Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Paul Linden

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


This paper presents an analysis of Billboard Music Charts’ top twenty popular songs from the year 2011. These songs are studied to determine whether or not their songwriters adhere to hypothetical rules left by songwriting scholars from the past. The criteria for analysis include: length of introduction, length of the entire song, the presence of a memorable ‘hook’, the connection between tempo and key tonality, and the form of each song. The research concludes that, while songwriters typically adhere to a loose set of rules, they do not follow them exactly. Therefore, the success of a popular song cannot be credited to any single songwriting formula.