© 2012 niall. All rights reserved.

is popular music becoming sadder?

Is popular music becoming sadder? — Marginal Revolution.

I heard about this study on BBC radio. Well I don’t know. Sad songs have been around for a while. My winner is Hurt by Johnny Cash from 2002 over Suzanne by Leonard Cohen from 1967. But only just.

No one knows what happened that day
Or how his car overturned in flames
But as they pulled him from the twisted wreck
With his dying breath, they heard him say
Tell Laura I love her
Ray Peterson, Tell Laura I Love Her 1960

He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show
As he drove away on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow
But whether he heard, I’ll never know
The Shangri-Las, Leader of the Pack 1964

Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river
You can hear the boats go by, you can spend the night forever
And you know that she’s half crazy and that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges that came all the way from China
And just when you want to tell her that you have no love to give her
She gets you on her wavelength and she lets the river answer
Leonard Cohen, Suzanne 1967

Oh Maggie I wish I’d never seen your face
You made a first-class fool out of me
But I’m as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart but I love you anyway
Rod Stewart, Maggie May 1971

Yesterday is dead and gone
And tomorrow’s out of sight
And it’s sad to be alone
Help me make it through the night
Gladys Knight, Help me make it through the night 1972

Sing me to sleep
Sing me to sleep
And then leave me alone
Don’t try to wake me in the morning
‘Cause I will be gone
Don’t feel bad for me
The Smiths, Asleep 1985

There’ll be sad songs
To make you cry
Love songs often do
Billy Ocean, There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) 1986

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain
I know that you can love me
When there’s no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain
Guns N’ Roses, November Rain 1992

I step off the train
I’m walking down your street again
And past your door
I guess you don’t live there any more
It’s years since you’ve been there
Everything But The Girl, Missing, 1994

Don’t cry,
My baby.
Today I dreamed,
Of friends I had before.
And I wonder why.
The ones who care don’t call anymore.
Seal, Don’t Cry 1995

I walk through walls
I float down the Liffey
I’m not here
This isn’t happening
I’m not here
I’m not here
In a little while
I’ll be gone
The moment’s already passed
Yeah it’s gone
And I’m not here
Radiohead, How to Disappear Completely 2000

If I could start again,
A million miles away,
I will keep myself,
I would find a way,
Johnny Cash, Hurt 2002

Never mind, I’ll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
Don’t forget me, I beg
Adele, Someone Like You 2011

very cool illustration: red in black by Lucas Vipieski




  1. niall

    Thanks Carina. Yeah there are great songs there too. But since I wrote that post I can’t get the Billy Ocean song There’ll be sad songs (to make you cry) out of my head!!!

  2. Hi Niall,
    I don’t think so, just a few examples, but I could name your much more:

    Feeling Groovy – Simon and Garfunkle 1966
    What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong 1967
    Sing A Song – Earth, Wind and Fire 1975
    You’re My Best Friend – Queen 1976
    I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor 1978
    What A Feeling (Flashdance) – Irene Cara 1983
    Don’t Worry, Be Happy- Bobby McFerrin 1988
    Celebration – Kool and the Gang 1992
    Beautiful Day – U2 2000
    I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas 2009
    Firework – Katy Perry 2010
    Good Feeling – Flo Rida 2011
    You Make Me Feel… Cobra Starship featuring Sabi 2011

    I think there are as much sad music as happy, if you look for sad music, take the tango, all lyrics are very very sad.

Leave a Reply