Song #1: Pay Gap by Margo Price

Description: This song is overtly about the social justice issue of wage inequality. It is no secret that women are not being paid the same as men. And while the average working woman in 2018 made 80 cents for the dollar a white man earned, it’s also no secret that it’s worse for women of color.

  • Music alone: This song begins very country, with the sound of the steel guitar being an important element. Acoustic guitar and drums carry the song through, as well as what seems to be an accordian. The instrumentation in this song is very minimal and folksy. This lets the lyrics of the song have the main focus.
  • Lyrics alone: Margo Price is being very upfront and transparent about the meaning of this song. Just from the title alone anyone would be able to unequivocally make a claim about what this song’s message is.
    • “Honey, I work so hard for my money and I leave my babies at home. Breaking my back trying to bring home a check and working my fingers to the bone. At the end of the day it feels like a game-one I was born to lose. This institution, a dead revolution, is giving young women abuse”
    • Pay gap, pay gap. Why don’t you do the math? Pay gap, pay gap. Ripping my dollars in half.”
  • Vocal delivery alone: Price’s vocals on this song are very consonant and gentle, which aligns with her sound as an artist. Her dynamics throughout remain consistent.
  • Overall understanding: This song piqued my interest because of how laidback, folksy, and happy the music itself seems to me despite how bold the lyrics are. At the same time, this could be seen as a normal genre convention of country music.


Song #2: Looking for America by Lana Del Rey

Description: This is a social justice song that clearly stands at opposition with pro-gun movements. Lana Del Rey sets the scene for the first two lines, then delivers a punch to the gut: “Pulled over to watch the children in the park, we used to only worry for them after dark.” Then the chorus comes in to bring the message home. Nearly every song of Lana’s is a masterpiece, and this is no exception. Even on protest, Del Rey’s soothing vocals seems to make it feel like everything is going to be ok.

  • Music alone: The guitar accompaniment that’s present from the very beginning of the song is barely there, even throughout the song. It seems that the guitar is the only element aside from the vocals, and a couple quiet synths toward the very end of the track. Again, this minimal orchestration causes the listener to pay more attention to the lyrics.
  • Lyrics alone: Some of the strongest lyrics in the song that directly connect to the song’s message are:
    • “I’m still looking for my own version of America, one without the gun, where the flag can freely fly. No bombs in the sky, only fireworks when you and I collide. It’s just a dream I had in mind.”
    • “I used to go to drive-ins and listen to the blues. So many things that I think twice about before I do.”
  • Vocal delivery alone: Del Rey’s vocals are characteristically sweet and sad. No a lot of dynamic change is heard, except on the line, “I used to go to drive-ins and listen to the blues. So many things that I think twice about before I do.” Her vocals are also multiplied at the chorus, later softly and dreamily harmonizing with herself on “mind,” giving a choir or crowd feeling and hinting at the idea of participation.
  • Overall understanding: The lyrics of this song are very straightforward, but the music itself is very gentle and dreamy. This is not uncharacteristic of Lana’s style as an artist. Nevertheless, I think it adds to the many layers of this song and makes it a good song to discuss.