OPINION: Stop romanticizing sad music

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Muzizi, a local reggae-rock band, played Saturday afternoon in the Bluemont Hotel during the "Harmony in the 'Hatt" music event. This event was put on by the Manhattan Nonviolence Initiative. (File Photo by Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

Across the board, sad music is trending. As artists like Billie Eilish, Halsey and Lil Uzi Vert constantly releasing songs with sad and angsty undertones, many young people are finding their playlists full of songs about heartbreak, toxic love or wishing they were someone else.

Such an emphasis on downcast situations and feelings can cause the lyrics and emotions of the music to transfer into the listener’s real-life headspace. For this reason, romanticizing sad music is dangerous.

This music forces the listener to think about sad or uncomfortable situations. According to an article from The Conversation, people with greater tendencies to become depressed are more likely to ruminate after listening to sad music and be less motivated to create change in their lives.

Obviously, listening to sad music is not always a bad idea. Sometimes emotional music is the only way people can feel understood, and it can be a cathartic experience. Sad music is, however, only beneficial in moderation, like most experiences in life.

Romanticizing sad music and acting as if sadness for long periods of time without relief is normal is not OK. Doing so perpetuates the idea that people who are not sad are missing out.

Sadness is a part of life, and from time to time everyone should feel sad. Everyone lives through a difficult time, and sorrow is a sign that connection and hope are created (but later broken) in someone’s life. That is a healthy emotion to feel. Grieving is often the only way to move on, and is necessary for the human experience. What really matters in the end is how people decide to heal themselves and move past the dark times.

Listening to sad music all day, every day encourages people to dwell on the unfortunate, and constantly reminds them that, yeah, life sucks sometimes. Replaying that thought is a dangerous trap that can cause people to forget about the good parts of life, like seeing friends, laughing until your stomach hurts and stuffing yourself full of ice cream during movie marathons.

According to an article from Forbes, in 2017 Americans listened to around 32 hours of music weekly. Thirty-two hours is nearly enough to become a full-time job, so clearly music is a significant part of people’s lives.

Since music is so vital to the human experience, the genre and kind of music people choose to listen to plays an important role in their well-being and mental health. Much like any other activity, if people decide to spend all their free time regretting their decisions and crying over lost friends and family, their lives will never change and they will never learn to move on and live life in the present rather than the past. Consistently listening to sad music has much of the same effect.

I’m not saying sad music should be completely off the table. I have one or two sad playlists of my own, but I try my hardest to only listen to sad music when I know doing so will bring about a crying-session I am in dire need of, or if I know listening to the songs will not turn my lighthearted mood into a dark, gloomy afternoon.

I recommend becoming more aware of how music makes you feel. If a certain set of songs always ruins your day because it reminds you of a dark time of your life, then you probably should not listen to those songs on a normal day. If your day-to-day playlists consist of mainly sorrowful music, maybe it is time to rethink why that is the case, because romanticizing sad music is a slippery slope.

Peyton Froome is a freshman in English. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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