Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: Music and lyrics are getting dumber

Are song lyrics getting simpler and dumber or is that just your imagination? It’s not. New research out of Germany and Austria that examined the lyrics of 335,320 song lyrics written in English between 1950 and 2020 seems to prove that.

The conclusion? “Song lyrics have become simpler and more repetitive over the last five decades.” This is based on “vocabulary richness, readability, complexity, and the number of related lines.” And there’s more.

When asked about their favourite lyrics, rock fans point to older songs. But why is this happening? Researchers can’t answer that yet. One suggestion is that rock fans spend more time with physical media like CDs and vinyl, formats that come with album artwork and lyrics.

More study needs to be done.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38446 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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