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April 22, 2024 3:50 pm

English song lyrics analysed to have become simpler, word variety in rap, rock fallen

New Delhi, March 29

The lyrics of English-language songs have become simpler and more repetitive, a new research analysing 12,000 songs released between 1980 and 2020 has found.

A team of researchers, led by University of Innsbruck, Austria, has found that in general, lyrics have become simpler and easier to understand over time and the number of different words being used in the songs has fallen, especially those belonging to the rap and rock genres.

The study suggested that the increasingly repetitive lyrics of songs across multiple genres have made them simpler overall. The team analysed 2,400 songs each from rap, country, pop, R&B and rock genres.

It has also speculated that the trend of simpler lyrics could reflect changes in how music is being consumed, such as being mostly listened to in the background. The findings are published in the Scientific Reports journal.

For the analysis, the researchers characterised the song lyrics based on style – words, complexity, structure and rhyme – and emotions. For gathering the lyrics, they relied on the LFM-2b dataset, one of the largest publicly available ones containing music listening data.

Employing statistical tools, the team conducted two analyses – one to investigate how lyrics style and emotions have evolved over time and the other to investigate their interplay with regards to the release year and lyrics view count.

The researchers also found that lyrics have become more emotional and personal over time.

The team found that while emotional words in rap – both positive and negative – have increased, for R&B, pop and country songs, emotionally negative lyrics have increased.

Further, the team observed an increasing use of anger-related words in the lyrics of songs across all genres.

Looking at viewership of lyrics on the online platform Genius, the analysis revealed that the lyrics of older rock songs were viewed more than those of the newer ones.

However, the trend was reversed in country songs, where the lyrics of newer songs were viewed more than those of older ones.

The researchers said this could indicate the preference of rock listeners for older songs, and that of country listeners for newer songs.

On, an online social network and streaming platform for music, users can opt-in to share their listening data. It provides various connectors to other services, including music streaming apps like Spotify, Deezer, Pandora, iTunes, and YouTube, through which users can share on what they are listening to on other platforms.


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