While we all sit in our homes with nothing to do but play The Sims 4, it is becoming apparent that many of us may feel pent up. In normal life, we are able to experience a range of emotions during conversations with others from the things we encounter and because of the things that we see. However, while we sit in quarantine, there is very little range, causing everything to feel very dull. Many of us have turned towards a variety of options to find a release, but even those fall short of forcing yourself into emotion. The best way to fix the emotionless fatigue many of us are feeling is using sad music for the sole purpose of getting sad.
It is not a secret that sad music is a great way to make sad people feel better, and the reasons for that are based in the science of dopamine. Music, in general, releases dopamine into the brain in the same ways that other pleasurable things do. Specifically, emotional peaks on tracks and motif-laced lyrics are the main sources of these dopamine spikes. Sad music is often chock-full of these, which makes sad music the most rewarding music to listen to. However, in regard to sad music for the purpose of getting sadder, that doesn’t mean turning to the Hot 100 breakup jams.
One of the great things about art is that it allows us to process our emotions in different and more comprehensive ways than we are used to. Sad or upsetting art is helpful to process sad or upsetting emotions. Music that forces the listener to confront their own visceral hopes and fears is the kind of music needed in this time. These are songs that are not about breakups, but songs about divorce. Not songs about wealth, but songs about immense poverty. These are songs with lyrics and instrumental peaks so powerful, they combat the inherent dopamine that comes from all music.
Going out of your way to listen to music for the purpose of feeling sad may feel like masochism. There’s probably a part of it that is. However, in a time like the one we are currently in, it is important to make sure you are feeling things, and not just going through the motions. The sadness that comes from this is not permanent, it is unlikely to last a full hour, but it is just enough to make sure you don’t spend all of your time wallowing in nothingness.
Listening to sad music about sad situations can help us to feel like we’re experiencing something, if anything, whether it’s what the artist is talking about or a made up scenario of our own. As members of the streaming era, music has been a part of our lives in a way no other generation has gotten to experience. I think we should all just get back to the way we felt sitting in the backseat of our parents car, listening to a sad song, pretending we were in a gut-wrenching music video. It’s the least we can do for ourselves.
Check out this playlist of some songs to listen to during this time. Maybe they’ll become some of your favorites!