I’ll admit that I am an awful singer, who also happens to sing a lot. But, oddly enough, there aren’t many songs that I know all the words to by heart. When I sing along to one of my favorite songs, I tend to fill in the blanks with plenty of hmms, hums, and other nonsensical gibberish. The end result can be both hilarious and excruciating to hear. Wolfram|Alpha won’t auto-tune and transform someone into the next Kanye or T-Pain, but it can now help me and others learn some of our favorite songs’ actual (and non-hummed) lyrics, as well as the most frequently used words.
While our coverage across all musical flavors continues to grow, music fans out there will be pleased to know that—thanks to our partnership with LyricFind—you can query Wolfram|Alpha for song lyrics from many different genres, past or present. Do you know all the words to timeless classics like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” and Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues?”
The 1980s are a lyrical goldmine for people like myself and others who are fans of new wave (like Talking Heads’ “Burning Down the House”), punk rock (such as Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia”), or hair metal (like Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”). As Pat Benatar would say, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” and take Wolfram|Alpha on a retro reunion tour.
For those of you who like to dabble in ’90s nostalgia every now and then, bring back the hi-top fade and freshen up on your lyrical knowledge of some hip-hop throwbacks like The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” and Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” But, while Wolfram|Alpha can answer the query What are the words to “Smells Like Teen Spirit?”, even our advanced computational knowledge engine can’t tell you what the lyrics actually mean.
In addition to being able to query for your favorite song lyrics, now you can use Wolfram|Alpha’s word cloud functionality to see the words that appear most frequently in song lyrics (like the word cloud for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”) or for whole albums (like the word cloud for Michael Jackson’s album Thriller).
You can even compare word clouds for different songs. Don’t let the bassline fool you—David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” couldn’t possibly be any more lyrically different, as their word clouds confirm.
Some argue that Lady Gaga’s 2011 hit “Born This Way” is channeling Madonna’s 1989 single “Express Yourself,” with a slight touch of “Vogue.” Both songs contain uplifting lyrics about individualism. Are you able to conclude anything from their respective word clouds?
Likewise, you can compare word clouds for music albums. You won’t find much common ground between the word clouds for Daft Punk‘s popular 2013 release Random Access Memories with the French duo’s previous studio album Human After All. Looks like they’ve replaced a lot of “robot emotions” with “lucky nights.”
Finally, don’t judge a music album by its cover. The artwork for The Clash’s London Calling echoes Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album from 1956. While both albums are considered revolutionary in their own way, their word clouds show little commonality.
Wolfram|Alpha’s new lyrics feature is so fun and addictive that you might find yourself in word “Cloud Nine” during your “9 to 5.” What interesting song or album word cloud comparisons can you come up with?
Wolfram|Alpha’s knowledge of recorded music is derived primarily from MusicBrainz, the open music encyclopedia. We’re continually updating Wolfram|Alpha with changes from their database, and we’re in the midst of a project to incorporate many more musical acts, albums, and songs. So if we don’t have your favorite group or songs right now, let us know—they’re probably on the way.