Whenever I'm feeling down, I just cue up an emotional Drake song and let it work its magic. But why do sad songs make us feel better? Glad you asked, because there's yet another study for that.
The simple answer is: "It helps me deal. Leave me alone." But researchers in Berlin conducted a survey recently and found that listening to sad music essentially "evokes a wide range of feelings, including nostalgia and a sense of peace."
New York Magazine writes:
Researchers from Freie Universität in Berlin surveyed more than 700 people — mostly from Europe, but also North America, South America, and Africa — asking about their music listening habits and, specifically, when they listened to sad music and why. Their answers varied widely, so it's not just that sad music cheers us up, as other studies in this area have suggested.
Indeed, blasting "I'm Goin' Down" while sitting around in your underwear pondering life not only feels good, but also helps you process what you're feeling:
The authors say that melancholy music helps with emotional regulation — that is, it helps us process our emotions by prompting reflection and contemplation — and that this study could provide the groundwork for new ways to use music as therapy. The authors don't list every song the participants named, but they do include a few, including Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" and Billie Holiday's "Gloomy Sunday."
But basically, there's no simple explanation. To me, it all boils down to feeling like someone else gets you. This is perfectly timed with seasonal affective disorder, and I'm taking this as a cue to make a brief playlist of sad song staples. This is for science:
- Mary J. Blige "I'm Goin' Down"
- Amy Winehouse "Wake Up Alone"
- Alicia Keys "Troubles"
- JoJo's version of "Marvin's Room"
- Pink "Don't Let Me Get Me"
- Lionel Richie "Hello"
- Rihanna "Stay"
- Whitney Houston "Where Do Broken Hearts Go?"