Popular music is now angrier and sadder, new study finds

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Looks like emo music is making a big comeback. A new study from Lawrence Technical University in Michigan reveals that popular music has become increasingly sad and angry in recent decades.

Maybe this is proof that we’re all a little bit emo?

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Kathleen Napier and Lior Shamir conducted the study, derived from examining the lyrics of pop songs.

Their paper titled “Quantitative Analysis of Lyric Sentiment in Popular Music” states that the two students applied “the digital humanities and data science approach to examine how lyrics changed between the 1950s and the 1950s. most recent. [before] by applying quantitative analysis to measure these changes.

Court! It’s a bite.

To break it down, the study took 6,000 that were on the Billboard 100 between 1951 and 2016 and analyzed them using IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence platform.

OK cool. So what does this mean?

Glad you asked!

Essentially, the program took the lyrics from each song and looked for words or phrases that it could associate with emotions such as anger, fear, joy, disgust, and sadness. The songs were then given a sadness rating between zero and one.

Using this approach, the study found that the average sadness scores for each song gradually increased over decades, while the joy scores decreased.

“During the 1950s, the purpose of music was entertainment and fun, and I think that has to do with the happier and less angry lyrics,” Shamir told SFGate. “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, music also became a social and political tool, used to express and even advance social activism and political opinions. “

For example, the 1956 song “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino scored 0.89 for Joy. Sam Smith’s 2015 hit “Stay With Me” only got a score of 0.15 for Joy.

“The results show that anger, disgust, fear, sadness and awareness increased significantly, while the joy, confidence and openness expressed in the lyrics of pop songs decreased,” the newspaper concludes. .

Do you think the music has gotten even more emo and angry over time? Sound off in the comments below!

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