Love is all around: a corpus-based study of pop lyrics

Professorship/Faculty: English and Historical Linguistics  
Author(s): Werner, Valentin  
Title of the Journal: Corpora
ISSN: 1749-5032
Publisher Information: Edinburgh : Edinburgh Univ. Press
Year of publication: 2012
Volume: 7
Issue: 1
Pages: 19-50
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.3366/cor.2012.0016
Although they are an integral part of everyday life, song lyrics are not included in any of the standard corpora of English (e.g., BNC, ICE, CIC, Brown family) that are currently available. In this paper, I report on an analysis of lyrics based on a chart corpus containing British and American pop songs. The purpose of this study is to test various stylistic, diatopic and historical factors, with the help of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Findings from earlier research are tested against further corpus evidence, while I provide a broader statistical basis and more illustrative examples than in previous studies. I also address more theoretical issues, such as the principles behind the production of lyrics and the question of whether pop song lyrics can be categorised in terms of ‘spoken’ versus ‘written’ or ‘formal’ versus ‘informal’. I argue that pop lyrics constitute a rather special register. Finally, I outline areas of further study.
Keywords: pop music, lyrics, corpus study
Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 6. August 2012