Visualizing Repetition in Pop Music Lyrics
Colin Morris at visual essay publication The Pudding has created a series of data visualizations illustrating the increasing repetitiveness of the lyrics of songs on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1958 and 2017. Morris used a compression algorithm that reduces file sizes by removing repeated sequences on a dataset of the lyrics of 15,000 songs from the Billboard Hot 100. He then compared how effective the algorithm was for songs from different time periods. Morris found that the average song in 2014 was 22 percent more compressible than the average song from 1960, indicating a clear long-term shift towards increased repetition in popular music. The visualizations allow users to compare the repetition in song lyrics over time, as well as compare the repetitiveness of individual artists and songs.