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These Popular Words in Music Over the Last 50 Years Reveal More Than Just the Music History

Nickolay Lamm, a Pittsburgh-based digital artist, has a recent project called “History of Love” in which he collected the data of the songs on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 list since 1960 and made colorful graphs that showed the frequency and popularity of certain words in the songs.

The horizontal axis represents the year and the y-axis represents the song’s popularity according to Billboard. Each rectangle represents a song. The darker the color of the cell, the more often the specific word appears in the song.


The word “baby” appears in the songs constantly throughout so many decades, though it appeared more frequently in a song before year 2000.


“Girls” or “Girl” appears in popular music all the time, do women tend to attract more focus in the society?


Compare to “girls”, “boys” doesn’t appear often in the songs.


“Home” seems to appear less in nowadays’ songs.


“I love you” appeared very frequently in a song before 2000.


Love songs’ everywhere, so as the word “Love”, but there’s a decline in the frequency of its appearance in a song.


There’re more and more popular songs mentioning “Money” in these few years.


There was almost no foul words at all in popular songs before the 1990s.


There’s an increasing trend to have the word “body” in the songs.


As the society’s getting more opened, talking about “sex” in songs is getting quite common too.

While I’m enjoying the music history, I wonder what actually goes on in our culture that contributes to the difference throughout these years. What do you think?

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