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August 4, 2016

The Most And Least Metal Words

most metal wordsIf you ever wondered if a word was “Metal enough” for a song lyric, there’s a study that evaluated the lyrics from 222,623 metal songs that can tell you. The data set included songs from 7,364 bands spread over 22,314 albums. The research was amazingly comprehensive, but it was done privately by a single data scientist for his own amusement. Still, it’s pretty amazing to see just what passes for metal words, and some of the non-metal words are hilarious (I’d love to read the lyrics from the songs where the words “fiscal,” “literary,” “residential,” and “administrative” come from).

So here they are – the top and bottom 20 metal words are shown in the table below, along with their “Metalness”.

Most Metal Words

Rank Word Metalness
1 burn 3.81
2 cries 3.63
3 veins 3.59
4 eternity 3.56
5 breathe 3.54
6 beast 3.54
7 gonna 3.53
8 demons 3.53
9 ashes 3.51
10 soul 3.40
11 sorrow 3.40
12 sword 3.38
13 goodbye 3.28
14 dreams 3.28
15 gods 3.24
16 pray 3.22
17 reign 3.15
18 tear 3.12
19 flames 3.12
20 scream 3.11

Least Metal Words

Rank Word Metalness
1 particularly -6.47
2 indicated -6.32
3 secretary -6.29
4 committee -6.16
5 university -6.09
6 relatively -6.08
7 noted -5.85
8 approximately -5.75
9 chairman -5.69
10 employees -5.67
11 attorney -5.66
12 membership -5.64
13 administrative -5.61
14 considerable -5.60
15 academic -5.51
16 literary -5.49
17 agencies -5.48
18 measurements -5.47
19 fiscal -5.45
20 residential -5.45


I found this vector representation describing the words most important to these bands particularly amusing.

Band Similar Bands Most Representative Songs Most Representative Words
Motorhead alice cooper, helloween, iron maiden “Life’s A Bitch”, “Waiting For The Snake”,”Desperate For You” gonna, know, ain’t
Machinehead biohazard, metallica, anthrax “From This Day”, “The Blood, The Sweat, The Tears”, “Clenching The Fists Of Dissent” pain, inside, strength
Diamondhead quiet riot, rainbow, wasp “Victim”, “It’s Electric”, “Wrathchild” oh, yeah, baby

I’m not sure this study is useful as anything other than an academic exercise, since most metal songwriters shouldn’t need to be told which words are metal enough (at least I hope not). Either you know, or you should stay in other genre. That said, any time music can be analyzed, it does tell us a little bit more about what makes a song popular, and there’s never enough information about that. Check out the Degenerate State site for much more data.

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