Over the last year, we’ve shared all sorts of interesting studies analyzing trends in popular music, including which artists have the highest vocal range, the average listener’s intelligence and wealth broken down by genre, and the whiteness of music. Now, a new study from musixmatch looks to discover which artists have the largest (and smallest) vocabularies.
Inspired by a similar study focusing strictly on hip-hop vocabulary, musixmatch expanded its data to account for 99 of the best-selling musicians across 25 different genres. Because not every one of these musicians has the same outfit, musixmatch limited its study to each musician’s 100 densest songs.
The results are fascinating: Eminem has the largest vocabulary, and it’s not even close. His 8,818 words are nearly 2,000 more than second place finisher, Jay Z (6,899). Tupac is No. 3 at 6,596 words. Sensing a trend yet? Of the top six artists with the largest vocab, five are hip-hop acts. No. 4 is Kanye West (5,069) — though it’s not clear if musixmatch counts made-up Yeezus words like “swagoo” and “cray” as part of that number. No. 6? The Black Eyed Peas, sigh.
Bob Dylan is the only non-rapper in the top six with a lexicon of 4,883 words. Bilingual musicians Julio Inglesias and Andrea Bocelli follow in the No. 7 and 8 positions.
Other noteworthy placements: Prince (No. 11), Pink Floyd (18), R.E.M. (21), Madonna (24), Queen (36), Taylor Swift (40), Rihanna (49), and Led Zeppelin (62). As for The Beatles? They have the 76th largest vocabulary of top-selling artists, proving that popularity and word power aren’t necessarily correlated.
In conclusion, musixmatch writes, “This analysis should not be interpreted as saying that one musician is better than the other, it is just another insight into the work of these amazing artists. It gives us a peek into the minds of different songwriters, some tear your heart with just a few words while others paint an intricate picture with a thousand words.”
Check out the full results at musixmatch.