Unleash those feels: study finds pop music has gotten sadder in the last 30 years

We’re all privy to some mopey melodies, but a new study has confirmed that over the past three decades, trends in pop music favour sadder songs.

That’s according to researchers at the University of California at Irvine, who studied 500,000 popular songs released in the UK between 1985 and 2015.

The research categorised each song according to their mood and found that descriptors like “happiness” and “brightness” have gone down, while “sadness” and (most interestingly) “danceable” are on the rise.

Sam Smith
Photo: Ruven Afanador

Fond of a depressing but danceable banger? You’re not alone – according to new research, pop music has gotten sadder over the past 30 years.

“So it looks like, while the overall mood is booming less happy, people seem to want to forget it all and dance,” study co-author Natalia L. Komarova told the Associated Press.

Particular songs that researchers found to hold a “high happiness index” include Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen, Freedom by Wham!, and Would I Lie to You? by the Eurythmics.

On the other side of the happiness spectrum was the Sam’s Smith tear-jerker Stay With Me, Unmissable by Gorgon City and Whispers by Passenger.

The study also found there has been a downward trend in the success of rock songs from the early 2000s, coinciding with an increase in the success of dance and pop genres.


Via Pitchfork.