Summary: Compose a 1000-word review of an album or recording project of any kind of popular music (rock, pop, hip-hop/rap, reggae, country, EDM, Doom Metal, &c.) that was released in the last three years.

There are 3 phases to this assignment:

  1. Rough draft, submitted as a forum post; due Friday, Oct 14
  2. Peer reviews, submitted to the forum; due Friday, Oct 21
  3. Final draft, submitted as an assignment; due Monday, Oct 31; *this version will be graded by the instructor or your TA


  • Rough draft: at least 500 words
  • Peer reviews (2): 75 words each
  • Final draft: 1000 words


  • Rough draft: 10 points, completion
  • Peer reviews (2): 10 points, completion
  • Final draft: 50 points
    • Writing (style, mechanics): 15 points
    • Discussion of extra-musical aspects: 10 points
    • Discussion of musical aspects: 25 points
      • Lyrics: max 5 points
      • Words-sounds: max 5 points


Details and Suggestions

What is a review? Think back to your week 2 discussions. A review is a type of formal assessment—one that summarizes a product (or project) and discusses its strengths and shortcomings. Music reviews may be candid, personable, &c. This genre of writing is an art on its own.

  • Writing (style, mechanics)
    • Start with a thesis
    • Organize your thoughts into paragraphs
    • Balance your content—I suggest: 150–250 words “apparatus” (intro, transitions, conclusion); 250–350 words extra-musical aspects; and 500 words musical aspects
    • Maintain a rhetorical tone
    • Check for mechanical issues
    • If you use outside sources, give citations (APA, MLA, or Chicago) and include a works-cited page
      • Please LIMIT the use of outside sources; this review should convey your observations and thoughts
  • Discussion of extra-musical aspects
    • This might include:
      • Identification of the type of project: album or EP, documentary, &c.
      • Name(s) of songwriters (if different from the band/artist)
      • List of songs
      • Available media: vinyl LP, CD, digital files, &c.
      • Comments on album art
      • Comments on music videos
  • Discussion of musical aspects
    • This might include:
      • Identification of genre(s)
      • Comments on song forms
      • Comments on instrumentation or timbres
      • Comments on rhythms
      • Comments on production
      • Comments on aesthetics
      • Comments on lyrics
      • Comments on words-sounds relationships
    • I suggest:
      • One or a few paragraphs on musical aspects in general
      • One or a few paragraphs on musical aspects of 1–2 selected songs


As a final suggestion, by maintain a rhetorical tone, I mean: make sure there is some interpretive value or a persuasive purpose to your writing. If several songs follow the same song form, for instance, does that add to or detract from your listening experience—and why? If a song moves you emotionally, what sounds, or words-sounds relationships, are impactful?

A difference between the Short Essay and the Reviews is that, in the essay I was looking for you to observe. In the Reviews, I am looking for you to observe and interpret or express an opinion.