Singing the blues: Study of pop music finds rise in sadness

Singers like Adele have contributed to the sad-ifying of pop music

As Associated Press reports, the research for the Royal Society Open Science by the University of California at Irvine saw 500,000 songs studied that were released in the United Kingdom between 1985-2015, before grouping them according to their mood.

As Sir Elton John famously sung, "sad songs say so much" - and that seemed to sum up the findings of a new study from the University of California in Irvine.

Yet "successful songs are happier, brighter, more party-like, more danceable and less sad than most songs", it continues.

The team gave examples of happy songs from 1985, including "Live is Life" by Opus, "Freedom" by Wham!, and Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days". They were looking for average trends in the acoustic properties of the music and the moods describing the sounds.

The study also found that the public hasn't necessarily approved of this trend, noting "the public seems to prefer happier songs, even though more and more unhappy songs are being released each year".

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"In the recent years, successful songs are more often sung by females", said the study.

"The use of positive emotions has declined over the years, and semantic indicators of loneliness and social isolation have increased in frequency", the paper reads, referencing song lyrics.

The researchers named some songs with a low happiness index: "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith, "Whispers" by Passenger and "Unmissable" by Gorgon City, all from 2014.

Otherwise, the report surmises everything we already know: female musicians have surged in popularity over the past three decades, and classic rock music has taken a back seat in favour of electronic pop.

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