Blog Excerpts

"Love" is All Around: Data-Mining Song Titles

The language technology company Idibon recently launched a blog, and one interesting contribution comes from Tyler Schnoebelen, who has data-mined the titles of nearly 40,000 songs that have appeared on Billboard's pop charts from 1890 to 2012. It turns out that when it comes to song titles, "love" is most definitely in the air.

An excerpt:

From 1890 to the end of 2012, there have been 39,044 songs that have hit the top of Billboards charts (thanks, Whitburn Project!). 3,583 of these songs have love-words (love, loves, loved, lover, lovin', luv, etc.). But for the last couple of years, the percentage of hits with love in the title has been only 30% of what it was in 1980, when people knew how to love.

Words in song titles
Words in Billboard charting song titles

1980 really was a standout year for love—15.8% of all songs had love (or some variation) in their titles. Some of the tops:

  • Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love as well as Need Your Loving Tonight
  • Barbra Streisand's Woman in Love
  • Air Supply's Lost in Love and All Out of Love (the first one peaked in May, the second one in September)
  • Spinners had the medley Cupid/I've Loved You for a Long Time
  • And my chicken-eating hero, Kenny Rogers, had Don't Fall in Love with a Dreamer and Love the World Away (Attention linguists and James Bond super-villains: why wipe away tears when you can love away the world?)

Percentage of Billboard hits with "love" in the title

The mid-1950s wasn't such a bad time, either:

  • Pat Boone was crooning Love Letters in the Sand and April Love
  • The Four Aces declared Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (when was the last time you used the word splendored?). They also had Melody of Love and A Woman in Love
  • Tab Hunter was after Young Love
  • Joan Weber demanded Let Me Go, Lover!

There were also a lot of Love me's running around in the mid/late 50s: Love Me Forever, Don't Ever Love Me, (My Baby Don't Love Me) No More, Doesn't Anybody Love Me?, Love Me Or Leave Me, Love Me, Love Me to Pieces.

I have a special place in my heart for a couple titles from the 1970s that really went all out on love—for example, My Baby Loves Lovin' and Lovey Dovey Kinda Lovin.

Read the rest here.


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Wednesday April 24th 2013, 8:58 AM
Comment by: Orin Hargraves (CO)Visual Thesaurus Contributor
It would be interesting to look at this in other languages/charts and see how much lexical overlap there was. Lots, I bet.

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