Data Visualization Pop music repetition

Published on May 17th, 2017 | by Matthew Beckwith


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.

Take a look.

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About the Author

Matthew Beckwith

Matthew Beckwith is a policy fellow at the Center for Data Innovation. Previously, Matt worked as an analyst in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. Prior to that, he worked as an intern at the White House, as well as a speechwriting and policy intern on the O'Malley for President 2016 campaign. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Boston College.

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