What Are the Most Popular Words in Songs?

Most popular words in songs
Are you writing a song? Would you like it to be really catchy? Why not go with what works for everyone, and use the most popular words found in hit songs? If you’re wondering whether there actually are words that songwriters continually resort to, it won’t take you long to hit on the word “love.” I have no idea how many songs contain that word, but I’m ready to bet they number in the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions!

Here’s a great song lyric:

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
I got love
You got love
We got love
Everybody’s got looooooove!

ALRIGHT ALREADY! I’ll stop! Please don’t hit me over the head again! I thought it was an absolutely brilliant lyric… My artistic sensibilities are wounded, I tell you. Wounded!

In the Interests of Linguistics, Science and Music

Owing to the stiff critique my first ever song lyric faced, I decided to look for other words that are popular in songs. If I can find enough, I can make a song generator. You know: list of first lines, list of second lines, list of third lines – join the dots between them and combine them anyhow you like, and voila! One perfect song lyric. And in case you’re wondering, I’ve seen it done, and it works!

Before we can start generating phrases, we need the words. The first thing you’ll likely notice is popular words in songs tend to be short. You aren’t going to find a lot of Shakespeare in most popular song lyrics. You’ll also find words are rather genre specific. For instance, “dark, black, bloody, thunder, fire, ice, and angels” all sound like they fit into gothic or metal genres, but we’ll take a broader overview.

  • Yeah (Now there’s a great word! You can write a whole song… Noooo! I promise I won’t! Just saying! Put down that baseball bat!)
  • Feel (Aw, c’mon! Are you saying I can’t just use “Love,” “Yeah,” and “Feel” as the only words longer than three letters in my song? No fair! I thought I was getting real artistic depth there. So what if I added….)
  • Girl (There! My song has a girl in it! Better? No? Onward!)
  • Heart (What, you want more? Ok. What if I give you a whole bunch more words? Will you let me write my song then? Here goes at rapid fire.)
  • Take
  • Life
  • Back
  • Never
  • Die
  • Away
  • Give
  • Time
  • Night
  • Day
  • Man
  • Dream
  • World
  • Little

Song Attempt Number Two

Ahem. Pretends to tune guitar. Gets up close to mic. Closes eyes. Opens mouth. Sings:

“Oh yeah! Can you feel it girl?
It’s a new life, a new day
Never say die
Take the night away
Give me time to dream…”

Buzzers buzz. Got Talent judges give thumbs down. Objects:

“Nonsense! It’s a great song! It has all the best words in it!”

Gets booed off stage for being a spoilsport. Mutters, “I know what went wrong. It was all the times I used “the.” Next time, I’ll leave it out.”

Heads home andĀ sulks. Looks for more popular song words for music inspirations. Jackpot! Now I have:

  • Baby
  • Good
  • Keep
  • Around
  • Again
  • Eye
  • Mind
  • Fall
  • World
  • Time
  • Hell
  • We
  • Like
  • Breathe
  • Ya
  • You
  • Thang
  • Get
  • Fire
  • Rock
  • Don’t
  • Woman (Oh! My girl’s all grown up! What a lot of letters she has now!)
  • Music
  • Dancing (Another big word!)
  • Lonely
  • Like
  • Polka
  • Serenade
  • Boogie

Oops! I slipped back to the 1940’s with those last three. I thought they were rather strange. I mean, when last did you hear a song that goes:

“Yeah! Baby! Let’s Polka that thang all night long!”

I don’t somehow think it’s going to hit the charts.

Favorite words in songs have changed through the decades as we saw with “Polka” once being a popular song staple. The reality is popular song words in the past ago aren’t the same as they are today. Let’s take a quick spin through the decades:

Since 2010

  • We
  • Yeah
  • Hell
  • Die

What a cheerful bunch we are. I even had to censor one word out. Traveling back a decade…

2000s

  • U
  • Like
  • Breathe
  • It
  • Ya

Perhaps just a little more cheerful. And back again…

1990s

  • U
  • You
  • Up
  • Get
  • Thang

I never realized “thang” was retro. Rewind…

1980s

  • Love
  • Fire
  • Don’t
  • Rock
  • On

Rock on that love and don’t fire me?

1970s

  • Woman
  • Disco
  • Rock
  • Music
  • Dancin’

Yay! Let’s Disco, Woman! Rock on!

1960s

  • Baby
  • Twist
  • Little
  • Lonely

Cute! Let’s twist, my lonely baby!

1950s

  • Christmas
  • Penny
  • Mambo
  • Three

I’m not at all sure what to make of that!

1940s

  • Polka
  • Serenade
  • Boogie
  • Blue

Don’t be Blue! Let’s Boogie that Polka!

1930s

  • Moon
  • In
  • Swing
  • Sing

Let’s sing that swing in the moon… Now what? Woman? Baby? Girl? Lady?

1920s

  • Blues
  • Pal
  • Sweetheart
  • Rose
  • Mammy

What a breadth of interests: family, horticulture, romance and friendship, and all tied together with a little melancholy!

I think we’ve taken the time machine far enough back to suit anyone, but for interest’s sake, the preceding two decades feature “Josh” as a top word. I am not sure who Josh is, but he was in a lot of songs. He may have been someone’s uncle, because “uncle” also hits top ratings. With my next song, perhaps I should try to span the decades. No! Don’t run away! Really! Some people.

Bookmark and Share
Loading Facebook Comments ...

3 comments

  1. This goes to show that songs go to the lowest common denominator when it comes to the words used. It would be nice if songs were more substance than just fluff, but fluff sells. These words prove it.

  2. People use these words in songs because they work. We want to be happy when we hear a song, not introspective. It makes perfect sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *