Why does MISERY attract us?

Musically, there are many artists that are known for their depressing, heart throbbing, music. I am sure everyone could name a few… but the two that come to mind to me, are the stupefying Lana Del Rey, and the merciful Adele-two of my favorite artists and two great examples of modern day artists that ONLY have slow, depressing, heartbreaking music, yet they attract audiences of all ages and have them hooked.

Rollingstone’s recent article published November 24th of 2015, describes Adele and how, “remorse is still her muse (par.1)” in her third album release of “25”. It further describes how even her hit single, “Hello” is in a way a goodbye from Adele. Adele has a sadness in her voice that can sometimes be caught in the breaks between her words or the power of her voice. She is letting her pain out in her singing and you can tell it feels good for her. When you picture Adele singing, it’s not just her standing on stage. It is the emotion in her face, when she hits every note and specifies every word. Her depressed feelings and aggravations beam out of her face like rays of sunlight, and in a way- that is beautiful.

Lana Del Rey is another artist that prospers from sorrow, and even admits to TheGuardian writer Tim Jonez, “I wish I was dead already (par.1)” in a shocking interview that caught many off guard. On top of that, Lana Del Rey sings about being, “born to die”, about a soul, “haunting me and telling me, that everything is fine, but I wish I was dead”, as well as living in a, “dark paradise”, and a song even titled, “sad girl”. So it may seem clear that Lana might be going through a depression…yet so many people are drawn to Lana’s music in the beautiful misery that it is. Seeing Lana live at the House of Blues in Boston, gave me a bit of perspective. It seemed that everything was in slow motion to her. She had no deeming facial expressions or moments of extreme thrill or power. She moved meekly and slowly on stage, and even spoke slowing almost as if she were drowning, and in many ways it was hypnotizing.

So why do we people spend so much time listening to depressing music when we could be listening to party, positive music? Many people’s first answer may be: “it is music we can relate to” which is of course, a great reason. Listening to one of Adele or Lana’s songs and thinking that you can perfectly relate to what they’re singing is a great emotion. But I feel like there has to be more explanation than that. The New York Times released an article September 20th of 2013 titled, “Why we like sad music”. The article questions, “What if, despite their apparent similarity, sadness in the realm of artistic appreciation is not the same thing as sadness in everyday life?” This brings up the idea that maybe the depression we hear of Adele’s break up, is dramatized in the scheme of creating an artistic approach. Not to belittle her music, but just to point out that she can describe her sadness in ways that other people can’t. Maybe it is the art of the depression that draws us in and not the depression itself.

Psychologically the idea is described by Tom McKay in a Music.Mic article where he states, “The average number of emotions that participants reported to have experienced in response to sad music was above three. This suggests that a multifaceted emotional experience elicited by sad music enhances its aesthetic appeal.” So in this response, could it be that humans love feeling emotions and therefore listen to sad music because it strikes more than just sadness in us?

Scientifically it is said that, “sad music evokes a prolactin release in the listener’s brain. Prolactin is the chemical that is used to help curb grief(Jordan Sloan)”. In this sense, sad music is a type of therapy. Listening to the misery others have gone through, may actually make us feel better although it may seems bitter to admit. We all can admit that hearing others stories distracts us in a way and enters us into a world that isn’t the misery of our own. I always choose sad music over upbeat music for the sole reason that it has more emotion and it makes me feel and question more. Being happy is great, but being sad is almost like an adventure. It is an adventure of appreciation and thoughts and that is always the adventure I choose.


Please share your thoughts….ALSO…


Adele- When we were young

Adele- All I ask

Lana Del Rey- Born to Die

Jimmy Eat World- Hear you me

Death cab for Cutie- I will follow you into the dark

The Beatles- Yesterday

Fleetwood Mac- Landslide

Carole King- Will you still love me tomorrow?

The “UP” Soundtrack

“Titanic” Soundtrack- My heart will go on

“A Walk to Remember Soundtrack”- Only Hope

Taylor Swift- White Horse

Amy Winehouse- Love is a losing game

Eric Clapton- Tears in Heaven

Green Day- Time of your life

Jeff Buckley- Hallelujah

Silent Night

Katy Perry- Thinking of you

Sara McLaughlin- Arms of the angel


…Get your therapy on!

And I would love to know: What are your go-to therapy songs?






copyright: Carly Ristuccia



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