Mainstream pop, a style typically associated with conveying optimism, happiness and joy, has seemingly taken off its rose-coloured glasses over the last three decades and is slowly becoming progressively more bleak and existential.
In a study by researchers at the University of California at Irvine of over 500,000 songs released in the U.K. over the past 30 years, it has been noted that the amount of depressive content has become more present than ever before. It was noted in the Royal Society Open Science journal that moods like "happiness" and "brightness" were being used to catagorise songs much less in recent times, as opposed to the descriptor "sadness" which has trended upwards. The difference was most notable when comparing '80s bands like Wham! to more modern artists such as Sam Smith.
While the mood has gotten bleaker, songs that have been more popular have been the ones attributed to being "danceable" or "party-like." It would seem that the general concensus is that the best course of action is, instead of getting bogged down, just forget about it and dance the sadness away. Coupled to this, the researchers also found there has been a notable decline in the "maleness" - the prevalence of male singers - of recent pop music tracks, with a larger percentage of the most successful songs being produced by female artists. The study does emphasise, however, that it doesn't mean all pop music written thirty years ago was happier and that likewise all current pop is sad, but it is evident that the trend is moving notably in that direction.
If you would like to read the full study for more detailed analysis, you can find it here.
Image via YouTube.