Push the tempo: the changing pace of pop music

Push the tempo: the changing pace of pop music

Jul 17, 2020
Remember what you were listening to in 2015? For pop fans, it was the year the ‘sad banger’ peaked – and artists like Adele and Sam Smith were topping the charts with a stream of sombre, downbeat tracks. But fast forward to 2020, and it seems like joy is back in fashion, as the BBC has reported that music is getting faster – and happier – on the whole. 

In 2020, the kitchen is the new dancefloor, and the euphoric tracks of artists like Dua Lipa, Harry Styles and Lady Gaga fill our homemade Saturday night playlists. No musician could’ve predicted what the world would look like by the time their album was being released in 2020, especially since many of today’s top tracks would have been written a year or more ago. Yet, it seems these artists were on to something when they headed into the recording studio all those months ago, as they’ve released exactly the kind of tracks we all needed this year – the ones that help you escape, even if just for a little while. 

The average tempo of this year’s top-20 best-selling songs is a heartrate-raising 122 beats per minute – the highest it’s been since 2009.

And these songs also score highly on the happiness scale, following the results of a study done by Spotify and the BBC into the prevailing mood of music. It’s no secret that a song has the power to lift our mood – and it’s a concept that’s been studied for generations. When we listen to music, our brain’s dopamine levels increase, which plays a major role in our experience of pleasure. And this is particularly prevalent with upbeat music. A study in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2013 reported that people who listened to upbeat music improved their moods and happiness within two weeks, as opposed to the sadder tunes another group listened to. 

Music is just as much a form of escapism for the artist as it is the listener.

Music is just as much a form of escapism for the artist as it is the listener. Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia record was written to get away from the pressures and anxieties of the outside world, as she tried to emulate the success of her debut album. She released it in the midst of us all staying at home, and said “I wanted to give people some happiness during this time, where they don’t have to think about what’s going on and just shut off and dance”.

Here at PHMG, we stay aware of all the latest trends in music to provide our clients with tracks that mirror the times – while also perfectly matching their unique identity. Over the last few months, delivering a sense of reassurance for callers has been the main aim for many of our clients, which has been reflected in the speed, instrumentation and overall mood of the new tracks our composers have created. But with the focus now on rebuilding, we’re expecting to write much happier, more upbeat tracks to motivate callers in the new business climate we’ve entered.  

It’s hard to predict at this stage what kind of music we’ll all be enjoying this time next year, but judging by how well-received the recent speedier tracks have been, it seems euphoria could be here to stay – and that’s something we can all get behind.