Survey: Pop Hit Song Lyrics Are Below Third-Grade Reading Level
May 21, 2015 at 2:45 PM (PT)
A comprehensive survey of more than 225 songs in four categories that went to #1 on the BILLBOARD charts over a 10-year period show that its lyrics require a below-third-grade reading comprehension level, according to a report at SEATSMART.COM.
ANDREW POWELL-MORSE crunched the numbers and discovered the Readability Score of songs that topped the charts for at least three weeks for Pop, Country, Rock and R&B/Hip-Hop have dropped over the last decade from a factor of slightly over third grade level to slightly below.
Some of the findings include:
- Country music has the highest reading level (3.3), followed by Pop and Rock (2.9 apiece) and R&B/Hip-Hop (2.6).
- EMINEM's lyrics are tops among Hip-Hop artists at a 3.7 grade reading level, followed by NICKI MINAJ (3.4), MACKLEMORE (3.25), DRAKE (3.2), KANYE WEST (2.8), CHRIS BROWN (2.66) and BEYONCE (2.25).
- CARRIE UNDERWOOD leads the Song Intelligence Metrics for Country with 3.72, followed by BLAKE SHELTON (3.63), BRAD PAISLEY (3.54), KENNY CHESNEY (3.43), TAYLOR SWIFT (3.4), RASCAL FLATTS (3.2) and FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE (2.93).
- Believe it or not, NICKELBACK leads all Rock entrants with lyrics worthy of 3.3 grade, followed by LINKIN PARK (3.2), SEETHER (2.78), FOO FIGHTERS (2.62), THREE DAYS GRACE (2.46), SHINEDOWN (2.38) and AVENGED SEVENFOLD (2.25).
- In the Pop category MARIAH CAREY's lyrics almost quality as fourth-grade level (3.95), though that makes her an EINSTEIN in a grouping which includes ADELE (3.2), JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (3.0), KATY PERRY (2.95), MAROON 5 (2.58), LADY GAGA (2.15) and KESHA (1.50). Guess "Tic Tok" (1.5) isn't for MENSAs.
- As for the 10 Top Smartest Songs, BLAKE SHELTON's "All About Tonight" (5.8) leads RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS' "Dani CALIFORNIA" (5.5), THREE DAYS GRACE's "Animal I Have Become" (5.2) and MAROON 5's "She Will Be Loved" (5.0) as the only songs above a fifth grade reading level.
- On the other end of the scale, THREE DAYS GRACE's "The Good Life" is the dumbest song of the last decade, ranking below a first grade reading level (0.8), followed by MELANIE FIONA's "It Kills Me" (1.0) along with OZZY OSBOURNE's "Let Me Hear You Scream," MAROON 5's "Moves Like Jagger," ROBIN THICKE's "Lost Without U" and T-PAIN's "Buy U A Drank (Shawty Snappin')," all of which are barely above a first grade reading level at 1.2 apiece.