Finding the right words isn’t always easy—especially when you’re searching for one that perfectly expresses a thought, makes a statement bold, or simply rhymes with another. But who needs real words anyway? Sometimes the best solution is to make one up. And as we’ve seen in the music industry, some of the most memorable songs feature words created and made popular by artists.
The popularity of some of these words is undeniable—they can even become part of our language and pop culture. And artists have been doing this for years. For example, the Steve Miller Band’s 1973 hit “The Joker” introduced us to “the pompatus of love”—a phrase that later played a huge role in the plot of a 1996 movie with the same title. In 1992, Snoop Dogg coined the phrase “bootylicious,” which Destiny’s Child then took to a whole new level by including a song called “Bootylicious” on the group’s 2001 album, Survivor. The song had such an impact that the word was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2011.
Artist Drake is responsible for coming up with one of the more noteworthy made-up words: “YOLO,” an acronym for “you only live once.” Not only has his song “The Motto” been streamed on-demand more than 50 million times, but the word has been shared across Twitter over 65 million times since the song was released.
So do these catchy words have an effect on the success of these songs? And do listeners repeat and share these words with their friends?