Pop Music Gets Happier or Darker with the Stock Market’s Rise and Fall, Say Economists
A study of the stock market and pop music has come to a surprising conclusion: When the stock market is rising, pop songs tend to be joyous and fun, and when the stock market is falling, they tend to be somber and angry. This stock market pop music theory isn’t necessarily new: In fact, one researcher found a correlation between the two by analyzing the sound and genre of songs from 1950 to 1985. More recently, two new researchers have continued looking at the theory and have identified some songs and genres that have mirrored the stock market from 1985 into the new millennium.
Researchers Matt Lampert and Euan Wilson say that at the start of the year 2000, the stock market reached a high plateau. The years leading up that plateau were accompanied by a upbeat Latin music and American pop.
“In the year leading up to the peak,” Lampert and Wilson write, “bubble gum, R&B and exuberant Latin pop music rocketed up the charts. Ricky Martin sang about ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca,’ while Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and The Backstreet Boys had number 1 records. Carlos Santana and Rob Thomas spent 12 weeks at No. 1 with ‘Smooth,’ an upbeat pop song.”
Contrast this period to the decline of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had following April 1998, the same year of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.
“[The DJIA] declined more than 57% in the 4.5 years after (April 1998),” Lampert and Wilson write. “Angst-ridden industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails, nu metal (which combines heavy metal, hard rock, rap and industrial) groups Korn and Limp Bizkit, and rockers Creed and Rage Against the Machine all had number one albums in 1999.”
Here’s a video of the stock market pop music theory:
But rather than thinking that the stock market influences pop music or vice-versa, Robert R. Prechter, Jr. — author of the original study of pop music from 1950 to 1985 — thinks, “They all track each other because they all stem from the same cause: The rise and fall in overall social mood.”
He continues, “When the mood is positive, people want to listen to happy music, they want to wear frisky clothes and they want to buy stocks. When they’re in a negative mood, their tendencies are in the opposite direction.”
Another recent study of pop music theorized that pop music has become sadder in the last 30 years, despite the stock market’s general upward trend during that time. Of course, that study looked at the lyrical content and instrumentation of over 600,000 songs rather than just genre and best-selling albums like the stock market pop music study.