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Pop Music Lyrics Are More Violent Than Those in Hip-Hop

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Madame Tussauds debuts its Miley Cyrus wax figure atop a wrecking ball at The Venetian on March 9th, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As a new Supreme Court case reminds us, hip-hop is often intensely scrutinized because of the sometimes violent imagery in its lyrics.

But new research finds that the same thing also true of a different musical genre that receives far less finger-wagging: mainstream pop.

“Lyrics obtained from a random sample of pop music from the top charts revealed that this genre utilizes violence in lyrics at a level similar to hip-hop/rap, and more so than any other music format,” write University of Missouri researchers Cynthia Frisby and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz.

The researchers analyzed the lyrics of 409 top-selling songs released between 2006 and 2016. The songs, by artists including Jay-Z, John Legend, and Justin Bieber represented a variety of genres; all had sold at least one million copies.

The team noted which songs contained profanity, references to violence, and misogyny, which the researchers defined as lyrics that depicted women as “beneath men” or referred to women as “usable and expendable.”

Their most striking finding: The best-selling pop songs almost uniformly contain violent imagery. Amazingly, 99.5 percent of the pop hits they analyzed (198 in total) referred to violent acts. That’s slightly higher than the 94.7 percent of hip-hop numbers to feature such language, and far greater than the percentage of any other genre.

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Thanks !

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