Why do we listen to Melancholic music?

The year 2020 has gone through a rough patch. In particular, the pandemic has affected all of us mentally and physically. Being in lockdown could trigger intense mental stress regarding our own existence and the important things in life. Therefore, it is understandable to experience anxiety and depression during isolation.

Music is a great way to sooth these negative thoughts. More than often, I would put on my headphones and turn on Spotify to cope with the overwhelming load of emotions. I bet I’m not the only one who has a different kind of playlist for these types of emotions.

Crying as a taboo

Sadness is undoubtedly the type of feeling we would not want to experience frequently especially during times like this. Instead, we often try to stop it when it is in our control. The reason for this is that crying is typically seen as a sign of weakness and shame in our society.

I am guilty of listening and crying to sad songs myself which often results in getting puffy eyes the next morning. Nonetheless, it is scientifically proven that crying can benefit us. Crying is an important action to relieve stress and heal our mental health. Hence, listening to sad music and crying to it does not make us awkward or less strong.

Little boy cries during “Say Something”, Source

Why do we listen to sad songs when we are sad?

Rationally, one would assume that listening to happy, upbeat music would help ease pain and negative emotions. However, it’s not always the case. One study has proven that the choice of music is less about the ideal mood and mostly about songs that express and/or reflect the listeners’ current emotional state. Therefore, listening to sad songs can contribute to overcoming the depressive emotions.

As music has a profound impact on people, melancholic music could activate psychological processes that one needed to feel better. This type of music stimulates emotional acceptance because the feelings shared through the songs are real and relatable. For instance, listening to songs that express your miserable emotions can be a help in getting over bottled up feelings.

Moreover, humans crave intimacy, social interactions as well as the sense of connection. This is why we often go back to the songs we relate the most. It is due to the fact that we feel connected with the expression of the songs. 

Photo from source

Here are two reasons why I think sad music is a pleasure to listen:


Music seems to have the power to provide comfort and company. When we are in an emotional distress or feeling lonely, we would prefer to listen to soothing and sad songs. It is as if the music represents a virtual friend who shares the same mood as us. This simple presence of a friend that understands us help us in dealing with sad thoughts.


Melancholic music is a good trigger for nostalgic memories. Such a reflection of memories can improve our mood, especially if those memories are connected to significant moments in life. For instance, childhood, high school, college or maybe our partner. Through vivid imaginations, we get to enjoy the sweetness and bitterness of these memories.

To conclude, melancholy music rewards us with some kind of pleasure, comfort, and pain at the same time. Don’t worry! It is totally normal to feel a bunch of emotions simultaneously as we are human beings. Again, during this pandemic, stay safe and listen to music. If you ever feel like crying, just let it all out because it’s good for you and also helps to relieve the pain.

Last but not least, here are a list of the songs that make me emotional at night. You could give it a listen too!

Written by Nursuffiya Aleena Muhammad Zubir