Strike the title. It’s probably wrong. But, if so, it was an understandable mistake. After all, it was based on the news article “Music: Will climate change give us the blues?“. The answer is, according to Oxford’s Karen Aplin,—drum roll—yes.
Every part of the article contributed to the notion that Aplin’s study would make the shortlist of the uncoveted Annual WMBriggs.com Bad Science Award. Consider: didn’t the reporter of that article say “the weather has powerfully but discreetly influenced the soundtrack to our lives”? She did.
And didn’t Aplin herself say, “These assumptions we have about certain weather being good and certain weather being bad, like sun being good — that might change”? Aye. She did. She also said that though some were enjoying the current warm weather, they might not always. “But if it’s going to be 40 degrees (Celsius, 104 degrees Fahrenheit) every summer for 10 years… that might change how people feel about the weather and the emotions they link to it.”
What of the study itself that hinted of its potential?
Aplin and five other scientists combed through databases of more than 15,000 pop songs, finding statistical backing for the assumption that our moods are strongly swayed by the weather.
These emotions, in turn, are expressed in the music that artists compose and what the public likes to hear…
They searched song titles, band names and lyrics for references to weather.
“We found about 800,” said Aplin.
And what did these songs say about the weather?
The sun was referenced most often, followed closely by rain, although “pretty much all types of weather came up”, said Aplin.
The seasons and wind or breeze were third and fourth most popular, while “frost” and “blizzard” were at the bottom of the list.
A quick YouTube search reveals one Gary Moore sang of the inclement weather one might find on descending from Heaven to that other place. And he didn’t sound too happy about it, either. Aplin concurs: “What we found about pop music was that the lyrics can be used very clearly to link the weather to a particular emotion, and usually the sun is positive and rain is negative.”
Of course, this is science, so she dug deeper. “An exception was some Country and Western songs, which ‘talked about rain as a positive thing: it brings crops and food'”.
So how does global warming figure in this? Aplin is glad you asked.
[There is the] potential for a shift in musical themes if climate change brings ever-more frequent extreme weather events, as predicted.
Chirpy songs about sunshine and gentle summer breezes could get elbowed in favour of darker, more dramatic fare…
“Under climate change, the type of weather people are influenced by to write might change,” said Aplin.
“You might find more songs about severe weather because that is more part of people’s live, or a backdrop to their lives, than the weather we have now.”
Now I ask you: based on these first appearances alone, wouldn’t it seem likely Aplin’s study was headed for a certain entry in this year’s BSA nominees?
Then it struck me. When did hip hop first attack the public’s ears? Right: the mid 1980s to mid 1990s. The same time global warming took off. And when did all that Techno and other such electronica, sounds designed to simulate music and cause incurable brain damage, infiltrate our shores? You know it: in the late 1990s. Just when the globe was doing some serious heating up.
Aplin might be right. What else accounts for phenomena like Justin Bieber and Beyonce? How else can you explain that we are forcibly made to hear execrable music in every public space? Since we’re no longer allowed to believe in Satan, climate change is the only possible candidate remaining possessing enough inherent evilness to do the job.
Lastly, I dug up this old scientific paper: Global Warming Increases Disastrous Music: A Scientific Paper. Abstract:
Global warming has reached unprecedented, dangerous levels. This is beyond question. Soaring temperatures are causing an increase in weather- and climate-related FEAM-tracked disasters (P < 0.001), thus stressing both the economies and the psyches of Western Civilization. These environmental and economic stressors are beginning to take their toll and have resulted in a rapid, unprecedented increase in musical awfulness (P < 0.001). If these trends are allowed to continue, music will soon have devolved into a debauched state so awful that hearing a pop tune will cause irreversible brain damage.
Update This (incomplete) list is apropos: Music that makes you dumb. Maybe somebody can “link it” to global warming.