PreviousNext

Tweet this
Share on Facebook
Post on Google+

Lyrical Indicators

Word incidence in Top 40 song lyrics.

The charts below show how often selected words appeared in Top 40 song lyrics from 1958 through 2006.

Love and loneliness

love
Total number of occurrences of the word: love
dream
dream
lonely
lonely, loneliness
cry
cry, crying
kiss
kiss

Pop trends

rock
rock, rocking
roll
roll, rolling
shimmy
shimmy
twist
twist, twisting
surf
surf, surfer, surfing
boogie
boogie
disco
disco
club
club

Money

money
money, cash
gold
gold, golden
platinum
platinum
bling
bling

References to women

baby
baby   includes some ‘baby’ references to men
girl
girl
woman
woman
wife.gif
wife
girlfriend
girlfriend
bitch
bitch
ho
ho, hoes   only includes references to women

Opposites

heaven
heaven
hell
hell
peace
peace
war
war

Controversial words

damn
damn, damned
sex
sex, sexy
pimp
pimp, pimping
shit
shit
booty
booty
nigga
nigger, nigga, niggaz
nappy
nappy
fuck
fuck


Notes

The charts are based on work I did at The New York Times several years ago. The original print version of the graphic was never published.

Raw lyrics were provided by Top40db.net and included more than ten thousand Top 40 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 list since 1958, the year of the list’s inception. I edited the lyrics so that words in a chorus or refrain would be counted once for each repetition. Plurals and close variants were included in some counts (for example, pimp, pimps and pimping were grouped together).

Thanks to Todd Webb for generously providing access to the Top40db.net database.