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Research  Song lyrics became simpler, more repetitive, & angrier since 1980 (verse fashions)

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Song lyrics getting simpler, more repetitive, angry and self-obsessed – study

EXCERPTS: You’re not just getting older. Song lyrics really are becoming simpler and more repetitive, according to a study published on Thursday.

Lyrics have also become angrier and more self-obsessed over the last 40 years, the study found, reinforcing the opinions of cranky ageing music fans everywhere.

A team of European researchers analysed the words in more than 12,000 English-language songs across the genres of rap, country, pop, R&B and rock from 1980 to 2020.

[...] Senior study author Eva Zangerle, an expert on recommendation systems at Austria’s University of Innsbruck, [...] emphasised that lyrics can be a “mirror of society” which reflect how a culture’s values, emotions and preoccupations change over time.

[...] Over the 40 years studied, there was repeated upheaval in how people listened to music. The vinyl records and cassette tapes of the 1980s gave way to the CDs of the 90s, then the arrival of the internet led to the algorithm-driven streaming platforms of today.

[...] The authors found that lyrics have tended to become more emotional and personal over time. Use of emotionally positive and negative words increased in rap songs, while the use of emotionally negative lyrics increased for R&B, pop and country songs. Additionally, all genres showed an increase in the use of anger-related words.

Additional analyses into the views of the 12,000 song lyrics on the online song lyric platform Genius revealed that the lyrics of older rock songs tend to be viewed more than those of newer rock songs but that the lyrics of newer country songs tend to be viewed more than those of older country songs. This could indicate that rock listeners prefer lyrics from older songs, while country listeners may prefer lyrics from newer songs.

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