English as a Lingua Franca, YouTube and the Rise of the Lyrics Video

Olivia Mair*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Pop music has been dominated by the English language for decades, with many artists writing songs in English to reach global audiences (Crystal, 2003). Today the internet offers an easy solution for audiences seeking song lyrics and has partly led to the development of a new genre, the lyrics video. The emergence of Web 2.0 and writable web have given rise to the creation of a number of content-sharing platforms like YouTube, a dynamic space in which ordinary people become media producers (Burgess & Green, 2009). The lyrics video first emerged as amateur content, but recently mainstream artists have embraced lyrics videos, investing in their production.This paper argues that the emergence of English as a lingua franca has contributed to the rise of the lyrics video genre, and that the desire to understand song lyrics has been a motivational factor for English language learners worldwide. Although lyrics videos are individual texts with heterogeneous elements, they share common purposes and some aspects of structure, style, content and audience, enabling their classification as ‘genre’ (Swales 1990: 58). The genre contributes to shaping discourse communities and generates EFL interactions, as seen in the comments area of YouTube.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBack to the Future. English from Past to Present
EditorsMaria Luisa Maggioni, Amanda C. Murphy
Number of pages34
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • English as a Lingua Franca
  • YouTube
  • digital discourse
  • lyrics videos
  • song lyrics


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