Paper 1: The Number One Song in America on the Day You Were Born


A. LOOK UP: We all have a special day in our lives: The day we were born. Find
out what the number one song in America was on the day you were born.
• Look for the Number One song as listed on the Billboard Hot 100 list for the week
of your date of birth by going to the Billboard Hot 100 website:
• The Billboard charts are done on a weekly basis, so you are looking for the song
that was number one in the week of your birthday. The charts will always say
Number One for the week ending ___date___.
B. RESEARCH and WRITE: Research and write an original essay about the Number
One song for the week of your birthday, which includes writing about the following:
1. The Song: Who wrote it, who performed it, when (what year) it was
recorded/released. Is it original or a remake?
2. The Songwriters: Brief information about the songwriters, especially if they are
different than the performers.
3. The Performers: Provide a brief history of the artist/band. How did it all come
together, and how did the song result?
4. The Lyrics (unless it is an instrumental piece): What is the story that the lyrics
tell? Is there meaning to the lyrics? Is there a backstory? Put the lyrics on a
separate page. Lyrics do NOT count as part of your 800-1000 words.
5. The Style Analysis of the Music, using musical terms learned from the
readings. Refer to the “Learning the Six Elements of Music” article on the
course page in contents. Then, address following questions:
a. Does the song have a steady beat? How would you describe the beat and
the style? Is it slow, fast, or in between? How many beats per minute is
the tempo?
b. How is the song organized? For example, Intro/Verse/Chorus/Verse/
Chorus/ Solo (guitar lead)/Chorus.
c. What is the instrumentation (what instruments do you hear)? For example,
drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, saxophone, male voice, female voice
d. What kinds of harmony do you hear? Are there a lot of changes of
chords? Are there more than one voice singing in harmony?
e. What kind of emotion does it evoke? This could be based on the lyrics or
just how it sounds. Is it happy, sad, angry, funny?
1. Length: 800-1000 words; double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font.
Papers that are at all deficient in length (even one word) will be deducted 5
2. Format: Papers should follow MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting
guidelines. The following links have examples:
• Go to: and click on
MLA Formatting.
3. Organization: In general, following these basic guidelines should help you
maintain focus:
• In the introduction paragraph, tell me about the focus of your paper. It
should set up the body of the paper to follow.
• In the body part of your paper, address all the points in the Research and
Write section above in multiple paragraphs. All opinions need to be
supported, i.e, “I feel this way about x, and here are the reasons why.”
• In the conclusion, bring the essay to a coherent closure. This should not
be overly long.
4. Cited Sources: Your paper should cite 5 sources; you can use your textbook as
one of the sources. Wikipedia cannot be a cited source for the paper.
• Please use MLA documentation to cite your work.
v Go to:
v Click on MLA In-Text Citations.
v Even when you are not directly quoting from a source—i.e., you are
summarizing, paraphrasing, or using facts—you must cite the
source. That is, you must let the reader know where you got the
v Be sure to introduce your sources, for example, According to …
v When necessary, provide a parenthetical citation at the end of the
cited passage.
• Percentage of cited material: Your paper can contain no more than 30%
cited material. All papers are run through a software program/database
that checks for originality and plagiarism. A very accurate calculation of
the percentage of non-original material is generated for the instructor.
• Papers with more than 30% will be deducted 10 points automatically.
• Papers with more than 40% will be deducted 15 points automatically.
• Papers with more than 50% will be deducted 20 points automatically.
• Papers with more than 60% will receive a zero automatically. It’s very easy
to avoid this pitfall: Don’t copy and paste.
5. Works Cited Page: Please include a correctly formatted works cited page.
• Go to:
• Click on MLA Works Cited Lists.
6. Spelling: Spelling counts. Don’t rely solely on spell check. Make sure you
proofread carefully.
7. Syntax: Basically this refers to sentence structure. Along with spelling, if a
sentence doesn’t make sense or if I have to work hard to figure out what you are
trying to say, then you will be graded down for it.
8. Don’t plagiarize: Students caught plagiarizing will receive an ‘F’ on the
assignment and may be subject to disciplinary action by Parkland College.
1. 100 pts. possible
• Introduction: 5
• Song: 10
• Songwriters & Performers: 20
• Lyrics: 10
• Style Analysis of Music: 50
• Conclusion: 5
2. For any requirement not met, points will be taken off the total number of points
• MLA Format: -5
• Length: -5
• 5 sources included and correctly cited: -5
• Percentage of cited material: Please refer to #4 in the requirement section.
• Correctly formatted works cited page: -5
• Spelling and Syntax: -5
G. Submission:
1. Submit it as a WORD file. Do NOT use RTF (rich text format), PDF, or TXT (plain
text) files for your paper.
2. Submit your paper to Dropbox: Paper 1. The link for the dropbox is located at the
top of the course site. The process is very similar to adding an email attachment.

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