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The Most Frequently Used Words in Hit Song Titles (by Decade)

Only an idiot would deny that there are trends in music over the decades. But what about how the music is titled? What kinds of trends did musicians follow as they were naming their hit songs?

Using data on hit singles provided by Billboard, we can separate the songs into decades and create a master list of the most used words in hit songs. From there, we just need to get rid of the words that are of little interest - that is, pronouns, articles, conjunctions, and question words (what, how, who) specifically. What we are left with shows us the most popular terms in all of music (top to bottom) and how those terms changed by decade (left to right.)

Some notable term trends that didn’t make the graphic:

1950s: THEME was mentioned 5 times
1960s: SOUL was mentioned 10 times
1970s: BOOGIE was mentioned 11 times
1980s: DREAMS was mentioned 7 times
1990s: CRY was mentioned 8 times
2000s: BEAUTIFUL was mentioned 7 times
2010s: HARD was mentioned 4 times

It should be noted that the 1950’s and the 2010’s had fewer hit singles than the other decades. The number within each circle shows the total times that word shows up in the decade but the circle itself is scaled proportionally to the number of songs represented from each decade.

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