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For most music fans, Bob Dylan is recognized as a lyrical mastermind, a poet, and a true artist. But when it comes down to logistics. The man with answers “blowin’ in the wind” actually didn’t know as much as we all thought, at least when it comes to vocabulary. Research compiled by a company called Musixmatch took 100 of the most linguistically dense songs in the top 93-selling artists ever, and who came out on top? Will the Real Slim Shady please stand up?
It’s not all that surprising that hip-hop artists came out on top during this study. They do spit the most rhyme per amount of time. Eminem tops them all though with an incredible count of 8,818 total number of words used, making him the reigning leader of artist with the widest vocabulary. Next up came Jay-Z with 6,899 words, Tupac Shakur with 6,569 words, Kanye West with 5,069 words, and at number five, Bob Dylan with 4,883 words. This put Dylan as the top folk artist in the chart, and he also was the musician who uses a new word in his songs most frequently, with an average of one every nine words. So rest assured, not everything is run by the rap gods.
There are also a few other logistical issues (if you will) with this study. For instance, there are some top selling musicians who did not want to be included in this research, and did not give Musixmatch the permission to use their lyrics, a few to name are Bruce Springsteen, Chicago, Def Leppard, Journey, The Beach Boys and The Doors. Also this is a measure of the top 100 artists, so a few of our favorite lyric genii out there, are unfortunately not going to make ‘popular’ cut.
Another few standout rankings include The Beatles who were at 76th place, and The Black Eyed Peas at number 6 (“boom boom pow” should not count). To conclude their study though, Musixmatch wants to reiterate that their analysis doesn’t mean one musician is better than another:
This analysis should not be interpreted as saying that one musician is better than the other, it is just another insight into the work of these amazing artists. It gives us a peek into the minds of different songwriters, some tear your heart with just a few words while others paint an intricate picture with a thousand words.
So at the end of the day, even if Kanye West uses more words than the majority, he’ll never be comparable to The Smiths. And let’s keep it that way.