Which pop artist has the largest vocabulary in all of music? And who are the singers who have found there’s more to a song than just the words, “love,” “baby” and “good”?
The lyrics in pop songs have the power to paint a poignant picture in our heads, like when Billy Joel observes, “They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone” or when Johnny Cash sings, “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.” But how verbose are some of the most famous artists in the industry?
Word search tool Wordtips combed through the lyrics of artists defined as Spotify’s “most listened-to singers” and performers from Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” list, then crunched the numbers from 17,667 songs performed by 156 artists and found which singers used the most unique words per 1000 words.
They found that some singers like to keep it simple and highly repetitive, like Carl Rae Jepson. Here’s a sample lyric of one of Jepson’s songs, for instance: “I really, really, really, really, really, really like you / And I want you, do you want me, do you want me, too?”
While others, like Björk, exercise a thesaurus-like stream of consciousness in their pop compositions, e.g. “From the top of the mountain / Every morning I walk towards the edge / And throw little things off / Like car parts, bottles and cutlery.”
Wordtips found Patti Smith, who uses 217 unique words per 1,000 words, to be the artist with the biggest vocabulary. And among modern pop stars, Billie Eilish leads the way with 169 unique words per 1000.
[Read more at Wordtips]