Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
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
Woodward III, Robert Bruce, "Quantifying Cultural Changes Through A Half-Century Of Song Lyrics And Books" (2016). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. 631.