A good essay draws on specific examples from primary and secondary sources to illustrate your points. Direct quotes, vivid descriptions of scenes or excerpts, etc. help show your audience what you are trying to say, rather than tell them without evidence. Annotating and taking notes on your primary source will help you identify the specific examples that you will use. This short writing assignment helps you practice using primary sources to show an audience something by creating an annotated song playlist.
Start by picking at least four songs that you think pair well with your primary source (your topic, in other words) for your essay. Don’t pick songs that are from the soundtrack or featured in the film/show (if these are utilized). I’m interested in seeing what songs you think represent your topic. I recommend focusing on lyrics, but style and genre considerations can be relevant also.
Still confused? Here is my playlist from Game of Thrones. It’s focused on a specific character (Daenerys Targaryen), and more specifically, a major trait of the character.
The songs I chose speak to actions or traits of the character. “Look What You Made Me Do” is a reference to something big Daenerys did in season 8 (I won’t spoil it!). “Confident”, or “What’s wrong with being confident?” references how Daenerys sees herself. So does “Sorry Not Sorry” (“Payback is a bad bitch” and Daenerys gets her payback!). “Burn” references her dragons (“We’re gonna let it burn, burn, burn, burn), “Chains” because she’s the Breaker of Chains, and finally, “Can’t Be Tamed” (self explanatory).
Once you choose your songs, create an annotated playlist. List each song/artist, followed by a detailed paragraph explaining how the song fits your topic for each song (four songs and for annotated paragraphs). Use direct quotes to illustrate your choices and connections.
“Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” is probably the ultimate revenge song. Daenerys has spent her life on the run after her father was deposed from the iron throne and everyone in her family was killed except her and her brother. This is certainly a character who has a reason to want revenge! “I’ve got a list of names and yours is in red, underlined” is probably an accurate way to describe how Daenerys feels about the current (at the beginning of the series) king, Robert Baratheon. Since her plotline takes place literally on another continent for most of the series, for the people of Westeros “the world moves on, another day, another drama, drama”, but for Daenerys in Essos, “not for me, not for me, all I think about is karma”. Towards the end of the series, Daenerys finds it hard to win over the people of Westeros, and she does something drastic. “Look what you made me do”, she must think, as she would never assign blame to herself. By the last episode, the audience must be wondering if her last thoughts were “maybe I got mine, but you’ll all get yours”.