Why do people like sad music? Listen to 6 Minute English


Sam: Hello. This is 6 Minute English,
I’m Sam.
Neil: And I’m Neil.
Sam: Do you like sad music, Neil?
Neil: Well, when I was younger and if I had
a break-up with a girlfriend I would listen
to sad songs, songs which
reflected my mood.
Sam: And do you still listen
to those songs now?
Neil: Not so much, but I do still
like them.
Sam: Well, it seems as if there might be
a biological reason why
some of us do like sad
songs. We’ll look at this topic a little more
after this week’s quiz question, which is
about music videos.
The music video has been around
for a while, but in what year was MTV,
the first dedicated music video
channel, launched in the US?
Was it… A: 1981, B: 1982, or
C: 1983?
Neil: Well…
Sam: What do you think, Neil?
Neil: I’m going to guess.
Is it the early 1980s?
Sam: Well, yes. Care to be more specific?
Neil: Well… Well, it was a long time ago
– I was just a small boy. I’m going to go
for 1982.
Sam: OK, I’ll have answer later
in the programme. But first,
more about sad songs. Professor
David Huron from Ohio State University
has conducted research
in this area and he discussed
it recently on a BBC World Service
radio programme – The Why Factor.
He was looking at why some
people like sad music and
other people really don’t like it all,
as he says they just can’t
stand it. He believes it’s to do
with a hormone. A hormone is
a natural chemical in our bodies
which can have an effect on various
systems and also emotions.
Listen out for the name
of the hormone he mentions.
Professor Huron: One of the things
that we were interested in was –
what’s the difference
between people who listen
to sad music and who love it,
and people who listen to sad
music and who just can’t stand it.
In our research, it started pointing
towards a hormone
called prolactin. Now, prolactin,
as you might have guessed from the
name, is associated
with ‘lactation’ from breast-feeding.
When people cry, they also
release prolactin. And,
there are circumstances in which
prolactin seems to have
this comforting effect.
Sam: So which hormone did he mention?
Neil: He talked about the hormone
called prolactin which he said was
connected to lactation.
This is the production of milk by
mammals to feed their young.
Sam: What he noted was this
hormone can be released when people
cry and in some cases
this hormone has a comforting effect.
When something is comforting,
it makes you feel
better, it calms your emotions.
Let’s listen again.
Professor Huron: One of the things
that we were interested in was –
what’s the difference
between people who listen
to sad music and who love it,
and people who listen to sad
music and who just can’t stand it.
In our research, it started pointing
towards a hormone
called prolactin. Now, prolactin,
as you might have guessed from
the name, is associated
with ‘lactation’ from breast-feeding.
When people cry, they also
release prolactin. And,
there are circumstances in which
prolactin seems to have
this comforting effect.
Sam: So, what conclusions did he make
about this hormone and how
it might be working?
Professor Huron explains.
Professor Huron: So the thought was that,
perhaps what’s going on
is that the people
who are enjoying listening to sad music
are receiving some sort
of excess of prolactin,
and people who are listening to sad
music and they just find it
incredibly sad and unhelpful
and they just don’t want to listen to it,
maybe they’re not getting
enough prolactin
when they listen to the music.
Sam: So what is happening?
Or as Professor Huron said,
what’s going on?
Neil: Well, it seems quite simple, though
I’m sure it’s very complicated. People who
like sad music are maybe getting
too much prolactin or more
than is normal – he describes
this as an excess of prolactin.
And maybe people who don’t like
sad music aren’t getting enough.
Sam: So, the idea is that prolactin
is a hormone which we find comforting.
If our bodies release
it when we hear sad music, it gives us a
good feeling – but if prolactin
isn’t released or there isn’t
enough of it, we just find the sad music
sad and it doesn’t help to cheer us up.
Neil: I guess so, but you know
emotions are funny things – it’s
weird to think that our
feelings are caused by different
natural chemicals that run around
the body.
Sam: Absolutely! OK,
we’re going to take another look at
today’s vocabulary but first, the answer
to this week’s quiz.
The music video has been around
for a while, but in what year
was MTV, the first
dedicated music video channel, launched
in the US? Was it… A: 1981, B: 1982
or C: 1983?
And Neil, you said…
Neil: I said it was definitely the early 80s.
Sam: Well, you’re not wrong there,
but which year exactly?
Neil: ’82?
Sam: Ah well, you’ll need to dig out
a sad song to make you feel better
now because the
answer was 1981.
Neil: Oh dear, I can feel my
prolactin levels dropping already!
Sam: I’m sure you can’t! But let’s move on
to vocabulary. If you
can’t stand something,
it means you really don’t like it.
Neil: A hormone is one of
the body’s natural chemicals.
Sam: And the hormone prolactin
is connected with lactation,
which is the production of
milk by mammals.
Neil: Something that is comforting
makes you feel better emotionally.
Sam: The phrase ‘what’s going on’ has
a very similar meaning to
‘what’s happening’.
Neil: And an excess of something is
‘too much or a more than normal
amount of that thing’.
Sam: Well, before you have an excess of
our company, we should wrap up.
Thanks for listening
and we hope you’ll join us again soon.
As ever, don’t forget that you can find
more from the BBC Learning English
team online, across social media and
on our very own app!
Bye for now!
Neil: Goodbye!

33 thoughts on “Why do people like sad music? Listen to 6 Minute English

  1. Don't be sad… Dan’s going to help you clean up your English with cleaning verbs (and make you laugh)!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhBOR2nlTt8

  2. My prolactin level is very high and always has been, and yet I dont like sad music. I like Enigma like music, relaxing, but not sad

  3. I like to listen sad music when i’ve big problem or someone hurt me or broke my heart this song make me remember all the bad thing

  4. Hi

    How can you determine if a song is sad? I've listened many song where you can say it's a beautiful song: beautiful music, great lyrics…but a sad story. So, what make a sad song sad?

    Thanks for the video !

  5. Can article 'THE' be used before 'week'.
    Is below statement correct?
    "You take care of the first three weeks of October and i will work in the last week of October". When you are already in November month. Kindly help. Thank you.

  6. the music is the language that we learn without going to school. when I listen to sad music I have got good feeling

  7. Hi There
    I am a big fan of " The Cure" ( English band) . This band and especially Robert Smith , has very sad songs. Poetic, realistic but so sad. They all express my feelings. Sometimes, I need to listen to them. Then, I can cry . And I feel very well…a breathing space.

  8. are there anyone having the same problem with me when listening to the Years that Sam mentioned? I hear 1991,1992 and 1993 instead of 1981,1982 and 1983.

  9. I can't stand the smell of cigarettes.

    I usually listen to happy song because it really is comforting.

    I had an excess of clothes when I was a kid so I picked the good ones and threw away the bad ones.

  10. The official song for me is: there”ll be sad songs from Billy Ocean and fits perfectly in this episode.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *