As part of the Internet-wide project to represent everything that has ever happened or might ever happen in chart form, someone has compiled a list of the most decade-specific words in popular song titles, from 1890 to present. “Decade-specific” means words that are used disproportionally in a particular decade. So “The” doesn’t crop up on the list because it’s used pretty evenly through the ages. But “Disco” comes up a lot in the 1970s, while ”Twistin’” was pretty much the exclusive provence of the ‘60s.
The supposed coarsening of the culture is fairly apparent, as our current decade’s top five includes two curse words and “Die,” but keep in mind that women weren’t allowed to vote during the first four decades on the list, and we only ended segregation about halfway through, so all in all, the culture’s probably better off in the grand scheme of things.
We can also see Christmas music’s heyday, as the holiday appears low on the ‘40s list (losing out to “Boogie,” “Serenade,” and “Polka,”) but tops the ’50s. Strangely, “Rednosed” is #4 in the 1950s, which means either that the word doesn’t get used in any other decade, making it unique to the Eisenhower years, or there were lots of songs about hardened drunks that have since been forgotten. Oddly, the name “Josh” appears on the lists for both the 1900s and the 1890s. The ‘00s also have “Rueben,” the ‘90s include “Casey” and “Michael,” and both decades over-used the words “Old” and “Uncle.”
While the list is a fascinating look at changing times, it’s also endlessly amusing to create each decade’s scientifically-devised Ultimate Song Title. For example, the ‘00s gave us U Breathe Ya Like It, reminiscent of ’90s hit U Get You Thang Up. Who could forget that ‘70s classic Rock Music Disco Dancin’ Woman? Or Twist Little Lonely Twistin’ Baby from the early ‘60s? And you’ll be the toast of your office holiday party when you dust off the 78 of 1940s’ hit “Blue Serenade Christmas Boogie Polka.”