We’re Not OK, Computer Says

Posted: January 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

The expression of sadness, disgust and fear also increased over time.

Popular music has changed over the years, and the music of 2019 is noticeably different from the music of the 1960s or 1970s. But it is not just the music that changed, but also the lyrics. Data scientists at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan used quantitative analytics to study the change in lyrics of popular music over seven decades, from the 1950s to 2016. The results showed that the expression of anger and sadness in popular music has increased gradually over time, while the expression of joy has declined.

In a research paper published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Kathleen Napier and Lior Shamir analyzed the lyrics of over 6000 songs of the Billboard Hot 100 in each year. The Billboard Hot 100 songs are the most popular songs each year, and reflect the preferences of music fans. In the past the songs were ranked mainly by record sales, radio broadcasting, and jukebox plays, but in the more recent years it is based on several other popularity indicators such as streaming and social media to reflect the changes in music consumption.

  1. Palmer Lee-Mesa says:

    This seems as though it’s a reflection of our time more than anything. Now people respond to negativity in droves and usually support it on social media sites such as youtube and twitter. Negative posts are retweeted hundreds of thousands of times and youtube videos bashing on political figures rack in millions of views. It seems clear that people are becoming more negative in general and that taste is reflected in music lyrics sadly. Hopefully this trend changes to an appreciation for more of a middle ground at some point in the near future.

    • We become more an more negative because we are less and less responsible for the way we lash out, and we become more and more depressed as we realize that all our lashing out accomplishing is to prove to us how powerless each of us is.

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