Metal words

This article has been floating around Facebook and recently caught my eye.

A data scientist has performed a linguistic analysis of heavy metal lyrics to determine to what extent they differ from the more general corpus of words in the English language.

By taking a data set of lyrics from the Dark Lyrics website, Iain Barr was able to find those words that appeared most frequently in that set:

Metal lyrics seem focused on “time” and “life”, with a healthy dose of “blood”, “pain” and “eyes” thrown in. Even without knowing much about the genre, this is what you might expect.

However, this does not take into account how frequently those words are used in general, and so Iain then took a range of general texts and compared them with the metal set to determine the “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

And also, the 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

The latter list does seem a bit like the sort of words that you’d expect to find in the minutes of a local council meeting rather than a heavy metal song, but I’d quite like to hear a metal band try to write a song about academic administrative committees or fiscal measurements for literary agencies.

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