A Brief Summary of Why Our Mood Dictates the Music We Listen To – Written by Morgan Vo:
To quote my thirteen year old niece, “Morgan, if you listened to less sad music, maybe you wouldn’t be so sad all the time.” Wow, I did not think I would get straight up roasted by a teenager like this, but this idea got me thinking. When she said this, I was in a mood and all I wanted to do was sulk, but why wouldn’t I want my music to uplift me in a time where I was feeling so low? I have talked to some friends and family about this phenomena and this happens to be the case for them as well. Why continue to listen to sad music when feeling so somber?
The answer? All about validation, baby.
People like to listen to music that is congruent to their current life and situations. The lyrics and tempo all factor into how a song sounds, therefore when you listen to songs that fit your mood, you often feel like the artist or another person understands what you’re going through and that you’re not alone. An article published by Amber Hoffe from West Virginia University states that the song you are listening to acts like “an understanding, empathic friend [and] provides you a space to overcome the challenges you are facing.” The purpose of listening to sad music is not to prolong these melancholy feelings, but to eventually conquer them. Your feelings appear to be validated or more at ease when the song matches your emotions, and thus can facilitate a clearer mind.
In my opinion, when I’m in a sad boy mood, it’s hard for me to enjoy something that sounds the opposite to how I’m feeling. I’m much more inclined to dance around to a more upbeat song like “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove when I’m feeling happy and content rather than when I’m moping and unhappy. And to be honest, there’s something cathartic about laying on the floor just listening to sad music when I’m sad. I’m not trying to imply this is the case for everyone.
With that being said, listening to music that sounds like the opposite to your feelings can be used to try and boost your mood. Hoffer mentioned a study from Knox College and University of Missouri that explained “you can improve your mood by listening to more upbeat music and that [this method is] more successful when you also have the intention to be happier.”
So, when you find yourself in a bad mood and want to feel better, get yourself a playlist that radiates good vibes and get to listening. Or if you’re in a bad mood and want to wallow in it a little longer, that is ok too! Get yourself a sad boy playlist and just let it out dude. Everyone experiences and handles their feelings in their own personal way.I wanted to explore and discuss the reasons behind it. I made two playlists to help you in whichever coping mechanism you choose, hope that it helps!
Hoffer, Amber. “How Music Affects Your Mood.” Carruth Center | West Virginia University, 5 Mar. 2019, carruth.wvu.edu/blog/2019/03/05/how-music-affects-your-mood.
Jarrett, Christian. “Why Do People With Depression Like Listening To Sad Music?” Research Digest, The British Psychological Society, 1 May 2019, digest.bps.org.uk/2019/04/24/why-do-people-with-depression-like-listening-to-sad-music/.
Nield, David. “Here’s Why Listening to Sad Music Makes You Feel Better.” ScienceAlert, 15 July 2016, http://www.sciencealert.com/new-research-reveals-the-pain-and-pleasure-of-listening-to-sad-music.