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The Sound of Sadness: How Gen Z’s Music Preferences Reflect Their Mood


Music is a powerful medium that can express emotions, moods, and feelings. But what does the music we listen to say about us? And how does it affect our mental health?


According to a recent study by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, the music we listen to has become sadder over the past 30 years. The study analyzed the lyrics and acoustic features of more than 6,000 songs from 1985 to 2015, and found that songs have become less happy, less bright, and more melancholic.


- Based on articles by Ted Gioia (Sepy 10, 2023) and Lara Sanli on Bloomberg's website (Aug 21, 2023)


This trend is especially evident among Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012. According to data from Spotify, Gen Z listeners are more likely to search for sad music than other generations. In fact, Gen Z searches for sad music 15% more than millennials, 25% more than Gen X, and 35% more than baby boomers.


Why is this the case? Some experts suggest that Gen Z’s music preferences reflect their lived experiences and challenges. Gen Z has grown up in a world of uncertainty, instability, and crisis, facing issues such as climate change, social injustice, economic inequality, and mental health problems. Music can be a way for them to cope with their emotions and find comfort and connection.

However, listening to sad music can also have negative effects on one’s mood and well-being. Research has shown that listening to sad music can increase feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Therefore, it is important to balance one’s music consumption with other activities that can boost one’s happiness and resilience.


Let's not forget that we do love sad songs! The researchers found that our enjoyment of sad music may not be derived from its sadness, but rather from the sense of connection it provides. This perspective offers a fresh lens for understanding our affinity for melancholic music. More on this, in this previous article on nicomusic.


If you want to learn more about the relationship between music and mood, you can read the original articles here: Why is music getting sadder? and Gen Z Had a Bummer Summer as Searches for Sad Music Outpace Other Generations.


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Summary by the New Bing AI

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