People Like Songs About “You”

Many of the world’s classic tracks are all about “you” – look at Whitney Houston’s

Many of the world’s classic tracks are all about “you” – look at Whitney Houston’s “I Will Usually Like You”, The Beatles’ “‘I Wanna Keep Your Hand” and Elton John’s “Your Tune”.

In accordance to a new study just printed in Psychological Science, there’s a superior purpose why ‘you’ aspect so a great deal in tune lyrics. Researchers Grant Packard and Jonah Berger clearly show that the level of popularity of tracks is correlated with the total of ‘you’ in the lyrics.

Packard and Berger 1st examined the lyrics of 1,736 English-language tracks that manufactured it to the Billboard Major 50 downloads chart from 2014-2016. They uncovered that bigger rating tracks tended to incorporate a bigger density of ‘you’, or similar words and phrases (‘yours’, ‘yourself’). This was legitimate even right after managing for the genre, the artist, and the matter of the tune.

What is more, level of popularity was most strongly predicted by use of ‘you’ as the object of a sentence (e.g. “Coming at you like a dim horse”) fairly than ‘you’ as a the matter (“You won’t be able to contact it”).

Packard and Berger counsel that object-you lyrics are particularly well-liked for the reason that they support listeners to project the lyrics onto men and women in their very own lives: ‘you’ is a uniquely flexible pronoun, which could use to any person.

We counsel that next-person pronouns, fairly than putting listeners in the singer’s
sneakers, or encouraging them to see the singer’s individual point of view (e.g., Whitney Houston’s sights about her very own adore), appear to inspire audiences to imagine the narrative in relation to someone in their very own lives.

In this way, next-person pronouns inspire narrative transportation, but fairly than staying transported into someone else’s narrative, men and women are offered a new way of seeking at their very own lives… the lyrics inspire men and women to practical experience some factor of their lives by means of the lens of the singer’s lyrics

In follow-up scientific studies, Packard and Berger present considerable further evidence for the electrical power of the lyrical ‘you’. In unique, they carried out two experimental scientific studies to clearly show that enhancing lyrics to include ‘you’ tends to make men and women like them more. This suggests that the you effect is indeed causal, and not just a correlation.


Two scientific studies clearly show that lyrics containing the phrase “you” (next person) are rated more highly than lyrics in which “you” is changed by “her” or “him” (3rd person) or “it” (no person). From Packard & Berger (2020) Psych Sci.

In my watch, this is a solid set of scientific studies. I like the proposed clarification – that we relate to tracks about ‘you’ for the reason that we can imagine that the tune is about someone in our very own existence.

To actually take a look at this idea, even though, I might want to see evidence that next person pronouns make lyrics more well-liked in other languages, not just English.

Also, a lot of languages have a plural next-person pronoun, and some others have an informal and a official singular ‘you’ (the official one particular is often also the plural.)

If Packard and Berger’s idea is appropriate, I would forecast that it would be the singular, informal ‘you’ that would most forecast liking, as this is the ‘you’ that men and women would most likely use to handle men and women close to them.