A huge part of Radiohead‘s charm is their penchant for writing a melancholy tune that grabs you by the neck and drags you down with it. From the crystalline gloom of Kid A to the chasmal depths of In Rainbows a lot can be said for the band’s ability for making bleakness sound good. But what is their most depressing track to date? Is there even a way to find out? Turns out there is.
What is the most depressing Radiohead song? A superfan just used science to find out. Hint: It’s from A Moon Shaped Pool.
A Radiohead superfan named Chris Thompson has used science to determine the most depressing moments in Radiohead’s discography using a process that, to our eyes, seems fairly sound.
As Gothamist points out, Thompson put together a whole study involving Spotify, lyrics, and, what he calls the ‘gloom index’:
“The basics are: he used Spotify to measure a song’s valence (a measure from 0.0 to 1.0 describing the musical positiveness conveyed by a track, with high valence meaning joy and low meaning sadness), then used Genius and other programs to pull apart how sad the lyrics are, which he then turned into an overall ‘gloom index.'”
Using this ‘gloom index’ Thompson was able to determine that A Moon Shaped Pool takes top prize for both the gloomiest album and gloomiest song with the record’s closer True Love Waits (which scored 1/100 on the index scale).
You can check out an interactive version of the Data Driven Depression scale here.
“Of all nine studio albums, Radiohead’s latest release, A Moon Shaped Pool, boasts the lowest average gloom index,” Thompson writes in his conclusion. “This is driven largely by the fact that its finale, True Love Waits, was the gloomiest song overall. It’s also apparent that A Moon Shaped Pool broke a trend of relatively less depressing albums since 2003’s Hail to the Thief.”
You can see a summary of the entire project here.