Well, this is…worrying. The ABC has released a rather interesting study where they show how the overall sound of the Hottest 100 has changed since 1993, and apparently we are all a lot sadder now.
The study takes a whole bunch of things into account and gives us a look at how the sound of the most popular songs, as determined by Triple J listeners, has evolved.
For example, it notes how the average BPM of songs in the countdown has decreased to the lowest it has ever been. According to Tim Byron, music psychologist at University of Wollongong, this is telling of the entire industry as a whole.
“About five years ago everything was pretty much 120-130 beats per minute. Almost everything by Lady Gaga, everything by Katy Perry was in that range,” he said.
“There’s been a definite decrease in that tempo. The tempo of songs now for some reason is much slower, people are swaying to them rather than dancing to them with real energy.”
Previously this effect has been attributed to the unprecedented impact of Lorde’s ‘Royals’, which interestingly came in at #2 in the 2013 Hottest 100.
The study also says that the dip in energy and tempo can make songs feel sadder. Using an algorithm with Spotify, a graph provided shows that – on average – countdowns have been getting sadder by the year, with the saddest being 2015.
But it’s not all sad news. Somehow, countdowns are getting more ‘danceable’ than ever, which is probably due to the fact that recent countdowns have been far more genre-diverse than in its early days.
In 2018’s countdown, which was topped by Ocean Alley with ‘Confidence’, the genres of ‘Pop’, ‘Rock’, ‘Rap’, ‘Electronic’ and ‘Indie’ have a pretty even five-way split between them, as opposed to the 1998 countdown which was around 80% rock.
View the study here.