It’s Saturday night and I can’t stop playing "Thursday”, by Jess Glynne. If you’re not familiar with the electric, red-headed, U.K. megastar, she’s a singer best known for her megawatt pop dance hits “Rather Be” and “Hold My Hand”. Her latest lamenting sad hit single is now dominating radio airwaves and enrapturing fans alike. How can it be that this sad, downtempo tune, has taken over the time traditionally reserved for my F-yeah, amped it up, it’s the weekend playlist?
Let's explore the answer together of why hearts and ears cannot resist the magnetic pull of sad songs.
The reasons why sad songs gain so much popularity boil down to a few factors that make us humans: empathy, connection and the paradox of “mood swings”.
Empathy:Assuming I was a 6-year-old kid reciting a poem I had fervently rehearsed, I start the poem on a great note, and in the middle of my poem, I get stuck. The lines seem to escape me; dread fills my face. Then you, the audiences gets a feeling of, “Go on!”, “You can do it”, “Keep trying” and are empathetic to my situation. This is empathatic swell of emotion happens when hearing Adele’s “Someone Like You”. While Adele is belting out her ordeal of lost love we simply “feel” for her, even though we obviously may not be going through the same issue.
Connection:Connection is another major and obvious reason why we are “glued” to songs that should rather make us sad. No matter who we are or where we may be coming from, we all seem to be chasing something. We all have our goals, dreams and aspirations. In the same way, we are all fighting a bit of battle in one way or the other. As we go about our “dream-chasing” routines, we go through “mini-battles” that can be felt and experienced by only ourselves. After listening to a sad song, not only do we relate to what the singer is expressing in the song but we also feel as if our battles are even “mini” or less compared to those experienced by the singer. So, it;s not strange to be singing SZA’s “Weekend”, a song about someone losing their lover to after the weekend to another person, when indeed, we just lost a business deal.
Paradox Of “Mood Swings”:Sad songs have a way of regulating our emotions, by evoking the feelings of awe and bliss, along with sadness. Sad songs put listeners into a state of nostalgia (the feeling one has when longing for home on a long boring trip, having bitter-sweet emotions of the past or reminiscing about childhood). So, instead of making us worse than sad, we get the “chills” (those intensely pleasurable responses) that we ideally should have gotten from happy songs. Just like Lady Gaga, who pushed forward to “prove others wrong” because the others said they cannot become something, sad songs motivate and inspire us through a bit of negativity - sadness.
Psychologically, our bodies release oxytocin and prolactin - two hormones associated with nurturance and social bonding. When we listen to sad songs and get “chills” our mind and body delivers the recovery of a positive mood.
Thanks for coming on the “why we love sad songs journey” with me on The Crush. Hopefully, you have more context and answers as to why you cannot let go of those sad songs on your playlist.
This has been a guest post by Cami Galles.
Cami Galles' alluring voice is matched only by her charismatic personality. The Kansas-raised singer-songwriter spent nearly a decade in NYC cultivating grit and a unique sound before calling Chicago home. Cami’s mesmerizing delivery imbues her music with a bold empowerment, and her singular “Future Blues” style melds Blues, Pop, and Jazz with uptempo dance beats. Her electric, must-see live performances have dazzled iconic Chicago venues, and she will soon embark on a national tour in late 2019. Stay up to date on all things CAMI: shows, music & more at www.camigalles.com or on Instagram.
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