Sorrowful Serenades and Melancholic Melodies

Music, I’ve always considered it to be a great way of understanding people. Everyone listens to music, and more importantly, they listen to music that they relate to. Consequently, I’ve always felt that music is essentially a window into people’s lives.

Recently, the Lawrence Technical University in Southfield, Michigan carried out a study in which they analysed the lyrics of popular songs (Billboard Hot 100) from 1951-2016, using an AI platform, and rated these songs according to the different emotions that they expressed, these included sadness, loneliness and joy. The study revealed that the average score for sadness and loneliness has risen over the decades, while joy has declined. This trend can be interpreted in different ways, but to me, it implies that newer generations of people, including the current one, are sadder than the ones that preceded them. The reasons for this increasing melancholy are quite evident.

Let’s consider teenagers as an example, almost every teenager has a social media presence. As a result, their actions are scrutinised more than ever before. There’s always someone waiting to pass judgement, even when it’s not asked for. Apart from these criticisms, increasing competition means that they are perpetually under intense stress. With the pressure of balancing their schoolwork with their extracurriculars, maintaining an active social life, keeping their grades high while also working on constructing an attractive profile for colleges, it’s no surprise teenagers are growing increasingly unhappy. As a result, the music libraries of most teenagers today, are usually filled with a large number of songs that have undertones of sorrow and depression.

However, this trend of increasing gloom may not necessarily be a bad thing. After all, the most beautiful and passionate songs are the ones that are woven out of broken hearts and written by broken people. Without all the hardship and suffering in his life, the lyrical genius of Eminem would never have been born. Without her innumerable breakups, Taylor Swift would never have been able to produce her iconic songs. Similarly, without tragedy and loss, mesmerizing and moving songs like ‘See You Again’ and ‘All by Myself’ would never have been made.

Hence, music and sadness have always been intertwined, more so in the present than ever before. Whether that’s a positive thing or not, though, I leave for you to decide.