Today is the 28th of February – officially the last day of winter. However, the weather forecast is announcing unusually cold weather with lots of snow and winds, disrupted transport services and numerous delays. Ever thought this could actually change your music preferences? 

Numerous studies have shown that our moods change according to the weather (even in the literal sense), which in turn are expressed in the music that is being produced and that we listen to. Researcher Karen Aplin of the University of Oxford, together with other 5 scientists, examined 15,000 English pop songs from the 1950s to the present in order to find correlations between weather and music trends. What they found was that out of 500 greatest songs of all time, around 7% were related to weather (Rolling Stone magazine, 2011). One interesting, even intriguing fact is that the music written in the 1950s (with notorious titles such as 'Singin' in the rain') had many references to storms and rains, which might have been related to the hurricane-specific weather of those times. 

Another study by Pettijohn et al. (2010) found that college students tend to prefer calmer, slower music during cold seasons, whereas the warmer seasons tend to be associated with energetic, upbeat music. This could be explained by the fact that “seasons influence our physical and psychological activities, stressors and emotions”, meaning that our bodies generally slow down their overall activity, as the metabolism makes the body preserve energy and heat during winter. Moreover, the study showed that individuals prefer more mature and meaningful elements in their lives when environmental stimuli are more threatening (e.g. freezing cold or storms). This is why we are more likely to listen some poetic Beatles than a dance mix on a cold, rainy day! 

But this is not all! Some researchers even argue that daylight has an important role in our change of musical perspectives. This is because decreased level of daylight is one of the causes for the seasonal affective disorder – high levels of sadness in certain times of the year. This may lead to a shift in our playlist trends from a jumpy set of tunes to doom and gloom or vice versa. 

Even though we tend to associate bad weather with slow music and sunny days with happiness, researchers predict that things will take a turn soon. "Under climate change, the type of weather people are influenced by to write might change," said Aplin.  As more and more extreme weather events are predicted, there is a chance that music will potentially start becoming more focused on the 'dark side'.  

However, on a more positive note, let's not forget the therapeutical side of music and how it enriches our souls! Regardless of the genre or the complexity, music is always there to strike a cord and to resonate with our minds... And be it rain, snow or fog – music will certainly be the sunshine of your day! 


By Ioana Staicu, Oriel High School