Study Shows Popular Music Has Grown Angrier and Sadder Over Time
Being a morning radio show host myself I can say that I have definitely noticed this trend in music for a while now.
The music generated today has grown much angrier and sadder over time. And data scientists at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan have the numbers to prove it.
Kathleen Napier and Lior Shamir crunched the numbers, analyzing the lyrics of over 6,000 songs that made the Billboard Hot 100 each year from the 1950s to 2016.
The data shows that the expression of joy in the lyrics of popular songs have declined, while expression of anger and sadness in popular music has increased over the years.
Napier and Shamir's analysis, published in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, showed that while music hasn't changed per se, what people want to listen to has, and that affects what musicians create.
Here are some trends:
--Songs from the mid-1950s ranked as the least angry, with anger in lyrics increasing until reaching a peak in 2015.
--Joy was the dominant theme in music lyrics in the '50s, and trended lower in years since, except for the '70s.
--Songs released in the three years between 1982-1984 were less angry than any other period, except for the '50s.
--Perhaps not surprisingly considering the rise of grunge, songs in the mid 1990s became sharply angrier.
--Fear in lyrics peaked during the mid 1980s, decreasing sharply in 1988.
--Fear rose again between 1998 and 1999, decreasing again in 2000.
--Expressions of sadness and disgust have increased in lyrics over time, though levels of disgust lowered in the early '80s and mid and late '90s.
I’m hoping that like many trends it gradually reverses itself, but given the political and social situation, we are in now…I would expect it to only get worse.