The Reading Levels of Your Favorite Songs

June 25, 2013 By:

School might be coming to a close for some of you readers, but that doesn’t mean we have put our red pens away just yet. With a little help from the Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level testStereotude decided it would be a good idea to go through the lyrics of some of your favorite songs and assign a grade level to them—the same way books get scored based on their readability. 

None of the selected cuts made it past elementary school, but we were definitely surprised by where some singles registered. Here are the results, paired with childhood literature classics on the same grade level.


One Direction - "Kiss You" and The Very Hungry Caterpillar: When you're speaking to an audience that's primarily yet to hit puberty, it's best at aiming low. One Direction prove to be experts at this again and again, whether they're consciously doing it or not.

First Grade:

Madonna - "Like a Prayer and Are You My Mother?: The word pattern in "Like a Prayer" isn't that intricate. It's the liveliness at which Madonna delivers it that makes it go down so easy... Kinda like Dr. Seuss. 

Adele - "Rolling in the Deep" and Goodnight Moon: Like Goodnight Moon, Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" is an easy classic. Unlike the kids' book, though, you'll find many layers of meaning underneath these easily pronounced words. 

Second Grade:

Lady Gaga - "Born This Way" and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back: "Born This Way" has some trickier words, boosting Lady Gaga slightly ahead of her diva counterpart Madonna with this tune. 

The Lumineers - "Ho Hey" and Clifford the Big Red Dog: When the brunt of your lyrics are one-syllable phrases ("Ho" and "Hey"), you can't expect to land high on this list. What The Lumineers lack in lyrical complexity, they make up for in foot-stomping fun.

Third Grade:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat Wanz - "Thrift Shop" and Falling Up: Like the many works of  Shel Silverstein, Macklemore crafted an intensely entertaining, imagery-packed story with "Thrift Shop. He gets a gold star.

Nirvana - "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Same bad mood vibes, same third grade level delivery.

Beck - "Loser" and How the Grinch Stole Christmas: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of Seuss's more challenging reads. Try memorizing "Loser," by Beck, and you'll have similar difficulties. 

Fourth Grade:

Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and Twas the Night Before Christmas: "It shouldn't come as a surprise that Taylor Swift, the girl known for her songwriting abilities, is one of the most mature pupils in the pop music classroom. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is no exception. 

Fifth Grade:

GOOD Music - "Mercy" and The Outsiders: What do you get when you combine the lyrical stylings of Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz and Kanye West? A track that runs the playground at recess.