Study Shows Music Is Becoming More Negative

A recent study shows that the music industry is distributing more negative content, thus impacting the younger generations through media exposure.

Study Shows Music Is Becoming More Negative (Getty Images)

CaliforniaTrigger Warning: Sensitive mental health and behavioral topics are discussed throughout this news report.

From heartbreak songs to redemption tracks, songs have become more negative in nature. A recent study conducted by Eva Zangerle, a researcher for Innsbruck University, shows that throughout the past 50 years, song lyrics have become progressively aggressive, expressing feelings of anger and other negative emotions. This trend is prevalent across a variety of music genres, such as rap, rock, pop, country, and R&B, in which artists are transparently expressing their emotions through music. 

The consequence of negative music has the potential to lead to violent behavior, such as crime and substance use. Younger generations are a major area of concern when being influenced by negative music, with social media use and the influence of trends on the rise. Not only does exposure to music with negative lyrics influence physical behavior, but researchers also found that it has been linked to mental health concerns, such as aggression, fear, and overall discomfort. 

To receive a teen’s perspective, YR Media reached out to Daria Kouzminova, a college student who is active on social media and keeps up with music trends.

YR Media: How would you describe the role of social media and music in the lives of young people, including yourself, today?

Daria Kouzminova: If there is a song trending, you are more likely to listen to it as you are scrolling on your “For You Page” on TikTok or by the “Recommended For You” feature across social media platforms. That can definitely influence the type of music you listen to.

YR: In your opinion, what defines “negative” music, and how common is it to come across these types of music on social media or public places?

DK: Music is negative if it influences people to act out negative behaviors. I know a lot of rap songs, for example, talk about drugs and gun violence which could be influential and perpetuate behaviors. These songs are often normalized and therefore normalize violent or unsafe behaviors because you frequently hear about these behaviors in songs promoted by social media.

YR: Have you personally been impacted by your encounters with music containing emotional triggers? If so, what were the triggers and how did it affect you?

DK: There is a song that comes to mind because I am actually going to a concert tomorrow, where the singer will be performing. I remember my friends and I listening to the song a few years ago and there was a catchy part that was trending on TikTok at the time. The themes in the song are definitely not something a teenager should be doing. I think similar songs normalize behaviors, such as substance use and sexual activity.

YR: How do you think exposure to these songs can impact other people’s, especially younger generations, attitudes and behaviors?

DK: I think young listeners might be looking for someone to look up to, and many look up to celebrities. So, if their favorite artist is talking about something negative in a song it will probably influence their actions to be more negative because children are so easily influenced.

YR: How do you believe social media platforms contribute to the spread and influence of negative music among these young audiences?

DK: I think something culturally is changing and people become more entertained by negative music. Through social media trends, it reflects a general attitude toward life. Social media tends to feed into if one song is popular, which can lead to it blowing up very quickly and reaching many people.

YR: Are there any efforts or initiatives you believe can address the potential harms of negative music on young generations and promote more positive and uplifting music?

DK: I remember downloading Instagram when I was just in the 5th grade. It could be beneficial if social media platforms enforce more restrictions on what type of content can be viewed based on age, and verify the age people input. However, parents can have more of a direct impact than social media platforms on their children’s media intake and the type of music they listen to, such as controlling what station is playing on a car radio.

YR: What advice would you give young generations when consuming the negative aspects of music?

DK: Growing up, I remember social media was just developing and in general a happier space. But it has grown to be more risky for younger generations because they are more inclined to follow what everybody else is doing to fit in. It is okay to have someone who inspires you, but we should ask ourselves questions to understand why we look up to or relate to this person, and try to find our own identity.

Kyana Early (she/her) is a journalist from the San Francisco Bay Area who covers entertainment and culture. 

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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