One Word Hits – Does the “Less Is More” Social Media Phenomenon Have Century Old Roots?

March 30, 2016

“Sorry”, “Hello”, “Stitches, “Sing”, “Happy” – Besides being chart toppers, these song titles have one more thing in common. Can you guess what that is?

They follow a 1960’s design principle. Don’t believe it. Let’s take a look.

The Science behind KISS

Not referring to Gene Simmons and his fire breathing blood spitting friends here, KISS actually stands for ‘Keep it Simple Stupid’. The KISS principle was quite popular in the 70’s and even before that. It was used by the US Navy for their software development, by Disney’s Nine Old Men to teach young animators and even by Albert Einstein when he famously said ‘Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler’ . However, this principle’s origin goes even further back to the sixteenth century when Leonardo Da Vinci stated ‘Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication’

Why Artists Now Go For One-Word Titles?

With a rich history, it wasn’t long before KISS caught the modern artist’s eye. And before Will Smith could say ‘Switch’, the long and complicated was ditched in favor of the short and simple. The reason behind this ‘switch’ was also quite short and simple – the masses loved it.

Before the turn of the millennium there were very few one word hits that captured the audience’s imagination. “Crazy” by Aerosmith, “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, “Believe” by Cher and “Imagine” by John Lennon were certified chart toppers, with the last one reaching iconic status after the artist’s untimely death. According to Billboard Magazine, it wasn’t until the year 2000, an average of 20 songs with single word titles made it to the Hot 100 list. Recently, this trend has seen a surge with not just chart toppers but also Grammy winners.

Hear Katy Perry’s Songwriter ‘Roar’

Simple, clean and bold, Bonnie McKee, the songwriter for Katy Perry’s one-word sensation “Roar” believes that a single word is more likely to hit home with the listeners. Especially if you happen to land a splashy one that carries a strong message – female empowerment in this case. It has the ability to hook the listener and get the point across. In today’s social media frenzied world, its best to have a short title that can be easily hash tagged, leaving a trail of re tweets and shares.

Lorde gets The ‘Royal’ Treatment

Who would’ve thought that a ball player’s jersey could inspire a Grammy winning song. In 2012, Lorde saw an image of George Brett signing autographs in the 1976 edition of the National Georgraphic. Long story short, Lorde writes the lyrics and wins the 2014 Grammy for Song of the Year. With countless fans, retweets and Youtube views in tow, Lorde proves that you don’t need a grand title to win awards and appreciation, sometimes a single word like ‘Royals’ does the trick. And here’s the surprise, the song ‘Royals’ is not about baseball, in fact it’s about ‘the luxurious lifestyles of contemporary artists’. What are the odds!

It’s Time to ‘Forgive’ Justin Bieber, or is it?

Twitter for instance has given artists a reason to come up with one-word song titles. Musicians go for words that are more identifiable, give a direct message and immediately tell what the song is about. Take Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” for instance. The artist had been giving interviews and breaking down at music events, apologizing for his behavior, but it wasn’t until ‘Sorry’ came out that he was finally able to get through to his fans. “Sorry” became such a musical phenomenon that it replaced the original adjective from the search engines. That is, if you typed ‘Sorry’ in Google, all you got was Justin Bieber. Thanks Canada! No need to apologize.

Adele had us at ‘Hello’

Adele’s “Hello” created a similar hype when it hit the charts in October 2015. The British singer couldn’t have chosen a better word to announce her comeback. Simple and straightforward, it was more than just an everyday greeting, Adele with her ‘Hello’ told the world that she was back to rule the charts. And she certainly did with number ones everywhere from Australia to South Africa with of course the US and UK included.

These artists know that “Less can be more memorable” – if done right. However the question is how much do you know about it.

Let’s find out with this interesting quiz. 

Can You Name The Single-Word Hit Song By These Artists, Following the First Letter And Year?


  • Christy says:

    Hi, I have got a question. I am trying to rate a concert but I can’t see where I am allowed to rate the show. Can you help me?

    • Admin says:

      We do not have this particular option right now, but you can give your feedback here.

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