Metaphor in Song Lyric

Background Information

No one can deny the role of music in human life. People listen to music for a variety of reasons: to entertain, to relax, to escape from their tiring and frustrating life, etc. A question can be raised: “How can music get the ability to do all of those tasks?” It is the song lyrics where we can find the answer. The lyrics have the power to touch and evoke people’s deepest feelings. This power is created mainly by the author taking advantage of a number of rhetorical methods and Metaphor is one of the most widely used. To be more specific, metaphor is a hidden comparison which the authors often use to convey their thoughts or feelings in a very sophisticated way; therefore, those who listen to the songs must spend some efforts on discovering the hidden message. However, correctly understanding the meaning of metaphors is not always easy and sometimes the listeners find it really difficult and confused to figure out the authors’ implication.


Discovering the true meaning of a metaphor in song lyrics is somewhat similar to playing a puzzle game. Our group find this task really interesting and full of challenge. That is the reason why we have chosen the topic of “Metaphor in Song Lyrics” for our study. We also hope to provide the English learners a little more knowledge about the use of metaphor in an exciting area (music) so that they can enrich their vocabulary. In addition, properly understanding the metaphors in song lyrics will make it less difficult to interpret the author’s message or implication. As a result, the listeners can share with the authors their stories, feelings, happiness or even pains which are conveyed beautifully into the song by metaphors.

Scope of the Study & Methodology

As we all know, metaphor is widely used in a number of different areas including conversation, literature, proverb/sayings and also music. Although the use of metaphor is really interesting, it is not possible for us to conduct the research in all fields. Therefore, our group decided to narrow the scope of our study in song lyrics (music) only. The study will aim at answering one research question: “How do song writers use metaphor in their song lyrics?” To achieve this goal, we selected a few of popular songs from different genres and then extracted some parts of the lyrics which contain metaphors to thoroughly analyze.

Literature Review

As metaphor has been used in many fields for different purposes, this rhetorical method has been mentioned in a lot of lexicology books or websites. In a book for linguistic students named “Basic English Lexicology” (author: Hoang Tat Truong), the author provides the definition, the characteristic feature and the classification of metaphor. However, most of his examples are words, phrases or simple sentences often used in daily conversations. If we google the word “metaphor”, the search engine will lead us to a giant number of websites regarding this topic such as “”, “”, etc. These websites share something in common. That is, they mainly focus on the definition, types of metaphor and the examples are mostly taken from literature, proverbs or sayings. Only a few of the websites analyse the use of metaphor in song lyrics. Thus, it is not too difficult to realize the gap in this field. Our study will research the topic to provide a better understanding about English metaphor.
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