Counterintuitive: Why is Pop Music So Sad?

In preparation for tomorrow’s presentations to your class on your counterintuitive research projects, you may be filled with dismay after surveying my pre-approved topics, so many of which are depressing, or at least disheartening reminders of human frailty .

But counterintuitive doesn’t mean pessimistic. It only means “not apparent,” or “seemingly illogical,” or “true but completely unexpected.”

A recent research project published in the Journal of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts tracked the moods and keys of thousands of popular songs and discovered that, contrary to what we may think listening to the radio, pop songs today are far more complex than decades ago, and much more likely to be written in minor keys.

We think we’re listening to upbeat pop bubble-gum hits, but “Call Me Maybe” and years ago something as slight as “Barbie Girl” are minor-key phenomena: they trick us into hearing them as major-key ear candy, but their tonalities are unexpectedly dark.

Let me stop there before I start sounding pessimistic again. Listen for yourselves to the radio broadcast HERE.


About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels.
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One Response to Counterintuitive: Why is Pop Music So Sad?

  1. primav01 says:

    This was a very interesting radio show, and I was amazed how much study into such minute details of a pop song that these experts pick out. Also, I like what they said about how music, specifically pop music, is way too emotional nowadays.

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