I am going to tell you something shocking: I’m not always happy. Sometimes, life is less than ideal. You may even find yourself straight-up sad. For whatever reason, I mean what could be going on in the world to make me think about this, I’ve been pondering listening to music when I’m sad. There are two ways to go when you turn to music when you are feeling down. You can listen to happy music to try and cheer yourself up, or you can steer into the curve and listen to those sweet, sweet bummer jams.
Obviously, you can do both of those. It’s not an either/or proposition. That being said, you probably tend to do one more than the other. The thing about it is that sad music really only works when you are down, or at least in a place when you are mentally prepped for something existentially taxing. A couple years ago, and this may tell you the kind of year I had, my top-played song on my end of the year Spotify list was “Funeral” by Phoebe Bridgers. That’s a great song, but it’s also an absolute bummer. It’s gutting. I could not imagine it coming on during a backyard barbecue. It sucks the energy out of any room. There’s not really room for sad music in a upbeat situation or when you have a happy mindset.
If you are down, though, you can listen to positive music. It can cheer you up. Sometimes simply the energy of an upbeat song gets you feeling better. There are those who don’t want to be thinking about negative things. If you are dealing with a breakup, listening to somebody talking about their breakup may just feel too painful. Or maybe it feels cathartic. Maybe the way you are feeling is being expressed. Also, the music sounds good. After all, there are amazing, beautiful-sounding songs that happen to be wrenching as well.
Music can set your mood, but it can also match your mood. When you’re feeling down, all the decisions you make take on extra importance. The wrong choice in terms of what you’re listening to could mess up your mood even more. You know what you like to do first and foremost. Some people prefer to try and lift their spirits by listening to happy music when they are upset. Other folks want to listen to something that reflects what they are already feeling. It’s not going to make them feel worse. It might even make them feel better. What kind of music listener am I? Well, I did just tell you my most-played song of 2018 was “Funeral.”