Thom Yorke and Björk among singers with biggest vocabularies, new study finds

Thom Yorke

The likes of Billie Eilish, Lorde and Harry Styles also came out on top.

A new study has found that Thom Yorke, Björk and Lorde are among the singers with the biggest vocabularies, based on the number of different words they use in each song per 1,000.

The study, which was conducted by WordTips, counted the words used by 100 contemporary pop stars such as Billie Eilish and Harry Styles, alongside Rolling Stone‘s 100 greatest singers of all time. It compared the discographies of both groups – “excluding songs where they didn’t have writer credits” – in order to find the vocalists with the highest frequency of unique words among their self-penned tunes. 

Patti Smith had the biggest vocabulary overall, with 217 unique words per 1,000. Björk and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke also ranked high in the list, with scores of 197 and 151 respectively. Joni Mitchell came second with a score of 199. 

The study also found that Happier Than Ever artist Billie Eilish had the biggest vocabulary out of all the modern pop stars listed. She uses 169 different words per 1,000. Harry Styles isn’t far off, with a score of 159. The likes of Lorde and Kali Uchis also feature high up in the list. They score 149 and 140 respectively.

Take a look at the full WordTips analysis here and revisit our Thom Yorke cover story.