A UK body that promotes reading skills has just released two figures that are quite interesting. In surveys, the “National Year of Reading” found that 90% of people found that reading lyrics helped them gain a full appreciation of music and that 50% felt they are less accessible than just five years ago.
The first is hardly news. As reported here regularly, the phrase “song lyrics” is regularly in the top 10 amongst Internet searches- and that’s not including individual song titles. That they are less accessible is a bit stranger, but a number of clues come from the survey itself…
I think it could be argued that lyrics have never been more accessible. But the survey’s finding echo what I have said here many times: must lyric sites suck. To be more precise, most lyric sites copy the lyrics of others sites. So the mistakes of one site are replicated across the web. There is very little quality control, and hardly any of the lyric sites offer any information about the actual lyricists (who actually wrote the words to “Hey Joe” or “Like a Virgin”? Hendrix and Madonna are not the right answers).
This explains the following:
62% of respondents felt that despite the huge variety of websites storing lyrics, they find these sources unreliable and often incorrect
But lyrics are about emotion. And the survey also looked at what people feel about the words of songs.
* 47% found being in love brought the words to life
* 39% said reading lyrics meant more to them when falling love
* 29% found they meant more when breaking up with a loved one
* And 23% saw wisdom in words at weddings
This is cute, if hardly a major insight. Speaking about the results, Honor Wilson-Fletcher, Director of the National Year of Reading said: “The artists who write lyrics have something to say and our survey shows that audiences want to be able to read and appreciate them properly. This is great news! The Year of Reading is all about making the most of every form of reading – and lyrics are clearly pretty high up the list of desired ‘reads’ – so the least we can do is try and make sure they are as widely available as possible. Our findings suggest that lyrics form a really significant backdrop to all our lives, so let’s celebrate this.”
I couldn’t put it better myself.