Pop Music Titles: Word Frequency Analysis

We came across a blog post about the most common words used in band names, album names and song names which utilized Billboard Pop Charts between 1890 and 2008. Intrigued by the information displayed, we wanted to take our spin on how we would visualize word frequency in song titles between 1890 and early 2010 using ALL words in song titles used.

Inspired by Boris Müller's Faust Faust poster, we wanted to give a sense of the volume of total words used in song titles using both size and a color spectrum to order each word from most frequent at the top to least frequent at the bottom. Below is a showcase of our work. Click on each image to view a higher resolution image to see all words and explore.

Results: Obviously, articles and pronouns made it to the top of the lists and we considered filtering these out to shine the light more on nouns and verbs. However, for now we decided to keep it all in so as not to distort the full data set. We hope to have time to build a small application to all you to explore and filter the data yourself.

Background on data: We stumbled across an anonymous user post on an intriguing blog post about the Whitman project that pointed us to a spreadsheet that claimed to be created by a passionate fan (and record keeper) of Billboard chart data. Here we found a spreadsheet that seemed to have simple but at least accurate song title information on the pop charts during this time. On the blog post above, we read an interesting discussion on the background behind Billboard chart rankings, etc. Good thing for us, we are not visualizing chart rankings. Instead, we are using this data set as a sample set as a linquistic endeavor to better understand words used in US song titles and to compare word usage from one decade to the next. This is a window into our history.

Created by Pitch Interactive (follow us on twitter)
Data Source: Start by reading this: http://waxy.org/2008/05/the_whitburn_project/
Tools used: Processing

All Billboard Pop Chart Song Titles Recorded between 1890 - 2009

Pop Music Title Cloud 1890-2009

Now let's break out each decade to allow for a decade-by-decade analysis of the words.

Song titles between1890 - 1899

Pop Music Title Cloud 1890-1899

Song titles between1900 - 1909

Pop Music Title Cloud 1900-1909

Song titles between1910 - 1919

Pop Music Title Cloud 1910-1919

Song titles between1920 - 1929

Pop Music Title Cloud 1920-1929

Song titles between1930 - 1939

Pop Music Title Cloud 1930-1939

Song titles between1940 - 1949

Pop Music Title Cloud 1940-1949

Song titles between1950 - 1959

Pop Music Title Cloud 1950-1959

Song titles between1960 - 1969

Pop Music Title Cloud 1960-1969

Song titles between1970 - 1979

Pop Music Title Cloud 1970-1979

Song titles between1980 - 1989

Pop Music Title Cloud 1980-1989

Song titles between1990 - 1999

Pop Music Title Cloud 1990-1999

Song titles between2000 - 2009

Pop Music Title Cloud 2000-2009

All Billboard Pop Chart Song Titles Recorded between 1890 - 2009 using a Logarithmic Scale with Easing distribution

Pop Music Title Cloud 1890-2009