinat ion of Robert Kennedy who had been running for president, and the election of President Richard Nixon. Rock music especially was known for its propeace/anti-war sentimen ts during that era, being an integral part of the hippie moveme nt and enabling the legendary turnout for the Woodstock Festival in August of 1969. However, the purpose of this st udy is not to focus on such sentiments specifically. As will later be seen, songs that treat the topics of war and peace occur fairly infrequently in the top 10 lists fr om both eras. This is not to say they were uncommon in the top 100, but the most popular songs deal mostly with relationships, or the desire thereof. The wars from bot h eras are simply serving as a cult ural/political parallel, plus as a means to keep the spans relatively short. The top 10 lists for the two eras were availabl e from Billboards onlin e archives. Access, however, required a subscription. The website also featured information on how the lists were compiled. The following is a brief explanation. Billboards titles for the top pop charts have changed over the years, sometimes reflecting a shift in selection me thodology. There are two methods for selection: airplay and record sales. Both utilize data from the Nielsen Media Research company. The amount of airplay is meas ured using Nielsens Broadcast Data Systems, which is able to track the number of times commerc ial radio stations play a given song. The top songs obviously scored the most plays. The record sales are compile d by Nielsens Soundscan, which captures sales data from mo re than 90% of the U.S. music retail market. To reiterate, the title of the charts distinguish between sele ction methodology, though not expressly so; one must cross-reference the title to its methodology. Each year of classic era songs were labeled Top Pop Singles, but by 2002, the title changed to Top 40. Both of these groups were based on

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29 airplay. The 2005 chart is the only unique year, consisting of the top 10 songs from the Hot 100. What is also unique about that year is that the Hot 100 songs are the only used in this study whose ratings are determined by both airplay and record sales. Un fortunately, Billboard did not offer a list for that year that was base d solely on airplay, like the Top Pop Singles and Top 40. Would this skew the results? I argue that it does not, sinc e this studys basis is popularity, and all of these songs, regardless of the precise ways they are measured, are among the most popular for a given year. After gathering all of the lists, finding the s ong lyrics was a simple matter. Popular songs lyrics can almost always be found via an internet search using the title and artist as searching criteria. The absolute accuracy of the lyrics found online is sometimes debatable. However, the errors and/or omissions are minor and do not detr act from the overall point of the song. The only songs that I could not find lyrics for with this method turned out to be in strumentals. I copied and saved the 78 songs-worth of lyrics onto my computer and organized them by year for easier access. Table 3-1 displays a complete list of a ll 80 songs, organized by year and chart position. Methods of Analysis I employed a simplified method of content analys is to begin processing the data. With the first pass, I scanned the lyri cs of each song, starting with the number 1 song of 1968. In a separate word processor file, I jotted some notes for each song indicating what I could determine, with just one reading, was the su bject matter being treated by the narrator(s). Of the 78 songs with lyrics, less than five proved difficult to inte rpret with one reading. The language utilized in many of these pop songs is desc riptive and concrete. Arguabl y, even the most seemingly concrete language could be ridd led with hidden meanings and/or be variously interpreted. How a song can be alternatively interpreted would make for an interesting future study. However, this study is more concerned with the face-valu e meaning of the songs, primarily because pop

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30 music is targeted at the masses. Songs featur ing recognizable themes that appeal to common senses are more marketable, thus more profitab le, and profit is the primary driving force behind what is being heard on commercial radio. With a second pass, some of the more subtle cultural messages conveyed in the songs were discovered. The primary areas of interest in this closer look are common areas of sociological inquiry: gender, sexuality, race, cl ass, deviance, conflict, etc. This is where a distinction is drawn in the methods of content analysis betwee n manifest and latent content. To briefly summarize these terms, manifest content is what is readily seen or understood, whereas latent content requires more in-depth examination, where meanings must be decoded. An example of manifest content would be the fi rst lines from the 1970 hit American Woman by The Guess Who: American woman, stay away from me; American woman, mama let me be. The face-value interpretati on of this line, as well as for the entire song, is that a woman (of American origin) has been demanding the narrators attentions, but he would prefer not to give them. In the same song, a particular se quence of lines could alter the meaning: I don't need your war machines; I don't need your ghetto scenes; Coloured lights can hypnotize; Sparkle someone else's eyes. Here, the narrator is still speaking to the American woman in question on a manifest level; however these deta ils appear to offer commentary on American culture, almost as if the American woman is America itself, or perh aps even represents the Statue of Liberty. The first line may be indicative of the war in Vi etnam (or Americas history of war), the second a comment on the countrys economic policies, the third a remark on the growing influence of flashy media images on the culture, and the last a rejection of such influences. It is not necessary, however, that latent content offer an alternative interpretation of the song lyrics. The subject determined in the manifest content ma y be the same, but the latent content could

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31 demonstrate other details, for example, how ge nder roles are portrayed. Examining the 2003 hit In Da Club by 50 Cent, a detail emerges about women and stardom in the lines: When my junk get to pumping in the club it's on; I wi nk my eye at ya bitch, if she smiles she gone. The song is about 50 Cents rise to fame. The manifest interpretation of the li nes is that if 50 Cent desires it, he can lure a woman away from her boyfriend. The latent meaning is more a disempowering assessment of women that ope rates beyond the use of the demeaning word bitch. It is as if to say that women occupy a subjugated role in society, and fame and success are sufficient conditions to undermine the bonds they have worked to establish. He does grant, however, that not all women will necessarily behave this way, us ing the conditional word if. Still, his assertion that it is possible (and quite easy) is making a strong latent statement about culture. In the analysis portion of this paper, all of the song titles will be organized in a chart grouping them by themes. I have taken a gr ounded theory approach to constructing the typology. That is, rather than de lineating categories of topics first, I would allow the songs themselves to determine the categories. Some will be unique in subject matter, and some will have themes that could exist in more than one ca tegory. However, the main point of the songs is what will determine their categor ization, not the peripheral themes In addition, throughout the analysis I would be bracketing (to the best of my ability) my biases about these two eras of music in order to attempt as objective an interpretati on as possible. That wa y, the cultural commentary offered by this music will also emerge from the data rather than being rooted from my preconceived notions. I will state up front here that my own musical preferences, at least in terms of popular music, favor the classic er a considerably more than the modern era.

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32 Table 3-1. Master li st of songs by era From TOP POP SINGLES 1968 1. HEY JUDE Beatles (Apple) 2. LOVE IS BLUE (L'AMOUR EST BLEU) Paul Mauriat (Philips) 3. HONEY Bobby Goldsboro (United Artists) 4. (SITTIN' ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY Otis Redding (Volt) 5. PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE Rascals (Atlantic) 6. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE Cream (Atco) 7. THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU Herb Alpert (A&M) 8. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY Hugo Montenegro (RCA Victor) 9. MRS. ROBINSON Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia) 10. TIGHTEN UP Archie Bell & the Drells (Atlantic) 1969 1. SUGAR, SUGAR Archies (Kirshner) 2. AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN Fifth Dimension (Soul City) 3. I CANT GET NEXT TO YOU Temptations (Gordy) 4. HONKY TONK WOMEN Rolling Stones (London) 5. EVERYDAY PEOPLE Sly & the Family Stone (Epic) 6. DIZZY Tommy Roe (ABC) 7. HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME Sly & the Family Stone (Epic) 8. I'LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Tom Jones (Parrot) 9. BUILD ME UP BUTTE RCUP Foundations (Uni) 10. CRIMSON AND CLOVER Tommy James & the Shondells (Roulette) 1970 1. BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia) 2. (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU Carpenters (A&M) 3. AMERICAN WOMAN Guess Who (RCA) 4. RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN' ON MY HEAD B.J. Thomas (Scepter) 5. WAR Edwin Starr (Gordy) 6. AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH Diana Ross (Motown) 7. I'LL BE THERE Jackson 5 (Motown) 8. GET READY Rare Earth (Rare Earth) 9. LET IT BE Beatles (Apple) 10. BAND OF GOLD Freda Payne (invictus) 1971 1. JOY TO THE WORLD Three Dog Night (Dunhill) 2. MAGGIE MAY Rod Stewart (Mercury) 3. IT'S TOO LATE Carole King (Ode) 4. ONE BAD APPLE Osmonds (MGM) 5. HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART Bee Gees (Atco) 6. INDIAN RESERVATION Raiders (Columbia) 7. GO AWAY LITTLE GIRL Donny Osmond (MGM) 8. TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS John Denver with Fat City (RCA) 9. JUST MY IMAGINATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH ME) Temptations (Gordy) 10. KNOCK THREE TIMES Tony Orlando and Dawn (Bell) From TOP 40 2002 1 HOW YOU REMIND ME Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG) 2 COMPLICATED Avril Lavigne (Arista) 3 WHEREVER YOU WILL GO The Calling (RCA) 4 A THOUSAND MILES Vanessa Carlton (A&M/Interscope) 5 HOT IN HERRE Nelly (Fo' Reel/Universal/UMRG) 6 DILEMMA Nelly Featuring Kelly Rowland (Fo' Reel/Universal/UMRG) 7 GET THE PARTY STARTED Pink (Arista) 8 AIN'T IT FUNNY Jennifer Lopez Featuring Ja Rule (Epic) 9 U GOT IT BAD Usher (Arista) 10 IN THE END -Linkin Park (Warner Bros.) 2003 1 UNWELL matchbox twenty (Atlantic) 2 I'M WITH YOU Avril Lavigne (Arista) 3 IN DA CLUB 50 Cent (S hady/Aftermath/Interscope) 4 BEAUTIFUL Christina Aguilera (RCA/RMG) 5 BRING ME TO LIFE Evanescence Featuring Paul McCoy (Wind-up) 6 WHEN I'M GONE 3 Doors Down (Republic/Universal/UMRG) 7 WHERE IS THE LOVE? Black Eyed Peas (A&M/Interscope) 8 IGNITION R. Kelly (Jive) 9 CRAZY IN LOVE Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z (Columbia) 10 ROCK YOUR BODY Justin Timberlake (Jive) 2004 1 YEAH! Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris (LaFace/Zomba) 2 THIS LOVE Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG) 3 THE REASON Hoobastank (Island/IDJMG) 4 HEY YA! OutKast (LaFace/Zomba) 5 BURN Usher (LaFace/Zomba) 6 SOMEDAY Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG) 7 THE WAY YOU MOVE OutKast Featuring Sleepy Brown (LaFace/Zomba) 8 MY IMMORTAL Evanescence (Wind-up) 9 SHE WILL BE LOVED Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG) 10 I DON'T WANNA KNOW Mario Winans Featuring Enya & P. Diddy (Bad Boy/UMRG) From HOT 100 2005 1 WE BELONG TOGETHER Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG) 2 HOLLABACK GIRL Gwen Stefani (Interscope) 3 LET ME LOVE YOU Mario (3rd Street /J/RMG) 4 SINCE U BEEN GONE Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG) 5 1, 2 STEP Ciara Featuring Missy Elliott (Sho'nuff/MusicLine/LaFace/Zomba) 6 GOLD DIGGER Kanye West Featuring Jamie Foxx (RocA-Fella/Def Jam/IDJMG) 7 BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS Green Day (Reprise) 8 CANDY SHOP 50 Cent Featuring Olivia (Shady /Aftermath/Interscope) 9 DON'T CHA The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Busta Rhymes (A&M/Interscope) 10 BEHIND THESE HAZEL EYES Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG)

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33 CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS As mentioned in the Materials and Methods section, the 80 songs were organized by categories. A complete table of the songs and their respective cat egories is found at the end of this chapter (Table 4-1). To reiterate, this study employed a grounded theory approach to constructing the typology, meaning that the song lyrics were readand reread as necessaryto determine the categories, rather th an creating them first and trying to force the songs into them. After a few passes, I discovered that I had too many categories, so I determined broad themes that effectively condensed simila r categories into more convenient groups. The final number of categories is seven. Relationships/Love Global/Conscious/Commentary Fun/Party/Club/Sex Introspective Dance Instrumental Miscellaneous. While some songs contain details that tran scend these boundaries, the main topic of each enabled mutual exclusivity between categories. In other words, no song appears in more than one group. Below is how each group is operationalized. Relationships/Love: This is by far the most populous category, accounti ng for 20 of the 40 songs in the classic era, and 24 of the 40 in the modern era. It is also arguably the broadest. While every song in the category treats on the su bject of relationships or romantic love, the nature of the relationships being conveyed is dive rse. Originally, I intended to create a category out of each permutation of love that I found among the songs. Some examples are Unrequited Love, Love Lost, Disintegration of a Relationshi p, etc. There were too many songs that had a relatively unique plot, making such an exhaustive system of distinction counterproductive. In

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34 order to facilitate the constr uction of the overall typology, any song whose primary concern is with love or a relationship, regardle ss of the state of the love or relationship, was included in this group. Thus, songs that had a pessimistic view of a relationship, songs that were cheerful and celebratory of love, songs that treat the tempta tion of infidelity, songs where the narrator offers to be at a (potentially former) lovers beck and call, and many more were placed in this category. This may be a reductionist maneuver, but it is temporary. When it is time to compare the differing nature of love and relationships betw een the two eras, this category will be exploded. Global/Conscious/Commentary: The songs in this category all share one important detail: they treat themes relating to some as pect of social struct ure and the nonromantic interrelation between people. Ther e were 7 songs in the classic era, and 4 in the modern era that would fit in this category. The contents of this category are also diverse, with subjects ranging from war protestation, to race and class relations, to peoples self-e steem issues. The narrator of each song either explicitly or implicitly o ffers commentary on a social issue, sometimes approaching it from a first person point of view (usi ng the word I) to tell a story that renders an opinion about the issue. This category ties for second place with the next, in terms of the number of constituent songs. Fun/Party/Club/Sex: It was not a difficult decision to reduce the constituents of this category into one category. The primary reason for this is that most of the songs treating the party life mentality also have a notable sexual dimension. The only exception is Sly and the Family Stones 1969 hit Hot Fun in the Summer time, which makes no mention of sexuality at all. It should be noted that not all of the s ongs that emphasize sex also implicate the occurrence of a party, but the attitude of the language used in such songs conjures the same images of fun,

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35 exhilaration, and or substance use and irresponsibi lity. The classic era featured just 2 songs, and the modern era offered 9. Introspective: Each of these songs features a narrators account of the place he is at in life, along with some degree of poignant imagery to flesh out his plights. The 1971 song How can you Mend a Broken Heart by the Bee Gees may a ppear that it belongs in the Relationships category, however there is no mention made of the person who broke the narrators heart, and most of the details are thoroughly introspective in nature. Some of the songs rely heavily on allusions to the narrators past; some are more focused on the present and concerned about the future. Each of them has a wistful tone in th e language, but some are sprinkled with optimism. Unlike the previous category, this one has a great er representation by the classic era than the modern: 5 songs to 1, respectively. The next two cat egories are special, in that they will receive very little treatment in the analysis at all. Instrumentals: These songs obviously have little use to this study, since there simply are no words to analyze. It is impor tant to note that songs with no lyrics are rare in pop music, and even rarer in the top pop music. There are only two such songs out of the entire 80, and both coincidentally hail from the same year (1968): Love is Blue, by Paul Mauriat, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by Hugo Montenegro. The former eventually featured lyrics, but the original hit did not. Dance: This category is equally small, consisting of two songs. These are songs dedicated to a particular style of dance, in both cases named after the song (or vi ce versa). The song is about the dance, and may consist of lyrical inst ructions for how the dance is properly executed, along with other details that are supposed to incite the revelry associated w ith the dance. It is

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36 arguable that the two songs could have appeared in the Fun/Party/Club/ Sex category, but they are both specific enough to warrant their own category. Miscellaneous: The final category is for those songs th at were otherwise uncategorizable. The so-called Miscellaneous group is small, consis ting of four songs that do not relate to one another in any way and have such specific topics that it would have been inappropriate to force them into any of the other categories. I will br iefly summarize each here. First is The Beatles 1968 song Hey Jude, which was No. 1 for that year. What is unique about this song is that, of the 80, its subject matter is the most elusive. The lyrics are quite vagu e, and without knowing the context of the situation the song recounts, it would be difficu lt if not impossible to decipher the details. In brief, the author of the song (Paul McCartney) wrote it for Julian Lennon (fellow band member John Lennons son), who was copi ng with his parents divorce and other hardships. The second was a hit during the same year, a nd appeared on the soundtrack to the movie The Graduate Simon & Garfunkels song was about (and named after) the character Mrs. Robinson, who was engaged in an age-discrepant extramarital affair with a recent college graduate named Benjamin. This song did not fit in the Relationships category because the narrator is not involved in the relationship, nor do many of the vague details in the song even deal with Mrs. Robinsons rela tionship(s). The next song is also by Simon & Garfunkel, a hit in 1970 named Bridge over Troubled Water. The narr ator of the song is assuring someone that he will be available to lend comfort and friends hip when times are tough. This song is unique because, while a number of songs from the Relati onships category feature themes of helpfulness and friendship, this is the only one that makes no reference to love or the possibility of a romantic relationship. Plus, it is specifically about helpfulness, whereas the others (besides

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37 perhaps Jackson 5s Ill be There) seem to men tion it as a fringe benefit to their love. And finally, Gwen Stefanis 2005 Hollab ack Girl is simply a statement that the narrator is not the type to humor peoples denigra tion of her by countering with her own slanderous remarks. I will conduct the comparisons between the clas sic and modern era within the appropriate categories first. So all of the songs about relati onships will be compared across the 30 year span, then a summary will review some of the key diffe rences. The other categories are considerably smaller, thus will be summarized en masse after they are individually treated. But before all of that, I w ould like to give a demogra phic breakdown of the artists appearing in the top 10 lists for these two eras. The demographi c characteristics this study will focus on are gender and race. Demographic Comparisons Although the main point of this study is to an alyze song lyrics, it has been indicated in the review of literature that the role of the artist is important to th e study of popular music, since it is in part an artists image that contributes to a s ongs success. Were a stud y devoted to this aspect of the popular music, a more comprehensive ex amination of the people involved in the songs creation would be necessary, incl uding a biography of the artist him/herself. The present study will simply focus on two superficial demographic characteristics of each artist: gender and race or ethnicity. The reason for this besides that an in-depth examination would beleaguer the main point of this study, is that thes e two characteristics ar e the most noticeable about an artist, and may have the strongest correlation with his/her image. It is difficult to systematize an account of how the demographics have changed among pop artists between these two eras. Two factors in particular contri bute to this. First, there are occurrences in which the same artist is featured twice in one year, or more than once during the four year span. The question becomes, do the de mographic characteristic s of that artist get

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38 counted for each occurrence of that artist? I have decided that they would be, since any ratios drawn from the data would requ ire the preservation of the 10-s ong-per-year lists. Second, and especially with modern era music, many songs f eature guest artists who would change the final tally. In order to address this concerns I needed to apply some discreti on in which guest artists would be included, based on the degree of their ro les. For example, the No. 10 song of 2004 was I Dont Wanna Know, by Mario Winans, feat uring Enya and P. Diddy. Both Winans and Diddy are black males, whereas Enya is a white female. In reality, Enyas involvement was quite small. Her song Boadicea, in which sh e hums a haunting melody, was electronically sampled and looped in this track while the men sa ng and/or rapped over top of it. Had she been more involved, this songs artists would have been coded as multicultural/bi-gender (MC/BG). Instead, it is coded as black/male. It should also be noted that fo r many artists, their backup ba nd may have been MC/BG, but if the emphasis is placed on one artist, then his/her demographic characteristics are the only counted. Examples would be Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, and Christina Aguilera. A counter example would be Evanesce nce. The lead singer Amy Lee is female; the rest of the band is male. However, the artist that made the top 10 is not Amy Lee; it is the entire band. Evanescence is thus coded as W/BG indicating an all whit e group, and bi-gender. The codes include W (white), B (black), MC (multicultural, indicating a mix of racially/culturally diverse members), ME (multiethnic, applying to an individual), M (male), F (female), and BG (bi-gender, in dicating the involvement of at least one male and female). Tables 4-2 and 4-3 display the breakdown for a ll 80 songs and are found at the end of this chapter.

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39 In comparing the two eras, one detail that is immediately apparent is that the dominance of whites and males characteristic of the classic era is significantly reduced in the modern era. Whereas the ratio of males to females is 10:1 in the classic era, it is approximately 2:1 in the modern era. The number of bi-gender acts is comparable between the eras (7 and 8, respectively). This data clearly shows that pop music has become more open to female influence, despite the fact that there are stil l twice as many male acts becoming popular in the modern era. It should also be noted that not one of the female acts is an all female group. The closest was The Pussycat Dolls, whose song Dont Cha was No. 9 in 2005. The Pussycat Dolls actually is an all female group, however their hit single featur es a significant vocal influence by male rapper Busta Rhymes, so their combined efforts earned them a coding of BG. Even ,2 Step of 2005 by Ciara, featuring Miss y Elliot cannot count as an all-female group because Elliot is a guest artist, not a member of the same group as Ciara. A possible explanation for the lack of all-female groups in the top pop char ts is that there is dearth of female groups being signed to record labels to begin with. The music business seems to have found greater worth in producing and promoting a single female star and assembling an interchangeable backup group for her, which usually consists primarily or entirely of males. Vanessa Carlton and Avril Lavigne serve as examples from the top 10 lists. This is not to say that all-female groups cannot ach ieve great popularity. The Spi ce Girls, Destinys Child, TLC, and Salt-N-Pepa are some examples that did. W hoever composed the music for these groups is a different story. Female bands in which the me mbers play instruments and collaborate on the songwriting, rather than simply sing, are still vi rtually unheard of. It is much more common to find females playing such roles in bi-gender grou ps, such as Fifth Dimension, Sly & the Family Stone, and the Foundations, and of course, Evanescence.

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40 In terms of race, pop music has also shown a ma rked shift in the distribution of black and white artists. For the classic era, the ratio of wh ites to blacks is approxim ately 3:1, versus a ratio of approximately 4:3 in the modern era. Co incidentally, there was an equal number (4) of multicultural acts between eras. The classic era f eatured no multiethnic artists, while the modern era featured just two. These numbers are too small to make inferences. But returning to the discussion of black and white artists, it is difficu lt to precisely account for the change in ratios across er as. Black musicians have enj oyed great popularity since before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, some of the most notable names being Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington. Thus the change probably cannot be attributed to a relaxing of any exclusory tende ncies of the music business. As has been stated numerous times in this paper, the music business primary concern is producing profitable acts, so the answer must be in there. If record co mpanies have determined that adolescents tend to gravitate toward music that is distinctly diffe rent from their parents preferred musicas discussed in the literature re viewthen an examination of how black music has changed since the classic era could provide clues. Soul and R&B were common in the s, and R&B continues to be successful. But what the s did not have was rap. Emerging in the s and becoming extremely popular in the s and 2000s rap was unlike anything the s generation encountered. Rap music tends to feature bass-h eavy beats, direct and controversial language, unapologetic delivery, and is almost exclusively provided by black arti sts. In a sense, it was the perfect music with which white a dolescents could rebel. Record companies realized this and endorsed music that parents would find downright offensive, an example being the song Dont Cha. Here is a sample of some of Busta Rhymes lines: Oh, we about to get it just a lil hot and sweaty in this mufucka; Tryna put it on me till my balls black and bluish; to which The

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41 Pussycat Dolls added, I know you should be fucking me. Additionally, beca use raps lyrical content and delivery tend to be aggressively masculine and deemphasize vulnerable emotions, it became a means for young men to public ly enjoy music without appearing weak in front of their peers. If you know the words, it is easy to r ap along to, requiring no ability to reach higher notes or even sing in tune. It is also conducive to dancing. Over a third of the 40 top songs of the modern era involve rap characteristics. Not all feature black artists, like Linkin Parks 2002 In the End, in which the verses are rapped by an Asian-American and the chorus is sung by a Caucasian. Likewise, as should go without saying, not all music that parents would consider offensive is influenced by rap or performed by bl ack artists. But the popularity of this relatively new style of music reflects an effective formul a that young persons gratefully accepted, the result of which boosted the demand for it and consequently the increased recognition of black rappers. Recall that the classic era consiste d of a total of 9 songs by black ar tists. Over 9 of the 15 songs by black artists in the modern eras top pop are either dedicated rap songs, or feature a black rapper. With these demographic changes in pop arti sts reviewed, we may begin to analyze the lyrical content of these songs. I will tackle the giant Relationships/Love category first. Relationships/Love Without even deconstructing the language of th ese songs, there is one item that stands out in comparing the two eras: songs ab out relationships and/or love ar e the most prevalent in the top pop music. This has not changed in the 30 years be tween our eras. I suspect that a review of the s, s and s would reveal similar propor tions. As I have grouped them, there are four more songs in the modern era than the classic. Exactly half of the songs from the entire classic era treat these subjects. Let us take a closer look at what these songs are conveying. Note that after the first mention of a song s full title, I will often condens e subsequent mentions using key

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42 words to identify them. Also note that I will often use the word object to indicate the object of the narrators attention. It is in no way intended to imply th at the narrator is objectifying her/him; it is merely serv ing as a gender-neutral noun. Many songs have an optimistic or celebratory vi ew of love or attraction. The songs that are expressly so are Sunshine of Your Love, Sugar, Sugar, Dizzy, Crimson and Clover, and Get Ready. These songs use language that i ndicates the positive feelings of the narrator, or anticipation of encounters with the objects of their desires. Here are some key lines from Sunshine: Im with you my love; The lights shini ng through on you; Its the morning and just we two; Ill stay w ith you darling now; and the chorus, Ive been waiting so long; To be where Im going; In the sunshine of your love. A similar sentiment is found in Get Ready: Never met a girl could make me feel the way that you do; Get ready baby, cause here I come; Im bringing you a love thats true. Both songs use imagery of some distance being closed, and celebrate the way the object makes the narrator fe el. Get Ready takes it a little further and specifically mentions the aspect of sex, though uses tasteful language: Start making love to you. Sugar almost belabors the saccharine metaphor of the title with lines like: Sugar, ah honey honey; You are my candy girl; When I kissed you girl, I knew how sweet a kiss could be; Like the summer sunshine, pour your sweetness o ver me; Im gonna make your life so sweet, etc. Many of these lines are used more than on ce. Also note the use of the word sunshine, which conveys similar imagery to Creams Sunshine. Dizzy and Crimson and Clover both begin with the narrator having desires to be a pa rt of the objects life, with the former offering the audience the closure of his succes s. Some of the key lines are: First time I saw you girl, I just knew I had to make you mine; I want you for my sweet pet, but you keep playing hard to get; I finally got to talk to you and told you just exactly how I fe lt; then I held you close to me and

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43 kissed you and my heart began to melt. The metaphor this song us es is dizziness, indicating that objects power over the narr ator is staggering, and perhaps at times confusing. While he uses words like whirlpool and spinning, he at no point says this is a bad thing. Crimson is harder to interpret, for one because there are fe w words to begin with. Lines that give it away include: Now I dont hardly know her; But I think I could love her; Well if she come walkin over; Now I been waitin to show her. What make this song optimistic is lines like: My minds such a sweet thing; I wanna do everything; What a beautiful feeling. The title may be vague, but I believe it may be referring to blood a nd the heart. Crimson is sometimes used to describe the color of blood, and clover, assumi ng it is a four-leaf clover, could equate to the four chambers of the heart. Thus again, we have a song that pays homage to the physiological effects of the objects influence. Turning to the modern era, there are also s ongs that have an optimistic tone, though none seem to be dedicated appreciati on songs like Sugar. Additionall y, the list is shorter: Bring me to Life, Crazy in Love, and perhaps U Got it Bad. Bring Me is unique because, whereas other love songs may use imagery of light or sunshine, this song employs dark imagery to indicate what the narrator is being freed from through the love of the object. Here are some sample lines: Where Ive become so numb without a s oul, my spirit sleeping somewhere cold; Until you find it there and lead it back home; Call my name and save me from the dark; Frozen inside without your touch without your lo ve darling; Only you ar e the life among the dead. Indeed, it is difficult to classify this song as pos itive or optimistic based on such intense imagery. Additionally, the music of the song is at times eerie, at times h eavy and agitated, and at times desperate sounding. However, the overall point of th e song is appreciative of the objects role in the narrators happiness, or at least in her escape from the clutches of darkness. The language

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44 she uses fits with Evanescences gothic-rock mo tif, so it is crucial for the bands image to maintain those standards. Crazy in Love is somewhat more conventional. This song features a sort of dialogue between the two charactersone played by Beyonc, the other by Jay-Zin that they both get a chance to share their feelings. Th e premise is similar to some of the classic songs, where there is a distance separating the lovers. Despite this dist ance, their mutual feelings are strong enough to be considered by others as somewhat crazy. The overall tone of both na rrators conveys a great appreciation of one another, and the difficulties th ey each experience in being apart. As for U Got it Bad, the song seems to be more of a ge neral recognition of the power of love, not necessarily a celebration of the narrators own situation. There are a few songs that are more neutral, and/ or uncertain. From the classic era, there is This Guys in Love with You, Knock Three Time s, and One Bad Apple. In each of these songs, the narrator would like to be come involved in a relationship with the object, but seems to entertain the possibility that it will not happen, without dwelling on it. The only song within the modern era that conveys such a t one is Let me Love You, which has remarkable similarities to Bad Apple. In both songs, the narrator is recognizing that th e object has been hurt by a man. In Let me, it is clearly th e result of a mans infidelity: Baby I just don't get it; Do you enjoy being hurt?; I know you smelled the perfume, the make-up on his shirt; You don't believe his stories; You know that they're all lies; Bad as you are, you s tick around and I just don't know why. Also apparent by that last line is that the woman is still involved with the man who hurt her. In Bad Apple, it seems like the woman is not still involved with the man who hurt her, though it is not clear how the man hurt the woma n. But it is clear how it has affected her: I can tell you've been hurt; by that look on your face, girl; Some guy brought sad into your happy

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45 world; You need love, but you're afraid that if you give in; Someone else will come along; And sock it to ya again. In both songs, the narrator assert s that he is the person who the object deserves. However, in neither song does the narrator indicate havi ng success or failure convincing her of this. The logical next batch is the songs that are pessimistic, or that dolefully recount having lost a relationship, or express the inability to secure the relationship desired. I will start with that one. From the classic era, songs in which the na rrator feels s/he may not have a chance with the object include I Cant Get Next to You, They Long to Be Close to You, and Just my Imagination. What is interesting about Cant Get Next is that the narrator, played by the different singers of the Temptations, paints hi mself as a person of tremendous power and possessing varying amazing abilities, but despite that, cannot achieve what he really wants, which is to win the affections of the object. Exemplary are the lines from the first verse: I can turn a gray sky blue; I can make it rain, whenever I wanted to; Oh, I can build a castle from a single grain of sand; I can make a ship sail, uh, on dry land; But my life is incomplete and I'm so blue; Cause I can't get next to you. The language used to indicate th is distress reflects the narrat ors perception of need; he needs the object to return his feelings in order to feel happy, or even function. This concept of need is not uncommon among the songs in the Re lationships category, but without surprise is absent from all of the more positive songs beside Bring me to Life, which is arguably the basis of that song. The following are the songs th at mention this type of need, along with a representative line from each: from Guys in Love, I need your love, I want your love; Say youre in love and youll be my girl, if not Ill just die; from Build me Up, Buttercup, Why do I need you so, baby baby; from Just my Imagination, Dear Lord, hear my plea...don't

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46 ever let another take her love from me or I will surely die; from A Thousand Miles, And I need you; and I miss you; from Dilemma, I love you, and I need you; and from We Belong Together, I need you, need you back in my life baby. Apparently, using need as a signifier of intense emotions is a practice in pop music that is stil l alive and well today. However, the modern era approaches the conc ept of the unattainable relationship in different ways than the classic era. The most unique of which is Im With You, in which the narrator has the desire of a relationship, but does not have a particular object in mind: Isn't anyone tryin to find me? Won't somebody come take me home? It's a damn cold night; Trying to figure out this life; W on't you take me by the hand, Take me somewhere new; I don't know who you are; But I... I'm with you. Other songs focus on a relationship that is unattainable due to an existing arrangement. Examples are: Dilemma, Aint it Funny, and of course Let me Love You. In the case of Dilemma, there is a conv ersation between the artistssimilar to Crazy in Lovein which Kelly Rowlands character is already involved in a relationship, but desires Nelly, who asserts I never been the type to break up a happy home. It appears that the two do engage in a surreptitious physical relationship, but in the end part company on behalf of her other ties. The premise of Aint it Funny is sim ilar, though the sexual dimension is absent. Since the song is based on the movie The Wedding Pla nner in which the artist Jennifer Lopez plays the lead role, one can infer that the songs stor y parallels the movie plot That said, the song concludes with the desired relationship being attained, but most of the song relays the disappointment of the preventative circumstances Let me Love You has already been discussed, but like the previous two, demonstrat es a desire for someone who is otherwise involved. There is just one song from the classic er a that features a compar able premise. In Go Away Little Girl, the difference is that the actor who desires the spoken-for person is not the

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47 narrator at all. Instead, the narrator wishes to remain honorable to his current arrangement, and insists that the object of the song cease with he r temptations. The ironic twist is found in the lines: When you are near me like this; You're much too hard to resist; So, go away, little girl, before I beg you to stay. The differing approach to the unattainable rela tionship in the modern era could signify a departure from the traditional con cept of unrequited love. There ar e four songs in the classic era that could be subcategorized as such, but none in the modern era. Let me Love You is excluded from that subcategory because there is no closure. That is, it is uncertain how the object would respond to the narrators desires. Some of the four classic songs also contain no definitive closure, but the overall tone of the la nguage is indicative of a perceived unlikelihood of success. Any explanation for th is departure in modern pop would be purely speculative. It is however my opinion that songs of unrequited lo ve are either too common or too uniformor perhaps too clichdto stand out and reach the top 10. It is almost as if the edgier modern culture would rather hear songs about forbidden loves than the potentially whiny s/he doesnt love me songs. One topic that has not seemed to get weary for the modern era is what I refer to as relationship gone awry. Quite the contrary, th is topic is the most co mmon in the top modern pop, accounting for a startling 13 of the 24 songs in this category. They are as follows: How You Remind Me, In the End, Burn, This Love, Hey Ya! Someday, She will be Loved, I Dont Wanna Know, The Reas on, My Immortal, We Belong Together, Behind these Hazel Eyes, and Since U Been Gone. I will not belabor the point by treating each, but will instead focus on the most notewor thy. There are several ways in which a relationship can go awry, from the lo ss of affect, to the damage of infidelity, to an imbalance in

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48 power, to death. Often, songs do not expressly state the actual cause. In fact the majority of the 13 do not. Additionally, the relationship going awry does not necessitate it ending, as is the case in I Dont Wanna Know, where the narrator has evidence of the objects infidelity, but would prefer to remain oblivious. As a side note, he does offer an ultimatum: Now it's time you invest in me; Cause if not then it's best you leave. The songs Someday and The Reason may also serve as examples, but it is unclear how the stor ies will conclude. What is unique about The Reason is that it is essentia lly an apology; the narrator is admitting to doing wrong, but would like to prove he is willing to change: I'm sorry that I hurt you; It's something I must live with everyday; I've found a reason for me; To change who I used to be; A reason to start over new; and the reason is You. In Burn and We Belong Togeth er, the respective narrators had ended their relationships, but changed their minds and wish to reinstate them, although in Burn the narrator appears torn on the issue: I know I made a mistake, now it's too late; I'm twisted cuz one side of me is tellin' me that I need to move on; On the other side I wanna break down and cry. The song Since U Been Gon e features a peculiar twist: But since you been gone; I can breathe for the first time; I'm so movin' on, ye ah yeah; Thanks to you, now I get what I want; Since you been gone. Rather than being mour nful about the end of her relationship, the narrator exhibits relief and a sense of freedom. What is ironic is th at the song Behind these Hazel Eyes, a top 10 hit the same year and performe d by the same artist, conveys a much different message with lines like: Now I can't breathe; No, I can't sleep; I'm barely hanging on; I'm torn into pieces; Broken up, deep inside; Now all t hat's left of me is what I pretend to be. Turning to the classic pop, there are far fewe r songs about a relationship going awry, but it is still the most populous subcategory in that era. The 6 songs are Honey, Build me Up Buttercup, Ill Never Fall in Love Again, Band of Gold, Maggie May, and Its Too

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49 Late. In Honey, the object dies: One day while I was not at home; While she was there and all alone; The angels came; Now all I have is memories of Honey. This is a unique situation that many young listeners would not be able to empa thize with, so it is surp rising that it is a top 10 hit. It is possible that My Immortal from the modern era also features a death, but the imagery is not as concrete as the angels cam e. The primary difference between the plotline where a character dies and other s ongs of this subcategory is that it is impossible to place blame on either or both of the participants. The liste ner may still sympathize with the narrator, but is not expected to take sides. Conversely, songs like Buttercup and Never Fall do seem to command the allegiance of the listener. Some key lines are: from Buttercup, Why do you build me up; Buttercup baby just to let me down; And mess me around, and then worst of all; You never call baby when you say you will; But I love you still; and from Never Fall, All those things I heard about you; I thought they were only lies; But when I caught you in his arms; I just broke down and cried. Just from this array of specific plots within this subcategory alone, there is no discernable difference between the eras in terms of culture. Heartbreak and the souri ng of relationships are timeless themes that will likely be fodder for pop music for eras to come. However, the same could be argued for songs dealing with unre quited love. So why is it that there are no occurrences of that subcategory in the modern er a, yet disproportionately more than the classic era about a relationship going awry? Again, any re sponse to this would be highly speculative. Regardless, I will offer possibi lities. Relationship dysfunction may have become a more marketable theme because the parents of the mode rn generation have a higher divorce rate than the parents of the classic generation. Even if adolescents have not had their own relationships yet, they may have already witnessed how they can go awry at home. As for young adults, since

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50 the median age at first marriage has increased since the classic era (approximately 4 years for males and 5 years for females; Infoplease, 2006), there is more time for the modern generation to experience a greater number of l ong-term relationships that in evitably fail before settling down. These details may indicate an erosion of th e concept of ideal love; rather than brooding for the unattainable one that is considered perfect, an individual may be more apt to take what is available to whatever end. The final subcategory of songs are not as c onveniently grouped. Si nce there is a broad Miscellaneous category for the oddballs of the entire study, th is could be a Miscellaneous subcategory for such songs that st ill treat relationships. From the classic era are the songs Aint No Mountain High Enough, and Ill be There and from the modern era are Wherever You will Go, A Thousand Miles, When Im Gone, and Gold Digga. What is interesting about these remaining songs is that th e first four of the five deal with a theme already discussed: distance. The two from the classic era are rema rkably similar, both indicating the narrators willingness to drop everything and go to the object if the object so desires. In Wherever, the situation is somewhat different The details of the relationship are vague, but it seems like returning to the objec t is not an option: If I could, then I would; I'll go wherever you will go. It is entirely possible that either the narrator or the object has die d. In Thousand, the nature of the relationship is also unclear, but the narrator does express a willingness to bridge the distance: Cause you know I'd walk a thousand mile s; If I could just see you tonight. For the two classic songs, it seems like a reunion is feasible, given th e beckoning of the objects. For the modern songs, the abstractness of both conveys greater uncertainty. It is th is uncertainty that kept these two songs out to the relationship gone awry subcategory. Meanwhile, When Im Gone is just confusing. Some details seem to celebrate a relations hip that is strong even in the narrators

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51 absence, some details hint at a hidden weakness in the relationship: When your education XRay; Cannot see under my skin; I won't tell you a damn thing; That I could not tell my friends. The final song is Gold Digga, th e premise of which is, as the t itle suggests, an account of a particular womans propensity for using wealth as the primary crit eria for selecting a (temporary) mate. This could have been included in the relationship gone awry subcategory, since the narrator indicates being victimized by the object at one point. However, the main point of the song is the objects exploits in general, rather than his review of the relationship they had. Summary: Because the Relationships/love category is so large, it is the only of the seven main categories in this studys typology that wi ll have its own summary. The other categories will all be summarized together. That said, let us review the comparisons between the two eras, and point out some additional details in general th at were not covered in the exhaustive analysis above. The most basic point is that relationships and love still constitute the most prevalent subject matter in popular music. I would imagin e an analysis of other popular entertainment media, such as movies and televisions shows, would produce similar results. Even action and science fiction films, generally geared toward males, usually feature so me sort of romantic interest between select characters. American culture seems to be in love with love. In both eras, the orientation of the characters involved in the songs is almost always explicitly heterosexual, which I ascertained by the occurrence of gender specific pronouns, or from the use of words like girl by a male narrator. Only one song openly mentions marriage: Band of Gold. Likewise, only one mentions a child (Dilemma) but th e child is not the pr oduct of the two main characters in the plot.

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52 If sexual intercourse is mentioned at all, it is usually just implied. The most candid references to sex are found in the modern pop song This Love with lines like: I tried my best to feed her appetite; Keep her coming every night; and My pressure on your hips; Sinking my fingertips; Into every inch of you. The only song from the classic era that even remotely approaches this kind of exp licit detail is Maggie May: But you turned into a lover and; Mother what a lover, you wore me out; All you did was wreck my bed. The song Hey Ya! from the modern era also f eatures a rather frank line: OHH OH, don't want to meet yo' mama; Just want to make you cumma, which implies the narrators disinterest in evolving the relationship beyond the physical dimension, despite earlier details in the song that suggest it already has. The degree to which language ha s become more explicit in modern pop will be more clearly seen in the discussi on of the Fun/Party/Club/Sex category. In terms of gender roles, it would appear that men and wo men are equally portrayed as both strong and weak in both eras. In other words, both male and female narrators may either express their vulnerabilities, or demonstrate their steadfastness Meanwhile, a monogamous and loyal relationship is still the professed goal of both men and wo men in both eras, with little tolerance for infidelity. An exception would be Dilemma, in which the narrators do engage in a relationship (to whatever extent) outside of a preexisting one. In none of the songs does the narrator use his/her rela tionship difficulties to justify cha uvinistic generalizations about the opposite sex. Likewise, in none of the songs doe s the narrator use his/ her gender to justify questionable actions. To review some of the points already made, the classic era generally features more positive or optimistic songs about relationships than the m odern era. Both eras favor songs that focus

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53 more on the results of a stressed relationship, but there are twice as many in the modern than the classic era. Global/Conscious/Commentary From here, the comparisons of the songs will be more superficial, since each of the remaining categories does not have a specific un ifying theme like Relationships/love. Recall that the concept delineating the present category is that each of the songs treats some aspect of social structure and society from a critical standpoint. Despite the range of topics, some of the s ongs do actually address common themes. The songs People Got To Be Free, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, Everyday People and to some extent Joy to the World all address th e notion of peace and harmony between people of varying backgrounds. They are all also coincident ally from the classic era. Some of the key lines are: from Be Free, You should see, what a lovely, lo vely world this'd be; Everyone learned to live together, ah-hah-unh; Seems to me such an easy, easy thing this should be; from Aquarius, Harmony and understanding; Sympathy and trust abounding; No more falsehoods or derisions; Golden living dreams of visions; and from Everyday, Oh sha sha we got to live together; I am no better and neither ar e you; We are the same whatever we do. The most similar song from the modern era is Where is the Love? but said song offers a much broader commentary, treating the topics of the war on terror, discrimination, the nations cover-ups, forgiveness, fixation on money, and the negativity of media. Additiona lly, the song seems more focused on pointing out the problems than offering peaceful solutions. The tone is at times resigned, illustrated by the chorus: Father, Father, Father help us; Send us some guidance from above; 'Cause people got me, got me questionin'; Where is the love. Another song that offers general commentary a bout the state of affairs in the United States was already discussed in the Me thods section. The narrator of the classic pop song American

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54 Woman uses a clever metaphor to convey disenchant ment with certain aspects of American life. The woman he is speaking to throughout the song re presents the country as a whole, or at least the governing principles. Like Where is th e Love?, it too calls attention to war ( I don't need your war machines ) however does not focus on it as heavily. The song from the classic era that does is War. The entire song is devoted to th e subject, even recogni zing the fact that young people are the ones being sent to fight and possibly die: War has shattered many a young man's dream; Made him disabled, bitter and mean. It is surprising that, for as much unrest as was reported from that era, only one top 10 song of the four year span was so explicitly detracting of the Vietnam War. As stated ne ar the beginning, this certainly doe s not deny that other anti-war songs achieved popularity; they just did not ga rner enough popularity to reach the top 10. The fact that just one song from the modern era is clearly anti-war is not as surprising for two reasons. First, this war has not been waging as long, and second, there is currently no threat of being drafted. Another difference is that the current war was wage d in response to attacks on the United States mainland. Although the Bush administ ration does not seem to have maintained a clear view of who their actual enemy is, much of the support that was garnered for this war is rooted in those attacks and the pe rceived threat of future attacks. Such was not the case for the Vietnam War. Perhaps if the situation in Iraq dete riorates further over the next few years, the top 10 lists will feature more songs voicing disapproval. The social commentary that the modern era s eems most concerned with operates on a more individual level. The songs Complicated, Unwell, and Beautiful each have a different subject, but each address a more personal issue of some sort. What distinguishes Complicated is that it is a pop song that cr iticizes pop culture. The premise is that the narrators good friend has a tendency to present him/herself (the gend er is not stated) differe ntly amongst a different

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55 circle of friends: But you become; Somebody else; 'Round ev eryone else; Watchin' your back; Like you can't relax; You're tryin' to be cool; You look like a fool to me. This is a criticism of pop culture because there ar e particular patterns of dress and behavior associated with certain pop culture motifsespecially among teenagersa nd the narrator would prefer her friend to remain true to him/herself and not subscribe to those patterns: Acting like you're somebody else gets me frustrated; Take off all your preppy clothes. The irony of this song is, of course, that its popularity likely produced its own pop culture mo tif, based on the artists chosen style. The song Unwell deals with emotional diso rders like anxiety and depression. The fact that this is the No. 1 song of 2003 indicates that such concerns have become widespread among the pop culture audience. Though the prevalence of such disorders is also evidenced by the booming anti-depressant/anxiety medi cation industry, these are still very personal problems that are a source of shame for the afflicted individual: And I know, I know they ve all been talking about me; I can hear them whisper; And it makes me think there must be something wrong with me; and from the chorus But Im not crazy, Im just a little unwell; I know right now you cant tell. It is entirely possible that the narrator is playing the role of the entire American culture. Beautiful is similar in that it discusses self -esteem, often one of the key factors in the development of emotional troubles. The primary assertion of the song is that every person is beautiful in every way, and that we should not allow others to c onvince us otherwise. Perhaps this song served as an anthem to counter so me of the realities put forth in Unwell. The only remaining song in this category is I ndian Reservation, from 1971. As the title suggests, the song reminds Americans what happen ed to the people who were here before there was an America. While the population being rec ognized by this song is very specific, the songs

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56 main point could be extended to implicate othe r imperialistic instances of American policy, perhaps even the Vietnam War. Fun/Party/Club/Sex This is the category which accounts for the most noticeable shift in American pop culture. However, this shift will not become apparent through a comparison between songs within this category alone; there are only two classic pop songs that qualified for th is category versus the nine from the modern era. What is most read ily apparent within the lyrics of the modern pop songs is the drastic difference in language compar ed to any of the classic songs, regardless of category. I will briefly discuss the two classics in order to get them out of the way. Both songs were hits in 1969. They are H ot Fun in the Summertime, and Honkey Tonk Women. Among all the songs in this categor y, Hot Fun is without question the most gentle. The song consists of several narrators offering recollections of the carefree lifestyle associated with school-aged youth on summer v acation. The only two lines that could possibly be interpreted to indicate drug use or sex are That's when I had most of my fun, back high high high high there; and "Boop-boop-ba-boop-boop" when I want to; but that would be a bit of a stretch. The other details just celebrate the su mmer. In contrast, Honkey Tonk has a notable sexual dimension: I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis; She tried to take me upstairs for a ride; and I laid a divorcee in New York city. Also note the attention given to alcohol use, furthered by the line: Cause I just cant seem to drink you off my mind. These details are relatively G -rated compared to many of the details discovered amongst the modern pop. The most notable songs are Hot in Herre [ sic ], In Da Club, Yeah!, The Way You Move, Candy Shop, and Dont Cha. Coincidentally, these ar e all rap influenced songs. Many of them are set in a dance club, wh ich immediately gives rise to the mention of alcohol and/or other substances, a nd sexuality. Each of these songs features several details, so I

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57 will only focus on the most prurient. I will leav e out Dont Cha because it was already used as an example in the section on demographics. I wo uld like to caution the re ader: if you are easily offended, skip the rest of this pa ragraph. From Hot in Herre: I was like, good gracious ass bodacious; Its gettin hot in here so take off all your clothes; What good is all the fame if you aint fuckin the models; Say she like to think about cuttin in restrooms. Note: cutting is slang for engaging in sexual inte rcourse. From In Da Club: Mama, I got that X, if you into takin' drugs; When you sell like Eminem, and th e hoes they wanna fuck; I see Xzibit in the Cutt that nigga roll that weed up; You that faggot ass nigga trying to pull me back right? From Yeah!: These women all on the prowl, if you hold th e head steady I'm a milk the cow; I won't stop till I get 'em in they birthday suits; So gimmie the rhythm and it' ll be off with their clothes, then bend over to the front and touch your toes; if they aint cutting then I put em on foot patrol. From The Way You Move: Drip drip drop there goes an ear-gasm; Now you cumin out the side of your face; Skinny, slim women got the camel toe within them, you can hump them, lift them, bend them, give them something to remember. And finally, from Candy Shop: I'll let you lick the lollipop; Go 'head girl, don't you stop; Y ou gon' back that thing up or should I push up on it; Got the magic stick, I'm the love doctor; Get on to p then get to bouncing round like a low rider; I melt in your mouth girl, not in your hands; Lights on or lights off, she like it from behind. What is most apparent from many of these lin es, beside of course the blatantly sexual nature of most of them, is the unabashed use of words that would never be used in mixed company, notably fuck, nigga, and faggot. And yet, they appear in pop songs. These songs are most certainly edited if they appear on the radio or te levision, but the attitude behind them would not be changed by such edits. In te rms of the overall point of this study, the change

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58 in American culture is clear with these lyrics. The tolera nce for offensive language in pop culture has drastically increased in the last 30 year s. It obviously is not simply the use of foul words that is condoned. These songs all c onvey a manner of object ifying women and many endorse the use of alcohol and drugs. As men tioned in the section on demographics, these are the kinds of songs that are most dissimilar from the music of the classi c era, which solidifies their use as methods of rebellion for the younger generation. Whether the audience internalizes any of these messages or not is a potential topic fo r another study. Introspective This is the final category that will undergo a comparison between eras, however it will be rather superficial sin ce the modern era boasts just one s ong. The song is Boulevard of Broken Dreams, and as the title hints at, has a doleful tone that r ecounts the narrators torment: I walk a lonely road; The only one that I have ever know n; Don't know where it goes; But it's home to me and I walk alone. The chorus conveys similar themes to Im With You, discussed in the Relationships section, with lines like: My shadow's the only one that walks beside me; My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating; So metimes I wish someone out there will find me; 'Til then I walk alone. The theme of loneliness is also desc ribed in Sittin on the Dock of the Bay: Sittin' here resting my bones; And this loneliness won't lea ve me alone, listen. The most notable contrast between these two songs is that the narrator in Boulevard prefers to remain in motion, using metaphors of walking, while the narrator of Dock is more sedentary and resigned. Neither in dicates that he thinks his situation will improve. Also quite pessimistic is the song How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. As mentioned earlier, this song escaped the Relationships category because the narrator does not discuss the situation or person that broke his heart. This song is similar to Dock in th at it consists of detail s that dwell on the past: I can think of younger days when liv ing for my life; Was everything a man could want to do; And

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59 misty memories of days gone by. The similarity to Boulevard is that both narrators look to someone else to help them emerge from their troubles. From Boulev ard, the aforementioned line Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me, and from Mend, Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again. The remaining songs are somewhat more op timistic. In Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, although the narrator admits to his diffi culties, he remains assured that they are temporary: But there's one thing I know ; The blues they send to meet me won't defeat me; It won't be long til happiness steps up to greet me. Perhaps the narrators of Boulevard, Dock, and Mend could learn from the line: 'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by complainin'; Because I'm free. The song Let it Be also speaks of hard times, and the solution, though more abstract, is similar: When I find myself in times of trouble; Mother Mary comes to me; Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. The final song is Take me Home Country Roads, which could have been categorized as Miscellaneous, but it has enough of introspective tone that it joined the others of this category. The song is more a celebration of the archetype of home, and recounts the fond feelings of attachment to such a place. Some key lines are: Country Roads, take me home; To the pl ace I belong; Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye; And drivin' down the road; I get a feelin' that I should have been home yesterday. Boulevard, and Dock also a llude to this concept of home. Summary: Recall that this summary is dedicat ed to all of the categories besides Relationships, since that mammoth of a categor y engendered its own summary. However, key songs from that category will not be excluded from this summary in order to help illustrate some of this studys findings.

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60 As stated, the most visible change that emerge d from this lengthy analysis of pop music is the transformation of language. Just focusing on wo rd selection is only pa rt of the story, but the most drastic. The rap songs in particular utilized rather frequently words that are considered obscene, but this is not confined to rap. Ther e is an occurrence of fuck in Boulevard ( What's fucked up and everything's alright ), and in the chorus of U Got it Bad ( I've been there, done it, fucked around ) and recurrent use of sh it in Hollaback Girl ( Let me hear you say, this shit is bananas ). Beyond that, there are no bad words in any of the other songs, and none at all in any of the classic songs. It would also be appropriate to comment on the way that language has syntactically changed between the two eras. Since song lyrics are akin to poetry, the rules of syntax and grammar are typically more lax, granting a sort of arti stic license. In other words, there is simply less demand for strict adherence to the guidelines of the English language. Many artists will take this liberty where appropriate to fit key ideas or messages to the meter, resulting in condensed or incomplete sentence structures. This has likely b een a feature of lyrical music since before the rules of grammar were even outlined. However, some of the music in the modern era deviates from the rules consistently, possi bly intentionally. Th e rap songs account for the greatest amount of deviation, employing numerous colloquialisms and syntactically errone ous lines. There are several lines that could illustrate this point, but consider this li ne from 50 Cents In Da Club: Look nigga I done came up and I aint change. Were this line writte n with proper grammar, it would read: Look, [nigga]; I have become successf ul, but I have not changed. The explanation for rap musics defiance to the rules of proper English is rooted in the fact that, since its founding in the 1980s, the language of rap musi c has been based on the dialect of urban dwelling, poorer class black youth. Exceptions have circumstantially arisen, but record

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61 companies have proven imprecise lan guage to be an effective cultural item to market. This is not implemented with white artists, likely because American societys parochial attitudes on race construct a system of expecta tions in which it is more inappropriate for white artists to extravagantly break language rule s than it is for black artists. At the same time, since the young white audience buys rap music (and is a larger ma rket population), as noted in the Demographics subsection, the imprecise language used therein can further raps distinctio n as a style of music scorned by parents, steeping its efficacy as a tool of rebellion. Plus, the idioms and colloquial terms utilized provide young persons with an alternative system of speech symbols which parents may have difficulty decoding. The candor of discussing sex has also inclined between eras. Again, this is most evident in rap music, but as earlier mentioned, the song T his Love also provides vivid detail of sexual acts. There is little mention of sex at all in the classic era, and when there is, it is occurring within the context of a relati onship, with the exception of Honkey Tonk Women. Conversely, in modern pop the act of sex is more likely constr ucted as an isolated incident with a person of relative anonymity. The modern era also features the only two songs that are dedicated sex songs (Ignition and Candy Shop) where the majo rity of the details a dvance the plot of a sexual encounter. Dont Cha coul d arguably be considered a sex song as well, but most of the details convey the tension being built between the narrator and object(s) rather than the actual encounter. Whereas the songs in the Relationships categor y tended to portray ob jects with respect, this was not necessarily the case in the Fun/Party/Club/Sex category. Only one of the two classic songs in that category can be discussed here, since the subject matter of Hot Fun is not relevant. Honkey Tonk does not specifically use disrespectfu l language, but it is clearly

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62 focusing on women as sexual objects. Women are obj ectified in most of the rap songs as well, but these songs may also employ disrespectful wo rds, like bitch, and hoe. What is more notable than using such words however is the overall manner in which gender roles are constructed. Often, in songs about relationships, it is the duty of the ma le narrator to win and maintain the attention of the female object. He must impress her and satisfy her and appreciate her; essential he must prove his worth. In the rap songs, the role of the narrator is much more passive. Such songs often portray the women t hrowing themselves at the narrator, just on account of his hyper-masculinity and/or status. Some examples include : from In Da Club, Now shawty said she feeling my style, she fe eling my flow; Her girlfr iend wanna get bi and they ready to go; from Yeah! I saw shorty she was checkin' up on me, from the game she was spittin' in my ear you woul d think that she knew me; from The Way You Move, The girls all pause with glee, turning left turn ing right, are they l ooking at me? Now they got me in the middle feeling like a man whore; and from Dont Cha, Seems like shorty wanna little menage pop off or somethin, let's go; Lookin at me all like she really wanna do it. Since the nature of the engagement between th e characters in these songs is much more transient than what is depicted in relationshi p songs, it would stand to reason that the narrator need not prove what he would contribute to an arrangement beyond the sexua l encounter. If the goal of both parties is simply sex, then in a se nse the women are also objectifying the men; we just do not get to hear their sides of the story, nor what descriptive terms they would use. That is an important detail as well. Th e so-called double-standard is vi sible in top modern pop in that there are no songs in which a female narrator is proudly describing her co nquests. The closest are Dont Cha, and Get this Party Started. In the former, the male narrator has a much more active role than the female narrator(s). In the la tter, the narrator (a fema le) does not describe any

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63 sexual encounters, but does spend most of the song addressing her appeal. One can conclude that male sexuality is more accepted in modern pop music than female sexuality. To compare the two eras, since the classic era features only one applicable song, it is more accurate to argue that sexuality in general is more accepted in m odern pop, as already stated. The sexuality just happens to be specifically male. This is not to say that female pop stars have not successfully used sexuality to achieve popularity. Some exam ples would be Britney Spears, Shakira, and Christina Aguilera. However such images are ab sent from the top pop in this four year span, indicating it is not as broadl y accepted or tolerated as what is offered by males. Sexuality is not the only aspect that has ch anged. There are more songs from the classic era that pay heed to broader social issues than fr om the modern era. A dditionally, the issues that the modern songs treat operate more on a persona l level, with the excep tion of Where is the Love? Perhaps this is not enough data to infe r that modern pop culture is more egocentric, especially given the fact that there are more songs in the cl assic era that qualify for the Introspective category. However, to factor in the content of the songs from the Fun/Party category in the modern era may provide more evidence to support a possible incline of egocentrism. In her book on modern youth culture entitled Generation Me Twenge (2006) shows that this generation has encountered the gr eatest emphasis on the self in history, so this incline would definitely appear likely. The theme of being helpfu l is also more common in the classic era, appearing in songs like People Got to be Free, Hey Jude, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Ill There, Mrs. Robinson, and Let it Be. The modern era is practically devoid of this theme, with the strongestthou gh indirectexample in Beautiful.

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64 Table 4-1. Categories of analysis Relationships/Love Global/Conscious/Commentary 1968 2002 1968 This Guy's in love with you Dilemma People got to be Free Sunshine of your Love Ain't it funny 1969 Honey U got it bad Aquarius/Let the sunshine in 1969 How you remind me Every day People I can't get next to you Wherever you will go 1970 Crimson and Clover Thousand Miles American Woman Dizzy In the End War Sugar, Sugar 2003 1971 Build me Up Buttercup When I'm gone Joy to the World I'll Never Fall in Love Again Bring me to Life Indian Reservation 1970 Crazy in love 2002 They long to be close to you I'm with you Complicated Ain't no mountain high enough 2004 2003 I'll be there Burn Unwell Get ready This Love Where is the Love Band of Gold Hey Ya! Beautiful 1971 Someday Just my imagination She will be loved Misc Knock three times I don't wanna know 1968 Maggie May The Reason Hey Jude It's too late My Immortal Mrs. Robinson One bad apple 2005 1970 Go away little girl Let me love you Bridge over Troubled Water We belong together 2005 Behind these hazel eyes Hollaback girl Since U been gone Gold Digga Fun/Party/Club/Sex Dance Introspective 1969 1968 1968 Honkey Tonk Women Tighten Up Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay Hot Fun in the Summertime 2005 1970 2002 1,2 Step Raindrops keep falling on my head Hot in here Let it be Get the party started Instrumental 1971 2003 1968 Take me home country roads In Da Club Love is Blue How can you mend a broken heart Rock your body The Good, Bad, Ugly 2005 Ignition Boulevard of Broken Dreams 2004 Yeah! The way you move 2005 Candy shop Don't cha

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65 Table 4-2. Classic er a demographic breakdown 1968 1. HEY JUDE Beatles (Apple) W/M 2. LOVE IS BLUE (L'AMOUR EST BLEU) Paul Mauriat (Philips) W/M 3. HONEY Bobby Goldsboro (United Artists) W/M 4. (SITTIN' ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY Otis Redding (Volt) B/M 5. PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE Rascals (Atlantic) W/M 6. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE Cream (Atco) W/M 7. THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU Herb Alpert (A&M) W/M 8. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY Hugo Montenegro (RCA Victor) W/M 9. MRS. ROBINSON Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia) W/M 10. TIGHTEN UP Archie Bell & the Drells (Atlantic) B/M 1969 1. SUGAR, SUGAR Archies (Kirshner) W/BG 2. AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN Fifth Dimension (Soul City) B/BG 3. I CANT GET NEXT TO YOU Temptations (Gordy) B/M 4. HONKY TONK WOMEN Rolling Stones (London) W/M 5. EVERYDAY PEOPLE Sly & the Family Stone (Epic) MC/BG 6. DIZZY Tommy Roe (ABC) W/M 7. HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME Sly & the Family Stone (Epic) MC/BG 8. I'LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Tom Jones (Parrot) W/M 9. BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP Foundations (Uni) MC/BG 10. CRIMSON AND CLOVER Tommy James & the Shondells (Roulette) W/M 1970 1. BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia) W/M 2. (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU Carpenters (A&M) W/BG 3. AMERICAN WOMAN Guess Who (RCA) W/M 4. RAINDROPS KEEP FALLIN' ON MY HEAD B.J. Thomas (Scepter) W/M 5. WAR Edwin Starr (Gordy) B/M 6. AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH Diana Ross (Motown) B/F 7. I'LL BE THERE Jackson 5 (Motown) B/M 8. GET READY Rare Earth (Rare Earth) W/M 9. LET IT BE Beatles (Apple) W/M 10. BAND OF GOLD Freda Payne (invictus) B/F 1971 1. JOY TO THE WORLD Three Dog Night (Dunhill) W/M 2. MAGGIE MAY Rod Stewart (Mercury) W/M 3. IT'S TOO LATE Carole King (Ode) W/F 4. ONE BAD APPLE Osmonds (MGM) W/M 5. HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART Bee Gees (Atco) W/M 6. INDIAN RESERVATION Raiders (Columbia) W/M 7. GO AWAY LITTLE GIRL Donny Osmond (MGM) W/M 8. TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS John Denver with Fat City (RCA) W/M 9. JUST MY IMAGINATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH ME) Temptations (Gordy) B/M 10. KNOCK THREE TIMES Tony Orlando and Dawn (Bell) MC/BG TOTAL: WHITE 28 BLACK 9 MULTICULTURAL 4 MULTIETHNIC 0 MALE 30 FEMALE 3 BI-GENDER 7

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66 Table 4-3. Modern era demographic breakdown 2002 1 HOW YOU REMIND ME Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG) W/M 2 COMPLICATED Avril Lavigne (Arista) W/F 3 WHEREVER YOU WILL GO The Calling (RCA) W/M 4 A THOUSAND MILES Vanessa Carlton (A&M/Interscope) W/F 5 HOT IN HERRE Nelly (Fo' Reel/Universal/UMRG) B/M 6 DILEMMA Nelly Featuring Kelly Rowland (Fo' Reel/Universal/UMRG) B/BG 7 GET THE PARTY STARTED Pink (Arista) W/F 8 AIN'T IT FUNNY Jennifer Lopez Featuring Ja Rule (Epic) MC/MG 9 U GOT IT BAD Usher (Arista) B/M 10 IN THE END -Linkin Park (Warner Bros.) MC/M 2003 1 UNWELL matchbox twenty (Atlantic) W/M 2 I'M WITH YOU Avril Lavigne (Arista) W/F 3 IN DA CLUB 50 Cent (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope) B/M 4 BEAUTIFUL Christina Aguilera (RCA/RMG) ME/F 5 BRING ME TO LIFE Evanescence Featuring Paul McCoy (Wind-up) W/BG 6 WHEN I'M GONE 3 Doors Down (Republic/Universal/UMRG) W/M 7 WHERE IS THE LOVE? Black Eyed Peas (A&M/Interscope) MC/BG 8 IGNITION R. Kelly (Jive) B/M 9 CRAZY IN LOVE Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z (Columbia) B/BG 10 ROCK YOUR BODY Justin Timberlake (Jive) W/M 2004 1 YEAH! Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris (LaFace/Zomba) B/M 2 THIS LOVE Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG) W/M 3 THE REASON Hoobastank (Island/IDJMG) W/M 4 HEY YA! OutKast (LaFace/Zomba) B/M 5 BURN Usher (LaFace/Zomba) B/M 6 SOMEDAY Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG) W/M 7 THE WAY YOU MOVE OutKast Featuring Sleepy Brown (LaFace/Zomba) B/M 8 MY IMMORTAL Evanescence (Wind-up) W/BG 9 SHE WILL BE LOVED Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG) W/M 10 I DON'T WANNA KNOW Mario Winans Featuring Enya & P. Diddy (Bad Boy/UMRG) B/M 2005 1 WE BELONG TOGETHER Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG) ME/F 2 HOLLABACK GIRL Gwen Stefani (Interscope) W/F 3 LET ME LOVE YOU Mario (3rd Street /J/RMG) B/M 4 SINCE U BEEN GONE Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG) W/F 5 1, 2 STEP Ciara Featuring Missy Elliott (Sho'nuff/MusicLine/LaFace/Zomba) B/F 6 GOLD DIGGER Kanye West Featuring Jamie Foxx (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam/IDJMG) B/M 7 BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS Green Day (Reprise) W/M 8 CANDY SHOP 50 Cent Featuring Olivia (Shady /Aftermath/Interscope) B/BG 9 DON'T CHA The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Busta Rhymes (A&M/Interscope) MC/BG 10 BEHIND THESE HAZEL EYES Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG) W/F TOTAL: WHITE 19 BLACK 15 MULTICULTURAL 4 MULTIETHNIC 2 MALE 22 FEMALE 10 BI-GENDER 8

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67 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION To return to the adage expressed at the very be ginning of this paper, the concept of age is probably what is most important to keep in mi nd when analyzing pop music. It is easy for someone who has matured past adolescence a nd young adulthood to discard the current pop music as uninspired, plastic, or vulgar noise wi th no culturally redeeming qualities, meanwhile believing that it is rotting the br ains of the young. What is not as simple is for such people to bracket their own history of experiences and understand why the music defining the era of their youth also produced similar reactions among th e older generations. New pop music is not supposed to be enjoyable for the majority of adults. If it were, then the youth culture would not have such an identifiable means to distinguish its elf and reject the aspects of adult life they find worthy of criticism. In the late 1960s, the youth were criti cal of the stodgy businessman mentality of society and puritanical repression of sexuality characteristic of the 1950s, and they were critical of the war and draft. The pop music was fun, lighthearted, and upbeat, or challenging to social norms and political policy. What criticisms is modern pop indicating that todays youth have? It would appear that they are debating the necessity of rules, particularly rules about language and rules about monogamy. Is defiance to adult rules and regulations unique to modern pop? Certainly not. To reit erate, age-specific concerns are key in the production of pop music, regardless of era. It is also easy for the mature observer to pass judgments on youth culture and predict a worst-ca se-scenario for the future those young persons will help create. And again, what is not easy for said observers is to realize that they helped enable or create the cultural c limate, social norms, and regula tions that the new batch of young people is responding to.

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68 There have indeed been some distinct cha nges in pop music that could be considered alarming to older persons. Subject matter, lang uage used, and aggressive delivery of modern pop in particular are in sharp contrast to the more peaceful themes in the music of the classic era. At the same time, there have been changes in culture as a whole that unsettle younger persons, even if they have not been alive long enough to see them as changes. Youths are still expected to excel and achieve in American so ciety when they become adults. But today, the manifestation of that success may appear to youth, through the example of their pare nts, as a ceaseless dedication to work at the expense of their amplified sense of self that Twenge (2006) asserts modern culture cultivated. They are essentially trapped betw een contradictory ideals: Should I follow my dreams as Ive been told Im entitled to, or do I sacrifice my individuality in order to work and be successful within this system? Through it all, the music industry has been insightful enough to market acts that young persons can identify with, and thus will purchase. If they do not feel it, they do not buy it. The industry knows this a nd will cater to those de sires, having no qualms about the repercussions, if ther e truly will be any. As we know, the young will mature and begin to dislike the newest material be ing released, and perhaps even grow out of much of the material they did enjoy. So what else can we learn about modern cu lture from the manifestation of young desires through pop music? What are their values? For one it would appear that the implications of war and the demand for peace are not as great a c oncern as they were for young people in past generations. Again, this may stem from misinformati on or the lack of a military draft. If the war does not directly affect them, why should they care? Instead, personal difficulties and troubles with relationships seem to be the focus, which follows from the heightened emphasis on the self. The temporary relief of those difficulties is f ound in the distraction of partying and dancing at

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69 clubs. It is at these clubs and parties that the undert ones of sexuality flourish, in part because of the content of the music. Is m odern culture more fixated on sex than prior generations? That is hard to say for certain, but it would certainly ap pear so by the way it is so openly discussed in these songs. These details seem to exemplify th at our culture has yet to decide upon the best way to prepare youth for the poten tially harsh realities of sex a nd love. Young people can almost expect to have their hearts broke n, given the themes of some of these songs. Nevertheless, the pursuit of relationships is still an ideal of youth. That itself has not changed since the classic era, even if the idealized characteristics of relati onships have shifted to self-fulfillment versus concern and/or admiration for the partner. How have parents who grew up in the wake of the sixties described dating to thei r children? Did they? What has the increasing prevalence of divorce told those children about long-term commit ment? Given some of the other themes of modern pop music, the way to safeguard oneself against the hazards of commitment is to seek only cursory outlets to satisfy urges. What is iron ic is that this occurred in the sixties as well, with the popularized concept of free love. However, si nce the cultural climate of young persons was more based on peace and acceptance, th e way that sex was conceptualized then is likely much different from the way it is now. Many modern pop songs also emphasize status symbols. Money, cars, and recognition are discusse d with far greater frequency than they are in classic pop. Could this be alluding to an incline in and celebration of conspicuous consumption? If one were to examine the difference in popular clothing styles between these two eras, would the modern era exhibit a greater value placed on e xpensive, name brand attire and accessories? A potential future study could examine the inte rsection of pop music themes and consumer patterns among youth.

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70 The point that emerges through all of this disc ussion is that, like an individual human, our culture and society is growing a nd learning, and every cross-sectiona l analysis of a particular era will reveal that change in style is just a means for society to avoid stagnation. We may experiment with new wardrobes, but the body we wr ap in those clothes is much less subject to alterations. Will pop music still be predominan tly about relationships 50 years from now? Probably. But as long as there are music and clothing industries for profit, pop culture will continue to be-bop, hip-hop, rock, ro ll, and get funky. Can you dig it?

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71 LIST OF REFERENCES Epstein, Jonathon S. (Ed.). (1995). Adolescents and Their Music: If its Too Loud, Youre Too Old New York: Garland Publishing. Etzkorn, K. Peter. (1989). Introduc tion. In K. Peter Etzkorn (Ed.), Sociologists and Music (pp.3-40). New Brunswick, New Jers ey: Transaction Publishers. Frith, Simon. (1981). Sound Effects New York: Pantheon. Frith, Simon, and McRobbie, Angela (1979). Rock and sexuality. Screen Education 29, 5-15. Gaston, E.T. (1951). The influe nce of music on behavior. University of Kansas Bulletin of Education 6, 60-63. Gaston, E.T. (1968). Man and music. In E.T. Gaston (Ed.), Music in Therapy (pp.7-29). New York: MacMillan. Grossberg, Lawrence. (1992). We Gotta Get Out of this Place: Popular Conservatism and Postmodern Culture New York: Routledge. Honigsheim, Paul. (1973). Sociologists and Music New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Lomax, A., et al. (1968). Folk Song Style and Culture Washington D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Median Age at First Marriage, 1890%u20132003." Infoplease. 2000 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. 23 Sep. 2006. . Merriam, A.P. (1964). The Anthropology of Music Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. Middleton, Richard. (1990). Studying Popular Music Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Radocy, Rudolph E., and Boyle, J. David. (1979). The Psychological Foundation of Musical Behavior Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas. Scott, Derek B. (Ed.). (2000). Music, Culture, and Society New York: Oxford University Press. Shepherd, John. (1991). Music as Social Text Cambridge: Polity Press. Taylor, Jenny, and Laing, Dave. ( 1979). Disco-pleasure-discourse. Screen Education 31, 4448. Twenge, Jean M. (2006). Generation Me New York: The Free Press.

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72 Van den Haag, E. (1959). Of happiness and despai r we have no measure. In B. Rosenberg and D. White (Eds.) Mass Culture (pp.504-536). New York: The Free Press. Vuillamy, Graham. (1977). Music and the mass culture debate. In J. Shepherd, P. Virden, G. Vuillamy, and T. Wishart (Eds.), Whose Music? A Sociology of Musical Languages (pp. 179-200). London: Latimer. Weinstein, Deena. (1983). R ock: youth and its music. Popular Music and Society 9, 2-15. Wicke, Peter. (1990). Rock Music: Culture, Aesthetics and Sociology Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wilensky, H. (1964). Mass society and mass cu lture: interdepende nce or independence? American Sociological Review 29(2), 173-197. Willis, Paul. (1978). Profane Culture London: Routledge.

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73 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Born in Massachusetts, Chad moved to Florid a before forming coherent sentences and has been slowly cooking since. By virtue of his own humanity, he became interested in people and their intricacies by middle school, but did not r ealize the science thereof until halfway through his undergraduate studies. Originally an engineer ing student, he heard advisors and professors sing of the slippery slope of engineering, wh ere the intensity of the program would send students tumbling into the Liberal Arts. Chad in evitably supported their statistics, but not for meager grades; the fields cold rigidity turned him away. Sociology melded his intrinsic people studies with a structured learning environment. But throughout it all, his true passion has been music.


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Title: Pop Froze the Easel: Decoding the Cultural Significance of Top Ten Pop Songs from Two Eras
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Copyright Date: 2008

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POP FROZE THE EASEL: DECODINTG THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF TOP TEN
POP SONGS FROM TWO ERAS




















By

CHAD SWIATOWICZ


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA INT PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2006

































Copyright 2006

by

Chad Swiatowicz































To Music and all who love what can be the most honest and interactive expression of the human
character









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

For all those who had time and patience for me while I saw this proj ect through, I extend

my sincerest appreciation. My committee consisted of two excellent humans. Dr. Monika

Ardelt kept me realistic and entertained my whimsical irreverence for structure and formality.

Dr. Hernan Vera lent me focus and granted me the liberty to be myself while helping me pause

to understand who that self is. I would also like to thank Dr. Henretta and the sociology

department' s admissions committee for taking a chance on a guy who, while capable of

academics, would rather be rocking. And finally, I would like to recognize the three professors

who helped that committee decide to take that chance by their sparkling letters of

recommendation: Dr. Charles Gattone, Dr. Terry Mills, and Dr. Marian Borg. The impact that

Dr. Gattone has had on my growth as a scholar, a musician, and a person exceeds the scope of

this page. Dr. Mills has challenged me to think about topics I never knew I was so interested in,

and has shown me a respect few others have had the opportunity to. While I have only had one

class worth' s of interaction with Dr. Borg, her approach to building a learning environment

restored my faith in the classroom setting and bolstered my desire to become a teacher.

And for those about to rock...I salute you!












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............. ...............4.....


LIST OF TABLES .........__.. ..... .__. ...............6....


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........7


CHAPTER


1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............8.......... ......


2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE ................. ...............10........... ...


Overview ................. ............ ...............10.......
The Sociology of Popular Music ................ ...............12........... ...


3 MATERIALS AND METHODS .............. ...............26....


Selection of Data ................. ...............26........... ....
Method s of Analy si s ................. ...............29................


4 AN ALYSIS ............... ...............3


Demographic Comparisons .............. ...............37....
Relationships/Love .............. ...............41....
Gl obal/C on sci ous/C ommentary ................. ...............53........... .
Fun/P arty/C lub/S ex ................. ...............56........... ...
Introspective .............. ...............58....


5 CONCLU SION................ ..............6


LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............71........... ....


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............. ..............73.....










LIST OF TABLES

Table page

3-1 Master list of songs by era .........._.... ...............32...._... ..

4-1 Categories of analysis .............. ...............64....

4-2 Classic era demographic breakdown .............. ...............65....

4-3 Modern era demographic breakdown .............. ...............66....









Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

POP FROZE THE EASEL: DECODINTG THE CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF TOP TEN
POP SONGS FROM TWO ERAS

By

Chad Swiatowicz

December 2006

Chair: Monika Ardelt
Cochair: Hernan Vera
Major Department: Sociology

The popular music of the United States serves as a set of cultural artifacts. Interpreting the

song lyrics of this music provides a means to discover the cultural climate of the era during

which the songs were authored and released in mainstream media. This study selects two eras of

pop music, the period 1968 through 1971 and the period 2002 through 2005, and compares and

contrasts the content of the lyrics, tracking what themes and discourses have changed or

remained constant between the two eras. What is most evident in this analysis is the dominance

across eras of songs treating the subj ect of romantic relationships, and the departure from

"polite" or "proper" language moving chronologically from the first era to the second.









CHAPTER 1
INTTRODUCTION

It is said that you know you are getting old when you no longer like anything on the radio.

A broad generalization indeed, for there continues to be an abundance of radio stations that

specialize in delivering the "good old songs" that played an integral part in defining the culture

of eras passed. What is intended by the above adage however is the identification of a truth that

has existed since the distribution of radio technology became widespread: as quickly as time may

pass, the passing of popular trends will occur just as, if not more, quickly. What was "hip" back

before the explosion of communication technology may have had more longevity, primarily

because it simply took longer for what was "new" to circulate and effectively become "old."

Whatever it is that prevents people from appreciating new musical styles, bands, and songs after

they mature beyond young adulthood is not necessarily within the scope of this paper, nor could

such a study necessarily generate significant evidence to support the adage.

What is important to this paper is more the significance of what the music of a generation

is saying about that generation. In other words, we can use music, specifically music with lyrics,

as analyzable cultural artifacts to decode the social, political, cultural, and even economic

characteristics of an era. In order to narrow the field of possible musical selections to analyze,

there must be some filtering criteria employed, lest the hundreds--even thousands--of songs

released in a given time period generate countless hours of research. The primary criterion used

for this study is popularity. Wide scale acceptance and appreciation for a song is indicative of

cultural relevance. The relationship may work in both directions: either the cultural climate of

the era solidifies the appeal of the song, or the appeal of the song solidifies the climate of that

era. In either case, the song's popularity accounts for a larger audience and more frequent

encounters with that song. The discussion of the selection process will be expanded in the










Materials and Methods section later on. But before that, a look at what others have said about

culture and music could serve to not only put into context a society's selection criteria for

popular music, but also enhance the validity of my later analyses.









CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Overview

Since the purpose of this study is to use popular music to determine how American culture

has changed in over thirty years, there are key components of the sociology of music worth

reviewing in order to build a foundation on which to make analyses. This review of literature

will cover five subj ects in the sociology of music in particular, all of which are variously related.

The subj ects in question include the relationship between music and culture, the role of the

musician, the role of the audience, the nature of musical meaning constructed by both artist and

audience, and the industry aspects that decide what is heard and how often.

These categories are inspired, in part, by sociologist Paul Honigsheim's extensive work in

the sociology of music, but where this study's and his categories diverge will become apparent

momentarily. The categories were actually outlined in the introduction, written by editor K.

Peter Etzkorn (1989), to a compilation of Honigsheim' s later works entitled Sociologists and

M~usic. Honigsheim' s intention with these categories was to investigate forms of music and their

relationship to social structures. They are: The Intended Meaning of Music, The Cultural

Evaluation of Music, The Socioeconomic Position of the Musician, The Social Structure of the

Audience, and Social Forms and Musical Forms (Etzkorn, 1989). I will briefly treat each

individually before exploring in depth my own categories.

The Intended Meaning of Music can account for two elements of a piece of music. First is

the actual sounds being produced: musical notes, timbres, rhythms, chord progressions, etc. The

second is the content of the lyrics, if any. In either case, Honigsheim seems to be implicating the

artist or composer of the piece and what messages s/he is hoping to convey. Whether the

audience derives the same meaning as what was intended plays a crucial role in the interplay









between the categories of this study, though this is not explicitly stated in Etzkorn's (1989)

review of Honigsheim' s categories. Nevertheless, it is the meanings that can be discerned from

the lyrics of music that are most integral to the purpose of this study, regardless of the lyricists'

intentions behind them. As will be discovered during the analysis section of this paper, when it

comes to pop music, the obvious point of the song usually garners little cause to delve any

deeper. A prime example would be Edwin Starr' s 1970 song "War," in which he reminds us

what it is good for (absolutely nothing!).

The Cultural Evaluation of music is comparable to my category of the relationship between

music and culture. The cultural climate of a society engages in an interaction with what music is

being produced in that society, as hinted at in the introduction of this paper. In other words, the

state of affairs of a given society, from politics to social norms and practices to current events,

influences the production of music, while the music that is most highly disseminated can in turn

influence the state of affairs.

Concerning the Socioeconomic Position of the Musician, this specific detail bears little

weight on this study, but parallels the importance of the musician' s role in the types of sounds

reaching a vast audience. We obviously cannot have music without the individuals who are

inspired and skilled enough to create it. Their socioeconomic position actually factors in more

heavily with the industry aspects of music, mostly because of the phenomenon of stardom and

how that can affect the reception of musicians' works, and consequently the revenues generated

for the businesses promoting them. Musicians have had a variety of roles throughout history, but

the one that will be most important here is the role of being "the voice of the people."









The Social Structure of the Audience more or less sums up the goal of my category. It is

difficult to detach the role of the audience from the culture in which that audience is situated, so

there will be some overlap between these two categories within this review.

The category Social Forms and Musical Forms effectively gets co-opted into my category

of the relationship between culture and music. Regarding musical forms, this will receive very

little attention; as already stated, the song lyrics themselves will be more important to this study

than the musicological quality of the selections.

The final category, which has completely escaped Hongisheim's five but serves as my fifth

is the industrial aspects of music. It would be impossible to single out any of the five as being

the most important to the phenomenon of popular music, but in a sense, the music industry

serves as "the final word" on what enters, and when it exits, the mass market. Popular music is a

business, and it happens to involve a vast bureaucratic network, most of which is invisible to the

average music lover who gets his/her fix with the turn of a radio dial. It should be stated up front

that the songs covered in this study will not undergo a massive deconstruction under which the

producers and record labels providing these songs will be implicated and analyzed from within

their industrial contexts. That would be an interesting possible future study, but for now, it is

important to at least call attention to the operating channels of "the music biz" to provide a

backdrop for how these songs achieved such popularity.

So all of the gear is set up. Now let us do a sound check.

The Sociology of Popular Music

What good is music anyway? What is it for, what does it do? Music has had a long

history and has undergone a world of changes, and has been applied and used in a variety of

settings and functions. Nowadays, we think of it primarily as a form of entertainment. It was

not always so.









In fact, through his historical analysis of the uses of music in society, Honigsheim (1973)

discovered that its use as entertainment or for personal enj oyment is quite rare indeed. He

writes, "a study of history and of various cultures reveals that these extramusical and

individualistic associations with the experience and practice of music have appeared

infrequently," adding that "music has usually been considered principally as a supportive tool

with immediate use for collectivistic and social purposes" (Honigsheim, 1973). While words

such as "extramusical" and "individualistic associations" appear vague, the point being made is

clear: music has historically been used primarily to reinforce the goals of certain social events.

These events were most likely religious services and rituals, or even events that involved

"primitive magical practices" (Honigsheim, 1973). This conjures images of robed figures

saturating the halls of a cathedral with their haunting unisons at a mass, or funeral, etc. Another

image could be a Native American tribe drumming and dancing, accompanied by the breathy

accents of a flute, in a ritual intended to ward off bad fortune. In either case, the music is

"functional." According to Gaston (1951), "fimnctional music is far older and more abundant

than music played or composed for aesthetic purposes," which would be in accordance with

Honigsheim's (1973) assertion.

But why music? What is it about a deliberate collection of sounds that stimulates the

participants of a social event like a religious/spiritual ceremony? The answer to this is quite in

depth and could warrant its own chapter, but the simple response is that music serves as an

alternative form of communication. What is usually being communicated at such social events is

a set of symbols. For now, I will ignore the use of words in music. The human brain can

interpret the music' s nonverbal communication to abstractly represent the importance of the

event (Gaston, 1968; Merriam, 1964) in addition to whatever spoken rites are employed. The









ritual or service in question has specific sounds and patterns associated with it; certain notes,

phrases, rhythms, etc. are used for certain events, distinguishing them from other events. What

occurs as a result of this is a socializing effect on participants. That is, the impact of music can

help validate the significance of social institutions and/or religious rituals, serving as a means of

cultural indoctrination (Merriam, 1964; Honigsheim, 1973). It will later be argued that a similar

phenomenon occurs with popular music.

Before that, however, it is important to note how music made the transition from being

functional to being a source of entertainment and enj oyment. This is not at all to say that there

was no room to enj oy the musical sounds featured at ceremonies; it was just not the express

purpose. Any aesthetic appreciation for those sounds was likely very private. This of course

depends on the culture and the nature of the event, but it is reasonable to assume that one would

not find church members "groovin'" to the soundtrack of a 14th-Century mass. Likewise, the fact

that most music was historically functional certainly does not mean that all of it was. The

transformation deals more with our general perception of music. Functional music still exists,

but the amount of music for pleasure, at least within modern American culture, far exceeds the

amount of music for function (although music for pleasure can still be used functionally)

(Radocy and Boyle, 1979). We may find the roots of the transformation in traditional folk

music. It is impossible to know which musicians from which cultures played a role in the

transformation, and at what times in history, primarily because the transformation itself is neither

precise, nor region specific. Regardless, the examination of traditional folk music has shown

that it historically has a strong association with lower, uneducated classes, being performed

almost exclusively by and for them, with their wishes and sentiments in mind (Honigsheim,

1973). More precisely stated, the favored music of such groups "reflects and reinforces the kinds









of behaviors essential to [their] main subsistence efforts and [their] central and controlling social

institution," a detail which could extend to any cultural setting (Lomax, 1968). For rural folk

cultures, subsistence farming and trades work was physically taxing and monotonous. Music

and dance (and perhaps a barrel of mead) facilitated the refreshment of people' s spirits and

enriched their sense of community, and was indeed quite enjoyable. In pop culture phraseology,

"work hard, play hard."

Music for enjoyment was not reserved for the lower and uneducated classes, however.

What happened was a sort of co-optation of entertainment music by the higher and elite classes.

This is the point where the notion of "popular" music begins to arise, but as will be seen,

involves a sort of "call and response" between higher and lower classes. Elites discovered the

charms of music for enj oyment and featured musicians from the lower classes in their courts and

theaters, sometimes more to serve as comic exhibitions of class differentiation. Yet, musicians

playing for higher strata were often granted special distinction from other performers, even if

they hailed from the same lower classes. Honigsheim (1973) offers the examples of the low

caste Hindu musicians, the minstrels and jongleurs in France, and the FahrendeFFF~~~~FFF~~~FFF in medieval

Germany. However, as everyday life in the higher strata became more rationalized, so too did

the art (Honigsheim, 1973). In addition, musicologist Gerhard Pinthus indicates that the

differentiation of a society lends itself to a differentiation in the appreciation of arts and music,

varying by social subclasses (Etzkorn, 1989). In a sense, the higher classes wanted more.

According to Wilensky (1964), there are two operating characteristics of high culture in the

relationship to the arts: "it is created by, or under the supervision of a cultural elite operating

within some aesthetic, literary or scientific tradition, and secondly, critical standards independent

of the consumer of the product are systematically applied to it." This seems more like one









characteristic, since the "critical standards" mentioned in the second are directly related (if not

identical) to the "aesthetic tradition" of the first. What is important is that the culture elite are

focal in the process of "high" art' s genesis. So as educated appreciators of music draw upon the

influence of folk music's success and apply more rationalized musical forms and structures to

address the aesthetic traditions of their contemporaries, the music changes. As Honigsheim

(1973) writes, "a new situation tends to arise, consisting of highly specialized art for the upper

and middle classes, unrelated to the life of the masses." Masses, here, refers to the lower, or

working classes.

This new music does not stay amongst the elite, however. High culture tends to have a

"trickle down" effect, in that, what is fashionable or stylish or appealing to the higher strata often

in some way finds a path back to the lower strata. Perhaps the goal of certain "benevolent

monarchs and especially democratically minded members of the middle class" was to acculturate

the masses, by bringing them into "direct contact with the culture and art" from above

(Honigsheim, 1973). Musical theaters became open to the public, or tickets were available at

discount rates for poorer classes. Their seating may have been isolated from the bourgeoisie and

aristocracy, but everyone was still experiencing the same music. The lower classes can derive

inspiration from such exposure and create adaptations based on their subcultural aesthetic and

concerns. Then all it takes is another handful of enterprising musicians from the working classes

to bring their ideas back into the musical theaters and redefine (again) for everyone the

possibilities of musical form and style. It is an ongoing process. As expressed by Middleton

(1990): "Particularly in complex, internally differentiated societies, musical styles are

assemblages of elements from a variety of sources, each with a variety of histories and

connotation, and these assemblages can, in appropriate circumstances, be prised [sic] open and










the elements rearticulated in different contexts." This is effectively what is occurring as music

serves as a metaphorical tennis ball in a match between classes. The shortcoming of the analogy

is that the ball sounds different with each return.

Popular culture is generally thought to belong to the maj ority group of a population, which

in most cultures would in fact be the working and lower middle classes. Thus, we could assume

that popular music also belongs to that group. Our concept of popular culture in the United

States has changed since the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent emergence of

communication technology. Because of three inventions in particular, art and culture was

influenced by a new catalyzing factor: mass media. The three inventions in question are movies,

radio, and television (Honigsheim, 1973). Suddenly, the same images and sounds were available

to people from different geographical locations, and from different social backgrounds, assuming

of course some access to the technology. As a result, the concept of mass culture came about,

although in the 1980s music sociologists began to withdraw from the notion that such a thing

exists (Scott, 2000). What the sociologists resisted was the notion of a "mass audience passively

consuming the mass-produced commodities of a 'culture industry'" (Scott, 2000). Whether

passive consumption is what truly occurs or not is irrelevant; in this paper, the term mass culture

will be used to implicate the combined forces of mass media, mass production, and mass

marketing on consumer choices. And it is these combined forces that developed the robust

entertainment industry we are familiar with today.

The terms popular culture and mass culture are often used interchangeably, aside from

some semantic differences, but there is no such thing as "mass music." The variety of musical

styles and genres that are popular may be the result of mass culture, but are by no means

uniform, as a term like mass music may imply. At the same time, a particular style of music that










is popular within a particular subculture may be mass produced, but would not be labeled "pop

music." An example is "goth" music. Goth music is part of mass culture because it is a response

to and rej section of pop music and culture, but is still widely available to those who seek it. The

means of mass production for these different styles are also often owned by the same set of

companies. What distinguishes "pop music" is that it tends to connote music that has widespread

appeal, is what is most often heard through conventional media outlets (radio, TV, movies), but

is relatively ephemeral. Part of the reason for this transience may be the market pressures to

continuously pump out new material. Once the population has accepted (and purchased) one

cross-section of music, there would be little continued revenue by letting that music fester. The

record companies then promote a new set of acts and market them until it is time to repeat the

process.

One factor that relates very closely to the transience of pop music is the transience of

youth. In fact, upon closer examination, it is adolescents' "interests" that the pop culture

industry is most able to capitalize on. The concept of youth having its own subculture was

introduced by Talcott Parsons in 1951, and can still be used to demonstrate the differing values

of youth and society as a whole (Epstein,1995). Epstein (1995) defines youth subculture as: "the

expressive form of young people's shared social and material experience... distinguished by the

distinct values, beliefs, symbols, and actions which certain youth employ to attend to, and cope

with, their shared cultural experience." It is these distinct symbols, values, and manners of

expression that are "generally in opposition to, often in direct contradiction with, societal values,

norms, and expectations" (Epstein, 1995). Epstein (1995) more narrowly defines those societal

values as belonging to, and perhaps created by, "white middle-class adult male[s]."










The person responsible for fathering this expressively dissimilar dimension of youth

subculture, as many of the authors agree, is Elvis Presley. His fateful 1956 appearance on the Ed

Sullivan show marked a transformation of youth culture into something which adults considered

"menacing and fearful" (Epstein, 1995). Elvis and the popularization of rock music came to

symbolize a rej section of adult values, which for youth in the 1950s were characterized as rigid,

boring, and restraining (Grossberg, 1992). It is perhaps the restraints of adult routine like career

and family that even today's youth is most wary of. Elvis' youthful energy and disregard for

adult conventions was clearly antithetical to such routines, but the subsequent generations would

require their own figureheads. As stated by Epstein (1995): "As generation of rock fans grow

up, they bring their rock music with them...requiring rock music to change, to mutate, in order

for it to remain a viable center of youth culture." This could obviously extend to any style of

music beyond rock, but it was an early form of rock that Elvis sold, and thus rock that served as

the backbone of the pop music industry for many years after, arguably even today.

The discussion of youth and pop music can go even deeper. Adolescence in particular is a

brief period in life, serving as a transitional period in which childlike ideals are met with certain

adult desires and sensibilities. There is no way I could put it better than Weinstein (1983): "To

be beyond dependency, but still dependent, and moving toward responsibility, but not

responsible yet, releases the adolescent into a suspended state of social freedom that tends to

become an end-in-itself." In addition, this time in life is a period of significant identity

construction, wherein lies the use of music. It has already been stated that certain music,

particularly rock, can be used by youth to distinguish itself from adults. Simultaneously, music

can be used to distinguish youths from other youths. According to Epstein (1995), "musical

preference contributes to the creation of subcultural identity," and thus "what you listen to, or









don't, partially defines who you are within youth culture." A similar statement, though much

more brazen, is that "all adolescents have the same problems, all adolescents pass through peer

groups, all adolescents use music as a badge and a background, a means of identifying and

articulating emotions" (Frith, 1983). Perhaps we could allow for at least some variation within

the experience of adolescence, but it is this consistency of youth that lends itself to the

development of targeted marketing strategies by record companies.

Furthermore, while music is produced to address the concerns of youth, it may also be

produced to popularize, and thus capitalize on, new concerns. Recall the earlier discussion of

music's role in religious ceremonies as an enhanced means of cultural indoctrination. The same

can be said for popular music used secularly. Honigsheim (1973) called it "negative

indoctrination," using examples of periods in which political leadership or aristocracies were

ridiculed publicly in operas and theater. The result was a broadening of awareness among

citizens, concerning social and economic injustices perpetrated by the ruling classes. For such

reasons, and depending on one's political affiliation, American pop music can be "reviled as an

agent of moral or civil corruption, [or] hailed as a stimulant to social reconstruction" (Weinstein,

1983). Perhaps one of the greatest examples in the last century was the way in which rock and

pop music served to rally the American public, especially youth, against the Vietnam War and

other social policies in the late '60s and early '70s, containing "radical criticism of the existing

society and calls to arms for change" (Weinstein, 1983). Whether it successfully manifested in

the desired changes or not is irrelevant; the role that music played in the discourse of that

generation is significant. However, rock and pop music did not invent these concerns; it simply

offered a medium to make these concerns "cool" and thus prevalent, or popular.









So far, this review of literature has been focusing primarily on music and culture, but has

also addressed the categories of the audience and the industry. Not much attention has been paid

to the role of the artist or the nature of musical meaning, so those should be engaged before

concluding with more detail on the music business itself. Musical meaning is a broad category

that could incite its own sub categories, but I will only focus on some general ideas that are more

relevant to this study. Often, the meaning depends on the audience, so again, there will be some

overlap in this discussion between the audience category and a different category. One of the

first points to make about meaning and music is that, as with any cultural item, its value and

meaning could be totally socially given (Willis, 1978). In other words, the item itself is "without

inherent structure or meaning, so that it is the social group and its expectations which supply a

content" (Willis, 1978). This stands to reason since music is created by people, and it is people

who create meaning. Their meanings are also in part determined by their social contexts, so a set

of symbols that characterize their social experiences will inevitably enter their music. At the

same time, "there is no privileged point of meaning, no point where meaning can be definitely

read" (Shepherd, 1991). The reason for this is that "the different intentionalities that producers

and consumers bring to bear on musical practices are specific to concrete conj ectures of social,

cultural, and biographical processes" (Shepherd, 1991). This is to say that both the artist and

each individual listener have their own frameworks of interpretation, which may not necessarily

align to the same meaning. However, there is some authority granted to the social and cultural

contexts in which music is being both created and heard. Take pop music for example. As

already mentioned, pop music's dissemination is the result of marketing acts that appeal to

common senses. As offered by Weinstein (1983), "since rock [and pop] as commodity is aimed

at the largest possible number of consumers, it must be geared to the lowest common









denominator." Hence, regardless of any possibility for hidden meaning in pop music, it is often

the "obviousness" of the text that the record companies are counting on to resonate with the

greatest number of potential buyers. This is an important detail since one of the main goals of

this study is to interpret songs' lyrics and group them by similar theme. Were there more space

for alternative interpretations in these pop songs, this study would never have been feasible.

That said, pop music "romanticizes and mystifies the everyday life of everyman,

particularly in its sexual dimension," at least according to Weinstein (1983). The sexual

dimension of pop music is especially important to adolescents because, according to Frith and

McRobbie (1979), it is often through music that "teenagers 'learn' adult sexual behavior and are

socialized into the already constructed sex roles provided by a patriarchal, capitalist society." It

is the content of the lyrics specifically that "glamorizes stereotypical attributes" (Taylor, 1979).

Certainly not all pop songs are about sexuality specifically, nor do all even convey subtle sexual

undertones, but even the act of "pairing off" is a sexual behavior to some extent. Songs about

relationships, as will be discovered in the analysis portion of this paper, account for the largest

percentage of subj ect matter in the top popular music. Perhaps it is the conveyed meanings of

these pop songs which help the teenage audience disambiguate the meanings of their

relationships. Whether the stereotypical roles they may learn present a favorable set of

conditions for romantic interactions is a different question all together and certainly not within

the scope of this paper.

There is nothing more that must be attended to in the discussion of meaning in pop music.

Any attempt to expand the discussion would only complicate the issue since pop has proven its

straightforwardness. We may now turn to the role of the musician, which will also be brief. The

primary reason for this is that once the artist has created the product, it is out of his/her hands,









and wholly dependent upon the music industry and of course the audience to process it.

However, it is not uncommon for the artist him/herself to be a commodified product as well.

The process of this may begin with "saturation marketing," in which record companies douse the

market with a variety of acts to determine which can create consistently favorable responses in

the audience, "then devote full-scale promotional campaigns to them" (Epstein, 1995). What

happens next is the production and promotion of other acts that are similar in style or sound, so

as to maximize the profits of a successful formula. The result is a certain homogeneity of pop

music, and the solution is the distinction of the pop star. Theodor Adorno, who was quite critical

of pop culture, recognized that the "star system" is what would preserve the aura of uniqueness

for certain cultural products (Scott, 2000). Offering her own cynical commentary, Weinstein

(1983) adds, "celebrity and image rather than artistic profundity and proficiency are the

requirements for successful audience appeal." This leaves out the importance of the music's

ability to move the audience; no amount of glitz and glamour can make up for that, but this may

still be achieved fairly easily without requiring great proficiency or profundity from the artist.

Often all that is required is a clever and catchy chorus line. Nevertheless, the point being made

by these authors is that the pop/rock star is an integral part of the business. Peter Wicke's (1990)

contributions will further illuminate this phenomenon.

Wicke (1990) uses the phrase "star cult" to describe an audience' s attachment to an artist's

image. What it is about the audience that makes them susceptible to j oining a star cult is less of

Wicke' s (1990) concern than the economics behind the promotion of a star. The "life" of a

record is short compared to the potential life of an act. One reason for this is that the audience

will desire new material, and if they have already approved of one iteration of an act' s material,

they would be optimistic about future releases. This ensures more long term sales for the record










company. As Wicke (1990) writes, "if the band has a stable image, this can be carried over onto

each of their records with considerably reduced costs," since the established image circumvents

the need for further promotion. He also notes that it tends to be more effective if the image is

centered on a single musician (typically the singer) than a whole band. It is through this

rationale that certain singers have become the "voices of the people," especially if they employ

broadly applicable themes in their music. Even Honigsheim (1973) agrees, "the United States

never ceased to emphasize the individual singer," further asserting that this is because of an

individualistic philosophy which has been dominant in the U.S. Not surprisingly, individualism

and egocentricity are themes that emerge in a number of the top pop songs this study analyzes.

The analysis portion of this paper will not focus on individual singers or bands, however it will

feature a general demographic breakdown of the artists in order to demonstrate how the ratios of

artists have changed, along the dimensions of gender and race, in the 30-year span.

I would like to conclude this review with some additional remarks about the music

industry. The analysis portion also will not directly address these aspects, but since the business

of pop music is the channel through which the songs analyzed became popular, the following are

some important points to keep in mind. It was already stated that certain changes in technology

resulted in the emergence of mass culture. Such changes made it possible "to mass produce the

kinds of goods that suited the common needs of millions of people" (Honigsheim, 1973). Also

hinted at is that "mass art is produced for profit and both its content and form is determined by

that pursuit" (Epstein, 1995). Thus, what occurs is standardization in order to ensure that the

fruits of mass production will be commercially viable (Vuillamy, 1977). What it is that the

public actually wants is only a concern of the music business if those desires are accompanied by

an ability and willingness to pay (Wicke, 1990). Standardization will inevitably leave many









desires unsatisfied. However, "the product must meet an average of tastes, and it loses in

spontaneity what it gains in accessibility and cheapness" (Haag, 1959). Artists will even

specifically compose with pop sensibilities in mind, a sort of self-standardization, in order to

increase their likelihood of being offered a record contract. However, the formulas the record

executives have in mind immediately preclude many artists from having even the remotest

chance of signing to a label.

This is an especially ugly detail about the business. Talent, creativity, innovation, and

passion are not what "talent" scouts seek in a band. Their criteria have a more superficial basis,

and looks do matter. Plus, the business is dominated by men. That is not necessarily enough to

vilify it, but when men occupy most of the important roles in the music industry, two things

happen. First, those men are "responsible for the creation and construction of suitable female

images" (Frith, 1979). Can you think of many female pop stars who did not have standardized

sex appeal? And second, masculine styles, desires, and interests are what wind up being

marketed, and thus diffused as "normal." Aggressively masculine behaviors are often condoned

or endorsed in pop music, as will be witnessed in the analysis of some of the songs from the

modern era. All of these details point to the ability the music business (and most mass media

businesses) has to influence, even force, culture into the acceptance of marketable stereotypes.

Does the influence last? Or do new concerns displace the old stereotypes? Let us turn now to

the methods this study used to investigate these and other questions.









CHAPTER 3
MATERIALS AND METHODS

Selection of Data

In this paper' s introduction, our pool of potential songs has effectively been shallowed but

is still deep enough to warrant additional siphoning. Popularity was a good start; no longer are

unaired B-sides and no-name acts a concern. We can take popularity to the extreme, however,

and ask what the most popular songs were. Specifically, the 10 most popular songs of a given

year. With a little help from the Billboard magazine's rating system, those "top 10" songs have

already been determined and documented by genre. Now all we must do is select a genre and the

years to focus on.

Since popularity is the primary criterion, "popular" or "pop" music will serve as the genre.

This is, however, a peculiar genre. Arguably, it has no dedicated style. That is, there are no

musical characteristics that define a song as pop. In contrast, jazz can be differentiated from

rock, from classical, and from R&B by virtue of each genre's stylistic components, such as the

rhythms, instruments, and melodic and chordal patterns typically used. But pop songs can

stylistically be any of the above; they just happen to be popular. There are some common

features that tend to characterize pop music, regardless of style, including short song length

(anywhere from two to four minutes), intelligible lyrics, recognizable themes and subj ect matter,

predictable or formulaic song structure, and at least one "hook." Briefly, the hook is the part of

the song (usually the chorus) that most people remember, usually an effective combination of a

distinctive melody line and a lyrical summation of the song's main theme. An example would be

from Diana Ross's 1970 hit "Ain't no Mountain High Enough," in which the hook actually

features the title of the song, a fairly common practice. It is important to note, however, that









while these features are common, they are by no means rules. Even instrumentals can make it to

the top 10 pop charts, like Paul Mauriat's 1968 hit "Love is Blue."

The original intention of this proj ect was to single out one year from the late 1960s and one

from the 2000s, and take the top 10 pop songs of those two years to draw comparisons and

contrasts. However, one year per era is hardly enough material to make claims about the eras, so

both eras now incorporate a four year span. For the 2000s, the most current list (at the time of

writing) is 2005, so the "modern" era will encompass the top 10 songs of the year from 2002 to

2005. The "classic" era was not as easy to select, since there is no such limiting factor off of

which to anchor the span of years. The span selected is 1968 to 1971. The following are some

of the details that helped in this decision. One national concern that is common to both eras is

war. After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President George W.

Bush promptly decided to wage a "War on Terror," which mutated into a war with Iraq in 2003.

The war in the 1960s was with North Vietnam, although that war began for the United States in

1957 and had been raging for almost twelve years before the first year of this study's decided

span. The United States' military involvement in the conflict increased significantly in 1965,

and American troops were not withdrawn until 1973. That places the four year span

approximately in the middle of the United States' increased involvement. A few other details

helped reinforce this decided span. In January of 1968, North Vietnam launched the Tet

offensive on maj or cities in South Vietnam, which, while successfully suppressed, marked for

many Americans that the situation was more dire than expected. Months later, the My Lai

Massacre occurred, in which American troops descended on the village, populated primarily by

women and children civilians, and executed hundreds of inhabitants, though news of the incident

did not surface until 1969. This further garnered criticism for the war among Americans. Also










significant in 1968 was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had been an

outspoken advocate for civil rights and a known detractor of the war, the assassination of Robert

Kennedy who had been running for president, and the election of President Richard Nixon.

Rock music especially was known for its pro-peace/anti-war sentiments during that era,

being an integral part of the "hippie" movement and enabling the legendary turnout for the

Woodstock Festival in August of 1969. However, the purpose of this study is not to focus on

such sentiments specifically. As will later be seen, songs that treat the topics of war and peace

occur fairly infrequently in the top 10 lists from both eras. This is not to say they were

uncommon in the top 100, but the most popular songs deal mostly with relationships, or the

desire thereof. The wars from both eras are simply serving as a cultural/political parallel, plus as

a means to keep the spans relatively short.

The top 10 lists for the two eras were available from Billboard's online archives. Access,

however, required a subscription. The website also featured information on how the lists were

compiled. The following is a brief explanation. Billboard's titles for the top pop charts have

changed over the years, sometimes reflecting a shift in selection methodology. There are two

methods for selection: airplay and record sales. Both utilize data from the Nielsen Media

Research company. The amount of airplay is measured using Nielsen' s Broadcast Data Systems,

which is able to track the number of times commercial radio stations play a given song. The top

songs obviously scored the most plays. The record sales are compiled by Nielsen's Soundscan,

which captures sales data from more than 90% of the U. S. music retail market. To reiterate, the

title of the charts distinguish between selection methodology, though not expressly so; one must

cross-reference the title to its methodology. Each year of classic era songs were labeled "Top

Pop Singles," but by 2002, the title changed to "Top 40." Both of these groups were based on










airplay. The 2005 chart is the only unique year, consisting of the top 10 songs from the "Hot

100." What is also unique about that year is that the Hot 100 songs are the only used in this

study whose ratings are determined by both airplay and record sales. Unfortunately, Billboard

did not offer a list for that year that was based solely on airplay, like the Top Pop Singles and

Top 40. Would this skew the results? I argue that it does not, since this study's basis is

popularity, and all of these songs, regardless of the precise ways they are measured, are among

the most popular for a given year.

After gathering all of the lists, finding the song lyrics was a simple matter. Popular songs

lyrics can almost always be found via an internet search using the title and artist as searching

criteria. The absolute accuracy of the lyrics found online is sometimes debatable. However, the

errors and/or omissions are minor and do not detract from the overall point of the song. The only

songs that I could not Eind lyrics for with this method turned out to be instrumentals. I copied

and saved the 78 songs-worth of lyrics onto my computer and organized them by year for easier

access. Table 3-1 displays a complete list of all 80 songs, organized by year and chart position.

Methods of Analysis

I employed a simplified method of content analysis to begin processing the data. With the

first "pass," I scanned the lyrics of each song, starting with the number 1 song of 1968. In a

separate word processor fie, I jotted some notes for each song indicating what I could determine,

with just one reading, was the subj ect matter being treated by the narrator(s). Of the 78 songs

with lyrics, less than five proved difficult to interpret with one reading. The language utilized in

many of these pop songs is descriptive and concrete. Arguably, even the most seemingly

concrete language could be riddled with hidden meanings and/or be variously interpreted. How

a song can be alternatively interpreted would make for an interesting future study. However, this

study is more concerned with the "face-value" meaning of the songs, primarily because pop










music is targeted at the masses. Songs featuring recognizable themes that appeal to common

senses are more marketable, thus more profitable, and profit is the primary driving force behind

what is being heard on commercial radio.

With a second pass, some of the more subtle cultural messages conveyed in the songs were

discovered. The primary areas of interest in this closer look are common areas of sociological

inquiry: gender, sexuality, race, class, deviance, conflict, etc. This is where a distinction is

drawn in the methods of content analysis between manifest and latent content. To briefly

summarize these terms, "manifest" content is what is readily seen or understood, whereas

"latent" content requires more in-depth examination, where meanings must be decoded. An

example of manifest content would be the first lines from the 1970 hit "American Woman" by

The Guess Who: "American woman, stay awa~y from me; American woman, mama let me be. "

The face-value interpretation of this line, as well as for the entire song, is that a woman (of

American origin) has been demanding the narrator' s attentions, but he would prefer not to give

them. In the same song, a particular sequence of lines could alter the meaning: "I don't need

your war machines; I don 't need your ghetto scenes; Coloured lights can hypnotize; Sparkle

someone else 's eyes. Here, the narrator is still speaking to the American woman in question on a

manifest level; however these details appear to offer commentary on American culture, almost as

if the American woman is America itself, or perhaps even represents the Statue of Liberty. The

first line may be indicative of the war in Vietnam (or America' s history of war), the second a

comment on the country's economic policies, the third a remark on the growing influence of

flashy media images on the culture, and the last a rej section of such influences. It is not

necessary, however, that latent content offer an alternative interpretation of the song lyrics. The

subject determined in the manifest content may be the same, but the latent content could










demonstrate other details, for example, how gender roles are portrayed. Examining the 2003 hit

"In Da Club" by 50 Cent, a detail emerges about women and stardom in the lines: "When my

junk get to pumping in the chib it's on; I wink my eye at ya bitch, if she smiles she gone. The

song is about 50 Cent' s rise to fame. The manifest interpretation of the lines is that if 50 Cent

desires it, he can lure a woman away from her boyfriend. The latent meaning is more a

disempowering assessment of women that operates beyond the use of the demeaning word

"bitch." It is as if to say that women occupy a subjugated role in society, and fame and success

are sufficient conditions to undermine the bonds they have worked to establish. He does grant,

however, that not all women will necessarily behave this way, using the conditional word "if "

Still, his assertion that it is possible (and quite easy) is making a strong latent statement about

culture.

In the analysis portion of this paper, all of the song titles will be organized in a chart

grouping them by themes. I have taken a "grounded theory" approach to constructing the

typology. That is, rather than delineating categories of topics first, I would allow the songs

themselves to determine the categories. Some will be unique in subject matter, and some will

have themes that could exist in more than one category. However, the main point of the songs is

what will determine their categorization, not the peripheral themes. In addition, throughout the

analysis I would be bracketing (to the best of my ability) my biases about these two eras of music

in order to attempt as objective an interpretation as possible. That way, the cultural commentary

offered by this music will also emerge from the data rather than being rooted from my

preconceived notions. I will state up front here that my own musical preferences, at least in

terms of popular music, favor the classic era considerably more than the modern era.












From TOP 40

2002
1 HOW YOU REMIND ME Nickelback
(Roadrunner/IDJMG)
2 COMPLICATED Avril Lavigne -(Arista)
3 WHEREVER YOU WILL GO The Calling (RCA)
4 A THOUSAND MILES Vanessa Carlton

SHOT nN HRR Nelly (Fo' Reel/Universal/UMRG)
6 DILEMMA Nelly Featuring Kelly Rowland (Fo'

7 GETTHE P RT CARTED Pink (Arista)
8 AIN'T IT FUNNY Jennifer Lopez Featuring Ja Rule
(Epic)
9 U GOT IT BAD Usher (Arista)
10 IN THE END -Linkin Park (Warner Bros.)

2003
1 UNWELL matchbox twenty (Atlantic)
2 I'M WITH YOU Avril Lavigne (Arista)
3 BN TACF B r0 aet(Sh dyAftermath/Interscope)
5 BRING ME TO LIFE Evanescence Featuring Paul McCoy
(Wind-up)
Rp cHE i'MONE 3 Doors Down
7 WHERE IS THE LOVE? Black Eyed Peas
(A&M/Interscope)
8 IGNITION R. Kelly (Jive)
9 CRAZY IN LOVE Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z (Columbia)
10 ROCK YOUR BODY Justin Timberlake (Jive)

2004
1 YEAH! Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris
(LaFace/Zomba)

STH ERLEOAON~a o stan ( slnR IMG)
4 HEY YA! OutKast (LaFace/Zomba)
5 BURN Usher (LaFace/Zomba)
6 SOMEDAY Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG)
7 THE WAY YOU MOVE OutKast Featuring Sleepy
Brown (LaFace/Zomba)
8 MY IMMORTAL Evanescence (Wind-up)
9 SHE WILL BE LOVED Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG)
10 I DON'T WANNA KNOW Mario Winans Featuring
Enya & P. Diddy (Bad Boy/UMRG)

From HOT 100

2005
1 WE BELONG TOGETHER Mariah Carey
(Island/IDJMG)
2 HOLLABACK GIRL Gwen Stefani (Interscope)
3 LET ME LOVE YOU Mario (3rd Street /J/RMG)
4 SINCE U BEEN GONE Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG)
5 1, 2 STEP Clara Featuring Missy Elliott
(Sho'nuff/MusicLine/LaFace/Zomba)
6 GOLD DIGGER Kanye West Featuring Jamie Foxx (Roc-
A-Fella/Def Jam/IDJMG)
7 BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS Green Day

8 CNY SHOP 50 Cent Featuring Olivia (Shady
Af rma'T h/In ter )ussycat Dolls Featuring Busta Rhymes

(A&M/Interscope)
10 BEHIND THESE HAZEL EYES Kelly Clarkson
(RCA/RMG)


Table 3-1. Master list of songs by era

From TOP POP SINGLES

1968
1. HEY JUDE Beatles (Apple)
2. LOVE IS BLUE (L'AMOUR EST BLEU) Paul Mauriat


4.(ITIN OBN)b THEollKoOFU I Ed ts)Otis Redding
(Volt)
5. PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE Rascals (Atlantic)
6. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE Cream (Atco)
7. THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU Herb Alpert (A&M)
8. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY Hugo
.Montne RoBISAONict )mon & Garfunkel (Columbia)
10. TIGHTEN UP Archie Bell & the Drells (Atlantic)

1969
1. SUGAR, SUGAR Archies (Kirshner)
2. AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN Fifth Dimension
(Soul City)
3. I CANT GET NEXT TO YOU Temptations (Gordy)
4. HONKY TONK WOMEN Rolling Stones (London)
5. EVERYDAY PEOPLE Sly & the Family Stone (Epic)

7. HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME Sly & the Family
Stone (Epic)
8. I'LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Tom Jones
(Parrot) .
9. BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP Foundations (Uni)
10. CRIMSON AND CLOVER Tommy James & the
Shondells (Roulette)


. BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER Simon &
Garfunkel (Columbia)
2. (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU Carpenters
(A&M)
3. AMERICAN WOMAN Guess Who (RCA)
4. RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING' ON MY HEAD B.J.
Thomas (Scepter)
5. WAR' -O EdMONtarr r)GH ENOUGH Diana Ross


7M I oL BE THERE Jackson 5 (Motown)
8. GET READY Rare Earth (Rare Earth)
9. LET IT BE Beatles (Apple)
10. BAND OF GOLD Freda Payne (invictus)

1971
1. JOY TO THE WORLD Three Dog Night (Dunhill)
2. MAGGIE MAY Rod Stewart (Mercury)

IO SEBOAODL PTPELE a Osodns (( ed
5. HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART Bee Gees
(Atco)
6. INDIAN RESERVATION Raiders (Columbia)

G.TKW E HTMTE, EC TRYo RADls d hn e ver

wi hUS M I AGNATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH

M)E)KNTC mtHE GTIrldES -Tony Orlando and Dawn
(Bell)










CHAPTER 4
ANALYSIS

As mentioned in the Materials and Methods section, the 80 songs were organized by

categories. A complete table of the songs and their respective categories is found at the end of

this chapter (Table 4-1). To reiterate, this study employed a grounded theory approach to

constructing the typology, meaning that the song lyrics were read--and reread as necessary--to

determine the categories, rather than creating them first and trying to force the songs into them.

After a few passes, I discovered that I had too many categories, so I determined broad themes

that effectively condensed similar categories into more convenient groups. The final number of

categories is seven.

Relationships/Love
Gl obal/C on sci ous/C omm entary
Fun/Party/Club/Sex
Introspective
Dance
Instrumental
Miscellaneous.

While some songs contain details that transcend these boundaries, the main topic of each

enabled mutual exclusivity between categories. In other words, no song appears in more than

one group. Below is how each group is operationalized.

Relationships/Love: This is by far the most populous category, accounting for 20 of the

40 songs in the classic era, and 24 of the 40 in the modern era. It is also arguably the broadest.

While every song in the category treats on the subj ect of relationships or romantic love, the

nature of the relationships being conveyed is diverse. Originally, I intended to create a category

out of each permutation of love that I found among the songs. Some examples are Unrequited

Love, Love Lost, Disintegration of a Relationship, etc. There were too many songs that had a

relatively unique plot, making such an exhaustive system of distinction counterproductive. In









order to facilitate the construction of the overall typology, any song whose primary concern is

with love or a relationship, regardless of the state of the love or relationship, was included in this

group. Thus, songs that had a pessimistic view of a relationship, songs that were cheerful and

celebratory of love, songs that treat the temptation of infidelity, songs where the narrator offers

to be at a (potentially former) lover's beck and call, and many more were placed in this category.

This may be a reductionist maneuver, but it is temporary. When it is time to compare the

differing nature of love and relationships between the two eras, this category will be exploded.

Global/Conscious/Commentary: The songs in this category all share one important

detail: they treat themes relating to some aspect of social structure and the nonromantic

interrelation between people. There were 7 songs in the classic era, and 4 in the modern era that

would fit in this category. The contents of this category are also diverse, with subjects ranging

from war protestation, to race and class relations, to people's self-esteem issues. The narrator of

each song either explicitly or implicitly offers commentary on a social issue, sometimes

approaching it from a first person point of view (using the word "I") to tell a story that renders an

opinion about the issue. This category ties for second place with the next, in terms of the number

of constituent songs.

Fun/Party/Club/Sex: It was not a difficult decision to reduce the constituents of this

category into one category. The primary reason for this is that most of the songs treating the

party life mentality also have a notable sexual dimension. The only exception is Sly and the

Family Stone' s 1969 hit "Hot Fun in the Summertime," which makes no mention of sexuality at

all. It should be noted that not all of the songs that emphasize sex also implicate the occurrence

of a party, but the attitude of the language used in such songs conjures the same images of fun,









exhilaration, and or substance use and irresponsibility. The classic era featured just 2 songs, and

the modern era offered 9.

Introspective: Each of these songs features a narrator' s account of the place he is at in life,

along with some degree of poignant imagery to flesh out his plights. The 1971 song "How can

you Mend a Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees may appear that it belongs in the Relationships

category, however there is no mention made of the person who broke the narrator' s heart, and

most of the details are thoroughly introspective in nature. Some of the songs rely heavily on

allusions to the narrator's past; some are more focused on the present and concerned about the

future. Each of them has a wistful tone in the language, but some are sprinkled with optimism.

Unlike the previous category, this one has a greater representation by the classic era than the

modern: 5 songs to 1, respectively. The next two categories are special, in that they will receive

very little treatment in the analysis at all.

Instrumentals: These songs obviously have little use to this study, since there simply are

no words to analyze. It is important to note that songs with no lyrics are rare in pop music, and

even rarer in the top pop music. There are only two such songs out of the entire 80, and both

coincidentally hail from the same year (1968): "Love is Blue," by Paul Mauriat, and "The Good,

the Bad, and the Ugly," by Hugo Montenegro. The former eventually featured lyrics, but the

original hit did not.

Dance: This category is equally small, consisting of two songs. These are songs dedicated

to a particular style of dance, in both cases named after the song (or vice versa). The song is

about the dance, and may consist of lyrical instructions for how the dance is properly executed,

along with other details that are supposed to incite the revelry associated with the dance. It is










arguable that the two songs could have appeared in the Fun/Party/Club/Sex category, but they

are both specific enough to warrant their own category.

Miscellaneous: The final category is for those songs that were otherwise uncategorizable.

The so-called Miscellaneous group is small, consisting of four songs that do not relate to one

another in any way and have such specific topics that it would have been inappropriate to force

them into any of the other categories. I will briefly summarize each here. First is The Beatles'

1968 song "Hey Jude," which was No. 1 for that year. What is unique about this song is that, of

the 80, its subject matter is the most elusive. The lyrics are quite vague, and without knowing

the context of the situation the song recounts, it would be difficult if not impossible to decipher

the details. In brief, the author of the song (Paul McCartney) wrote it for Julian Lennon (fellow

band member John Lennon's son), who was coping with his parents' divorce and other

hardships.

The second was a hit during the same year, and appeared on the soundtrack to the movie

The Graduate. Simon & Garfunkel's song was about (and named after) the character Mrs.

Robinson, who was engaged in an age-discrepant, extramarital affair with a recent college

graduate named Benj amin. This song did not fit in the Relationships category because the

narrator is not involved in the relationship, nor do many of the vague details in the song even

deal with Mrs. Robinson's relationshipss. The next song is also by Simon & Garfunkel, a hit in

1970 named "Bridge over Troubled Water." The narrator of the song is assuring someone that

he will be available to lend comfort and friendship when times are tough. This song is unique

because, while a number of songs from the Relationships category feature themes of helpfulness

and friendship, this is the only one that makes no reference to love or the possibility of a

romantic relationship. Plus, it is specifically about helpfulness, whereas the others (besides










perhaps Jackson 5's "I'll be There") seem to mention it as a fringe benefit to their love. And

Einally, Gwen Stefani's 2005 "Hollaback Girl" is simply a statement that the narrator is not the

type to humor people' s denigration of her by countering with her own slanderous remarks.

I will conduct the comparisons between the classic and modern era within the appropriate

categories first. So all of the songs about relationships will be compared across the 30 year span,

then a summary will review some of the key differences. The other categories are considerably

smaller, thus will be summarized en masse after they are individually treated.

But before all of that, I would like to give a demographic breakdown of the artists

appearing in the top 10 lists for these two eras. The demographic characteristics this study will

focus on are gender and race.

Demographic Comparisons

Although the main point of this study is to analyze song lyrics, it has been indicated in the

review of literature that the role of the artist is important to the study of popular music, since it is

in part an artist's image that contributes to a song's success. Were a study devoted to this aspect

of the popular music, a more comprehensive examination of the people involved in the song' s

creation would be necessary, including a biography of the artist him/herself. The present study

will simply focus on two superficial demographic characteristics of each artist: gender and race

or ethnicity. The reason for this, besides that an in-depth examination would beleaguer the main

point of this study, is that these two characteristics are the most noticeable about an artist, and

may have the strongest correlation with his/her image.

It is difficult to systematize an account of how the demographics have changed among pop

artists between these two eras. Two factors in particular contribute to this. First, there are

occurrences in which the same artist is featured twice in one year, or more than once during the

four year span. The question becomes, do the demographic characteristics of that artist get









counted for each occurrence of that artist? I have decided that they would be, since any ratios

drawn from the data would require the preservation of the 10-song-per-year lists. Second, and

especially with modern era music, many songs feature guest artists who would change the final

tally. In order to address this concerns I needed to apply some discretion in which guest artists

would be included, based on the degree of their roles. For example, the No. 10 song of 2004 was

"I Don't Wanna Know," by Mario Winans, featuring Enya and P. Diddy. Both Winans and

Diddy are black males, whereas Enya is a white female. In reality, Enya' s involvement was

quite small. Her song "Boadicea," in which she hums a haunting melody, was electronically

sampled and looped in this track while the men sang and/or rapped over top of it. Had she been

more involved, this song's artists would have been coded as multicultural/bi-gender (MC/BG).

Instead, it is coded as black/male.

It should also be noted that for many artists, their backup band may have been MC/BG, but

if the emphasis is placed on one artist, then his/her demographic characteristics are the only

counted. Examples would be Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani, Avril Lavigne, and Christina

Aguilera. A counter example would be Evanescence. The lead singer Amy Lee is female; the

rest of the band is male. However, the artist that made the top 10 is not "Amy Lee;" it is the

entire band. Evanescence is thus coded as W/BG, indicating an all white group, and bi-gender.

The codes include W (white), B (black), MC (multicultural, indicating a mix of

racially/culturally diverse members), ME (multiethnic, applying to an individual), M (male), F

(female), and BG (bi-gender, indicating the involvement of at least one male and female).

Tables 4-2 and 4-3 display the breakdown for all 80 songs and are found at the end of this

chapter.









In comparing the two eras, one detail that is immediately apparent is that the dominance of

whites and males characteristic of the classic era is significantly reduced in the modern era.

Whereas the ratio of males to females is 10: 1 in the classic era, it is approximately 2:1 in the

modern era. The number of bi-gender acts is comparable between the eras (7 and 8,

respectively). This data clearly shows that pop music has become more open to female

influence, despite the fact that there are still twice as many male acts becoming popular in the

modern era. It should also be noted that not one of the female acts is an all female group. The

closest was The Pussycat Dolls, whose song "Don't Cha" was No. 9 in 2005. The Pussycat

Dolls actually is an all female group, however their hit single features a significant vocal

influence by male rapper Busta Rhymes, so their combined efforts earned them a coding of BG.

Even "1,2 Step" of 2005 by Ciara, featuring Missy Elliot cannot count as an all-female group

because Elliot is a guest artist, not a member of the same group as Ciara.

A possible explanation for the lack of all-female groups in the top pop charts is that there is

dearth of female groups being signed to record labels to begin with. The music business seems

to have found greater "worth" in producing and promoting a single female star and assembling

an interchangeable backup group for her, which usually consists primarily or entirely of males.

Vanessa Carlton and Avril Lavigne serve as examples from the top 10 lists. This is not to say

that all-female groups cannot achieve great popularity. The Spice Girls, Destiny's Child, TLC,

and Salt-N-Pepa are some examples that did. Whoever composed the music for these groups is a

different story. Female bands in which the members play instruments and collaborate on the

songwriting, rather than simply sing, are still virtually unheard of. It is much more common to

find females playing such roles in bi-gender groups, such as Fifth Dimension, Sly & the Family

Stone, and the Foundations, and of course, Evanescence.









In terms of race, pop music has also shown a marked shift in the distribution of black and

white artists. For the classic era, the ratio of whites to blacks is approximately 3:1, versus a ratio

of approximately 4:3 in the modem era. Coincidentally, there was an equal number (4) of

multicultural acts between eras. The classic era featured no multiethnic artists, while the modem

era featured just two. These numbers are too small to make inferences.

But returning to the discussion of black and white artists, it is difficult to precisely account

for the change in ratios across eras. Black musicians have enjoyed great popularity since before

the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, some of the most notable names being Louis

Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington. Thus the change probably cannot

be attributed to a relaxing of any exclusory tendencies of the music business. As has been stated

numerous times in this paper, the music business' primary concern is producing profitable acts,

so the answer must be in there. If record companies have determined that adolescents tend to

gravitate toward music that is distinctly different from their parents' preferred music--as

discussed in the literature review--then an examination of how black music has changed since

the classic era could provide clues. Soul and R&B were common in the '60s, and R&B

continues to be successful. But what the '60s did not have was rap. Emerging in the '80s and

becoming extremely popular in the '90s and 2000s, rap was unlike anything the '60s generation

encountered. Rap music tends to feature bass-heavy beats, direct and controversial language,

unapologetic delivery, and is almost exclusively provided by black artists. In a sense, it was the

perfect music with which white adolescents could rebel. Record companies realized this and

endorsed music that parents would find downright offensive, an example being the song "Don't

Cha." Here is a sample of some of Busta Rhymes' lines: "Oh, we about to get it just a lilhot

and' sweaty in this mu'[fucka; "Tryna put it on me till my balls black and' bhtish; to which The










Pussycat Dolls added, "I kmow you should be fucking me. Additionally, because rap's lyrical

content and delivery tend to be aggressively masculine and deemphasize vulnerable emotions, it

became a means for young men to publicly enj oy music without appearing weak in front of their

peers. If you know the words, it is easy to "rap along to," requiring no ability to reach higher

notes or even sing in tune. It is also conducive to dancing. Over a third of the 40 top songs of

the modern era involve rap characteristics. Not all feature black artists, like Linkin Park's 2002

"In the End," in which the verses are rapped by an Asian-American and the chorus is sung by a

Caucasian. Likewise, as should go without saying, not all music that parents would consider

offensive is influenced by rap or performed by black artists. But the popularity of this relatively

new style of music reflects an effective formula that young persons gratefully accepted, the result

of which boosted the demand for it and consequently the increased recognition of black rappers.

Recall that the classic era consisted of a total of 9 songs by black artists. Over 9 of the 15 songs

by black artists in the modern era's top pop are either dedicated rap songs, or feature a black

rapper.

With these demographic changes in pop artists reviewed, we may begin to analyze the

lyrical content of these songs. I will tackle the giant Relationships/Love category first.

Relationships/Love

Without even deconstructing the language of these songs, there is one item that stands out

in comparing the two eras: songs about relationships and/or love are the most prevalent in the top

pop music. This has not changed in the 30 years between our eras. I suspect that a review of the

'70s, '80s and '90s would reveal similar proportions. As I have grouped them, there are four

more songs in the modern era than the classic. Exactly half of the songs from the entire classic

era treat these subj ects. Let us take a closer look at what these songs are conveying. Note that

after the first mention of a song's full title, I will often condense subsequent mentions using key










words to identify them. Also note that I will often use the word "obj ect" to indicate the obj ect of

the narrator' s attention. It is in no way intended to imply that the narrator is objectifying

her/him; it is merely serving as a gender-neutral noun.

Many songs have an optimistic or celebratory view of love or attraction. The songs that

are expressly so are "Sunshine of Your Love," "Sugar, Sugar," "Dizzy," "Crimson and Clover,"

and "Get Ready. These songs use language that indicates the positive feelings of the narrator, or

anticipation of encounters with the objects of their desires. Here are some key lines from

Sunshine:" "I 'n? 1 ithr you my love; The light 's shining through on you; It 's the morning and just

we two; I 'll stay ~I ithr you darling~ddd~~~~ddd~~~ddd now; and the chorus, "I 've been waiting so long; To be where

I 'n going; hI the sunshine of your love. A similar sentiment is found in "Get Ready:" "Neer1~1

met a girl could make me feel the way that you do; Get ready baby, 'cause here I come; I 'n

bringing you a love that 's true. Both songs use imagery of some distance being closed, and

celebrate the way the obj ect makes the narrator feel. "Get Ready" takes it a little further and

specifically mentions the aspect of sex, though uses tasteful language: "Start making love to

you. "Sugar" almost belabors the saccharine metaphor of the title with lines like: "Sugar, ah

honey honey; You are my candy girl; When I kissed you girl, I knew how sweet a kiss could be;

Like the sunaner sunshine, pour your sweetness over me; I'n; gonna make your hife so sweet, "

etc. Many of these lines are used more than once. Also note the use of the word "sunshine,"

which conveys similar imagery to Cream's "Sunshine." "Dizzy" and "Crimson and Clover" both

begin with the narrator having desires to be a part of the obj ect' s life, with the former offering

the audience the closure of his success. Some of the key lines are: "First time I saw you girl, I

just Imew I had to make you mine; I want you for my sweet pet, but you keep playing hard to get;

I finally got to talk to you and told you just exactly how I felt; then I held you close to me and










kissed you and my heart began to melt. The metaphor this song uses is dizziness, indicating

that object's power over the narrator is staggering, and perhaps at times confusing. While he

uses words like "whirlpool" and "spinning," he at no point says this is a bad thing. "Crimson" is

harder to interpret, for one because there are few words to begin with. Lines that give it away

include: "Now I don 't hardly know her; But I think I could love her; Well if she come walking '

over; Now I been waiting to show her. What make this song optimistic is lines like: "My
min'ssuh see tin. I an ocriyhn. What a beautiful feeling. The title may be


vague, but I believe it may be referring to blood and the heart. Crimson is sometimes used to

describe the color of blood, and "clover," assuming it is a four-leaf clover, could equate to the

four chambers of the heart. Thus again, we have a song that pays homage to the physiological

effects of the obj ect' s influence.

Turning to the modern era, there are also songs that have an optimistic tone, though none

seem to be dedicated appreciation songs like "Sugar." Additionally, the list is shorter: "Bring

me to Life," "Crazy in Love," and perhaps "U Got it Bad." "Bring Me" is unique because,

whereas other love songs may use imagery of light or sunshine, this song employs dark imagery

to indicate what the narrator is being freed from through the love of the obj ect. Here are some

sample lines: "Where I've become so numb al ithesitt a soul, my spirit sleeping somewhere cold;

Until you find it there and lead it back home; Call my name and save me fr~om the dddddddddddddddddark Frozen

inside 11 ithesitt your touch al ithesitt your love darling;ddd~~~~ddd~~~ddd Only you are the hife among the dead."

Indeed, it is difficult to classify this song as positive or optimistic based on such intense imagery.

Additionally, the music of the song is at times eerie, at times heavy and agitated, and at times

desperate sounding. However, the overall point of the song is appreciative of the object's role in

the narrator' s happiness, or at least in her escape from the clutches of darkness. The language










she uses fits with Evanescence's gothic-rock motif, so it is crucial for the band's image to

maintain those standards.

"Crazy in Love" is somewhat more conventional. This song features a sort of dialogue

between the two characters--one played by Beyonce, the other by Jay-Z--in that they both get a

chance to share their feelings. The premise is similar to some of the classic songs, where there is

a distance separating the lovers. Despite this distance, their mutual feelings are strong enough to

be considered by others as somewhat "crazy." The overall tone of both narrators conveys a great

appreciation of one another, and the difficulties they each experience in being apart. As for "U

Got it Bad," the song seems to be more of a general recognition of the power of love, not

necessarily a celebration of the narrator' s own situation.

There are a few songs that are more neutral, and/or uncertain. From the classic era, there is

"This Guy's in Love with You," "Knock Three Times," and "One Bad Apple." In each of these

songs, the narrator would like to become involved in a relationship with the obj ect, but seems to

entertain the possibility that it will not happen, without dwelling on it. The only song within the

modern era that conveys such a tone is "Let me Love You," which has remarkable similarities to

"Bad Apple." In both songs, the narrator is recognizing that the obj ect has been hurt by a man.

In "Let me," it is clearly the result of a man' s infidelity: "Baby Ijust don 't get it; Do you enjoy

being hurt?; I know you smelled the perjitme, the make-up on his shirt; You don 't believe his

stories; You know that they 're all lies; Bad as you are, you stick around and I just don 't know

why. Also apparent by that last line is that the woman is still involved with the man who hurt

her. In "Bad Apple," it seems like the woman is not still involved with the man who hurt her,

though it is not clear how the man hurt the woman. But it is clear how it has affected her: "I can

tell you've been hurt; by that look on your face, girl; Some guy brought sad into your happy










world; You need love, but you're afraid that if you give in; Someone else will come aboug?15. And

sock it to ya again. In both songs, the narrator asserts that he is the person who the obj ect

deserves. However, in neither song does the narrator indicate having success or failure

convincing her of this.

The logical next batch is the songs that are pessimistic, or that dolefully recount having

lost a relationship, or express the inability to secure the relationship desired. I will start with that

one. From the classic era, songs in which the narrator feels s/he may not have a chance with the

obj ect include "I Can't Get Next to You," "They Long to Be Close to You," and "Just my

Imagination." What is interesting about "Can't Get Next" is that the narrator, played by the

different singers of the Temptations, paints himself as a person of tremendous power and

possessing varying amazing abilities, but despite that, cannot achieve what he really wants,

which is to win the affections of the object. Exemplary are the lines from the first verse: "I can

turn a gray sky blue; I can make it rain, whenever I wanted to; Oh, I can build a castle fr~om a

single grain of sand; I can make a ship sail, uh, on dry land; But my hife is incomplete and I'm so

blue; 'Cause I can 't get next to you. "

The language used to indicate this distress reflects the narrator' s perception of need; he

needs the obj ect to return his feelings in order to feel happy, or even function. This concept of

need is not uncommon among the songs in the Relationships category, but without surprise is

absent from all of the more positive songs beside "Bring me to Life," which is arguably the basis

of that song. The following are the songs that mention this type of need, along with a

representative line from each: from "Guy's in Love," "I needyour love, I want your love; Say

you 're in love and you 'll be my girl, if not I 'lljust die; from Build me Up, Buttercup," "Why

do I need you so, baby baby; from Just my Imagination," "Dear Lord, hear my plea...don't










ever let another takettttt~~~~~~~tttttt her love fr~om me or I will surely die; from "A Thousand Miles," "And I

need you; and I miss you; from "Dilemma," "I love you, and I need you; and from "We

Belong Together," "I need you, need you back in my hife baby. Apparently, using need as a

signifier of intense emotions is a practice in pop music that is still alive and well today.

However, the modern era approaches the concept of the "unattainable relationship" in

different ways than the classic era. The most unique of which is "I'm With You," in which the

narrator has the desire of a relationship, but does not have a particular obj ect in mind: "Isn't

anyone trying to find me ? Won 't somebody come takettttt~~~~~~~tttttt me home ? It's a damdddddddd~~~~~~~~~n cold night; Trying to

figure out this hife; Won't you takettttt~~~~~~~tttttt me by the hand, Take me somewhere new; I don't know who

you are; But L... I'm aI ithr you. Other songs focus on a relationship that is unattainable due to an

existing arrangement. Examples are: "Dilemma," "Ain't it Funny," and of course "Let me Love

You." In the case of "Dilemma," there is a conversation between the artists--similar to "Crazy

in Love"--in which Kelly Rowland's character is already involved in a relationship, but desires

Nelly, who asserts "I never been the type to break up a happy home. It appears that the two do

engage in a surreptitious physical relationship, but in the end part company on behalf of her other

ties. The premise of "Ain't it Funny" is similar, though the sexual dimension is absent. Since

the song is based on the movie "The Wedding Planner" in which the artist Jennifer Lopez plays

the lead role, one can infer that the song's story parallels the movie plot. That said, the song

concludes with the desired relationship being attained, but most of the song relays the

disappointment of the preventative circumstances. "Let me Love You" has already been

discussed, but like the previous two, demonstrates a desire for someone who is otherwise

involved. There is just one song from the classic era that features a comparable premise. In "Go

Away Little Girl," the difference is that the actor who desires the "spoken-for" person is not the










narrator at all. Instead, the narrator wishes to remain honorable to his current arrangement, and

insists that the obj ect of the song cease with her temptations. The ironic twist is found in the

lines: "When you are near me like this; You're much too hard to resist; So, go awa~y, little girl,

before I beg you to stay. "

The differing approach to the unattainable relationship in the modern era could signify a

departure from the traditional concept of unrequited love. There are four songs in the classic era

that could be subcategorized as such, but none in the modem era. "Let me Love You" is

excluded from that subcategory because there is no closure. That is, it is uncertain how the

obj ect would respond to the narrator' s desires. Some of the four classic songs also contain no

definitive closure, but the overall tone of the language is indicative of a perceived unlikelihood

of success. Any explanation for this departure in modern pop would be purely speculative. It is

however my opinion that songs of unrequited love are either too common or too uniform--or

perhaps too cliched--to stand out and reach the top 10. It is almost as if the edgier modern

culture would rather hear songs about "forbidden" loves than the potentially whiny "s/he doesn't

love me" songs.

One topic that has not seemed to get weary for the modem era is what I refer to as

"relationship gone awry." Quite the contrary, this topic is the most common in the top modern

pop, accounting for a startling 13 of the 24 songs in this category. They are as follows: "How

You Remind Me," "In the End," "Bum," "This Love," "Hey Ya!" "Someday," "She will be

Loved," "I Don't Wanna Know," "The Reason," "My Immortal," "We Belong Together,"

"Behind these Hazel Eyes," and "Since U Been Gone." I will not belabor the point by treating

each, but will instead focus on the most noteworthy. There are several ways in which a

relationship can go awry, from the loss of affect, to the damage of infidelity, to an imbalance in










power, to death. Often, songs do not expressly state the actual cause. In fact, the majority of the

13 do not. Additionally, the relationship going awry does not necessitate it ending, as is the case

in "I Don't Wanna Know," where the narrator has evidence of the object' s infidelity, but would

prefer to remain oblivious. As a side note, he does offer an ultimatum: "Now it's time you invest

in me; 'Cause if not then it's best you leave. The songs "Someday" and "The Reason" may also

serve as examples, but it is unclear how the stories will conclude. What is unique about "The

Reason" is that it is essentially an apology; the narrator is admitting to doing wrong, but would

like to prove he is willing to change: "I'm sorry that I hurt you; It's \Ilm~inehig I must live 0I irlh

everyday; I've found a reason for me; To change who I used to be; A reason to start over new;

and the reason is You. In "Bum" and "We Belong Together," the respective narrators had

ended their relationships, but changed their minds and wish to reinstate them, although in "Burn"

the narrator appears tom on the issue: "I know I made a mistakett~~~~~ttttt~~~~ now it's too late; I'm twisted cuz

one side of me is tellin' me that I need to move on; On the other side I wanna break down and

cry. The song "Since U Been Gone" features a peculiar twist: "But since you been gone; I can

breathe for the first time; I'm so movin on, yeah yeah; Thanks to you, now I get what I want;

Since you been gone. Rather than being mournful about the end of her relationship, the narrator

exhibits relief and a sense of freedom. What is ironic is that the song "Behind these Hazel

Eyes," a top 10 hit the same year and performed by the same artist, conveys a much different

message with lines like: "Now I can't breathe; No, I can't sleep; I'm barely hanging on; I'm torn

into pieces; Broken up, deep inside; Now all that's left of me is what I pretend to be. "

Turning to the classic pop, there are far fewer songs about a relationship going awry, but it

is still the most populous subcategory in that era. The 6 songs are "Honey," "Build me Up

Buttercup," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Band of Gold," "Maggie May," and "It' s Too









Late." In "Honey," the obj ect dies: "One day while I was not at home; While she was there and

all alone; 7Jhe angels came; Now all I have is memories ofHoney. This is a unique situation

that many young listeners would not be able to empathize with, so it is surprising that it is a top

10 hit. It is possible that "My Immortal" from the modern era also features a death, but the

imagery is not as concrete as "the angels came." The primary difference between the plotline

where a character dies and other songs of this subcategory is that it is impossible to place blame

on either or both of the participants. The listener may still sympathize with the narrator, but is

not expected to take sides. Conversely, songs like "Buttercup" and "Never Fall" do seem to

command the allegiance of the listener. Some key lines are: from "Buttercup," "Why do you

build me up; Buttercup baby just to let me down; And mess me around, and then worst of all;

You never call baby when you say you will; But I love you still; and from "Never Fall," "All1

those thring\ I heard about you; I thought they were only lies; But when I caught you in his arms;

I just broke down and cried. "

Just from this array of specific plots within this subcategory alone, there is no discernable

difference between the eras in terms of culture. Heartbreak and the souring of relationships are

timeless themes that will likely be fodder for pop music for eras to come. However, the same

could be argued for songs dealing with unrequited love. So why is it that there are no

occurrences of that subcategory in the modern era, yet disproportionately more than the classic

era about a relationship going awry? Again, any response to this would be highly speculative.

Regardless, I will offer possibilities. Relationship dysfunction may have become a more

marketable theme because the parents of the modern generation have a higher divorce rate than

the parents of the classic generation. Even if adolescents have not had their own relationships

yet, they may have already witnessed how they can go awry at home. As for young adults, since










the median age at first marriage has increased since the classic era (approximately 4 years for

males and 5 years for females; Infoplease, 2006), there is more time for the modern generation to

experience a greater number of "long-term" relationships that inevitably fail before settling

down. These details may indicate an erosion of the concept of "ideal love;" rather than brooding

for the unattainable one that is considered perfect, an individual may be more apt to "take what is

available" to whatever end.

The final subcategory of songs are not as conveniently grouped. Since there is a broad

"Miscellaneous" category for the oddballs of the entire study, this could be a "Miscellaneous"

subcategory for such songs that still treat relationships. From the classic era are the songs "Ain't

No Mountain High Enough," and "I'll be There" and from the modern era are "Wherever You

will Go," "A Thousand Miles," "When I'm Gone," and "Gold Digga." What is interesting about

these remaining songs is that the first four of the five deal with a theme already discussed:

distance. The two from the classic era are remarkably similar, both indicating the narrator' s

willingness to drop everything and go to the object if the object so desires. In "Wherever," the

situation is somewhat different. The details of the relationship are vague, but it seems like

returning to the obj ect is not an option: "Ifl could, then Iwould; I'll go wherever you will go. "

It is entirely possible that either the narrator or the object has died. In "Thousand," the nature of

the relationship is also unclear, but the narrator does express a willingness to bridge the distance:

"Cause you know I'd walk a thousand miles; Ifl could just see you tonight. For the two classic

songs, it seems like a reunion is feasible, given the beckoning of the obj ects. For the modern

songs, the abstractness of both conveys greater uncertainty. It is this uncertainty that kept these

two songs out to the "relationship gone awry" subcategory. Meanwhile, "When I'm Gone" is

just confusing. Some details seem to celebrate a relationship that is strong even in the narrator's










absence, some details hint at a hidden weakness in the relationship: "When your education X-

Ray; Cannot see under my skin; I won't tell you a damdddddddd~~~~~~~~~n thring5. That I could not tell my f~iends. "

The final song is "Gold Digga," the premise of which is, as the title suggests, an account of a

particular woman' s propensity for using wealth as the primary criteria for selecting a (temporary)

mate. This could have been included in the "relationship gone awry" subcategory, since the

narrator indicates being victimized by the obj ect at one point. However, the main point of the

song is the object' s exploits in general, rather than his review of the relationship they had.

Summary: Because the Relationships/love category is so large, it is the only of the seven

main categories in this study's typology that will have its own summary. The other categories

will all be summarized together. That said, let us review the comparisons between the two eras,

and point out some additional details in general that were not covered in the exhaustive analysis

above.

The most basic point is that relationships and love still constitute the most prevalent

subject matter in popular music. I would imagine an analysis of other popular entertainment

media, such as movies and televisions shows, would produce similar results. Even action and

science fiction films, generally geared toward males, usually feature some sort of romantic

interest between select characters. American culture seems to be in love with love. In both eras,

the orientation of the characters involved in the songs is almost always explicitly heterosexual,

which I ascertained by the occurrence of gender specific pronouns, or from the use of words like

"girl" by a male narrator. Only one song openly mentions marriage: "Band of Gold." Likewise,

only one mentions a child ("Dilemma") but the child is not the product of the two main

characters in the plot.









If sexual intercourse is mentioned at all, it is usually just implied. The most candid

references to sex are found in the modern pop song "This Love" with lines like: "I tried my best

to feed her appetite; Keep her coming every night; and "Mly pressure on your hips; Sinking my

fingertips; Into every inch of you. The only song from the classic era that even remotely

approaches this kind of explicit detail is "Maggie May:" "But you turned into a lover and;

Mother what a lover, you wore me out; All you did was wreck my bed. The song "Hey Ya!"

from the modern era also features a rather frank line: "OHH OH, don't want to meet yo' mama;

Just want to make you cumma, which implies the narrator' s disinterest in evolving the

relationship beyond the physical dimension, despite earlier details in the song that suggest it

already has. The degree to which language has become more explicit in modern pop will be

more clearly seen in the discussion of the "Fun/Party/Club/Sex category.

In terms of gender roles, it would appear that men and women are equally portrayed as

both strong and weak in both eras. In other words, both male and female narrators may either

express their vulnerabilities, or demonstrate their steadfastness. Meanwhile, a monogamous and

loyal relationship is still the professed goal of both men and women in both eras, with little

tolerance for infidelity. An exception would be "Dilemma," in which the narrators do engage in

a relationship (to whatever extent) outside of a preexisting one. In none of the songs does the

narrator use his/her relationship difficulties to justify chauvinistic generalizations about the

opposite sex. Likewise, in none of the songs does the narrator use his/her gender to justify

questionable actions.

To review some of the points already made, the classic era generally features more positive

or optimistic songs about relationships than the modern era. Both eras favor songs that focus










more on the results of a stressed relationship, but there are twice as many in the modern than the

classic era.

Global/Cons cious/Com mentary

From here, the comparisons of the songs will be more superficial, since each of the

remaining categories does not have a specific unifying theme like "Relationships/love." Recall

that the concept delineating the present category is that each of the songs treats some aspect of

social structure and society from a critical standpoint.

Despite the range of topics, some of the songs do actually address common themes. The

songs "People Got To Be Free," "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," "Everyday People" and to

some extent "Joy to the World" all address the notion of peace and harmony between people of

varying backgrounds. They are all also coincidentally from the classic era. Some of the key

lines are: from "Be Free," "You should see, what a lovely, lovely world this'd be; Everyone

learned to live together, ah-hah-unh; Seems to me such an easy, easy thing this should be; from

"Aquarius," "H~armony and understanding; Sympathy and trust abounding; No more falsehoods

or decisions; Golden living dreams of visions; and from "Everyday," "Oh sha sha we got to

live together; I am no better and neither are you; We are the same whatever we do. The most

similar song from the modern era is "Where is the Love?" but said song offers a much broader

commentary, treating the topics of the war on terror, discrimination, the nation' s cover-ups,

forgiveness, fixation on money, and the negativity of media. Additionally, the song seems more

focused on pointing out the problems than offering peaceful solutions. The tone is at times

resigned, illustrated by the chorus: "Father, Father, Father help us; Send us some guidance~front

above; 'Cause people got me, got me questioning ; Where is the love.

Another song that offers general commentary about the state of affairs in the United States

was already discussed in the Methods section. The narrator of the classic pop song "American









Woman" uses a clever metaphor to convey disenchantment with certain aspects of American life.

The "woman" he is speaking to throughout the song represents the country as a whole, or at least

the governing principles. Like "Where is the Love?," it too calls attention to war ("I don't need

your war machines ") however does not focus on it as heavily. The song from the classic era that

does is "War." The entire song is devoted to the subj ect, even recognizing the fact that young

people are the ones being sent to fight and possibly die: "War has shatterednzany a young nzan's

dream; Made hint disabled, bitter andnzean. It is surprising that, for as much unrest as was

reported from that era, only one top 10 song of the four year span was so explicitly detracting of

the Vietnam War. As stated near the beginning, this certainly does not deny that other anti-war

songs achieved popularity; they just did not garner enough popularity to reach the top 10. The

fact that just one song from the modem era is clearly anti-war is not as surprising for two

reasons. First, this war has not been waging as long, and second, there is currently no threat of

being drafted. Another difference is that the current war was waged in response to attacks on the

United States mainland. Although the Bush administration does not seem to have maintained a

clear view of who their actual enemy is, much of the support that was garnered for this war is

rooted in those attacks and the perceived threat of future attacks. Such was not the case for the

Vietnam War. Perhaps if the situation in Iraq deteriorates further over the next few years, the top

10 lists will feature more songs voicing disapproval.

The social commentary that the modern era seems most concerned with operates on a more

individual level. The songs "Complicated," "Unwell," and "Beautiful" each have a different

subject, but each address a more personal issue of some sort. What distinguishes "Complicated"

is that it is a pop song that criticizes pop culture. The premise is that the narrator' s good friend

has a tendency to present him/herself (the gender is not stated) differently amongst a different









circle of friends: "But you become; Somebody else; 'Round everyone else; Watchin' your back;

Like you can't relax; You're trying' to be cool; You look like a fool to me. This is a criticism of

pop culture because there are particular patterns of dress and behavior associated with certain

pop culture motifs--especially among teenagers--and the narrator would prefer her friend to

remain true to him/herself and not subscribe to those patterns: "Acting like you're somebody else

gets me frustrated; TakeTTT~~~~~TTTTT~~~~ off all your preppy c hothesl~ The irony of this song is, of course, that its

popularity likely produced its own pop culture motif, based on the artist's chosen style.

The song "Unwell" deals with emotional disorders like anxiety and depression. The fact

that this is the No. 1 song of 2003 indicates that such concerns have become widespread among

the pop culture audience. Though the prevalence of such disorders is also evidenced by the

booming anti-depressant/anxiety medication industry, these are still very personal problems that

are a source of shame for the afflicted individual: "Andl know, I know they 've all been talking

about me; I can hear them whisper; And it makes me think there must be uslll~lineth in 1 1i" tin i'lh

me; and from the chorus "But I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell; I know right now you cant

tell. It is entirely possible that the narrator is playing the role of the entire American culture.

"Beautiful" is similar in that it discusses self-esteem, often one of the key factors in the

development of emotional troubles. The primary assertion of the song is that every person is

beautiful in every way, and that we should not allow others to convince us otherwise. Perhaps

this song served as an anthem to counter some of the realities put forth in "Unwell."

The only remaining song in this category is "Indian Reservation," from 1971. As the title

suggests, the song reminds Americans what happened to the people who were here before there

was an America. While the population being recognized by this song is very specific, the song's









main point could be extended to implicate other imperialistic instances of American policy,

perhaps even the Vietnam War.

Fun/Party/Club/Sex

This is the category which accounts for the most noticeable shift in American pop culture.

However, this shift will not become apparent through a comparison between songs within this

category alone; there are only two classic pop songs that qualified for this category versus the

nine from the modern era. What is most readily apparent within the lyrics of the modern pop

songs is the drastic difference in language compared to any of the classic songs, regardless of

category. I will briefly discuss the two classics in order to "get them out of the way."

Both songs were hits in 1969. They are "Hot Fun in the Summertime," and "Honkey Tonk

Women." Among all the songs in this category, "Hot Fun" is without question the most

"gentle." The song consists of several narrators offering recollections of the carefree lifestyle

associated with school-aged youth on summer vacation. The only two lines that could possibly

be interpreted to indicate drug use or sex are "That's when I had most of my fun, back high high

high high there; and ""Boop-boop-ba-boop-boop when I want to; but that would be a bit of a

stretch. The other details just celebrate the summer. In contrast, "Honkey Tonk" has a notable

sexual dimension: "I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in M~emphis; She tried to takettttt~~~~~~~tttttt me

upstairs for a ride; and "I laid a divorcee in New York city. Al so note the attention given to

alcohol use, furthered by the line: "'Cause I just cant seem to drink you off my mind. "

These details are relatively "G-rated" compared to many of the details discovered amongst

the modern pop. The most notable songs are "Hot in Herre [sic]," "In Da Club," "Yeah!," "The

Way You Move," "Candy Shop," and "Don't Cha." Coincidentally, these are all rap influenced

songs. Many of them are set in a dance club, which immediately gives rise to the mention of

alcohol and/or other substances, and sexuality. Each of these songs features several details, so I









will only focus on the most prurient. I will leave out "Don't Cha" because it was already used as

an example in the section on demographics. I would like to caution the reader: if you are easily

offended, skip the rest of this paragraph. From "Hot in Herre:" "Iwas like, good gracious ass

bodacious; It 's getting hot in here, so takettttt~~~~~~~tttttt off all your c hotherl~, What good is all the fame if you

ain 't fuckin the models; Say she like to think about cutting in restrooms. Note: "cutting" is

slang for engaging in sexual intercourse. From "In Da Club:" "Mama I got that)( if you into

ttttttttttttttttakn 'drugs; When you sell like Eminem, and the hoes they wanna fuck; I see Xzibit in the Cutt

that nigga roll that weed up; You that faggot ass nigga trying to pull me back right? From

"Yeah! :" "These women all on the prowl, if you hold the head steady I'm a milk the cow; I won't

stop till I get 'em in they b~il ltk th suits; So gimmie the rhythm and it'll be olj\' ithr their clothes,

then bend over to the front and touch your toes; if they ain 't cutting then I put 'em on foot

patrol. From "The Way You Move:" "Drip drip drop there goes an ear-gasm; Now you

cumin out the side of your face; Many11~ ,slim women got the camel toe 0I ithrin them, you can

hump them, hift them, bend them, give them \Illlslinehig to remember. And finally, from "Candy

Shop:" "I'll let you lick the lollipop; Go 'head girl, don't you stop; You gon' back that thing up or

should Ipush up on it; Got the magic stick, I'm the love doctor; Get on top then get to bouncing

round like a low rider; I melt in your mouth girl, not in your hands; Lights on or lights offJ she

like it fr~om behind. "

What is most apparent from many of these lines, beside of course the blatantly sexual

nature of most of them, is the unabashed use of words that would never be used in mixed

company, notably fuckk," "nigga," and "faggot." And yet, they appear in pop songs. These

songs are most certainly edited if they appear on the radio or television, but the attitude behind

them would not be changed by such edits. In terms of the overall point of this study, the change










in American culture is clear with these lyrics. The tolerance for offensive language in pop

culture has drastically increased in the last 30 years. It obviously is not simply the use of foul

words that is condoned. These songs all convey a manner of obj ectifying women and many

endorse the use of alcohol and drugs. As mentioned in the section on demographics, these are

the kinds of songs that are most dissimilar from the music of the classic era, which solidifies

their use as methods of rebellion for the younger generation. Whether the audience internalizes

any of these messages or not is a potential topic for another study.

Introspective

This is the final category that will undergo a comparison between eras, however it will be

rather superficial since the modern era boasts just one song. The song is "Boulevard of Broken

Dreams," and as the title hints at, has a doleful tone that recounts the narrator' s torment: "I walk

a lonely road; The only one that I have ever known; Don 't know where it goes; But it's home to

me andl walk alone. The chorus conveys similar themes to "I'm With You," discussed in the

Relationships section, with lines like: "M~y shadow's the only one that walks beside me; M\~y

shallow heart's the only thing that's bea'tfing:' Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me;

'Til then I walk alone. The theme of loneliness is also described in "Sittin' on the Dock of the

Bay:" "Sittin' here resting my bones; And this loneliness won't leave me alone, listen. The

most notable contrast between these two songs is that the narrator in "Boulevard" prefers to

remain in motion, using metaphors of walking, while the narrator of "Dock" is more sedentary

and resigned. Neither indicates that he thinks his situation will improve. Also quite pessimistic

is the song "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart." As mentioned earlier, this song escaped the

Relationships category because the narrator does not discuss the situation or person that broke

his heart. This song is similar to "Dock" in that it consists of details that dwell on the past: "I

can think of younger days when living for my hife; Was everything a man could want to do; And










misty memories of days gone by. The similarity to "Boulevard" is that both narrators look to

someone else to help them emerge from their troubles. From "Boulevard," the aforementioned

line "Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me, and from "Mend," "Please help me

mend my broken heart and let me live again. "

The remaining songs are somewhat more optimistic. In "Raindrops Keep Falling on my

Head," although the narrator admits to his difficulties, he remains assured that they are

temporary: "But there 's one thing I know; The blues they send to meet me won 't defeat me; It

won't be long 'til happiness steps up to greet me. Perhaps the narrators of "Boulevard,"

"Dock," and "Mend" could learn from the line: "'Cause I'm never gonna stop the rain by

complainin'; Because I'm free. The song "Let it Be" also speaks of hard times, and the

solution, though more abstract, is similar: "When I find myself in times of trouble; M\~other Ma'~ry

comes to me; Speaking words ofwisdom, let it be. The final song is "Take me Home Country

Roads," which could have been categorized as "Miscellaneous," but it has enough of

introspective tone that it joined the others of this category. The song is more a celebration of the

archetype of "home," and recounts the fond feelings of attachment to such a place. Some key

lines are: "Country Roads, takettttt~~~~~~~tttttt me home; To the place I belong; M~isty taste of moonshine,

teardrop in my eye; And driving 'down the road; I get a feeling' that I should have been home

yesterday. "Boulevard," and "Dock" also allude to this concept of home.

Summary: Recall that this summary is dedicated to all of the categories besides

Relationships, since that mammoth of a category engendered its own summary. However, key

songs from that category will not be excluded from this summary in order to help illustrate some

ofthis study's findings.










As stated, the most visible change that emerged from this lengthy analysis of pop music is

the transformation of language. Just focusing on word selection is only part of the story, but the

most drastic. The rap songs in particular utilized rather frequently words that are considered

obscene, but this is not confined to rap. There is an occurrence of fuckk" in "Boulevard"

("What's fucked up and everything's alright"), and in the chorus of "U Got it Bad" ("I've been

there, done it, fucked around") and recurrent use of shit" in "Hollaback Girl" ("Let me hear you

sssssssssssssay, this shit is bananas "). Beyond that, there are no "bad words" in any of the other songs, and

none at all in any of the classic songs.

It would also be appropriate to comment on the way that language has syntactically

changed between the two eras. Since song lyrics are akin to poetry, the rules of syntax and

grammar are typically more lax, granting a sort of artistic license. In other words, there is simply

less demand for strict adherence to the guidelines of the English language. Many artists will take

this liberty where appropriate to fit key ideas or messages to the meter, resulting in condensed or

incomplete sentence structures. This has likely been a feature of lyrical music since before the

rules of grammar were even outlined. However, some of the music in the modern era deviates

from the rules consistently, possibly intentionally. The rap songs account for the greatest amount

of deviation, employing numerous colloquialisms and syntactically erroneous lines. There are

several lines that could illustrate this point, but consider this line from 50 Cent' s "In Da Club:"

"Look nigga I done came up and I ain 't change. Were this line written with proper grammar, it

would read: "Look, [nigga]; I have become successful, but I have not changed." The explanation

for rap music's defiance to the rules of "proper English" is rooted in the fact that, since its

founding in the 1980s, the language of rap music has been based on the dialect of urban

dwelling, poorer class black youth. Exceptions have circumstantially arisen, but record










companies have proven imprecise language to be an effective cultural item to market. This is not

implemented with white artists, likely because American society's parochial attitudes on race

construct a system of expectations in which it is more inappropriate for white artists to

extravagantly break language rules than it is for black artists. At the same time, since the young

white audience buys rap music (and is a larger market population), as noted in the Demographics

subsection, the imprecise language used therein can further rap's distinction as a style of music

scorned by parents, steeping its efficacy as a tool of rebellion. Plus, the idioms and colloquial

terms utilized provide young persons with an alternative system of speech symbols which

parents may have difficulty decoding.

The candor of discussing sex has also inclined between eras. Again, this is most evident in

rap music, but as earlier mentioned, the song "This Love" also provides vivid detail of sexual

acts. There is little mention of sex at all in the classic era, and when there is, it is occurring

within the context of a relationship, with the exception of "Honkey Tonk Women." Conversely,

in modern pop the act of sex is more likely constructed as an isolated incident with a person of

relative anonymity. The modern era also features the only two songs that are dedicated "sex

songs" ("Ignition" and "Candy Shop") where the maj ority of the details advance the plot of a

sexual encounter. "Don't Cha" could arguably be considered a sex song as well, but most of the

details convey the tension being built between the narrator and obj ect(s) rather than the actual

encounter.

Whereas the songs in the Relationships category tended to portray obj ects with respect,

this was not necessarily the case in the Fun/Party/Club/Sex category. Only one of the two classic

songs in that category can be discussed here, since the subj ect matter of "Hot Fun" is not

relevant. "Honkey Tonk" does not specifically use disrespectful language, but it is clearly










focusing on women as sexual objects. Women are objectified in most of the rap songs as well,

but these songs may also employ disrespectful words, like "bitch," and "hoe." What is more

notable than using such words however is the overall manner in which gender roles are

constructed. Often, in songs about relationships, it is the duty of the male narrator to win and

maintain the attention of the female obj ect. He must impress her and satisfy her and appreciate

her; essential he must prove his worth. In the rap songs, the role of the narrator is much more

passive. Such songs often portray the women "throwing themselves" at the narrator, just on

account of his hyper-masculinity and/or status. Some examples include: from "In Da Club,"

"Now shawty~ said she feeling my style, she feeling my flow; Her girlfriend wanna get bi and they

ready to go; from "Yeah!" "I saw/ short she was checking' up on me, fr~om the game she was

spittin in my ear you would think that she knew me; from "The Way You Move," "The girls all

pause 0I ithr glee, turning left turning right, are they looking at me? Now they got me in the middle

feeling like a man whore; and from "Don't Cha," "Seems like short wanna little menage pop

off or \Ilo~inetin' let's go; Lookin at me all like she really wanna do it. "

Since the nature of the engagement between the characters in these songs is much more

transient than what is depicted in relationship songs, it would stand to reason that the narrator

need not prove what he would contribute to an arrangement beyond the sexual encounter. If the

goal of both parties is simply sex, then in a sense the women are also obj ectifying the men; we

just do not get to hear their sides of the story, nor what descriptive terms they would use. That is

an important detail as well. The so-called "double-standard" is visible in top modern pop in that

there are no songs in which a female narrator is proudly describing her conquests. The closest

are "Don't Cha," and "Get this Party Started." In the former, the male narrator has a much more

active role than the female narrator(s). In the latter, the narrator (a female) does not describe any









sexual encounters, but does spend most of the song addressing her appeal. One can conclude

that male sexuality is more accepted in modern pop music than female sexuality. To compare

the two eras, since the classic era features only one applicable song, it is more accurate to argue

that sexuality in general is more accepted in modern pop, as already stated. The sexuality just

happens to be specifically male. This is not to say that female pop stars have not successfully

used sexuality to achieve popularity. Some examples would be Britney Spears, Shakira, and

Christina Aguilera. However such images are absent from the top pop in this four year span,

indicating it is not as broadly accepted or tolerated as what is offered by males.

Sexuality is not the only aspect that has changed. There are more songs from the classic

era that pay heed to broader social issues than from the modern era. Additionally, the issues that

the modern songs treat operate more on a personal level, with the exception of "Where is the

Love?" Perhaps this is not enough data to infer that modern pop culture is more egocentric,

especially given the fact that there are more songs in the classic era that qualify for the

Introspective category. However, to factor in the content of the songs from the Fun/Party

category in the modern era may provide more evidence to support a possible incline of

egocentrism. In her book on modern youth culture entitled Generation M~e, Twenge (2006)

shows that this generation has encountered the greatest emphasis on the self in history, so this

incline would definitely appear likely. The theme of being helpful is also more common in the

classic era, appearing in songs like "People Got to be Free," "Hey Jude," "Bridge Over Troubled

Water," "I'll There," "Mrs. Robinson," and "Let it Be." The modern era is practically devoid of

this theme, with the strongest--though indirect--example in "Beautiful."












Table 4-1. Categories of analysis
Relationships/Love
1968 20(
This Guy's in love with you Dilemma
Sunshine of your Love Ain't it funny
Honey U got it bad
1969 How you rem
I can't get next to you Wherever yo
Crimson and Clover Thousand M
Dizzy In the End
Sugar, Sugar 20(
Build me Up Buttercup When I'm go
I'll Never Fall in Love Again Bring me to I
1970 Crazy in love
They long to be close to you I'm with you
Ain't no mountain high
enough 20(
I'll be there Burn
Get ready This Love
Band of Gold Hey Ya!
1971 Someday
Just my imagination She will be lt
Knock three times I don't wann~
Maggie May The Reason
It's too late My Immortal
One bad apple 20(
Go away little girl Let me love 1
We belong te
Behind thes~
eyes
Since U beet
Gold Digga


Global/Conscious/Commentary
1968
People got to be Free
1969
Aquarius/Let the sunshine in
Every day People
1970
American Woman
War
1971
Joy to the World
Indian Reservation
2002
Complicated

2003
Unwell
Where is the Love
Beautiful


Misc
1968
Hey Jude
Mrs. Robinson
1970
Bridge over Troubled Water
2005

Hollaback girl


02





~ind me
lu will go
iles


03
ne
Life




04






oved
a know



05
you
together
e hazel

n gone


Fun/Partv/ClublSex
1969
Honkey Tonk Women
Hot Fun in the Summertime
2002
Hot in here
Get the party started
2003
In Da Club
Rock your body
Ignition
2004
Yeah!
The way you move
2005
Candy shop
Don't cha


Dance
1968
Tighten Up
2005
1,2 Step


Instrumental
1968
Love is Blue
The Good, Bad, Ugly


Introspective
1968
Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay
1970
Raindrops keep falling on my head
Let it be
1971
Take me home country roads
How can you mend a broken heart
2005
Boulevard of Broken Dreams













Table 4-2. Classic era demographic breakdown
1968
1. HEY JUDE Beatles (Apple)
2. LOVE IS BLUE (L'AMOUR EST BLEU) Paul Mauriat (Philips)
3. HONEY Bobby Goldsboro (United Artists)
4. SITTING ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY Otis Redding (Volt)
5. PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE Rascals (Atlantic)
6. SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE Cream (Atco)
7. THIS GUY'S IN LOVE WITH YOU Herb Alpert (A&M)
8. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY Hugo Montenegro (RCA
Victor)
9. MRS. ROBINSON Simon & Garfunkel (Columbia)
10. TIGHTEN UP Archie Bell & the Drells (Atlantic)


1969
1. SUGAR, SUGAR Archies (Kirshner)
2. AQUARIUS/LET THE SUNSHINE IN Fifth Dimension (Soul City)
3. I CANT GET NEXT TO YOU Temptations (Gordy)
4. HONKY TONK WOMEN Rolling Stones (London)
5. EVERYDAY PEOPLE Sly & the Family Stone (Epic)
6. DIZZY Tommy Roe (ABC)
7. HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME Sly & the Family Stone (Epic)
8. I'LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Tom Jones (Parrot)
9. BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP Foundations (Uni)
10. CRIMSON AND CLOVER Tommy James & the Shondells
(Roulette)


1970
1. BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER Simon & Garfunkel
(Columbia)
2. (THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU Carpenters (A&M)
3. AMERICAN WOMAN Guess Who (RCA)
4. RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING' ON MY HEAD B.J. Thomas (Scepter)
5. WAR Edwin Starr (Gordy)
6. AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH Diana Ross (Motown)
7. I'LL BE THERE Jackson 5 (Motown)
8. GET READY Rare Earth (Rare Earth)
9. LET IT BE Beatles (Apple)
10. BAND OF GOLD Freda Payne (invictus)


1971
1. JOY TO THE WORLD Three Dog Night (Dunhill)
2. MAGGIE MAY Rod Stewart (Mercury)
3. IT'S TOO LATE Carole King (Ode)
4. ONE BAD APPLE Osmonds (MGM)
5. HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART Bee Gees (Atco)
6. INDIAN RESERVATION Raiders (Columbia)
7. GO AWAY LITTLE GIRL Donny Osmond (MGM)
8. TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS John Denver with Fat City
(RCA)
9. JUST MY IMAGINATION (RUNNING AWAY WITH ME)-
Temptations (Gordy)
10. KNOCK THREE TIMES -Tony Orlando and Dawn (Bell)


TOTAL*
WHITE
BLACK
MU LTICU LTU RAL
MU LTIETH NIC


MALE
FEMALE
Bl-GENDER


W/BG
B/BG
B/M
WIM
MC/BG
WIM
MC/BG
WIM
MC/BG

WIM




WIM
W/BG
WIM
WIM
B/M
B/F
B/M
WIM
WIM
B/F



WIM
WIM
WIF
WIM
WIM
WIM
WIM

WIM

B/M
MC/BG













Table 4-3. Modern era demographic breakdown
2002
1 HOW YOU REMIND ME Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG)
2 COMPLICATED Avril Lavigne -(Arista)
3 WHEREVER YOU WILL GO The Calling (RCA)
4 A THOUSAND MILES Vanessa Carlton (A&M/Interscope)
5 HOT IN HERRE Nelly (F o' Re el/Un iv ers al/UMRG)
6 DILEMMA Nelly Featuring Kelly Rowland (Fo' Reel/Universal/UMRG)
7 GET THE PARTY STARTED Pink (Arista)
8 AIN'T IT FUNNY Jennifer Lopez Featuring Ja Rule (Epic)
9 U GOT IT BAD Usher (Arista)
10 IN THE END -Linkin Park (Warner Bros.)


2003
1 UNWELL matchbox twenty (Atlantic)
2 I'M WITH YOU Avril Lavigne (Arista)
3 IN DA CLUB 50 Cent (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
4 BEAUTIFUL Christina Aguilera (RCA/RMG)
5 BRING ME TO LIFE Evanescence Featuring Paul McCoy (Wind-up)
6 WHEN I'M GONE 3 D oors D own (R epubli c/Univ ers al/UMR G)
7 WHERE IS THE LOVE? Black Eyed Peas (A&M/Interscope)
8 IGNITION R. Kelly (Jive)
9 CRAZY IN LOVE Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z (Columbia)
10 ROCK YOUR BODY Justin Timberlake (Jive)


2004
1 YEAH! Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris (LaFace/Zomba)
2 THIS LOVE Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG)
3 THE REASON Hoobastank (Island/IDJMG)
4 HEY YA! OutKast (LaFace/Zomba)
5 BURN Usher (LaFace/Zomba)
6 SOMEDAY Nickelback (Roadrunner/IDJMG)
7 THE WAY YOU MOVE OutKast Featuring Sleepy Brown
(LaFace/Zomba)
8 MY IMMORTAL Evanescence (Wind-up)
9 SHE WILL BE LOVED Maroon5 (Octone/J/RMG)
10 I DON'T WANNA KNOW Mario Winans Featuring Enya & P. Diddy
(Bad Boy/UMRG)


2005
1 WE BELONG TOGETHER Mariah Carey (Island/IDJMG)
2 HOLLABACK GIRL Gwen Stefani (Interscope)
3 LET ME LOVE YOU Mario (3rd Street /J/RMG)
4 SINCE U BEEN GONE Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG)
5 1, 2 STEP Ciara Featuring Missy Elliott
(S ho'nu ff/Mu sicL in e/LaFa ce/Z omba)
6 GOLD DIGGER Kanye West Featuring Jamie Foxx (Roc-A-Fella/Def
Jam/IDJMG)
7 BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS Green Day (Reprise)
8 CANDY SHOP 50 Cent Featuring Olivia (Shady /Aftermath/Interscope)
9 DON'T CHA The Pussycat Dolls Featuring Busta Rhymes
(A&M/Interscope)
10 BEHIND THESE HAZEL EYES Kelly Clarkson (RCA/RMG)


WIM
WIF
WIM
WIF
B/M
B/BG
WIF
MC/MG
B/M
MC/M



WIM
WIF
B/M
ME/F
W/BG
WIM
MC/BG
B/M
B/BG
WIM



B/M
WIM
WIM
B/M
B/M
WIM

B/M
W/BG
WIM

B/M



ME/F
WIF
B/M
WIF

B/F

B/M
WIM
B/BG

MC/BG
WIF


TOTAL:
WHITE
BLACK
MULTICULTURAL
MULTIETHNIC


MALE
FEMALE
Bl-GENDER









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION

To return to the adage expressed at the very beginning of this paper, the concept of age is

probably what is most important to keep in mind when analyzing pop music. It is easy for

someone who has matured past adolescence and young adulthood to discard the current pop

music as uninspired, plastic, or vulgar noise with no culturally redeeming qualities, meanwhile

believing that it is rotting the brains of the young. What is not as simple is for such people to

bracket their own history of experiences and understand why the music defining the era of thelir

youth also produced similar reactions among the older generations. New pop music is not

supposed to be enj oyable for the maj ority of adults. If it were, then the youth culture would not

have such an identifiable means to distinguish itself and reject the aspects of adult life they find

worthy of criticism. In the late 1960's, the youth were critical of the stodgy businessman

mentality of society and puritanical repression of sexuality characteristic of the 1950s, and they

were critical of the war and draft. The pop music was fun, lighthearted, and upbeat, or

challenging to social norms and political policy. What criticisms is modern pop indicating that

today's youth have? It would appear that they are debating the necessity of rules, particularly

rules about language and rules about monogamy. Is defiance to adult rules and regulations

unique to modern pop? Certainly not. To reiterate, age-specific concerns are key in the

production of pop music, regardless of era. It is also easy for the mature observer to pass

judgments on youth culture and predict a worst-case-scenario for the future those young persons

will help create. And again, what is not easy for said observers is to realize that they helped

enable or create the cultural climate, social norms, and regulations that the new batch of young

people is responding to.









There have indeed been some distinct changes in pop music that could be considered

alarming to older persons. Subject matter, language used, and aggressive delivery of modern

pop in particular are in sharp contrast to the more peaceful themes in the music of the classic era.

At the same time, there have been changes in culture as a whole that unsettle younger persons,

even if they have not been alive long enough to see them as changes. Youths are still expected to

excel and achieve in American society when they become adults. But today, the manifestation of

that success may appear to youth, through the example of their parents, as a ceaseless dedication

to work at the expense of their amplified sense of self that Twenge (2006) asserts modern culture

cultivated. They are essentially trapped between contradictory ideals: "Should I follow my

dreams as I've been told I'm entitled to, or do I sacrifice my individuality in order to work and

be successful within this system?" Through it all, the music industry has been insightful enough

to market acts that young persons can identify with, and thus will purchase. If they do not feel it,

they do not buy it. The industry knows this and will cater to those desires, having no qualms

about the repercussions, if there truly will be any. As we know, the young will mature and begin

to dislike the newest material being released, and perhaps even grow out of much of the material

they did enjoy.

So what else can we learn about modern culture from the manifestation of young desires

through pop music? What are their values? For one, it would appear that the implications of war

and the demand for peace are not as great a concern as they were for young people in past

generations. Again, this may stem from misinformation or the lack of a military draft. If the war

does not directly affect them, why should they care? Instead, personal difficulties and troubles

with relationships seem to be the focus, which follows from the heightened emphasis on the self.

The temporary relief of those difficulties is found in the distraction of partying and dancing at










clubs. It is at these clubs and parties that the undertones of sexuality flourish, in part because of

the content of the music. Is modern culture more fixated on sex than prior generations? That is

hard to say for certain, but it would certainly appear so by the way it is so openly discussed in

these songs. These details seem to exemplify that our culture has yet to decide upon the "best"

way to prepare youth for the potentially harsh realities of sex and love. Young people can almost

expect to have their hearts broken, given the themes of some of these songs. Nevertheless, the

pursuit of relationships is still an ideal of youth. That itself has not changed since the classic era,

even if the idealized characteristics of relationships have shifted to self-fulfillment versus

concern and/or admiration for the partner. How have parents who grew up in the wake of the

sixties described dating to their children? Did they? What has the increasing prevalence of

divorce told those children about long-term commitment? Given some of the other themes of

modern pop music, the way to safeguard oneself against the hazards of commitment is to seek

only cursory outlets to satisfy urges. What is ironic is that this occurred in the sixties as well,

with the popularized concept of "free love." However, since the cultural climate of young

persons was more based on peace and acceptance, the way that sex was conceptualized then is

likely much different from the way it is now. Many modern pop songs also emphasize status

symbols. Money, cars, and recognition are discussed with far greater frequency than they are in

classic pop. Could this be alluding to an incline in and celebration of conspicuous consumption?

If one were to examine the difference in popular clothing styles between these two eras, would

the modern era exhibit a greater value placed on expensive, name brand attire and accessories?

A potential future study could examine the intersection of pop music themes and consumer

patterns among youth.










The point that emerges through all of this discussion is that, like an individual human, our

culture and society is growing and learning, and every cross-sectional analysis of a particular era

will reveal that change in style is just a means for society to avoid stagnation. We may

experiment with new wardrobes, but the body we wrap in those clothes is much less subj ect to

alterations. Will pop music still be predominantly about relationships 50 years from now?

Probably. But as long as there are music and clothing industries for profit, pop culture will

continue to be-bop, hip-hop, rock, roll, and get funky. Can you dig it?










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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Born in Massachusetts, Chad moved to Florida before forming coherent sentences and has

been slowly cooking since. By virtue of his own humanity, he became interested in people and

their intricacies by middle school, but did not realize the science thereof until halfway through

his undergraduate studies. Originally an engineering student, he heard advisors and professors

sing of the "slippery slope" of engineering, where the intensity of the program would send

students tumbling into the Liberal Arts. Chad inevitably supported their statistics, but not for

meager grades; the field's cold rigidity turned him away. Sociology melded his intrinsic people

studies with a structured learning environment. But throughout it all, his true passion has been

music.