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February 14, 2016

The 5 “S’s” of Lyrical Themes

another_silver_treble_clefSome people say all music sounds the same. I’m not so quick to make sweeping generalizations but I would say there are very few themes to music. As a faithful connoisseur with varying tastes, I can say that I love all music. Both of my brothers were teenagers when I was born and they’ve been professional DJ’s most of my life. I’ve been listening to music since birth, in large part thanks to my family. I don’t like everything I hear but I’ve been exposed to everything from Insane Clown Posse to Christian Hymns; Bach to Beatles to Backstreet Boys. I feel confident saying that lyrics fall into only five themes, even across generations. Let me explain below and feel free to challenge me to a spritely debate. Let’s take a look at the five “S’s” of lyrical themes that I have identified

1. Street Credibility

They are club songs or party music. These songs maybe have sex appeal or showcase lifestyle (*negative lifestyle such as drugs and gang life also fall into this category).

Elvis Presley “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog”

Bruno Mars “Uptown Funk”

2. Showing Affection

These are songs about the people you love. It can be familial love, romantic love, or lost love.

2Pac “Dear Mama”

Adel “Hello”

3. Self-Actualization

These are songs that make people think and are based on life experience. Many great songs fall into this category.

Harry Chapin “Cats in the Cradle”

The Beatles “Let it Be”


Black-Eyed Peas “Where is the Love”


4. Spirituality

These songs have a religious/spiritual nature.

Allison Krauss on The Voice singing “Down to the River” from the ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou?’ Soundtrack


“Adi Shakti” von Sada Sat Kaur

*Meditation Music


5. Systematic Political Discourse

These songs challenge the government to change course.

Buffalo Springfield “For What it’s Worth”

Written in response to the Vietnam War

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert “Same Love”

Written before SCOTUS Legalized Gay Marriage Nationally

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