SCIENCE: Pop music is getting sadder

A new study says Pop Music’s themes are getting sadder.

No doubt, have you seen the price of avocados?

A study from the University of California at Irvine analyzed 500,000 songs released in the UK between 1985 and 2015. They found that there is a slight upward trend in sad songs.

Several multi-decadal trends have been uncovered. For example, there is a clear downward trend in ‘happiness’ and ‘brightness’, as well as a slight upward trend in ‘sadness’. Furthermore, songs are becoming less ‘male’. Interestingly, successful songs exhibit their own distinct dynamics. In particular, they tend to be ‘happier’, more ‘party-like’, less ‘relaxed’ and more ‘female’ than most.

multi-decadal trends in songs’ lyrics, and found that the use of positive emotions has declined over the years, and semantic indicators of loneliness and social isolation have increased in frequency.

The study also found that “rock” music is trending down. While dance songs continue to grow.

Further, our study has found a multi-decadal increase in songs’ ‘danceability’ and ‘relaxedness’, which may indicate a gradual increase in the popularity and spread of dance-based pop compared with the opposing rock-type song style

So if we want to top the pops…should we write a danceable, positive, relaxed song sung by a female? Not so fast. The study also says that predicting what will be a “hit” with the public is still a challenge.

it was shown that people have difficulties predicting their own future likes and dislikes. Further, quoting [41], ‘Hit songs, books and movies are many times more successful than average, suggesting that “the best” alternatives are qualitatively different from “the rest”; yet experts routinely fail to predict which products will succeed’.

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