Why sad songs sell : Overcoming the sadness in your heart

I’m excited to have the first guest post on this blog and to have it written by none other than my brother, Chukwuemeka Onyebuchi.

In one of our many (usually enlightening) conversations, he said a statement I find hard to forget – ‘Sad songs sell’. He explained giving a few examples and bam! I got the message. I’m glad he graciously agreed to write an article on it. So here! Sit back and enjoy.

The issue of music is a very interesting and undoubtedly vast one. I was on a website recently and saw a quote that I found intriguing. It was by a Michael Schneider, he said, “If we were more aware of the effects sounds have upon us, we would be more careful about the frequencies we expose ourselves to”.

Music is such a powerful tool in communication. It speaks to us in a way words can’t paint. When we listen to music, in that one moment we feel the symphony and we feel connected in a way words can’t describe. This begs the question of what do we listen to, does even the roadside music affect the way I think? I hope you enjoy the rest of the article as we explore the subject matter of music.

Let us start by considering the power of music. An article written by Light Bridge Music did remarkable justice to this topic, and highlights these following effects of music.

The first effect discussed was the physical and mental effects. Whether it’s for leisure or to get by the day, music is always there to provide soothing relief. Cool music makes you forget about the struggles, while loud heavy music gives us this energy from an unknown source. Coming to the mental effect, I feel we can bring it home to Naija. In Nigeria we have one on the most difficult conditions for survival, but our people surprisingly still smile. I believe our music has a role to play in this. We prefer music that makes us want to “scatter the place” or “move body” and this gives mental energy to cope with the day and the struggles therein.

Our emotions are also susceptible to music, in fact too susceptible. Look at it this way, after watching a movie packed with action we all feel like jumping into the car and doing a J-turn, or gliding through buildings to engage in some intergalactic nonsense. Think of a romantic movie where the protagonist (actor) dies while the antagonist (“bose”) succeeds, we all feel this anger, bitterness and a lot of other emotions forming in our gut. We often don’t pay attention to the music playing in the background that magnifies our emotions beyond reason. Film makers, advertisers and a host of others make use of music to tune our emotions to their advantage.

Then there is this issue of Altered States of Consciousness, the author of that article makes mention of how a song could cause someone have an experience so real that it couldn’t pass for a dream. Lost of words to explain this phenomenon the author says “Calling this a dream seemed to be wholly inadequate; the word vision came closer.” Though the author was well aware that the music did not create these experiences, he could not explain where they came from. I will definitely talk about that shortly.

The medical benefits of music are also worth mentioning as music and sound have the power to “heal body, mind and spirit”.

As we have briefly seen, music is too powerful. Mental_floss in their article gave a very clear insight into various ways it has inspired people. People like Michael Phelps – the renowned swimmer with numerous gold medals, is said to listen to music seconds before diving in.

There are millions of songs in the world, each unlocking something in our consciousness.

This brings us back to something mentioned earlier, the Altered States of Consciousness. Now we live In the world whereby we say and believe stuff just because we don’t understand something. That’s the only explanation for someone to believe that a couple of things colliding would give us planets, galaxies, plants and animals. I mean I carry bags all the time, and despite the countless collisions I haven’t created a butterfly. Back to music, people need to understand that music goes beyond the physical, it has spiritual implications. Steven Collins gave a detailed explanation on this. Music is so powerful that it was the sole reason demons were driven out of people (in the case of Saul) while it was responsible for bringing down God’s presence (in the case of Elisha). This explains the Altered States of Consciousness.

Now that we’ve been able to take a glimpse into the power and importance of music, let us address a very important subject matter: sad songs.

There are different theories why we appreciate sad music and I have my theory. Let us begin this way, all human beings are not just physical beings but spiritual ones as we were created in God’s image. We live in a world that uses a mask of happiness to veil the sadness within. I mean, deeply depressed celebrities pose smiling beside their super cars, and their fans are somewhat sad of their ability to acquire same. There is this transfer of sadness. As if that isn’t enough, every day we hear of terrorism, natural catastrophes to mention a few. To crown it all up, we have our own personal issues constantly staring at us.

I believe that sad songs make us connect with the artist and thereby, providing an avenue for us to express those emotions beyond what words can do. These kind of music makes you forget anything about happiness and it gives you this surreal “experience” when you feel like you are connected with millions of people all at once and they share in our pain. The music gives your soul to express itself and it feels like not just your body but everything about you feels the ecstasy. Sam Smith is a typical example. I mean he is quite strong lyrically and communicates his emotions clearly. While listening to his songs, it feels like your soul yearns for more and more until you find yourself putting that song on replay. Whether its “Stay with me” or “Drowning Shadows”, his songs never leave you the same. Sad songs provide a sort of succor and that is a very key reason why we indulge.

Sadness is as overwhelming as happiness but we are all aware of the adverse effects. Therefore what other ways can we provide succor without sad music? I hope the following ways help you:

  1. When you feel morose go for a jog or engage in sports, it always makes you feel better
  2. Talk to someone. Carrying the world on your shoulders have never helped anyone. Talking to someone always gets it of your chest and makes you feel relieved.

I end this article with this quote:” If we were more aware of the effects sounds have upon us, we would be more careful about the frequencies we expose ourselves to”. Therefore, we should make conscious effort to listen to the right kind of music.


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