These fascinating graphs are the work of one Nickolay Lamm, and are part of a project that he’s calling Money, Love and Sex. The project charts the frequency with which various words appear in the top 100 singles on the Billboard chart over the years, essentially providing a portrait of how the vocabulary of music has evolved since the 1960s.
As Lamm explains, “Each cell represents a song. The more red a song is, the more often that particular word appears appears in the song. For example, if a song has five ‘love’ words and a total of 100 words in the entire song, that song is assigned five percent and a particular shade of color.” There are some really interesting facts to be gleaned; it’s no surprise that “love” has been fairly constant, or that the use of curse words has increased dramatically from the early 1990s onward, but who knew that the trajectory of the word “hate” has been pretty much inversely proportional to “happy,” or that “sad” and “lonely” have been on the decline since the 1960s?
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