English 99, Essay 4: Love Song Analysis Essay – What’s Love Got to Do With It?

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Topic Discussion Paper due: Tuesday, November 24th

Peer Collaboration Drafts Due: Tuesday, December 3rd

Final Draft Due: Thursday, December 10th

English 99, Essay 4: Love Song Analysis Essay – What’s Love Got to Do With It?
In this section, our class will be exploring and analyzing how American culture views and defines romantic love – a very abstract and indefinable concept. While films, fairy tales, and other literature frequently depict an idealized version of love that supports social assumptions like “true love lasts forever,” “love at first sight,” “love is blind,” and “soul mates,” essays like David Sedaris’s “End of the Affair” discuss the nature of long-lasting love, but in much more realistic (and certainly not movie-worthy) terms.
For this assignment, choose one song from the attached list and write a 3-5 page essay (at least 6 paragraphs) analyzing how the lyrics define the notion of “love.” That is, what does the song say about love and how does it say it?
Remember that a song (like any text) can be interpreted in several different ways; your goal is to offer analysis that supports one focused and clear interpretation. Within you explanation of your interpretation, it is essential to offer close analysis of individual lines to explain the greater meaning of smaller elements—specific images, strategic word choice, etc. You don’t have to analyze every line in the song. Instead, seek to offer close analysis of the more important lines to support and prove your interpretation of what the song says about love. Remember that it is better to say a lot about a little than a little about a lot.
As you analyze, brainstorm, draft, and revise, consider the following questions:

  1. What is your first impression of the song? Is it happy? Sad? Depressing? Angry? Hopeful?

a. How do the lyrics convey this/these emotions?

  1. What seems to be the speaker’s attitude about love? Is it positive or negative? A little of both?

    1. Why? How so?

    2. What specific lyrics illustrate these attitudes?

  2. According to the lyrics of the song, how does love affect an individual?

  3. Is the idea of love portrayed in the song realistic? Why or why not?

  4. How does the message of the song compare to common assumptions like “true love,” “love at first sight,” “love hurts,” or “love is blind”?

  5. How does the song use specific word choice or imagery?

a. How do these images or specific words or phrases contribute to the message of the song?

Remember that your essay should not simply go through this list and answer all of these questions sequentially (that would make for very strange organization). Instead, these questions are posed to help you get started with your ideas.

English 99 - Grading Rubric for Essay 4, Love Song Analysis



Above Average




Essay appropriately addresses the assignment/prompt

Introduction is engaging and appropriately introduces focus of the essay

Statement of purpose (thesis statement) is clearly identifiable and specifically and appropriately defines the love song being analyzed and the specific argument being made concerning what that song says about love.

Focus of the essay is specific, clear, and expresses analytical and critical thought by the writer (goes beyond the obvious answers)

Paragraphs are clearly and logically organized and appropriately unified

Paragraphs skillfully support focus of the essay. Connections between paragraphs and the overall focus are clear.

Specific lyrics from the song are offered as supporting evidence appropriately

Quoted lyrics are effectively integrated within the writing (no stand-alone quotes)

Specific lyrics are closely analyzed and effectively explained and analyzed to reveal and state their significance in relation to the overall focus of the essay

Uses transitions effectively to connect sentences and paragraphs.

Tone and voice are distinctive, engaging, and appropriate for an academic audience

Sentence structure is clear and appropriately varied

Word choice is effective; that is, the writer clearly selected individual words based on their effectiveness

Conclusion effectively notes the significant/importance of the essay’s focus (and does not summarize)

Essay has clearly been carefully proofread, contains minimal typos and grammatical errors, and demonstrates strong knowledge of sentence structure and boundaries

MLA formatting is implemented appropriately

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