Sentiment analysis of top 100 songs

When I set out on this exploration I was unsure as to what I would find. Or even, to be truthful, what I was looking for. I knew, however, that there was something to discover in the years of music data I found at my finger tips. That is where this story begins.

Music is an almost universal form of communication. It transends language barriers and gives voice to our innermost emotions. Those emotions are ours to share. Which then leads us to the questions at hand. Has music been affected by the seemingly inevitable downward spiral of society and values? Are we drawn to increasingly negative songs because it reflects our own communal emotional state? Or, in opposition, is music an inherently positive medium of communication that optimistically refuses to be weighed down by the tides of time?

In this visualization, I use data collected since 1965 of the top 100 billboard songs of each year. The lyrics are run through a NLTK sentiment analysis model and given a score from -1 to 1 corresponding to the negativity or positivity. An extremely positive song would have a score close to 1, while a very negative song would have a score near -1.

In this graphic on the right - we see a color encoding of the sentiment of each year. Yellow represents 1 and Blue represents -1.

Here in this graphic we see the sentiment scores are translated directly onto the graph as a line. One thing I noticed while playing with the data is that music is generally a positive form of communication. While there are songs that are quite negative (e.g., sad or angry), as a whole music is resilient and happy. In other words, there was never a year that dropped lower than 0.0 which means the top 100 songs - every year - on average are quite positive.

Intersting Insights

Most Negative Year: 2013

2013 was a year of political discomfort and unrest - a large majority of people were beginning to become more involved in world politics and interactions. They, in general, did not like what they saw.

Most Positive Year: 1991

This year is usually considered the final year of the cold war that lasted for decades. It was a time of celebration and opportunity in a world that was, up to this point, filled with uncertainty. Some important events are:


year: 1965
average sentiment: 0.429425
1wooly bullysam the sham and the pharaohs-0.9946
2i cant help myself sugar pie honey bunchfour tops0.2624
3i cant get no satisfactionthe rolling stones0.0
4you were on my mindwe five-0.9607
5youve lost that lovin feelinthe righteous brothers0.9958
6downtownpetula clark0.9249
7helpthe beatles0.9937
8cant you hear my heart beathermans hermits0.9885
9crying in the chapelelvis presley0.9911
10my girlthe temptations0.95
11help me rhondathe beach boys0.9997
12king of the roadroger miller-0.9817
13the birds and the beesjewel akens0.9643
14hold me thrill me kiss memel carter0.997
15shotgunjunior walker the all stars-0.9559
16i got you babesonny cher0.9617
17this diamond ringgary lewis the playboys0.9975
18the in crowdramsey lewis trio0.0
19mrs brown youve got a lovely daughterhermans hermits0.9786
20stop in the name of lovethe supremes0.9963
21unchained melodythe righteous brothers0.9894
22silhouetteshermans hermits0.8829
23ill never find another youthe seekers-0.3818
24cara miajay and the americans-0.9761
25mr tambourine manthe byrds0.865
26cast your fate to the windsounds orchestral0.765
27yes im readybarbara mason0.9996
28whats new pussycattom jones0.9919
29eve of destructionbarry mcguire-0.9929
30hang on sloopythe mccoys0.9821
31ticket to ridethe beatles-0.9919
32red roses for a blue ladybert kaempfert0.9735
33papas got a brand new bagjames brown0.8972
34game of lovewayne fontana the mindbenders0.9992
35the name gameshirley ellis0.9089
36i know a placepetula clark0.9607
37back in my arms againthe supremes0.9988
38baby im yoursbarbara lewis-0.7579
39the jolly green giantthe kingsmen0.9117
40hush hush sweet charlottepatti page0.9912
41like a rolling stonebob dylan0.7919
42im telling you nowfreddie and the dreamers0.0
43ferry cross the merseygerry and the pacemakers0.8625
44just once in my lifethe righteous brothers0.9631
45the seventh sonjohnny rivers0.0
46im henery the eighth i amhermans hermits0.0
47a walk in the black foresthorst jankowski0.9912
48for your lovethe yardbirds0.999
49california girlsthe beach boys0.9906
50go nowthe moody blues0.9723
51goldfingershirley bassey0.889
52down in the boondocksbilly joe royal0.9876
53baby the rain must fallglenn yarbrough-0.7741
54catch us if you canthe dave clark five0.0679
55eight days a weekthe beatles0.9994
56just a littlethe beau brummels-0.9767
57you turn me onian whitcomb-0.3818
58ill be doggonemarvin gaye-0.8972
59save your heart for megary lewis the playboys0.9943
60tired of waiting for youthe kinks-0.9942
61count me ingary lewis the playboys0.8689
62all day and all of the nightthe kinks0.8481
63what the world needs now is lovejackie deshannon0.9993
64its not unusualtom jones0.9215
65shes about a moversir douglas quintet0.9928
66shakesam cooke-0.8053
67wonderful worldhermans hermits0.9978
68nowhere to runmartha and the vandellas-0.9729
69heart full of soulthe yardbirds-0.1533
70love potion no 9the searchers0.9636
71laurie strange things happendickey lee-0.6591
72baby dont gosonny cher0.5033
73it aint me babethe turtles0.988
74tell her nothe zombies-0.9918
75i go to piecespeter and gordon-0.8686
76red roses for a blue ladyvic dana0.9735
77dont just stand therepatty duke0.9327
78the tracks of my tearsthe miracles0.9908
79too many riversbrenda lee0.9382
80i like it like thatthe dave clark five0.9769
81little thingsbobby goldsboro0.9955
82true love wayspeter and gordon0.9955
83its the same old songfour tops0.9814
84youve got your troublesthe fortunes0.0
85hold what youve gotjoe tex0.9406
86we gotta get out of this placethe animals0.9942
87laugh laughthe beau brummels0.9973
88the last timethe rolling stones0.9407
89do you believe in magicthe lovin spoonful0.9844
90all i really want to docher0.9827
91take me backlittle anthony and the imperials-0.8968
92i want candythe strangeloves-0.5465
93ooo baby babythe miracles-0.9703
94laugh at mesonny bono-0.7446
95treat her rightroy head0.9821
96the race is onjack jones0.9218
97im a fooldino desi billy0.0
98the boy from new york citythe ad libs0.9951
99keep searchin well follow the sundel shannon-0.6637
100how sweet it is to be loved by youmarvin gaye0.9988