The Musicians With the Biggest (And Smallest) Vocabularies

A new study determined which artists use the most unique words in their songs

Patti Smith
Patti Smith in concert
Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Im

We all know that when it comes to song lyrics, some artists are more verbose than others. Some like to keep it simple, while others use a slew of SAT words to paint a vivid picture and get their point across. Some artists even go as far as making up their own words (“MMMBop,” anyone?). But which artists have really gone above and beyond when it comes to their catalog’s lexicon?

As Digg points out, word search tool Wordtips sought to answer that question by combing through the lyrics of Spotify’s “most listened-to singers” as well as the artists named on Rolling Stone‘s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” list to determine which ones used the most unique words per 1,000 words. (They excluded songs on which the singers did not have writing credits.)

They pored through 17,667 songs performed by 156 artists and found that Patti Smith has the best vocabulary of them all, with 217 unique words per 1,000 words in her lyrics. (That shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone familiar with Smith’s work.) Joni Mitchell and Björk came in second and third place, with 199 and 197 unique words per 1,000 words respectively, while Jim Morrison and Billie Eilish round out the top five.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Trey Songz and Luther Vandross scored the fewest unique words per 1,000 words, with 66 apiece, followed by Carly Rae Jepsen (69), Mary J. Blige (71) and Meghan Trainor (72).

You can check out Wordtips’s complete findings and see which other artists should perhaps invest in a thesaurus here.

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