This story has been kicking around all week, and I’ve basically been ignoring it while playing the most upbeat stuff I can find. (Well, except for Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell On You,” which is upbeat only if you have Baal on speed-dial, but I do have to watch my glucose levels.)
The gist of the matter:
A recent study published in the journal Psychology Of Aesthetics, Creativity, And The Arts looked at over 1,000 Top 40 songs from five decades, and found that, increasingly over the years, more songs have used minor chords and slower tempos, which researchers say proves that popular music has taken a turn for the negative. (Happy-sounding songs tend to have a fast tempo in major mode, after all.)
Of course, it’s all about the hipsterism:
The researchers speculate all this is due to the rise of consumerism and individualism in the culture, which they claim “produces a demand for more choice” among producers and consumers who want to demonstrate “sophistication in their taste.” As it is, purely happy songs like Abba’s “Waterloo” can sound “naïve and slightly juvenile” to today’s all-grown-up pop radio listeners. Acts that use emotional ambiguity, meanwhile, are seen as attempting to convey depth or seriousness, rather than just pure froth.
“Waterloo,” of course, is a song about resignation — might as well face it, I’m addicted to you — but it’s just so damned jaunty.
Continuing the There’s Always Room for Cello theme from this post, here’s a transcription of my favorite song from “A Canterlot Wedding,” just because it sounds more sombre than it really is:
And besides, ponies.