Science Proves All Music Produced After the 60s Blows
September 12, 2013

Science Proves All Music Produced After The 60s Blows

Well, they’ve finally done it. Researchers have finally found proof that suggests the music of the 60’s may be categorically better than anything to proceed it.

At least, that’s one way to look at the study by Professor Carol Lynne Krumhansl at Cornell University.

The main point of her study is to identify the kinds of music that illicit the most emotional of responses from listeners and, as you may have guessed, it’s the music of our teens and 20s which sends us into whirlwinds of nostalgic fury. To those currently teenaged to 20s-ish, feel lucky; this will probably be as good as music gets in your opinion.

Now that I think of it, that’s probably terrible news, considering the garbage your generation is producing en masse.

I digress…

Krumhansl and her team created an online survey and asked some 62 college-aged participants to listen to audio samples of top Billboard hits from 1955 to 2009 and rate their reactions to the music on a scale from one to ten. The survey specifically asked questions about how happy, sad, energetic or nostalgic the song clips made the listener feel. When the results were in, the researchers discovered songs which were most popular when the person was in their 20s got the most emotional response from the volunteers. What’s more, even the music of an era which preceded their birthday was also able to illicit a strong emotional response, what Krumhansl calls a “reminiscence bump.”

This makes sense, of course. Most of us, I’m sure, can recall moments when our parents controlled the radio with an iron thumb and tuned in only to the stations they chose. If you were my father, you listened only to the classic rock station, despite the fact that you worked for a competing radio station.

(He’s still there today, some 23 years later.)

If you were my mother, you listened only to the station your husband worked for.

For these young volunteers, this meant having an affinity and emotional response to songs of the 80’s, a not entirely terrible era for music on the whole, but certainly not the best.

No, I consider myself fortunate enough to be of the age where my parents (mostly my father) listened to music just a bit before his time.

If the results of this study hold true (I believe they do), my dad should have loved the music of the late 70’s: disco, arena rock, and plenty of coked-out glam. While he enjoyed the music of Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, The Eagles and Boston, his loyalties fall firmly in the 60’s camp. I tell as many people as I can that I was raised on a steady diet of Bob Dylan and the Beatles…that is, when my mother didn’t have her hand on the knob. In the days since my childhood, I’ve had several conversations regarding just how very good the music from the 60’s is, how it continues to stand up to the toughest scrutiny, and how musicians today are still trying to capture the magic originally created by the Woodstock generation.

Krumhansl and team even bring this up, saying the volunteers also shared strong emotional responses to the music of their grandparents from this generation. Could this, they wonder, prove ONCE AND FOR ALL that we’ve mostly been banging pots and pans together in the 48 years since Dylan plugged in or the 44 years since the Fab Four walked across Abbey Road to Apple Studios?

Feel free to take the survey yourself. Krumhansl and team have posted the thing online and say it should take about 30 minutes to complete.

And while I certainly felt a pull of nostalgia when I heard songs from Ace of Base, Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey (hey, those were the songs they played in the survey) it could never compare to the literal goosebumps I encountered when the chorus of “She Loves You” played through my headphones just moments ago.

God, I love that song…

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