A new study has confirmed what we all already knew deep in our hearts: the world is getting worse. To be more specific, music is getting sadder.
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine looked at hundreds of thousands of songs released in the UK between 1985 and 2015 and categorized the songs according to their mood, The Associated Press reports. The results of the study were published in the Royal Society of Open Science journal. They found a “downward sonic trend in happiness and increase in sadness.”
“‘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,’” the study’s co-author, Natalia L. Komarova, told The Associated Press.
The study stresses that this gradual decrease in the happiness index does not mean that all songs in 1985 were happy and all modern songs are sad; instead, the findings only point to a general trend in properties of the music and the corresponding moods.
“The public seems to prefer happier songs, even though more and more unhappy songs are being released each year,” the researchers wrote. The study also concluded that dance and pop have been the most successful genres, while there has been a noted “downward trend” in the success of rock since the early 2000s.
The study did also have some less depressing findings, though: the frequency of male singers in popular music has decreased in past 30 years. This period has seen “successful songs [be] characterized by a large percentage of female artists compared to all songs,” Komarova also said.