This article explores issues in and approaches to music analysis in the field of popular music studies. First it reviews the work of popular music scholars since the early 1980s in developing a theoretical vocabulary and analytical tools appropriate to popular music. Maintaining that any theoretical approach to the analysis of popular music also necessarily entails a theory of musical meaning, the article then surveys some approaches to the analysis of meaning in popular music, ranging from formalist approaches that assume meaning resides purely in structural relationships within musical texts, through approaches that find musical meaning in ideological critique, the subjectivities that music constructs, and the historical and geographic processes that musical sounds may articulate.

Keywords: Popular music studies, music analysis, meaning in music