Based on a study of 500,000 popular songs released between 1985 and 2015, reported in the journal Royal Society Open Science, researchers at the University of California at Irvine found there has been a significant downward trend in happiness and rise in sadness, according to The New York Times.
“‘Happiness’ is going down, ‘brightness’ is going down, ‘sadness’ is going up, and at the same time, the songs are becoming more ‘danceable’ and more ‘party-like,’” co-author Natalia L. Komarova told the Associated Press.
Some songs found to have a low happiness index in 2014 include Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me,” “Whispers” by Passenger and “Unmissable” by Gorgon City. Those from 1985 with a high happiness index include “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen, “Would I Lie to You?” by the Eurythmics, and “Freedom” by Wham!
That said, the study clarified that this doesn’t mean all successful music in 1985 was happy, and all successful music in 2015 was sad. In fact, they found people generally prefer happier songs, but nevertheless, the pop culture dial has pivoted toward a considerable sense of misery chic.
The study also found that more successful genres as of late are dance and pop, while rock music has seen a downward shift, while the “maleness” of music has also seen a drop, with the majority of successful songs being performed by female artists. Cue happy tears?