We know that music has the power to change the way we feel, but have you ever wondered which individual characteristics within the genetic make-up of songs play a part in impacting our emotions?
Spotify partnered with Jacob Jolij, Professor in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Groningen to discover which songs trigger the clearest emotional responses. According to their recent study, the most critical elements for impacting an audience’s mood are the key of a song, combined with tempo, rhythm and lyrics.
Professor Jolij explained:
“Music can have powerful effects on our emotions: from making us happy, to enabling the ability to overcome fear, certain music can trigger emotions and hormones that directly affect our moods. The list of tracks compiled with Spotify highlight some of the most effective songs to take us from sad to happy or angry to optimistic.”
Below are Spotify’s 7 ‘Emotion-evoking’ track choices, along with a description of what makes the tracks evoke the certain emotion.
You can find the full analysis on the Spotify blog.
Happiness: Katy Perry - "Birthday"
-Up tempo, strong rhythm, positive lyrics, major key.
Sadness: OneRepublic - "Something I Need"
-Slower, minor key, negative lyrics.
Optimism: American Authors - "Best Day of My Life"
-Optimism is an emotion we learn through experience overtime. Shares features with happy songs, major key, up-beat.
Anger: David Guetta & Showtek ft. Vassy - "Bad"
-Anger is associated with songs in a minor key. However, as opposed to sadness, anger is what we call an approach-emotion: it involves movement, a dimension anger shares with happiness.
Overcoming fear: Coldplay - "Magic"
-Slow, relaxing, major chords to evoke positive feelings, and lyrics that deal with negative thoughts.
Excitement: Avicii - "Wake Me Up"
-Positive sound, usually in a major key, yet more up-tempo and with a stronger beat than a typical ‘happy’ song.
Nostalgia: John Legend - "All of Me"
-Sentimental lyrics will remind them of somebody special, improving the probability of linking the song to other senses – such as sights or smells – to provoke nostalgia.
The concept is interesting, and the validity of the study is...perhaps a little questionable...but if you’re at all curious to see how the brain reacts to David Guetta and Showtek’s “Bad,” then hit play on the video below.