scorecardFeeling like pop music is becoming too bland and monotone? Latest science says you’re probably right
  1. Home
  2. entertainment
  3. Music
  4. Feeling like pop music is becoming too bland and monotone? Latest science says you’re probably right

Feeling like pop music is becoming too bland and monotone? Latest science says you’re probably right

Feeling like pop music is becoming too bland and monotone? Latest science says you’re probably right
EntertainmentEntertainment3 min read
“Nowadays, all pop music sounds the same. It’s all just a group of boisterous, self-obsessed folk saying a whole bunch of whatever into the mic. Back in my days, songs actually had meaning”

Most of us have heard this growing sentiment from a disgruntled uncle, perhaps even someone from a younger generation. And while you might dismiss them as simply being too rigid to adapt and appreciate the intricacies of modern songwriting and music production, we hate to break it to you: they might have actually been onto something.

To understand how music has developed over the years, researchers analysed over 12,000 English-language songs from 1980 to 2020. This included music from a wide variety of genres, including pop, rap, country, rock and R&B.

The study looked into what sort of emotions were being expressed in the songs, alongside the range of words used and how often they were being repeated. Almost unsurprisingly enough, the authors found that songs are becoming “simpler” — meaning that they were using easier words — and more repetitive over time.

While this simplification was prevalent across all genres, rap witnessed the greatest increase in the number of repeated lyrics. However, this conclusion seems almost obvious, considering that rap songs inherently sport a large array of lines to begin with.
Do we listen to music the way we used to?
Is this “oversimplification” necessarily a bad thing? That remains up for debate. While the ballads of Bob Dylan might have won the songwriter a Nobel Prize, helping the artist earn more popularity among the masses, that may not necessarily work in the current algorithm-driven music environment.

The way music is both produced and consumed have seen a gradual change over the past few decades. Studies have shown that an increasing amount of people play music in the background while they do something else. And if your music doesn’t strike a chord within the first 10-15 seconds, the harsh reality is that you’re probably going to get skipped. There’s no wonder progressive genres of music, which rely on slow and steady build up of musical pacing, have been on a popularity decline over the past few decades.

Further, the simple truth is that repeating sections generally help make the song catchier. And thus, the study found that songs with more choruses that repeated lyrics appeared to be more popular among the masses. Plus, this makes the song much easier to memorise and eventually transition itself into an earworm.
Music’s angsty years
The study also found that there has also been a noticeable shift in the tone and themes of popular music. Over the past 40 years, lyrics have taken a plunge from positive and joyful towards anger, disgust and sadness. Rap, in particular, has led the anger charge. Additionally, the prevalence of wording such as “me” or “mine” have become starkly more common in pop music, suggesting that musicians are putting out more self-reflective pieces.

These transformations can be attributed to various societal and cultural factors influencing both artists and audiences alike. Music has always been a reflection of the times, and artists are increasingly channeling their emotions into their music, resulting in a more aggressive and self-absorbed sound.

The findings of this research have been published in Scientific Reports and can be accessed here.

READ MORE ARTICLES ON




Advertisement