The lyrics of recent No. 1 singles average at a third grade reading level

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No one would ever dare to compare the writing prowess of artists like Macklemore, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry to Chaucer and Ginsberg, but a new study from Andrew Powell-Morse reveals just how dumbed down the lyrics are for songs currently dominating the Billboard charts.

Powell-Morse analyzed the reading levels for 225 songs that spent three or more weeks atop Billboard’s Pop, Country, Rock, and Hip-Hop song charts.

Whereas chart-toppers in 2005 read between a third and fourth grade level, a decade later that average is declining, and fast. In 2014, the reading level of a Billboard No. 1 single averaged between a second and third grade reading level, with the bar trending downward in five of the last 10 years.

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Of the four genres analyzed, country music came out with the highest average reading level (3.3), followed by pop (2.9), rock ‘n’ roll (2.9), and R&B/hip-hop (2.6).

At an individual level, the data is even more fascinating. The average reading level of Eminem is a grade-and-a-half higher than Beyoncé, while Nickelback (!) tops Foo Fighters by nearly a number letter grade. In the world of pop music, superstars like Mariah Carey and Adele rank a full number grade higher than the likes of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha.

Of all 225 songs analyzed in the studio, the highest-scoring rock song was Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” with a reading level of 5.5. Meanwhile, Three Days Grace’s “The Good Life” is the “dumbest” with a reading level of 0.8.

Below, you can find a few more infographics illustrating the data. The full report can be read here.

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Pearl Jam Play Entire ‘No Code,’ Debut New Song at Moline Concert

 

 

 

Pearl Jam had a pair of major surprises in store for fans at their Friday night concert at Moline, Illinois’ iWireless Center. Not only did Eddie Vedder debut a new song dedicated to the Quad Cities town, Pearl Jam performed their 1996 album No Code straight through in its entirety, from “Sometimes” to closer “Around the Bend,” Jambase reports. “No Code. Front to back. #PJMoline #PJFall2014,” the band tweeted before sharing a photo of the Moline setlist, which confirmed that the new song Vedder debuted onstage was also called “Moline.”

According to WQAD, Vedder told the crowd that the new song was written especially for Moline and the Quad Cities area. “Moline, it seems, this is for me. You can call me Nancy and I live in Moline,” Vedder sings on the track that’s about a woman who leaves Detroit for the Illinois city. Vedder also revealed that he’d written the song just minutes before the band took the stage, and that the cut was related to Vitalogy‘s “Better Man.”

It’s unclear why Pearl Jam opted to make Moline, Illinois the setting for the No Code performance other than the fact that the 1996 album was partially recorded nearly two decades ago at the not-so-nearby Chicago Recording Company studio. Vedder joked following the performance of No Code‘s “Off He Goes,” “Alright, end of side one.” The singer told the crowd that the No Code performance marked only the second time the band had performed a studio album of theirs in its entirety; as the band’s official message board points out, Pearl Jam played their whole 2006 self-titled record, out of sequence, at a Torino, Italy concert in September of that year.

In a wild coincidence, on the same night that the Foo Fighters were rocking out with Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen at Chicago’s the Cubby Bear and on a previously recorded Late Show With David Letterman performance, Mike McCready also paid tribute to the guitarist by busting out a checkerboard guitar Nielsen had given him while Jeff Ament brought out a bass with a similar pattern.

Foo Fighters leave David Letterman in tears with emotional performance of “Miracle” — watch

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Wednesday night’s episode of the Late Show with David Letterman featured a full gamut of emotions, from funny to exciting to bittersweet.

Marking the third night of Foo Fighters’ week-long residency on the late-night show, Letterman first employed his musical guests for a quirky faux commercial for the law firm of Grohl, Hawkins, Mendel, Shiflett, Smear, & Associates.

Later, the band hit the stage for their latest all-star performance. This time, they were joined by swamp rock legend Tony Joe White for a stomping rendition of “Polk Salad Annie”. Letterman seemed especially tickled by the performance, remarking of White, “If I were this guy, you could kiss my ass.”

At the request of Letterman, Foo’s also performed one of their own songs for a special web exclusive video. Letterman introduced the band by discussing their relationship, “These gentlemen, we’ve known each other for a long long time now. They have crossed my path in ways unexpected and expected. And, as a result, each and every year they grow to mean more to me as human beings and talents musical artists.” He then relayed a story about taking his four-year-old son skiing, which the ski instructor caught on video and soundtracked with Foo Fighters’ song “Miracle”. “It’s the second song of theirs that will always have great great meaning to me for the rest of my life,” he explained. Following the performance, a teary eyed Letterman proclaimed, “You see what I mean? That’s pretty good!”

Earlier in the week, Foo Fighters teamed with Heart for a performance of “Kick It Out” and Zac Brown to cover Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”. It all comes in support of the band’s new album, Sonic Highways, due November 10th via Roswell Records.