Study: Pop music more depressing than ever

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON — Apparently, “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it,” is no longer the goal for aspiring musical hitmakers.

The upbeat ditty with sing-along choruses is being replaced by slower, sadder-sounding songs, according to researchers who analyzed more than 1,000 songs on Billboard’s charts from 1965 to 2009.

Glenn Schellenberg and Christian von Scheve looked at songs’ tempos, and whether they were predominantly in bright-sounding major keys, or more morose minor keys.

The study, in the Research Digest blog of the British Psychological Society shows in the late 60s, 85 percent of hit songs were written in a major key. From 2005-2009 only 42 percent of songs were written in the more-uplifting-sounding chord structure.

Songs have been slowing down, too. Top 40 songs in the past few years average 100 beats per minute, down from 116 beats in 1965-69.

The researchers don’t have scientific findings to describe why fans favor songs from Alanis Morissette, Nirvana, Oasis, and Mariah Carey, but speculate not everyone who listens to music wants to be happy while doing it.

Unambiguously happy songs — like Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ — often sell well, but are mocked by critics.

So, what’s your favorite depressing song…….

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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