Not to be confused with Ten Years After

Roger sent this along, and I couldn’t possibly resist putting it up here: an analysis of decade-specific words in song titles listed in Billboard.

Some of these may seem obvious: if you hear a song with “twist” or some variation thereof in the title, it’s almost certainly from the 1960s. I ran a search on the database on my desktop, and between 1960 and 1988, there were 54 chart items containing “twist” — but 46 of them were before 1965. More startling: “you” doesn’t place in the top five of any decade until the 1990s, and “love” is a factor only in the 1980s, a gentle rebuke to those who think we’ve had enough of silly love songs.

And if we’re going to play pronouns, in the 90s “you” lives cheek by jowl with “u,” and “u” persists into the new century while “you” drops below threshold, though “ya” makes a top-five appearance. After 2010, all those variations on “you” are gone — but “we” is preeminent. Sociologists ought to have a field day with that one.

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