The Stages of Love, Songs, and a Band: A Corpus Discourse Analysis of One Direction’s Pop Albums

Aiden Yeh, Tzu-Ching Hung, M.A Candidate


This study investigates the linguistic dimensions of the songs made popular by One Direction– the British-Irish boy band that captivated young fans around the world in the 2010s. The tailored corpus output was based on One Direction’s five albums (65 songs, 21,566 words). Using Voyant Tools (Sinclair & Rockwell 2016) and discourse analysis framework (Fairclough 1995, 2001), we examined the word frequency, collocation patterns and semantic references found in the lyrics. Further analysis was grounded on the 5-stage model of love and relationships by Levinger (1983). The results suggest that the lexicogrammatical associations found in One Direction’s songs show that words may have similar meaning but carry a different illocutionary message in terms of use patterns within a contextual structure. The semantic and pragmatic references in the lyrics also tell an emotional narrative of a roller-coaster-kind-of-young love and the challenges they face i.e., exhilaratingly titillating and painfully short-lived. From Oh yeah, baby to Oh, love, goodbye, love is indeed like a song; its own rhythm has a beginning and an end– a story that ironically reflects the band’s own fate. This study has major implications for corpus discourse research, particularly in analyzing the semantic references and implicatures of the lyrics and the story behind them.


One Direction, Corpus, Discourse Analysis, Songs, Semantics

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