A new study which looked at 500,000 popular songs over the past three decades found that music is only getting more depressing.
Associated Press reports that the study, conducted by researchers at University of California at Irvine and published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, looked mainly at songs released in the UK and categorized them by mood. They found that “happiness” and “brightness” were on a downward trend whereas “sadness” was going up.
The researchers looked at songs released between 1985 and 2015, finding that “the use of positive emotions has declined and indicators of loneliness and social isolation have increased.” Strangely, even though songs were found to be increasingly sad as the years went on, researchers reportedly found that the public generally prefers happier music, and even sad songs were growing more “party-like,” i.e. more like Robyn, i.e. perfect for crying to in the club.
Can we really trust this study considering it only looked at music from the UK, which we all can agree is a dark, rainy place filled with bad food and a peculiar love for weepy singers like Sam Smith and Adele? I’m not so sure! But I think we only have to look to one pop star working today to see how everyone’s devastating interest in depressing music has ruined pop music. The study reads:
First we note that, overall, ‘happiness’ and ‘brightness’ experienced a downward trend, while ‘sadness’ increased in the last 30 or so years. This is consistent with the findings of, who examined the lyrical content of popular songs in 1980–2007. It was found that the use of positive emotion in songs had dwindled over time.
Mhmm...I see...positive emotion has dwindled over time. Except! It has NOT dwindled in the music of Carly Rae Jepsen! Now we know after all the thinkpieces and profiles wondering why Carly, a deeply talented and yet somehow crucially underrated singer, isn’t the No. 1 pop star in the country: it’s because all you haters would rather be crying to Post Malone than listening to “Run Away With Me.” And shame on you! Please throw out your sad records and instead of being emo, buy E•MO•TION on iTunes. Life is too short for music that doesn’t cut to the feeling.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to the UK as a city due to an editing error.