Lyrics, Now And Then: The History Of Music In Charts

By @lisamahapatra on

Musicians are singing a lot more about sex and a lot less about love now than they did in the 1960s, found data artist Nickolay Lamm when he analyzed the lyrics of every song that has appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart since 1960.

“Money,” “weed,” “body,” “foul,” “hate” and “kill” also pop up more often now than they used to, while “lonely,” “sad,” “heart” and “I love you” were more popular in songs in the past, according to Lamm’s analysis.

Lamm created a series of charts based on his analysis, and they’re fascinating.

Here’s how to decipher the charts, according to Lamm.

The horizontal axis is the year of the song's release and the y-axis is the song's popularity according to Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles. Each cell represents a song. The more red a song is, the more often that particular word appears in the song. For example, if a song has 5 "love" words and a total of 100 words in the entire song, that song is assigned a 5 percent value and a particular shade of red. The higher the percent, the darker the shade of red.

Take a look:

love Love.  Nickolay Lamm

sex Sex.  Nickolay Lamm

sexy Sexy.  Nickolay Lamm

body Body.  Nickolay Lamm

foul Foul.  Nickolay Lamm

hate kill Hate or Kill.  Nickolay Lamm

boys Boys.  Nickolay Lamm

girls Girls.  Nickolay Lamm

smile Smile.  Nickolay Lamm

i love you I love you.  Nickolay Lamm

we us We or Us.  Nickolay Lamm

money Money.  Nickolay Lamm

home Home.  Nickolay Lamm

weed Weed.  Nickolay Lamm

rain Rain.  Nickolay Lamm

kiss Kiss.  Nickolay Lamm happy Happy.  Nickolay Lamm

baby Baby.  Nickolay Lamm

heart Heart.  Nickolay Lamm

lonely Lonely.  Nickolay Lamm

sad Sad.  Nickolay Lamm

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