Pop is dead; meet the new pop. More »
One of the foundational principles of being a teenager is posturing like you’re cooler and more grown-up than you actually are. The budding career of Billie Eilish is this ruse writ large with a major-label budget, presented so convincingly you wonder whether it might actually be authentic. More »
Ty Dolla $ign gets around. The R&B lothario releases quite a bit of his own music — 11 full-lengths and two EPs since 2011, plus a joint project with Jeremih called MihTy dropping later this month — but the collaborative section of his discography sprawls as endlessly as his native LA. At the end of … More »
I’m gunna let you finish, Kanye, but uh…
Female singers with upbeat dance songs are far more likely to top the music charts nowadays, according to new findings by researchers at the University of California, Irvine. The study also found a downward musical trend in happiness and an increase in sadness.
The study, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, examined 500,000 popular songs released in the UK over a three decade period, from 1985 and 2015, and categorized them each based on their mood.
“‘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,’” co-author Natalia L. Komarova told The Associated Press.
Of course, researchers emphasize that a gradual decrease in the average “happiness” index does not mean that all successful songs in 1985 were “happy” and all successful songs in 2015 were “sad.” They were looking for average trends in the acoustic properties of music and the moods describing the sounds.
The overall mood shifts in the songs’ musical elements fall in line with past studies that have examined lyrical content changes over the years. They have found that positive emotions, on the whole, have declined; while indicators of loneliness and social isolation have increased.
“So it looks like, while the overall mood is becoming less happy, people seem to want to forget it all and dance,” says Komarova, a mathematician and evolutionary biologist who led the study. She added, “The public seems to prefer happier songs, even though more and more unhappy songs are being released each year.”
Some songs with a low happiness index in 2014 include “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith, “Whispers” by Passenger and “Unmissable” by Gorgon City. Songs from 1985 with a high happiness index include “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen, “Would I Lie to You?” by the Eurythmics, and “Freedom” by Wham!
Additionally, researchers found the most successful musical genres of recent are dance and pop, with a “clear downward trend” in the success of rock, beginning in the early 2000s.
The researchers also found that the “maleness” of songs — or the frequency of male singers in popular music — has decreased over the last 30 years. “Interestingly, successful songs exhibit their own distinct behavior: They tend to be happier, more party-like, less relaxed and more likely to be sung by a woman than most.”
The same trends hold true for the US market, based on a preliminary review of data by researchers. A few 2014 hits that meet the study’s qualifications for successful pop music include Clean Bandit‘s “Rather Be,” Taylor Swift‘s “Shake It Off,” and Meghan Trainor‘s “All About That Bass.”
The findings arrive at a critical time when the music industry is grappling with issues of gender inequality, where men are overwhelmingly dominating the visible ranks of artists and songwriters, despite studies such as these, which show a strong cultural/consumer yearning for female dance/pop hits in the contemporary global music climate.
Read the fully study by UC Irvine here.
There is pulling a Taylor Swift, and then there’s pulling a Taylor Swift. Of the handful of country musicians who’ve briefly gotten a foothold in the pop mainstream — a list that in the past couple decades has included Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain, Lonestar, Lady Antebellum, and Carrie Underwood among others … More »
“Let You Down” begins with plaintive minor-key piano chords and a trembling vocal run through that omnipresent chipmunk effect, the wildly popular pitched-up modulation that makes the human voice sound slightly alien. The singer intones, “All these voices in my head get loud/ I wish that I could shut them out/ I’m sorry that I … More »
Notes on this week’s releases:
- Sometimes when we listen to Andrew WK we think “hold on this sort of music is absolutely brilliant” so then we go and listen to some other stuff in a similar vein and it’s always an awful fucking racket. Literally always. Where are they keeping all the good sort-of-metal? Is it in a secret place? Or is there really nothing else like this? And do you think proper rock people feel this way about pop music? Do you think they hear something pop that somehow lines up with qualities they enjoy in their day-to-day listening, or they hear the best of the absolute best — like, they hear a Robyn single — and they go “maybe I’ll give pop another try!”, but then they end up listening to Up by Olly Murs and Demi Lovato and then that’s it for another three years? And then after a while they’ll hear Bad Romance or something and they’ll give the old pop thing another go, but the first thing they hear is ‘The Vamps and Matoma’?
- CHVRCHES miss out on their second Song Of The Week in a row due to, once again, betraying the most holy tenet of New Music Friday.
- Tracey Thorn‘s entire album is fantastic but the Shura ‘collab’ we’ve selected for this week’s playlist is just absurdly amazing.
- The Alma EP is worth a listen. It’s nothing extraordinary, much as we and it seems everyone else would like it to be, but there are some good moments.
- Gorgon City have released what is, to all intents and purposes, a novelty single. (It’s about 65% brilliant.)
- MNEK‘s new single is really interesting, partly because it totally changes pace halfway through and becomes absolutely tremendous, and partly because having apparently (?) jettisoned ideas of having a hit single he’s freed himself creatively to make something really unusual which in turn stands out from almost everything else out there, which IN TURN might actually stand a chance of being a hit. Whatever a hit is these days. Why can’t it be like the olden days when iPods were made out of wood and New Music Friday involved having to walk three miles in order to listen to someone singing on a hill?
- As you’d expect the Jack White song, which sounds like The Darkness, is hilarious.