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Study Finds Music Is More Depressing, ‘Emotionally Ambiguous’

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File photo of the group Abba taken in 1976.  (credit: Michael Putland/GettyImages)

File photo of the group Abba taken in 1976. (credit: Michael Putland/GettyImages)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The music industry is on the boulevard of broken dreams with depressing songs.

A new study published in the journal Psychology Of Aesthetics, Creativity, And The Arts says that popular music over the last 50 years has grown more depressing.

The study – completed by Glenn Schellenberg and Christian von Scheve — finds that popular music over the last five decades has become “progressively more sad-sounding and emotionally ambiguous.”

The researchers say that more songs have used minor chords and slower tempos, which prove to be more sad sounding.

The study finds that the decade with the largest number of slow tempo hits were the 1990s, concluding there have been a lot of “emotionally ambiguous” songs recently.

Schellenberg and von Scheve say this is due to more consumerism and individualism in today’s society.

An example the researchers used was a happy song like Abba’s “Waterloo” sounds “naïve and slightly juvenile” to today’s pop listeners.

The researchers also say that a modern song, such as Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” which enjoyed commercial success, got mostly negative reviews from critics.

“Our study sheds light on links between long-term cultural change on a macro social scale and emotional expression, perception, and responding, at least in relation to music,” Schellenberg and von Scheve told BPS Research Digest. “As such the findings improve our understanding of the individual in relation to society, and how culture is shaped by the emotional needs and preferences to individuals.”

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