Alice Cooper complains that pop music is getting sadder. Really? Musicians & Fans: please weigh in on this.

This morning’s Studio 360 radio program had a piece called Why is Pop Music So Sad (listen here) in which Alice Cooper, of all people, complains that modern pop music has gotten sadder since 1965 — and he’s backed up by so-called research.

There’s a simplistic notion among some musicians that major keys and up tempo music is happy, while minor keys and slower tempos are sad.  This notion seems to have been taken inordinately seriously by some academics, who have produced the following chart to make their point (see below).

“Bands that want to sound deep and mysterious cannot play in major keys,” says Alice Cooper.  “I think that we’ve gotten away from the fun in pop music.”

SOOOoooo what do you think?  Shall we have our own local study?

MUSICIANS: Leave a comment with the number of major key songs vs minor key songs and up-tempo vs. slower songs in your repertoire.

LISTENERS: When you go out this weekend (see live music lineup here), listen carefully.  Do you hear more happy or sad songs?  Leave a comment and let us know.

BOTH MUSICIANS & LISTENERS: Is Alice Cooper right?  Is pop music no longer fun?

JOEY: Should we create a poll?


  • Most definitely the ratio of uplifting vs self alienation pop since the 50’s has gone in favor of downer and angry, even psyco babble whining or chanting.
    I don’t recall identity politics in pop music in the 80s. Today’s blues is even more upbeat than today’s pop. Also using strummed minor and power chords replaces musicianship of talented lead guitarists and vocalists you could understand. Art reflects culture. It is where we are. There is still great new stuff out there if you are on the hunt.


  • I don’t think the minor key music is meant to be sadder versus that in a major key. I think the argument is more about the increasing complexity and sophistication off minor key pop music.
    It has more nuance

    As a moldy oldy who went to his first major concert when the Beatles played the Cow Palace in San Franciso I think in 1964, music then certainly had a less perplexing major key basis and felt more positive.
    Despite the drama of the 1960’s, there were far more songs in major keys than in the minor. Now the trend is the other way, topwards the minor and songs now just don’t relect pure happiness that they did 50 and 60 years ago.

    Ed Howe


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