Here at Ultimate Guitar, we're pretty accustomed to lamenting the sorry state of pop music. When a study published back in July told claimed that pop music was getting louder and more boring, it confirmed what most of us already knew. As if that wasn't enough, though, a new scientific study has noted that pop, over the last five decades, has also gotten more depressing.
According to NME.com a new study published in the Psychology Of Aesthetics, Creativity, And The Arts journal suggests that songs have become increasingly sadder and more melancholy. The research, conducted by Glenn Shellenberg and Christian von Scheve provided an analysis of the tempo and mode of the 1,010 most popular songs from 1965-2009, taken from Billboard's annual top 40 list.
The pair have claimed that the number of songs recorded in minor, rather than major modes has doubled over the last 50 years, and that the number of slower tempo tracks has increased:
"We examined whether emotional cues in American popular music have changed over time, predicting that music has become progressively more sad-sounding and emotionally ambiguous. Our sample comprised over 1,000 Top 40 recordings from 25 years spanning five decades Over the years, popular recordings became longer in duration and the proportion of female artists increased.
"In line with our principal hypotheses, there was also an increase in the use of minor mode and a decrease in average tempo, confirming that popular music became more sad-sounding over time. Decreases in tempo were also more pronounced for songs in major than in minor mode, highlighting a progressive increase of mixed emotional cues in popular music."
The pair have suggested that the influx in sad songs could be the result of consumers' demand for more taste and an increasing eagerness for showing off the "sophistication" in their taste, which makes jovial songs unfashionable for sounding "naïve and slightly juvenile".