This is something that I posted about 5 years ago, but it’s still fascinating because of the thought and actual data behind it. It’s some research put together by Iain Barr, who’s actually a data scientist and obviously a metal-head. You can’t help but be impressed with the depth of his study, which is in three very detailed parts and has the express intent of showing you if your lyrics are “Metal-enough.”
The study was incredibly comprehensive. It evaluated the lyrics from 222,623 metal songs with a data set that included songs from 7,364 bands spread over 22,314 albums. Although Iain did it for his own amusement, it’s still pretty amazing to see just what passes for metal words.
As an aside, some of the non-metal words are hilarious. For instance, 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 tables below, along with their “Metalness”.
Most Metal-Enough Words
Least Metal Words
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|
But there’s more, lots more. “For the 6000 words which appear in both our score for “Metalness” and the Hedonometer dataset, we have can place the word at a point the in the two-dimensional “Happy/Metal” Plane. A sample of these words are plotted below.”
I’m not sure this research 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). If you have to ask the question in the first place, then maybe 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.