Final Update/Summary: The reflection of political climate in popular music

After analyzing, piecing everything together, and editing, I have finished my Freshman Monroe Summer Research Final paper covering all of my research and thought I have put into this investigation this summer. After researching music during WWII and Vietnam separately, I spent some time comparing and contrasting before writing my final paper and came up with these conclusions:

  • Comparisons
    • Music of both eras was used to connect the soldiers to their homes
      • Uniting the people
    • Music changed greatly during each war
  • Contrasts
    • WWII heroism and American pride for fighting in the war vs. Vietnam anti-establishment and protest of war itself
    • Sound/music more important and prominent in WWII music, lyrics more important/prominent in Vietnam War music
    • WWII: uniting through forgetting, carefree and happy to distract from war vs. Vietnam: uniting through anger, questioning of establishment

Overall, I concluded that music can be used as a powerful tool of unification in times of political distress, and can create empathy between people of all different backgrounds. I hope to further this investigation in the future, and maybe incorporate more eras of music connected to political distress. I would especially be interested in taking this investigation into modern music with the current political climate in the United States.

One thing I learned about research during this process was to outline every step of the research process before starting. I have never taken on such an independent investigation as this one, and it taught me a lot about setting my own deadlines, asking for help when needed, and feeling a personal connection to the investigation to avoid getting lost. I will definitely use the skills I learned from carrying out this investigation in further research I take on.


  1. This is so interesting, Cassidy! I’m especially interested in the parallels you draw between political climate and the general sentiment of popular music. You mention that sound was more prominent in WWII, while lyrics were more prominent in Vietnam, and I’m curious if you know why that is. Was it exemplary of a broader musical shift or was it directly tied to the war? Again, really great job on this project!