What scientists do all day is kind of a mystery.
We imagine they spend their days searching for a cure for cancer or watching the polar ice caps melt.
Not all of them, it turns out. A team of scientists at the University of Kentucky listens to tunes all day.
Hey, they’re just like us!
Before you start imagining a bunch of guys with lumpy sweaters and sensible shoes gettin’ jiggy with The Black Eyed Peas, remember these are scientists and there’s a serious point to all this.
And that is: After running three decades of hit songs through the computer, Dr. Nathan DeWall, a psychologist at the above-mentioned grooveyard of golden goodies, has discovered a significant trend toward narcissism and hostility in popular music.
Not sure he needs a research lab for that … all he really needs is an iPod and Eminem’s greatest hits, but he’s on to something.
Thirty years ago, everyone was having a good time (Kool & The Gang: Let’s All Celebrate); racial harmony (Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder: Ebony And Ivory); and togetherness (Sister Sledge: We Are Family).
These days, forget about peace and love, it’s just about me. Or Justin Timberlake (“I’m bringing sexy back”), or Beyonce (It’s blazin.' You watch me in amazement), and Fergie (“It’s personal, myself and I.”)
As for the bred-in-the-hood surliness of Eminem and his posse, DeWall factored in a control for hip hop, so those lyrics don’t unfairly dominate his study.
He discovered that although pop music may be dominated by barely weaned puppies like Justin Bieber, it’s not all love songs to Dora The Explorer. No one is feeling the love much these days, unless it’s love of self.
Exhibit A: Keri Hilson’s “All eyes on me when I walk in, no question that this girl’s a 10.”
It’s hard to believe things can change so much in a single generation, but guess what happens when the only subject taught in school is self-esteem? Then when you go to college, it’s Self-Esteem 101, Advanced Self-Esteem 201, etc.
Ergo: Pop self-esteem sells. I don’t need a scientist to tell me that. In fact, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to think. I’m the greatest writer in the world, and I’ll think whatever I feel like thinking. And if you don’t like that, remember Cee-Lo Green’s message in his 2010 Billboard top 100 hit, "F--- You."
Er, I can’t actually do that. This is a family newspaper.