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Social Values in Modern Songs’ Lyrics Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 17th, 2021


Musicians make use of words and instruments to convey certain messages through their songs. The listener is made to develop certain feelings about the situation that the song is addressing. Personally, I enjoy a variety of music from various artists. Three of my favorite songs are Fast Car by Tracy Chapman, Where is the Love by Black Eyed Peas, and People Help the People by Birdy. In this paper, I shall analyze these songs to determine how effective the artists are in communicating their messages through their respective songs.

Use of Lyrics in my Favorite Songs

The lyrics to the three songs talk about relationships of different kinds. In “Fast Car”, Tracy Chapman talks about the relationship among family members as well as between a man and a woman. She reveals that the relationship among family members is full of sacrifices as she herself is forced to sacrifice going to school so that she can provide for her father. Chapman also observes how relationships between men and women are based on assisting each other in some way.

The Black Eyed Peas talk about the relationship between human beings in general. They lament how people do not express love in their actions and treatment of one another. Instead of showing love, the world is full of violence and deceitfulness as people destroy and exploit each other. Birdy’s song states that relationships among human beings should be characterized by assisting each other. She asserts that people should lend a helping hand to the ones who are in need.

The artists in the three songs make use of certain words to express emotions. Corbin and Dawn (2009) observe that these emotive words help the communicating parties to convey emotions and evoke certain feelings in the listener. Chapman uses the words such as belonging, and wrapped to convey the feelings of love and care that she felt. By using these words, the listener is able to gain a better understanding of the events that Chapman describes in her song.

The Black Eyed Peas make use of emotive words such as irate, animosity, and colder to communicate emotions. These words help demonstrate how the world is devoid of love and how people have become selfish. The feeling of desolation that the artists are trying to convey is properly brought out to the listener through these words. Birdy makes use of words such as homesick, cold as a stone, and loneliness to express a number of emotional states and maintain powerful emotional states in the listener. The words are able to communicate the self-centeredness of some people in the world.

How Issues are Addressed in the Songs

My favorite songs address a number of issues that are of social significance. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman addresses the issues of gender and specifically gender roles. The song highlights how women are expected to play the traditional role of taking care of the children in the family. In the song, Chapman states that she is at home taking care of the children while the husband is out drinking late at the bar.

The listener is influenced to feel some empathy for Chapman’s anguish when she reveals that she had always hoped for a better life but it did not happen as she had hoped. Effective communication is aided by the use of a good cognitive schema by the artist (Corbin & Dawn, 2009). Chapman uses a script, which contains sequences of actions that are easy for the listener to follow and make a mental image of the events that are being described in the song. It is not hard for the listener to picture Chapman riding in the fast car or even working as a market checkout girl.

“Where is the love” by Black Eyed Peas addressed the issue of race and society’s values. The artists point out that racism is still alive in America. They contend that love for one’s race is the cause of discrimination and hatred in the society. Love is suggested as the solution to this problem and only through love can racism and its harmful effects be wiped out. The song also highlights how societal values have degenerated. Truthfulness has been replaced by lies and there is no fairness or equality.

The artists admonish people for being selfish and only being interested in making money. The message being communicated by the artists is very effective. The words of the artists provoke the listener to engage in relational listening, which requires a person to reflect on how the message affects him/her and his/her relationship with other people (Corbin & Dawn, 2009). By making the listener to pause and ask himself/herself some questions such as “what happened to the value of humanity?”, the artists engage the listener and make him an active part of the communication process as opposed to having him act as a passive receiver.

Birdy’s song “people help the people” focuses on society’s values. Specifically, the song talks about human goodwill and a spirit of compassion for others. The artist documents the misery and anguish that people sometimes go through. She then elaborates how assistance from other people makes sure that miserable person does not sink into despair. Even so, Birdy notes that there are selfish people who turn the needy away since their only concern is accumulating wealth.

The message presented in Birdy’s song is effective since it makes use of the perceptual set that people are used to (Corbin & Dawn, 2009). Typically, majority of the rich men are typecast as being concerned with making more money and supporting their rich lifestyle. Birdy’s depiction of the rich man as cold hearted is therefore easy for the listener to relate to based on his or her own experiences and understandings.

Role of Music in my Life

Music is an integral part of my life and from my childhood years, I have been exposed to various forms of music. Over the years, I have used music for various functions in my life. I listen to music for leisure purposes and whenever I am relaxing, I will have some music playing in the background. Music also helps me to create a nice ambience when I am reading a book or playing cards with my friends. Whenever I can help it, I do my work with music in the background.

This is especially the case when I am engaging in household chores such as laundry, dusting the house, or cleaning the utensils. Music also serves as a pleasant backdrop when I am driving the car to various destinations.

Music is a major part of my relationship with my friends. I share some music taste with my friends and we are able to better relate through this music since we sometimes use it to express what we are feeling. Music therefore serves as a tool to enhance our communication with each other.

The music I share with others is mostly characterized by lighthearted beats and catchy choruses. This music is easy to sing along to and mostly deals with commonplace themes such as love, money, and partying. Music also helps me to build rapport with strangers since we can begin by talking about our interests in music and therefore establish trust. This trust is essential for the formation of any future meaningful relationship with these new acquaintances.

When I am alone, I prefer listening to music that is calming, soothing, and enlightening. I also prefer music that contains a wide variety of instruments and therefore has a rich sound about it. If the music contains lyrics, I am impressed by lyrics that are presented in a poetic fashion or those that tell intricate stories. This is the kind of music that I enjoy on my own. Most of my friends would not appreciate this form of music since they prefer upbeat forms of music. I therefore listen to music that is more upbeat when I am with my friends and revert to the calming form of music when I am on my own.

There is music that carries special memories for me. For example, the old country songs that my parents used to play in our house while I was a child evoke in me nostalgic memories. This music reminds me of my childhood years, which were generally happy and carefree. There are also a number of RnB songs, which remind me of my grade school friends.


Music is a very potent tool of communication and it plays many roles in our lives. In this paper, I have analyzed my three favorite songs in order to highlight their messages and demonstrate that the artists put their messages across effectively. I have also discussed the role that music plays in my life and how I utilize it every day.


Corbin, C., & Dawn, W. (2009). Interpersonal Communication: A Cultural Approach. Nova Scotia: Cape Breton University Press.

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