Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Christopher M. Danforth


Music is an ever-changing cultural reflection. It is deeply integrated into our society, ubiquitous

in movies, television shows, restaurants, sport venues, churches and a plethora of

other places. This thesis proposes that we consider the lyrics in popular music, as determined

by Billboards Hot 100 chart, as a natural medium to analyze the changes in culture

over the past half-century. Using this collection of lyrics, we analyze the change in relative

frequency of individual words over time, and compare to works of literature. Furthermore,

we use the ranking in the Top 100 as a metric with which to explore the relationship between

usage of particular words and the popularity of the respective songs. We find that our

data coincides with a previous hypothesis that the relative happiness of lyrics has decreased

over time, and find that this also applies to the relative happiness of popular music.



Number of Pages

55 p.