Billboard Chart Topping Lyrics Average at Grade Three Reading Level

While most of the semi-intelligent/semi-literate population is already aware of the decline in the quality of song lyrics over the past few decades, it may come as a shock how dumbed down the lyrics we know and love actually are.

A new study from Andrew Powell-Morse examined the lyrics of 225 songs that spent multiple weeks on the Billboard charts. A similar study in 2005 revealed that chart topping song lyrics averaged between a third and fourth grade reading level. Ten years later, this has continued to decline, and Powell-Morse has discovered that current chart topping lyrics average somewhere between a second and third year reading level. Somewhat unsurprisingly country music lyrics had the highest reading level of the four genres in the analysis, followed by pop and rock, with hip hop lyrics coming in at the level of a child halfway through second grade.

Individual artists are somewhat surprising, with Eminem ranking a grade and a half higher than Beyoncé. Shockingly Nickelback had the highest average for rock lyrics, although this is still a level 3.3, so not exactly an achievement for the band.

How we imagine Eminem would be reacting to this news…

Out of the 225 songs that were analysed the Red Hot Chili Peppers Dani California had the highest reading level of a Grade 5.5, while Three Day’s Grace, The Good Life was found to be at a level of a child who had not yet completed Grade 1.

You can find the full report here.