Methodology Project: Lyric Analysis

Analysis of Word Frequency in The Killers albums: Hot Fuss (2004) and Wonderful Wonderful (2017)

When looking at my final Digital Studies module, I decided to do the text analysis option for the methodology project. Originally, I was going to analyze the word frequency in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, but instead, I thought it would be more interesting to compare the word frequency in two separate albums by The Killers. Furthermore, when deciding what albums to investigate, I knew I wanted to do two different albums that had a large time gap between them. Therefore, I think that by doing so, I was able to evaluate how the word density and frequency in The Killers changed over time as they became more popular. Additionally, I was inspired to do this module from my classmate, Madeline Killian, and her thorough analysis of word frequency in Bruce Springsteen’s albums.

Procedure

Before entering the lyrics into Voyant Tools, I chose the albums Hot Fuss (2004) and Wonderful Wonderful (2017). Then, I copied all the lyrics from the albums using AZlyrics and pasted each album’s lyrics into two different word documents. From there, I uploaded them into Voyant Tools and analyzed the data that was provided. Also, I noticed there were a lot of repetitive words that were included in the corpus, so I looked up how to remove those words and only focus on the ones that were relevant to my data. Conversely, I gathered my data from using the circus tool, line and bar graph tool, and the summery feature.

Hypothesis

I predicted that the most frequent words found would be ones relating to life, time, and love. Furthermore, most songs written by The Killers include themes relating to these words and one finding themselves.

Cover off the album Hot Fuss by The Killers. The cover art comes from a picture taken at a construction factory in Shanghai, China.
Cover off the album Wonderful Wonderful by The Killers.
Data

Types of words I excluded from my data:

  • Like
  • The
  • I’m
  • Those
  • Oh
  • There’s
  • You’re
  • Got
  • Gonna
  • Ain’t
  • Just
  • You
Table A showing data collected from Voyant Tools.
Table B shows the most frequently used words in the two albums

There were 783 unique word forms which are multiple uses of words such as “like”, “and”, and “the” that are only counted once.

Picture 1 shows the most frequently used words in both albums. In a word bubble, the larger the word corresponds to the number of times it has been used in both albums, ergo the bigger the font, the more times its been used.
The line and stacked bar graph in Graph 1 shows the most frequent words used in both albums.
Analysis

From this point, I wanted to investigate further and compile a list of words that I knew were related to “man” such as “men”, “strong”, and “boy.”

Graph 2 showing the trends of words related to “man” in both albums.

The data collected reveals that the use of the word “man” shows a huge increase in Wonderful Wonderful. In a Rolling Stone magazine review of the album, album reviewer, Will Hermes, coins it “self-aggrandizing.” Moreover, the number of times that “boy” is referenced from Hot Fuss to Wonderful Wonderful drops drastically and the reason behind that could be the scene the band was in at the time. With that being said, alternative rock in the early 2000’s generally referenced a lot of melancholy themes that were seen in “Smile Like You Mean It” and “Change Your Mind.” Conversely, after 5 years of the band not producing any albums, Wonderful Wonderful featured growth in the band members with their themes of conquering and overcoming life’s tribulations as seen in songs “The Man” and “Run for Cover.” Overall, the trends that are heard in The Killers music pertaining to themes relating to “man” changed over time, and the reason behind this could reference the way the band viewed themselves from then and now.

Graph 3 shows trends of words relating to “baby” in both albums.

The next segment I wanted to analyze was the use of the term “baby” as seen in Graph 3, and words relating to it such as “love”, “heart”, and “girl.” Therefore, by inspecting this graph, I was able to see that there was an increase with the word “baby” from Hot Fuss to Wonderful Wonderful. Furthermore, there were slight increases in the sequence of words after it. Additionally, this does not come as a surprise since most of the songs by The Killers include words related to love or endearing forms of it. Moreover, the increase of the word “love” could infer the growth that the group members went through over the years and maturing into adults with families of there own. Overall, these increases could indicate that the band formed a deeper understanding of the meaning behind these words and were able to articulate and incorporate them more into their songs in the latter album, Wonderful Wonderful.

Conclusion

Over the years, The Killers have produced hit songs that included an ecstatic sound and timeless lyrics. Additionally, by using Voyant Tools to track the correlation of words between the albums Hot Fuss and Wonderful Wonderful, I was able to analyze the correlations and changes of how they chose their words. Overall, this module gave me a deeper understanding of The Killers word choice and how that assists the themes of their songs and reveals the headspace of the band.

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