Gloomy days inspire us to play that funky music

Megan Foster      No comments
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In the summertime, when the weather is fine, we Brits switch over to less “bouncy” and danceable music, preferring to save the likes of Mungo Jerry for grey cloudy days.

That is according to Spotify, the streaming service, which has partnered with a weather forecaster to create playlists of the music that people in cities around the world listen to in different weather conditions.

The “climatune” playlists were compiled using data from 1,000 weather stations and over 85 billion streamed tracks of all genres over one year. Overall, people listen to happier, bouncier and more danceable music when it’s sunny and more downbeat music when it’s cloudy or rainy — hardly surprising.

However, the UK bucked the global trend, with Britons more likely to play dance music as well as “bouncy” genres such as skiffle and reggae when it’s cloudy and less likely when the sun is out. This trend does not extend to rainy weather, when we do opt for sadder, lower-key choices.

The playlists reflect people’s preferences in the year to November but the website also provides live maps showing what people are listening to at any given moment. At the (dreary) time of writing, other Londoners were listening to the high-tempo songs Let the Sun Shine by Labrinth and Flowers by Sweet Female Attitude, apparently bearing out the research.

Overall, people in cities such as New York, where the weather swings between seasonal extremes of heat and freezing cold, are more strongly affected by the weather in their music choices than residents of the UK. The sun also has a particularly strong effect on the listening preferences of continental Europe, where the locals do go for the happy, bouncy, danceable songs you would expect on gorgeous days.

Around the world, the tracks favoured on rainy days were more acoustic than electronic and exhibited higher levels of “organism”, a measure of how “human” a track sounds — for example, using a live drummer instead of a drum machine.

Spotify’s team aren’t the first to notice the link between the weather and musical preferences. Previous research has found that American college students prefer blues, jazz, classical and folk music during the autumn and winter months; and hip-hop, soul and dance during the summer months. They rate pop and country music the same throughout the year.

The weather has also inspired a significant proportion of the most popular music, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to the Beatles’ Here Comes The Sun.