If you’ve felt depressed while listening to the latest pop music on a Top 40 station, it may be for more reasons than the quality of the songs.
A new study that has analyzed pop music moods for the past 30 years has found that the number of songs that are “bright” or “happy” have gone down, while “sad” ones have increased.
Researchers at the University of California in Irvine analyzed 500,000 pop songs specifically released in the U.K. between 1985 and 2015. While they discovered the raise in sadness and drop in happiness, they also discovered that songs that were “danceable” and “party-like” have gone up.
Examples were given on both sides of the scale: Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” from 1984 was found with a “high happiness index” compared to songs like Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” in 2014.
The study also noted the clear downward trend of guitar-based rock music’s chart success beginning in the early 2000’s. The study also noted the downward trend of male chart-toppers, noting that the more successful songs were “characterized by a larger percentage of female artists compared to all songs.”
The evidence for the above has been made abundantly clear in recent years, with pop success for Beyonce’s confessional “Lemonade” (2016), pretty much any Adele single released in the past 5 years, as well as Taylor Swift’s entire career.
The biggest thing to take from this study was perhaps obvious but nevertheless was spelled out. Other recent studies have found that general anxiety and depression among the national population has most definitely increased. Study co-author Natalia L. Komarova noted that while the world may be living in increasingly traumatic times, “People seem to want to forget it all and dance.”