Recently, Andrew Powell-Morse at SeatSmart examined 225 Billboard hits that maintained the #1 spot on a chart for three or more weeks, and found that modern lyrics for smash hit singles have “dumbed down” over the past 10 years.
According to the study, chart-toppers in 2005 contained lyrics that read between a third and fourth grade level. A mere decade later, though, the reading level of a #1 track averages between a second and third grade reading level. The study also found that country music has the highest or “smartest” lyrics, while hip hop/R&B has the “dumbest.”
The most “interesting” part of his study found that Nickelback is, apparently, the most intelligent rock band. The average grade level of their lyrics is 3.30, while Foo Fighters achieved 2.62, Linkin Park got 3.20, and Avenged Sevenfold got 2.25.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” and Three Days Grace’s “Animal I Have Become” were among the smartest songs over the last decade, with the Chili Peppers’ super-smash track achieving a reading level of 5.5. Three Days Grace, though, also had the lowest rate of intelligence for their hit “The Good Life,” which was compared to the reading level of a 3 and a half year old.
The full study can be found here.