The One with the Song Lyrics
Once a day I am reminded that I do not have a Ph.D. My co-founder does. One of the ongoing arguments we have is around the understanding of meaning and/or intent. What did someone mean when they said x or wrote y or sang about z? Who are these people? What does this say about them?
One solution is to decode personality through language use.
Individuals’ use of certain word choice and order give insight into who they are — because there is as much to say about words chosen as there is in words left out. And so, we decided to test this on song lyrics.
We randomly selected tens of songs from 7 artists — and used a combination of models to convert “words” into “intent” — and then transform “intent” into human insight.
We saw 4 key personalities in these artists: Perceptive Idealists, Energetic Euphorics, Intense Expressors, Shooting Stars.
Idealism, Tactfulness, Depth
“You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one…” (‘Imagine’, John Lennon)
“Planet Earth is Blue, and there is nothing I can do” (‘Space Oddity’, David Bowie)
Meet the profound people. They’re deeply in touch with their feelings, and being a perceptive lot, they feel what others feel, too. It makes them tactful, meditative, and friendly all at once. They’re the people you need at every house party to calm people down, to ensure no drunken drama gets out of hand.
Expectedly, ballad-master Bon Jovi and crooner John Lennon make this list of people. The enigmatic David Bowie too, sits with this crowd. With heavy, thoughtful tunes like “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Space Oddity”, it’s not hard to see why.
Theatricality, Intensity, Curiosity
“Aliens infected us, it’s about time we infected them” (bust a move, Infected Mushroom).
“Killin’ the flows, we’re sicker than most defeating the foes, we weather the most” (Make it Bun Dem, Skrillex)
We all know that one friend who’s really high-energy, with a well defined flair for the dramatic.
Our model, despite having never been to a single head-banging electro festival, deftly identified trance act Infected Mushroom and rave-staple Skrillex under this profile type — based on the words they used in their lyrics!
It also suggested that the language was highly stimulating.
Passion, Anxiety, Temptation
“Oh, I’ll never kill myself to save my soul/I was gone but how was I to know?
I didn’t come this far to sink so low/I’m finally holding on to letting go” (Unsainted, Slipknot)
In millennial-speak, these guys are full of ‘feels’ — deeply sensitive, and as a result, very prone to worry and stress.
This does not make them “disconnect” — on the contrary, they are also fully desirous of the world — and appreciate all the temptations it offers.
They are both “unhappy” and “easily tempted” — Don’t expect this group to hide their feelings, and always expect them to give into temptation!
Interestingly, out of all our 7 chosen artists, heavy metal band Slipknot appears to have sole occupancy of this category.
Spontaneousness, Control, Itinerant
“Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper”(Formation, Beyoncé)
Our model found just one fit in this segment.
This artist is extroverted and open, spontaneous and witty, while also being strategic, focused and blunt.
This duality of emotional range, yet creative control; candour, yet poetry — was found in only one artist: Beyoncé.
While our interpretations might be biased, the interesting part of this experiment is about the use and ownership of language.
Beyonce’s language selection patterns are designed to communicate her magic as well as her discipline; Bon Jovi’s is designed to communicate both depth and diplomacy.
Creative agencies and copywriters that want their brands to communicate powerfully might want to learn from the lyrics of artists.
After all, your intent will be read through your words.
For our next post on this topic, we will analyze ten playlists of Quilt.AI employees and tell you about the kind of people they are.
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