Music we listen to became more sad and angry 1950s onwards study finds

Sour note! Music we listen to has become more sad and angry since the 1950s, study finds

  • Popular music became fearful during Cold War, angry in mid-1990s, then sad 
  • Lawrence Technological University, Michigan, analysed more than 6,000 songs
  • Cited 1977’s We Will Rock You as song high in extroversion and low in sadness 

The music we listen to has become progressively more sad and angry since the 1950s, a study found.

Researchers said songs in the charts were never more joyful than six decades ago. Popular music became fearful during the Cold War in the 1980s, angry in the mid-1990s and hit a sad low in the 21st century. The lyrics of more than 6,000 songs from 1951 to 2016 were analysed for their chief emotions.

Classic ‘positive’ 1950s tunes included See You Later, Alligator by Bill Haley, Be-Bop-A-Lula by Gene Vincent and Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley.

Researchers at Lawrence Technological University in Michigan, US, said: ‘In general the results show a clear trend toward a more negative tone in pop music lyrics, with a more significant change around the early 1990s.’

They cited 1977’s We Will Rock You by Queen as an example of a song high in extroversion and low in sadness and fear.


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The music we listen to has become progressively more sad and angry since the 1950s, a study by researchers at the Lawrence Technological University in Michigan, US, has found

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