Saturday, April 11, 2015


In sort-of recent political news, Ted Cruz announced that he was running for president. I didn’t listen to or read his speech, but I gather that all the right-thinking people hated it, which is generally a good sign. Shortly afterwards he was quoted as having said that after 9/11 the pop music he used to love didn’t quite resonate for him, but country music did. The right-thinking reporter suggested that he was probably pandering to his crowd, and that wouldn’t be unexpected for a politician. But the notion that pop was more vapid matched my prejudices, and I decided to try to compare the genres.

I don’t listen to either much, and both genres cover a lot of territory. Rather than try an in-depth survey of both (months of work), I decided to scan through the lyrics of the top 20 in pop and country, as defined by Billboard. That’s not fair at all, since the tail of the distribution could be much vaster than the peak. One sub-genre could be small with a few performers and another have much larger total sales spread among an even larger number of singers. Result—the first winds up in the top list and the second is nowhere, even if the second provides the bulk of industry sales. But I really don’t have the time to do a thorough survey.

A cursory review says the subject matter differs quite a bit. There’s overlap in what you might term “Short-term” relationship, but... I did some relatively arbitrary categorization (some fit it a couple of categories). And by arbitrary I mean that when I went over a second time I got slightly different counts, so the error bars on these are ± 1.

Short answer: I can see why someone would, in time of stress, find country resonating with them better than pop. I’d rather listen to Johnny Cash than Britney Spears myself.

Sorrow: she left or I screwed up25
Tribal and other06
Long term relationship22
Get to know me02
Short term relations93
Crass (sometimes tribal)32
I’m/We’re crazy20
Second chance please20

Billboard top 20 pop (10-Apr-2015)
SongPerformerWhat is it about?
Sugar Maroon 5 lovesick for you, heavy sexual theme
Style Taylor Swift You’re not good or faithful but let’s be wild together again anyway
Love Me Like You Do Ellie Goulding I’m crazy in love with you, love me back again
Uptown Funk! Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars I’m sexy, come and get me girls
Thinking Out Loud Ed Sheeran Kiss me now, I’ll still love you when we’re old
Somebody Natalie La Rose Featuring Jeremih I want to party, I want to have sex
One Last Time Ariana Grande I screwed up with you, please give me another chance
Time Of Our Lives Pitbull & Ne-Yo I’d rather spend the rent on a party and chance of sex
Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey) The Weeknd Our relationship won’t turn out well but I don’t care
FourFiveSeconds Rihanna & Kanye West & Paul McCartney I’m going to go berserk
Want To Want Me Jason Derulo I want you to want to have sex with me
I Want You To Know Zedd Featuring Selena Gomez It’s time for us together
Chains Nick Jonas I love you, why do you do me wrong?
G.D.F.R. Flo Rida Featuring Sage The Gemini & Lookas I’m rich and sexy and if you are sex kinky enough I want you
Outside Calvin Harris Featuring Ellie Goulding We’re breaking up. Why?
Night Changes One Direction He: don’t worry, let’s do it. She: maybe
Nobody Love Tori Kelly We’re in love and I don’t want to be cynical about it like everybody else
Riptide Vance Joy I want to marry you, why won’t you come back
Shut Up And Dance WALK THE MOON We are bound to be together (but she’s holding something back)
Talking Body Tove Lo Sex with you is so great, let’s keep it up

Billboard Country Top 20 (10-Apr-2015)
Take Your Time Sam Hunt I want to get to know you
Homegrown Zac Brown Band I like my home, my wife, my friends
Ain't Worth The Whiskey Cole Swindell I don’t want you to think I’m sad about you breaking up with me
Lonely Eyes Chris Young If you’re lonely spend the night with me
Girl Crush Little Big Town I want to be like her, then maybe you’d want me back
Drinking Class Lee Brice I’m a hard worker, hard drinker, hard player
Say You Do Dierks Bentley Pretend you want me like you used to
Homegrown Honey Darius Rucker You’re exciting and familiar (first meeting)
A Guy Walks Into A Bar Tyler Farr I met her and loved her and she left. It’s a pattern. Everybody else knows it.
Raise 'Em Up Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church Live your life fully, family, home, marriage, children
This Is How We Roll Florida Georgia Line Featuring Luke Bryan Our tribe has fun our way
Don't It Billy Currington Give me a chance
Smoke A Thousand Horses I’m infatuated and she permeates my life
Sippin' On Fire Florida Georgia Line Ditch him and pick me instead of sneaking off with me
Little Red Wagon Miranda Lambert You may like me but I’m a rambler and won’t stick with you
Little Toy Guns Carrie Underwood I wish my parents wouldn’t fight, or people speak so cruelly
She Don't Love You Eric Paslay My ex doesn’t love you, or trust anybody anymore
Diamond Rings And Old Barstools Tim McGraw With Catherine Dunn I wrecked us with my drinking
Wild Child Kenny Chesney With Grace Potter I’m in love with her but she can’t commit
Love You Like That Canaan Smith Take a chance on me, I’ll be solid
Like A Wrecking Ball Eric Church I can’t wait to get home to make love to you


Texan99 said...

Mother/trains/prison/getting drunk.

I think the formula may have shifted some while I wasn't attending.

james said...

I know. I was surprised too (what do you get when you play country music backwards?). But as I said upfront, I worry about drawing conclusions from the peaks, and this may not be representative.