What Kind of Songs Make Us Happy?

Admit it, we've all shed a tear over "Someone Like You." It is not uncommon for music to make us cry. Sometimes we even want it to, locking ourselves in our room after a bad day and turning on our most solemn playlist. But we also have songs that we turn on when we're feeling great and just want to dance. Or at least I do! So what type of music makes us happy?

Why Does Music Make Us Happy?
To put it simply, the music that makes us the happiest is the music we like the most. This seems pretty obvious. A study was done in which the participants were played some of their favorite music while undergoing a PET scan. It turns out that when we listen to music, the parts of our brain associated with language, memory, and emotion are effected, among others. But when we listen to music we really like, the parts of our brain associated with pleasure and reward light up too. When participants were played stock music, music they didn't get to choose, these areas of the brain showed far less activity. So music we like, makes us happy. But that's pretty obvious.

Care to Narrow it Down?
A more precise question might be what kind or genre of music is most likely to make us happy? Studies have been done to figure this out, but the data so far has been a little sketchy. There have been some connections, such as music with an up-beat tempo in a major key seems to elicit positive emotional response, but that's still pretty standard. 

For now, we may just be left with this answer, that the music most likely to make you happy is music you enjoy. What's most important is that music can have an effect on your emotions, and by being in tune to your musical tastes, you can help control your emotions and brighten up any of your days.


If there are certain aspects of a song that make us happy then there must be a formula out there to determine a combination of these aspects that make a perfect happy song. Something that taps into the mind and leaves everyone feeling good. Walking On Sunshine must have been pretty close but I believe there is still something more.. If it is possible for sound to trigger the part of the brain that makes us happy then it is possible to create a song like this. The science behind music is something that I feel is over looked which is disappointing due to its relevance to nearly every person on Earth.

This topic has been blogged about frequently and it's still tough to articulate why music makes us feel the way it does. In my opinion, it comes down to one thing, memory. Recently a song came on and my friend said, "I used to love this song. Absolutely love. I was driving with my windows down, feeling good, and then I got pulled over. I've heard it a few times since then, and all I can think about is the pit in my stomach I got when the blues came on." For me, I think this means that yes people love music because of it's sounds, but also the memory they have of where they were, what they were doing, who it reminds them of, when they hear that song.

I think that music also can affect the way we see the weather. For example, the past few days have been absolutely gorgeous here at State, and I've listened to nothing but happy music to and from my classes. It makes my day better to hear the happy music. But if it's dreary outside, and a happy song comes on, I start to get a little grumpy because it is too peppy. Is there a possible correlation between music, our moods, and the weather as well?

Also, what if songs from different genres make us happy? Is there a reason behind that? Could someone who absolutely hates hip hop come to love some catchy, cheesy, happy pop song?

Music has extremely powerful effects on us as humans. It can motivate us to do something or not do something. If you are in a bad mood and a song comes on you we immediately think the song is about us and when times are good the same thing happens. It is also said that working out and music go hand in hand. This abc news article talks about that same relationship and its effects on the brain.

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