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Are Pop Songs Sadder Than Ever Before?

Are Pop Songs Sadder Than Ever Before?

Research now backs up what your grandpa has long felt: pop songs are sadder and slower than ever before. In a recent study, two researchers took the last five years of each decade between 1965 and 2009, analyzing the top 40 songs on "Hot 100" charts for major versus minor key, tempo, and duration. Their findings? Major-key songs, as a proportion, had dropped from 85% to 42.5%, and beats per minute of these hits had dropped from 116 to 100.

But what does it all mean? The researchers--E. Glenn Schellenberg and Christian von Scheve--posit it's "the rise of subjective identities" and possibly economic inequality. Pop stars are sad because everything's so sad in the world.

The list of artists used is pretty impressive: Lady GaGa to Radiohead, The Doors to Blondie, Aqua to Sigur Ros. At this rate, music will collapse under its collective ennui by the time we're all in the nursing home, ranting about how much happier the music of our youth was. [Wall Street Journal]

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