Popular music lyrics are dumb. No really, I’m not just saying that. As easy as it is to mock the quality of lyrics today, there’s some real science behind looking at how dumb they truly are.
That’s why I set out to answer the big questions. Which genre is the most sophisticated? (Prepare to be disappointed.) Which artists are the dumbest? (Prepare to be surprised.) And, can any hit songs be comfortably read by a 1st grader? (Yes, they can.)
How exactly did I go about this?
I turned to the Readability Score. It uses writing analysis tools like the Flesch-Kincaid grade index and many others to create an average of the US reading level of a piece of text. I plugged in song lyrics (punctuation added by me, since most songs lack it altogether) and out of the machine popped out average grade level, word count, and other very interesting metrics.
All told, I analyzed 225 songs in 4 different datasets, resulting in 2,000+ individual data points. How’d I choose them? If they spent at least a few weeks (3+) at #1 on the Billboard charts for Pop, Country, Rock, and R&B/Hip-Hop for any given year, they made the list.
While the results are certainly enlightening, it’s important to note that this data doesn’t touch on the meaning of a song, the metaphors, how the words connect with the artist’s personal story, etc. to create deeper meaning. These numbers are fun and interesting, so just enjoy them.
What did the data tell us?
Is We Really Getting Dumber?
Well, this research is, if nothing else, great news for third graders. They may have a long way to go in terms of unlocking the deeper meanings of great literature, but hit music lyrics are right in their zone.
Did you miss that? Yes, I said third graders. Because only 2005 and 2006 would have given a reasonably competent third grader a tough time. Sure, we know hit music lyrics aren’t the peak of sophistication, but who knew the bar was this low?
Well, the bar is actually getting lower. These averages have really been on the decline over the last 10 years. And keep in mind that we’re looking at all the data from Pop, Rock, R&B/Hip Hop, and Country combined to show the overall trend.
So it’s clear we’re on the way down, but if you’re wondering “Was it men or women dragging the music down?” you’re not the only one. I was just as curious to find out.
Who Wins the Battle of the Sexes?
The short answer is that everybody is getting dumber, it’s not really a gender thing. Overall, my data showed that men talk more (higher word count), but women have slightly more intelligent things to say (higher average grade level).
Let’s take a look the average grade level over time to see how men and women fare.
It looks like hit music in general has settled on some formulas: Men should stick to roughly a 3rd grade reading level and women shouldn’t sing rock songs at all (more about that later).
What does it all mean exactly? Well, women seem to be a bit smarter than men, except for when they’re not (i.e., 2008-2009). Ultimately, the genre and the artist matter much more than the gender.
Granted, it’s not exactly a team effort. Certain artists do more than their fair share to bring their gender and genre group down or up through the years. So now it’s time to break down this data a bit more by genre and see who really sets the standard for dumb.
A Deeper Look into Genres
Does Country really have the “smartest” Lyrics?
Yes, yes, it does. In fact, if you average out all the hit songs in each category for the last 10 years, you get:
Average US Reading Level by Grade:
Pop: 2.9 (tie)
Rock: 2.9 (tie)
R&B/Hip Hop: 2.6
There are a lot of reasons for this. Remember that I mentioned that word length plays a role? Well, Country is the only genre generally devoid of words like “oh” or “yeah” repeated 20 times in a row. Sorry everyone else, but if you say it in the song, it’s counted as a “lyric.”
But it’s also about the syllables. Country music is full of words like Hallelujah, cigarettes, hillbilly, and tacklebox. Add to that long place names like Cincinnati, Louisville, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and Country has a serious advantage over the competition.
Unfortunately for Pop and R&B/Hip-Hop, places like L.A. and New York just don’t score that many points. But take a song like Dani California, and you’ll see that throwing in the word “California” more than a dozen times can make a real difference.
In 2007, Rock and R&B/Hip-Hop both plunged with the help of songs like “Buy U a Drank” by T-Pain (which just made it above a 1st grade reading level) and “I Don’t Wanna Stop” by Ozzy Osbourne (a more respectable 1.6 average grade level).
Then, in 2009, it was Country and Pop’s turn, when they each hit their own record lows with the help of songs like “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas (2.0 grade level) and “Then” by Brad Paisley (which wasn’t much higher at a 2.2 grade level).
Was it the housing boom and bust that got people in the mood for listening to the simpler songs in life? Hard to say, but what’s for sure is that the people have spoken. No matter what the year and the economic situation, they do not want to listen to anything a third grader would find challenging.
Looking at the overall trend, it seems things have leveled off since 2010, with all four major genres resting comfortably into the 2nd-3rd grade range and R&B/Hip Hop ranking last in 5 of the past 10 years. Sorry 1st graders, but you’ll have to settle for R&B and Hip Hop from 2007.
Still, besides those grade level averages, how do elements like word count play into the picture?
Interestingly enough, there’s a definite correlation here between the average length of song and the average grade level. Problem is, it’s an inverse relationship — shorter songs actually have a higher grade level.
Shockingly, R&B/Hip Hop and Pop seem to be talking a lot and not saying much.
Country and Rock, on the other hand, certainly seem to have a winning formula: keep it short, while not skimping on word or grammar complexity, and you have nicely aged song. It’s surprising what you can fit into less than 300 words.
What’s clear is that over time, not a lot has changed. Aside from normal fluctuations, all the genres seem to have a standard level they stick to. Frankly, having listened to my fair share of radio for the past 10 years, that’s not exactly surprising.
Artist VS. Artist: How Low Can They Go?
Hint: Very Low.
I went through each category and picked 7 of the top artists based on their number of hit songs and how long those songs stayed at #1. So without further ado, here are the facts about the artists whose voices we hear most often in each genre:
This is probably a good time to reiterate that these are the numbers, plain and simple, and that all Beyoncé partisans should address their complaints to the people at the Readability Score. We can’t hide the facts: of these 7 top R&B and Hip Hop artists, she has the second smallest average word count and the least sophisticated lyrics.
Who’s the standout? None other than Slim Shady himself, with Nicki Minaj and Macklemore following up in the number 2 and 3 spots. Is Kanye West talking a lot and not saying anything? Yes. Should you be surprised?
Wait, I’mma Let You Finish. No.
The Country data here seems to be telling us something. The more devoted teenage girls are to an artist, the more poorly these artists score. Okay, that wasn’t exactly fair, but Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, and Florida Georgia Line are bottom of the pack here in terms of average grade level at 3.4, 3.2 and 2.93.
The queen of Country, however, is definitely Carrie Underwood with a grade level of 3.72. Blake Shelton (3.63) and Brad Paisley (3.54) are close behind. If there’s one trend clearly at play here, it’s that (again) longer lyrics don’t exactly translate into more sophisticated lyrics. But, perhaps Rock has something to say about that.
Yes, Rock has plenty to say about the “longer lyrics = less sophisticated lyrics” trend. Not just any Rock either, we’re talking about Nickelback. Yes, the Canadian rock band so many love to hate manages to get the longest AND most sophisticated lyrics in the Rock category.
Just as surprising, Linkin Park came in with the shortest lyrics and the second most sophisticated. Who knew? Still, on the whole, major Rock artists and groups stay pretty firmly in the 2nd and occasionally 3rd grade. I guess guitars can compensate for just about anything.
If there’s a single stunning fact about this genre, it still has to be that not a single female singer made it onto the Rock list. That means not a single lady stayed at the top of the charts for four or more weeks during the entire last 10 years. Why that might be frankly deserves its own post.
But how does this all compare to what’s maybe the most generic, the most ubiquitous, and the most popular category of all? Ke$ha fans, prepare yourselves…
As promised, Ke$ha does manage to score the worst of any major artist I looked more closely at. Not just a little worse either, although Lady Gaga makes a valiant effort to keep up (keep down?).
Unlike the other genres, the Pop stars who stand out are a bit less surprising with the gold, silver, and bronze going to Mariah Carey, Adele, and Justin Timberlake, respectively.
Pop actually holds its own pretty well with Mariah Carey scoring higher than anyone in the other three categories. Bravo Mariah, bravo!
But how do artists and their songs compare across genres?
Top Songs: The Good, The Bad, and The Very Ugly
Remember how I mentioned that Country has done very well? Well, here’s a bit of insight into why. Fully 5 of the top 10 smartest songs in this study are country songs. Only a single song (thanks Rihanna) made it from R&B/Hip Hop.
This of course brings us to the shame list, the dumbest 10 songs of the last 10 years. Here, Country has completely vanished, replaced by a fairly even representation of Pop, Rock, and R&B/Hip Hop.
Showing My Homework
For anyone who’s a bit more curious, here’s the full list of the four categories ranked by average grade level.
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Ranked by Grade Level
|Average Grade Level||Title||Artist||Year||Weeks at #1||Word Count||Characters per Word||Syllables per Word|
|4.1||Thrift Shop||Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Wanz||2013||14||725||3.9||1.3|
|3.9||Slow Down||Bobby Valentino||2005||4||452||3.8||1.2|
|3.8||Moment 4 Life||Nicki Minaj Featuring Drake||2011||5||648||3.7||1.2|
|3.7||The Monster||Eminem Featuring Rihanna||2013||13||710||3.7||1.2|
|3.7||We Belong Together||Mariah Carey||2005||14||418||3.5||1.2|
|3.4||Mercy||Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz||2012||4||968||3.9||1.2|
|3.4||I Remember||Keyshia Cole||2008||7||319||3.7||1.2|
|3.3||No One||Alicia Keys||2007||17||314||3.2||1.2|
|3.3||Let Me Love You||Mario||2005||11||477||3.7||1.2|
|3.2||Best I Ever Had||Drake||2009||7||811||3.5||1.2|
|3.2||Hold On, We’re Going Home||Drake Featuring Majid Jordan||2013||5||343||3.5||1.2|
|3.2||Lotus Flower Bomb||Wale Featuring Miguel||2012||5||589||3.6||1.2|
|3.1||Be Without You||Mary J. Blige||2006||15||575||3.4||1.2|
|2.9||Deuces||Chris Brown Featuring Tyga & Kevin McCall||2010||9||596||3.4||1.2|
|2.8||I’m On One||DJ Khaled Featuring Drake, Rick Ross & Lil Wayne||2011||10||722||3.4||1.2|
|2.8||Motivation||Kelly Rowland Featuring Lil Wayne||2011||6||369||3.5||1.2|
|2.8||Heaven Sent||Keyshia Cole||2008||9||495||3.6||1.2|
|2.7||Look At Me Now||Chris Brown Featuring Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes||2011||8||906||3.4||1.2|
|2.7||Everything To Me||Monica||2010||7||201||3.5||1.2|
|2.7||Can’t Be Friends||Trey Songz||2010||11||358||3.2||1.1|
|2.7||Soul Survivor||Young Jeezy Featuring Akon||2005||4||792||3.4||1.2|
|2.6||She Will||Lil Wayne Featuring Drake||2011||4||794||3.5||1.2|
|2.6||Blurred Lines||Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. + Pharrell||2013||16||674||3.3||1.2|
|2.5||Candy Shop||50 Cent Featuring Olivia||2005||4||619||3.4||1.2|
|2.4||Ni**as in Paris||Jay Z Kanye West||2011||7||576||3.5||1.2|
|2.4||Can’t Hold Us||Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Ray Dalton||2013||7||758||3.4||1.2|
|2.4||Love In This Club||Usher Featuring Young Jeezy||2008||4||613||3.3||1.1|
|2.4||It’s Goin’ Down||Yung Joc||2006||8||589||3.5||1.2|
|2.2||Gold Digger||Kanye West Featuring Jamie Foxx||2005||4||774||3.5||1.1|
|2.2||Lollipop||Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major||2008||6||658||3.4||1.2|
|2.2||There Goes My Baby||Usher||2010||4||456||3.5||1.2|
|2.1||Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)||Alicia Keys||2010||12||384||3.3||1.2|
|2.1||Black Widow||Iggy Azalea Featuring Rita Ora||2014||5||551||3.4||1.2|
|2||Blame It||Jamie Foxx Featuring T-Pain||2009||14||803||3.3||1.2|
|1.9||When I See U||Fantasia||2007||8||380||3.3||1.1|
|1.9||Fancy||Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX||2014||13||535||3.4||1.2|
|1.8||Love On Top||Beyonce||2012||7||599||3.3||1.2|
|1.8||What You Know||T.I.||2006||6||870||3.5||1.2|
|1.7||No Lie||2 Chainz Featuring Drake||2012||5||783||3.3||1.1|
|1.6||Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)||Beyonce||2008||12||687||3||1.1|
|1.6||Say Goodbye||Chris Brown||2006||4||793||3.2||1.2|
|1.6||Need U Bad||Jazmine Sullivan||2008||4||479||3||1.1|
|1.2||Lost Without U||Robin Thicke||2007||11||396||3.3||1.2|
|1.2||Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin’)||T-Pain Featuring Yung Joc||2007||8||545||3.4||1.1|
|1||It Kills Me||Melanie Fiona||2010||9||316||3.3||1.1|
In the R&B/Hip Hop category, Rihanna’s Diamonds may seem like a surprising choice for sophistication, but throwing those rocks around got her average word length up to a full 4 characters. Macklemore’s high score, on the other hand, seems to speak for itself. Respect the Jammies is all I’m saying.
Then there’s Robin Thicke and Melanie Fiona… What can we say about the subtle metaphors and other intricacies which surely lie behind lines like “Tell me how you love my body?” Not a lot, really. Like Macklemore, they speak fairly well for themselves.
Top Country Songs Ranked by Grade Level
|Average Grade Level||Song Title||Artist||Year||Weeks at #1||Word Count||Syllables per Word||Characters per Word|
|5.8||All About Tonight||Blake Shelton||2010||3||311||1.3||3.9|
|4.9||That’s What I Love About Sunday||Craig Morgan||2005||4||254||1.2||3.7|
|4.9||We Were Us||Keith Urban And Miranda Lambert||2013||3||283||1.3||3.9|
|4.7||Before He Cheats||Carrie Underwood||2006||5||304||1.2||3.8|
|4.6||Good Directions||Billy Currington||2007||3||303||1.2||3.8|
|4.6||The House That Built Me||Miranda Lambert||2010||4||310||1.2||3.7|
|4.5||We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together||Taylor Swift||2012||9||376||1.3||3.8|
|4.4||The World||Brad Paisley||2006||3||248||1.3||3.6|
|4.1||Beer In Mexico||Kenny Chesney||2007||3||242||1.3||3.7|
|4||I’m Still A Guy||Brad Paisley||2008||3||364||1.1||3.5|
|4||Making Memories Of Us||Kieth Urban||2005||5||247||1.2||3.5|
|3.9||So Small||Carrie Underwood||2007||3||274||1.2||3.9|
|3.9||Take Me There||Rascal Flatts||2007||3||256||1.2||4|
|3.7||She’s Everything||Brad Paisley||2007||3||358||1.3||3.5|
|3.7||Consider Me Gone||Reba||2010||4||303||1.2||3.4|
|3.7||If You’re Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)||Rodney Atkins||2006||4||362||1.1||3.6|
|3.6||Sure Be Cool If You Did||Blake Shelton||2013||5||371||1.2||3.6|
|3.6||Something In The Water||Carrie Underwood||2014||3||340||1.2||3.6|
|3.6||Watching You||Rodney Atkins||2007||4||398||1.2||3.5|
|3.5||Better Life||Kieth Urban||2005||6||325||1.2||3.4|
|3.5||Shutgun Rider||Tim McGraw||2014||3||277||1.3||3.7|
|3.4||Letter To Me||Brad Paisley||2008||4||450||1.2||3.4|
|3.3||Don’t Blink||Kenny Chesney||2007||4||383||1.1||3.8|
|3.2||Stay||Florida Georgia Line||2013||6||410||1.2||3.4|
|3.2||Somewhere With You||Kenny Chesney||2011||3||374||1.2||3.4|
|3.2||Drink A Beer||Luke Bryan||2014||5||176||1.2||3.6|
|3||Don’t You Wanna Stay||Jason Aldean With Kelly Clarkson||2011||3||222||1.2||3.6|
|3||Why Don’t We Just Dance||Josh Turner||2010||4||230||1.1||3.5|
|3||Living In Fast Forward||Kenny Chesney||2006||3||235||1.2||3.6|
|3||Play It Again||Luke Bryan||2014||9||436||1.2||3.5|
|2.9||Honey Bee||Blake Shelton||2011||4||355||1.2||3.3|
|2.9||Jesus, Take The Wheel||Carrie Underwood||2006||6||307||1.1||3.4|
|2.9||Cruise||Florida Georgia Line||2013||24||421||1.2||3.7|
|2.9||Bless The Broken Road||Rascal Flatts||2005||5||239||1.2||3.7|
|2.8||What Hurts The Most||Rascal Flatts||2006||4||280||1.2||3.6|
|2.7||This Is How We Roll||Florida Georgia Line Featuring Luke Bryan||2014||6||383||1.2||3.6|
|2.7||Burnin’ It Down||Jason Aldean||2014||14||436||1.2||3.7|
|2.7||That’s My Kind Of Night||Luke Bryan||2013||12||390||1.1||3.6|
|2.6||Never Wanted Nothing More||Kenny Chesney||2007||5||352||1.2||3.3|
|2.6||Felt Good On My Lips||Tim McGraw||2011||3||326||1.2||3.4|
|2.5||Big Green Tractor||Jason Aldean||2009||4||368||1.1||3.3|
|2.5||Need You Now||Lady Antebellum||2009||5||237||1.2||3.3|
|2.5||Our Song||Taylor Swift||2008||6||386||1.2||3.6|
|2.5||You’re Gonna Miss This||Trace Adkins||2008||3||317||1.2||3.5|
|2.5||Keep Me In Mind||Zac Brown Band||2012||4||287||1.2||3.4|
|2.3||It Won’t Be Like This For Long||Darius Rucker||2009||3||317||1.1||3.4|
|2.2||God Gave Me You||Blake Shelton||2011||3||274||1.1||3.3|
|2.1||The Man I Want To Be||Chris Young||2010||3||266||1.1||3.2|
|1.5||As Good As I Once Was||Toby Keith||2005||6||380||1.1||3.2|
Country scored very well overall; what kind of lyrics could have made that happen?
Let’s just say they got some help from feel good pills and red Gatorade. I already mentioned the long words which brought country to the champion’s table (tackleboxes and cigarettes anyone?), but longer sentences also played a part (thanks Keith Urban).
Of course, even for Country, it wasn’t all roses and bourbon.
Toby Keith and Chris Young did the genre no favors with their pleads to God and their baby. These lyrics scored low with a combination of short phrases and clippy writing. If only they could have mentioned Mississippi more…
Top Rock Songs Ranked by Grade Level
|Average Grade Level||Title||Artist||Year||Weeks at #1||Word Count||Characters per Word||Syllables per Word|
|5.5||Dani California||Red Hot Chili Peppers||2006||12||296||4.2||1.5|
|5.2||Animal I Have Become||Three Days Grace||2006||7||258||3.9||1.4|
|4.5||Inside The Fire||Disturbed||2008||14||293||4||1.3|
|4.2||Check My Brain||Alice In Chains||2009||8||148||4||1.4|
|4.2||Another Way To Die||Disturbed||2010||8||321||3.9||1.3|
|4.2||Something In Your Mouth||Nickelback||2009||4||470||4.1||1.3|
|4||Say You’ll Haunt Me||Stone Sour||2010||8||369||3.8||1.3|
|3.9||Your Decision||Alice In Chains||2010||8||162||3.7||1.2|
|3.7||Boulevard Of Broken Dreams||Green Day||2005||14||289||3.5||1.2|
|3.5||New Divide||Linkin Park||2009||8||250||4||1.2|
|3.4||Psycho||Puddle Of Mudd||2008||9||338||3.6||1.3|
|3.2||Through Glass||Stone Sour||2006||7||520||3.8||1.2|
|3||Best Of You||Foo Fighters||2005||4||338||3.7||1.2|
|3||Break||Three Days Grace||2010||11||187||3.9||1.3|
|2.9||What I’ve Done||Linkin Park||2007||8||158||3.5||1.2|
|2.9||Chalk Outline||Three Days Grace||2012||13||244||3.6||1.2|
|2.7||The Pretender||Foo Fighters||2007||6||499||3.4||1.2|
|2.7||Cryin’ Like A Bitch!||Godsmack||2010||5||258||3.7||1.2|
|2.7||Painkiller||Three Days Grace||2014||4||249||3.5||1.2|
|2.6||Face To The Floor||Chevelle||2011||12||216||3.7||1.2|
|2.5||Shepherd Of Fire||Avenged Sevenfold||2014||7||273||3.6||1.2|
|2.3||Words As Weapons||Seether||2014||5||239||3.5||1.1|
|2.3||Been Away Too Long||Soundgarden||2013||5||239||3.6||1.2|
|2.2||Something From Nothing||Foo Fighters||2014||13||306||3.5||1.2|
|2.2||Live To Rise||Soundgarden||2012||6||225||3.5||1.1|
|2.1||Pain||Three Days Grace||2007||13||332||3.6||1.2|
|2||Hail To The King||Avenged Sevenfold||2013||10||246||3.8||1.1|
|1.8||Never Too Late||Three Days Grace||2007||7||297||3.3||1.2|
|1.7||The Day That Never Comes||Metallica||2008||7||182||3.8||1.1|
|1.7||Heaven Knows||The Pretty Reckless||2014||5||338||3.6||1.2|
|1.6||I Don’t Wanna Stop||Ozzy Osbourne||2007||5||406||3||1.2|
|1.6||World So Cold||Three Days Grace||2010||5||265||3.4||1.2|
|1.2||Let Me Hear You Scream||Ozzy Osbourne||2010||4||340||3.3||1|
|0.8||The Good Life||Three Days Grace||2010||5||215||3.1||1.1|
If the Red Hot Chili Peppers do have to pay a price for that panorama, it’s not showing up here. “Dani California” performed extremely well with an average grade level of 5.5. Three Days Grace even bucked their overall poor score with “Animal I Have Become.”
None of this, however, can undo what Ozzy hath wrought. “Let Me Hear You Scream” set a pretty low bar (1.2 to be exact). His other song, “I Don’t Wanna Stop,” didn’t do much better, either at 1.6.
Then again, it would be a crime not to mention Three Days Grace’s other record setting song: The Good Life. With an average grade level of 0.8, it was the lowest scoring song of the hundreds analyzed. Who said the good life was complicated?
Top Pop Songs Ranked by Grade Level
|Average Grade Level||Title||Artist||Year||Weeks at #1||Word Count||Syllables per Word||Characters per Word|
|5||She Will Be Loved||Maroon5||2004||4||351||1.2||3.7|
|4.8||E.T.||Katy Perry Featuring Kanye West||2011||6||293||1.4||4.1|
|4.6||Hips Don’t Lie||Shakira Featuring Wyclef Jean||2006||7||617||1.3||3.7|
|4.6||California Gurls||Katy Perry Featuring Snoop Dogg||2010||7||411||1.4||4.2|
|4.5||We Are Young||fun. Featuring Janelle Monae||2012||5||352||1.3||3.9|
|4.2||Shake It Off||Mariah Carey||2005||5||352||1.2||3.6|
|3.9||Leave (Get Out)||JoJo||2004||5||330||1.1||3.4|
|3.7||We Belong Together||Mariah Carey||2005||10||418||1.2||3.5|
|3.7||Boulevard Of Broken Dreams||Green Day||2005||4||289||1.2||3.5|
|3.7||The Monster||Eminem Featuring Rihanna||2014||5||710||1.2||3.7|
|3.6||Hollaback Girl||Gwen Stefani||2005||6||459||1.2||3.4|
|3.5||Set Fire To The Rain||Adele||2012||4||346||1.1||3.6|
|3.5||My Love||Justin Timberlake Featuring T.I.||2006||4||784||1.2||3.4|
|3.5||Over And Over||Nelly Featuring Tim McGraw||2004||8||546||1.2||3.3|
|3.4||Summer Love||Justin Timberlake||2007||4||642||1.1||3.3|
|3.3||No One||Alicia Keys||2008||5||314||1.2||3.2|
|3.3||Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)||Kelly Clarkson||2012||4||429||1.2||3.7|
|3.2||Big Girls Don’t Cry||Fergie||2007||8||400||1.2||3.4|
|3.2||Bleeding Love||Leona Lewis||2008||9||393||1.2||3.8|
|3.2||I Knew You Were Trouble.||Taylor Swift||2013||7||588||1.2||3.5|
|3.2||One More Night||Maroon 5||2012||8||492||1.2||3.4|
|3.1||Be Without You||Mary J. Blige||2006||4||575||1.2||3.4|
|3.1||Low||Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain||2008||6||731||1.1||3.7|
|3.1||All Of Me||John Legend||2014||5||374||1.2||3.4|
|3||Locked Out Of Heaven||Bruno Mars||2013||4||323||1.1||3.5|
|2.9||Rolling In The Deep||Adele||2011||5||574||1.2||3.6|
|2.9||Pieces Of Me||Ashlee Simpson||2004||5||326||1.2||3.5|
|2.8||Teenage Dream||Katy Perry||2010||4||421||1.2||3.5|
|2.8||We Found Love||Rihanna Featuring Calvin Harris||2011||8||292||1.2||3.8|
|2.8||Check On It||Beyonce Featuring Slim Thug||2006||6||617||1.1||3.2|
|2.8||Apologize||Timbaland Featuring OneRepublic||2007||7||219||1.2||3.2|
|2.7||Cupid’s Chokehold||Gym Class Heroes Featuring Patrick Stump||2007||5||668||1.1||3.1|
|2.6||Telephone||Lady Gaga Featuring Beyonce||2010||4||664||1.2||3.3|
|2.6||Payphone||Maroon 5 Featuring Wiz Khalifa||2012||4||589||1.1||3.5|
|2.6||Blurred Lines||Robin Thicke Featuring T.I. + Pharrell||2013||10||674||1.2||3.3|
|2.5||U + Ur Hand||Pink||2007||4||478||1.2||3.5|
|2.5||Promiscuous||Nelly Furtado Featuring Timbaland||2006||8||588||1.2||3.3|
|2.4||Can’t Hold Us||Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Ray Dalton||2013||4||758||1.2||3.4|
|2.3||Dark Horse||Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J||2014||5||470||1.2||3.5|
|2.2||Say It Right||Nelly Furtado||2007||4||247||1.1||3.2|
|2.2||I Gotta Feeling||Black Eyed Peas||2009||7||646||1.2||3.2|
|2.1||Whatcha Say||Jason DeRulo||2009||4||544||1.1||3.6|
|2||Since U Been Gone||Kelly Clarkson||2005||7||288||1.1||3.3|
|2||Boom Boom Pow||The Black Eyed Peas||2009||7||526||1.1||3.6|
|1.9||Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)||Katy Perry||2011||6||460||1.2||3.6|
|1.9||Run It!||Chris Brown||2005||4||706||1.1||3.3|
|1.8||Gives You Hell||The All-American Rejects||2009||4||463||1.1||3.4|
|1.7||Poker Face||Lady GaGa||2009||5||573||1.1||2.9|
|1.5||Wide Awake||Katy Perry||2012||4||354||1.2||3.4|
|1.2||Moves Like Jagger||Maroon 5 Featuring Christina Aguilera||2011||6||469||1.1||3.3|
Now I finally arrive at Pop. Maroon 5 really put it best when they pointed out that “it’s not always rainbows and butterflies.” That line may have gotten them high points, but their odd tongue-centered request was enough to undo it all.
Katy Perry is in a similar position, with high and low scoring songs leaving her averaging out somewhere in a muddled middle. On the other hand, maybe we can just attribute her higher scoring songs to Snoop.
Pink on the other hand is a much simpler picture. True, her repeated use of words like “nah” puts her in good company (The Beatles, for example); but in terms of “smart” lyrics, she doesn’t do herself any favors.
Okay Children, What Have We Learned?
What have we learned here? Well, the concept of creating for the lowest common denominator is certainly going strong. So what if popular music doesn’t tend to lend itself to sophistication? Are most of these songs still great? Definitely.
Perhaps we can be a little less judgemental of elementary schoolers (you know who you are). It also wouldn’t hurt to be a little more judgemental of contemporary songwriters. More than anything, these findings are a reminder of just how fun dumb can be. In the end, there’s nothing wrong with that.