CULT 228 Essay Assignment: Original YouTube Music Video Analysis (25%)
Due: Mon Nov 12 *** No comments due date: Mon Nov 19 (see blackboard for further details on this)
Length: 1400-1600 words, NOT counting title page, References/Works Cited pages, or appended lyrics.
Include a title page with a creative title. Include a word count on your title page, along with your name and
student number. Please double-space your assignment. Use double-spaced, 12-point ‘Times New Roman’ font.
A primary purpose of this course is to help you see that any cultural artifact is a text that can be read. To read
a text means to analyze or interpret it. In order to help us read/analyze/interpret texts, there are a number of
theories and concepts that can guide our observations. For this essay, you will select a music video available on
YouTube and analyze it. Some questions you may wish to consider in your analysis are: What is the purpose of
Your essay must be based on a single music video that is available on YouTube. The video must have been
created by the artist and/or their label, not a third party unrelated to the song/videos production. The song must
have lyrics: it cannot be a purely instrumental song that lacks lyrics. If the song is in a language other than
English, a full English translation of the lyrics must be provided. You can choose a recently released music
video, or an older one. The artist can be hugely popular, or relatively unknown. It may be advisable for you to
choose a song you are already familiar with, though you are not required to do so. Your essay should not be
drawing substantially on outside sources. Your analysis should be overwhelmingly original (i.e. produced by
YOU). Essays that draw substantially on outside sources may receive grades of zero. You must provide a copy
of the lyrics of the song in an appendix at the end of your essay. Not providing a copy of the lyrics at the end of
your essay will result in a grade deduction of 5%. You must also provide the URL of your YouTube music
video. Your music video should be properly presented on your References/Works Cited page. Visit
http://www.easybib.com/guides/citation-guides/apa-format/youtube-video/ to see how to cite a YouTube video.
Your thoughtful, original analysis of your chosen YouTube music video should be executed via the following
three analytical lines of inquiry. These three sections of your analysis should appear under separate headings.
Visual Analysis: Analysis of the visual content of the music video (things such as main characters,
plot/narrative, setting, genre conventions, use of visual effects, etcetera). There are many ways to interpret the
meaning of the visual elements of the video. You may wish to analyze the significance of key themes, imagery,
editing techniques, and so forth. You are neither limited to nor required to discuss what I have mentioned
above: I mention them only to assist you in generating ideas about how to approach the analysis of your video.
Sonic Analysis: Analysis of the sonic content (lyrics and instrumentation) of the music video. The range of
what sonic elements could be analyzed is very wide. There are things such as the meaning of lyrics (both literal
and metaphoric), the significance of genre and idioms (modes of expression, diction usage, etcetera), the use of
instrumentation/instrumental techniques, and the cultivation and creation of tones and emotions. All these
things are potential subjects of analysis. There are undoubtedly more possible sonic elements you could
analyze: the ones I have listed here are to only to get you thinking about what you might consider analyzing.
Ideological Analysis: An ideological analysis is a kind of critical analysis that pays attention to larger
sets/levels of meanings that seem apparent in texts. Such meanings are often (but not always) implied/indirect
as opposed to explicit/direct. You might consider how your text contains or implies meanings related to large
scale social issues such as race, gender, sexuality, social class, and/or dominant or resistant cultural meanings.
Related, you may also wish to consider how your text might be understood to be addressing and constructing an
implied audience. An implied audience is an assumed group (or groups) of individuals to which the
meaning of a text is meant to be communicated. Such audiences are often multi-dimensional in character, being
composed of overlapping layers of identity and significance. For example, audience members are often
composed of combinations of layers, such as being a consumer (someone living in a market society where
things are bought and sold for the purposes of profit), an enthusiast/fan of a particular genre or sub-genre of
music (that someone may be a fan of hip hop, or of Norwegian black metal), a person of a given socioeconomic
class (low-income, working class, middle class, upper-middle class, high class, etcetera), a person of a given sex
or gender (male, female, straight, gay, transgender, etcetera), a person of a given ethnic or racial background
(Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian, etcetera), a person of a given age demographic (tween,
teenager/adolescent, 20s, 30s, older, etcetera), a person with certain tastes (such as common, refined,
exotic, etcetera) and so on and so forth. The layers I have mentioned here are just for demonstrations sake: I
mention them just to get you thinking about some ways you might approach analyzing them if you wish to do so.
Use of Secondary Materials
You really should refrain from any widespread use of any sources other than the music video you have chosen
and the website from which you obtained the songs lyrics (if you have not transcribed the lyrics yourself). No
other sources should be used in any substantial way. Original, thoughtful work is of higher value than work that
appears to be inspired by, or drawing from, outside sources. I am interested in reading your perspective on your
chosen music video, not someone elses perspective. Essays that seem to be drawing widely on outside sources
will likely receive poor (and possibly failing) grades. If an outside source however is used, it needs to be cited
in a recognized citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago Style). Information on how to cite sources in an acceptable,
recognized citation style are widely available online. You may also choose to scroll down to ‘Research & Cite
Resources’ under ‘COURSE MATERIALS’ on our course’s blackboard: information on citing can be found there.
Do not plagiarize. Your assignment will be checked by the plagiarism detection software system SafeAssign.
A document (Avoiding Plagiarism: A Quick Reference Guide) has been posted on our course’s blackboard
(under Getting Started) regarding what constitutes plagiarism, and what the consequences of plagiarism can be.
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