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Does pop music contain more sadness than ever before? A new music study that analyzed hundreds of thousands of songs from the past three decades has concluded as such, identifying a depressive content trend in mainstream pop.
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As noted by The New York Times, researchers at the University Of California At Irvine reported in the Royal Society Open Science journal that a “downward sonic trend in happiness and an increase in sadness” has presented itself in pop over the last 30 years. Citing the exuberance of Wham! in the '80s compared to the austerity of Sam Smith today, the authors surveyed 500,000 songs released in the U.K. between 1985 and 2015, arranging them by mood.
“'Happiness' is going down, 'brightness' is going down, 'sadness' is going up,” co-author Natalia L. Komarova told the Associated Press, per Stereogum. “At the same time, the songs are becoming more 'danceable' and more 'party-like.'”
Even so, the study emphasizes that the average “happiness” index doesn't mean every pop hit in 1985 was happy, or that all popular songs from 2015 were sad. But the basic trend indicates a moody shift toward the sorrowful.
“The public seems to prefer happier songs,” the analysts wrote, “even though more and more unhappy songs are being released each year.” But that's not all that was found among the interesting new research. (Read the full study here.)
It was also determined that pop's “maleness”—the prevalence of male singers—has decreased over the years. “Successful songs are characterized by a larger percentage of female artists compared to all songs,” the study states.
What do you think? Does pop music sound sadder to you than it did before? Do you gravitate towards happy-sounding music with dire lyrics? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think of this “music sadness” study.
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