If you’re crying at the club, you aren’t alone. A very important scientific study determined that songs are definitely more sad than they used to be. This isn’t just your uncle giving you crap because he doesn’t understand Migos, it’s real hard science. Researchers at the University of California-Irvine looked at the lyrics and acoustic properties of hundreds of thousands of songs and came to the conclusion that music just ain’t as happy as it used to be.
Personally, I think we have every song by Drake, Taylor Swift’s breakup ballads, the incontrovertible fact that Florida Georgia Line is terrible and Kanye West’s twitter rants to blame for this slow slide into musical melancholy. That, or we're finally able to express being sad outside the confines of heartbreak. Sometimes we're just sad because life is tough and we want to sing about it. I'm using the royal "we" here, in part because of the upcoming royal nuptials, but mostly because this new sad music is tapping into a universal loneliness we can all relate to.
The research points out that music now focuses more on the self and less on “companionship and social contact” than ever before. Despite Bruno Mars best efforts to get us all amped, there’s been an uptick in lyrics about “loneliness, social isolation and psychopathology.” Feels apt, I suppose, for the sometimes-dour realities of the social media age.
What’s interesting, however, is that while the brightness and happiness of music has declined since 1985, the danceability of music has increased, meaning we are quite literally grinding to the equivalent of lyrical LiveJournal entries.
Sure, it's easy to take this depressing news as just that—depressing. But like I wrote earlier, perhaps we're just being more honest about how we feel. And that's wonderful. If not a little bit sad.