Pop Music Lyrics Average a Third-Grade Reading Level
A great many of our most popular songs are written at just a third-grade reading level. That's the conclusion reached by an analysis of 225 popular songs.
The last time we were talking about pop lyrics, Beyoncé had just lost the Grammy for best album to Beck and Kanye West had interrupted yet another acceptance speech. Facebook was posting a side-by-side comparison of the nominees' lyrics (although that's just one measure of best album, as the The Guardian pointed out, ultimately giving the nod to Queen Bey).
The simplicity of Beyoncé's lyrics is not unique. In fact, a great many of our most popular songs are written at just a third-grade reading level. That's the conclusion reached by an analysis of 225 songs that spent at least three weeks at the top of the Billboard charts over the last 10 years.
The analysis used the Readability Index to rank songs according to the complexity and diversity of their lyrics. At present, this post has a reading level of just above seventh grade, so despite my grad school pedigree, I'm apparently more at home with middle schoolers.
Perhaps more surprisingly when it came to song lyrics, country music pulled the other genres to above a third-grade level, averaging a 3.3 reading level while pop and rock tied at 2.9 and R&B/hip-hop ranked lowest at a grade level of 2.6.
In 2007, rock and R&B/hip-hop both plunged with the help of songs like “Buy U a Drank” by T-Pain (which just made it above a first-grade reading level) and “I Don’t Wanna Stop” by Ozzy Osbourne (a more respectable 1.6 average grade level).
Maybe it was the financial crash of 2007 that made T-Pain and friends need a drank? Then again, maybe not. Since 2005, the intelligence level of lyrics has steadily declined, moving from a high of about 3.5 in 2006 to its present low of about 2.7.
When five-time Grammy-winning artist Mary Chapin Carpenter stopped by Big Think, she explained the danger in branding country music, or artists generally from the south, as being less sophisticated.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.