An Analysis of Figurative Language and Imagery in British and American Pop Songs

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Kewalee Yaito
Mana Termjai


This research aims to investigate figurative language and imagery in British and American pop song lyrics. The research elicits their similarities and differences in terms of type and the number of occurrences of figurative language and imagery between British and American pop song lyrics. The subjects are twenty English pop songs, ten of which are British, and the others are American, from the Official Singles Chart Top 100 website between 21 and 27 February 2020.

The findings on figurative language showed that (1) figurative language was more numerous and more varied in the American songs (i.e. 303 times; 9 types) than in the British songs (i.e. 270 times; 8 types) and (2) the most frequently found type was metaphor, which accounted for approximately three-quarters in both British and American songs.

The findings on imagery revealed that (1) imagery was more numerous in the British than in the American songs, 314 times and 248 times respectively, but it was found 5 types in both groups, and (2) the most frequently found type was organic imagery, which was more numerous in the American than in the British songs, 73.79% and 53.82% respectively.

The pervasiveness of certain types of figurative language and imagery in these pop songs could indicate a crucial role they play in conveying lyrical messages, expressing profound emotions, and creating strong impressions in the audience’s mind.


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Yaito, K., & Termjai, M. (2021). An Analysis of Figurative Language and Imagery in British and American Pop Songs. Journal of Human Sciences, 22(1), 204-226. Retrieved from
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