29 Jan 2021 19:49 IST

The pronoun ‘you’ makes songs popular

It’s all ‘you’ in songwriting these days

Listeners love tunes more when one particular word is included in the lyrics — ‘you.’ A new study by Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger and Grant Packard, marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, zeroes in on the humble pronoun “you” as the reason behind why some songs stick in our heads. The study also looks at how precise language affects consumer behaviour, with implications for marketing, sales, and customer service.

The idea is, when we hear a song with an emphasis on ‘you,’ listeners think about someone in their own life that we feel that way toward. The repeated use of the word helps us see our own relationships, our own social connections, as deeper and different as they might be otherwise. The reason “you” is so powerful is because it helps us connect with others and appreciate the cultural product more as a result.

The word ‘you’ can drive action, even outside of music,” says Berger. The researchers used natural language processing, automated textual analysis, to count the number of you’s in songs. Research revealed that when songs happen to have more “you’s” in them, people report imagining a personal other more. And that leads them to like the song more. Read the complete story here.