Pop Song Rhetorical Analysis

Project Instructions and Completion Guide


ELAGSE11-12RI1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

ELAGSE11-12RI2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

ELAGSE11-12RI6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

ELAGSE11-12SL4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.

ELAGSE11-12SL5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio,visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.

Essential Questions

  1. How do authors use rhetorical strategies to add power to their arguments?
  2. What can Taylor Swift teach me about making arguments?


One of the major tenets of this course is that argument is all around us. If this is true, then we might expect to find some really great rhetoric in some of the least expected places. This project raises the question: what new world is uncovered by applying our critical lense to the otherwise casual experience of the pop song?


Before you begin working on your own Pop Song Rhetorical Analysis Project, take some time to watch some examples of the project. Pay attention to the ways that the video’s creator develops his analysis.

  • What sorts of things does (s)he give attention to?
  • How does (s)he build a total meaning out of the various observations?
  • What sorts of patterns in the song is (s)he noticing?
  • How does (s)he explain himself/herself? How does (s)he use his/her own words to make explicit meanings that the musician only implies.

In preparation for this project, you should also create a collaborative folder in Google Drive.