Arts & CultureHealthMusic

Just shake off the bad vibes



Taylor Swift’s 1989 has been number one on the Billboard 200 for 11 non-consecutive weeks, and “Shake It Off” – the album’s first single – was number one for 21 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100. Perhaps you felt a bit happier than usual during Swift’s reign on the radio. Well, you’re not alone.

MTV News recently published a story on mental health and “Shake It Off.” Simon A. Rego, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Yeshiva University, targets lyrics in the song and explains how exactly they can benefit our health.

“I keep cruisin’/Can’t stop, won’t stop moving,’ is a behavioral principle,” said Rego. “She’s saying basically, regardless of the chitter-chatter or buzz around her, ‘I’m going to focus on moving on to what’s important in my life or things that I value or goals that I have.’”

The haters are still going to hate (hate, hate) and Revo knows that, but we have to follow Swift’s wisdom. “People around you are going to be who they are and unfortunately, we often have to deal with people in our lives that are negative,” he said. “You don’t have to put your focus externally on those situations, you can turn your lens inward and instead focus on what’s important to you and work on yourself. It’s much better to ‘shake it off.’”

But the link between music and psychology is not limited to Taylor Swift. University of Southern California professor, Joseph Nunez, explained the success of a song and its repetition. “Songs that are more repetitive do better,” said Nunez. “So once you got on the Hot 100, the more you repeated the chorus, the more word repetition, the less complex the song, the better it did.”

Jenny Mendoza, a graduate student here at the University of Oregon, is researching links between how easy it is for us to detect patterns paired with predictable music, and how that relates to why specific music is well-liked. “There is this sweet spot of complexity where it’s interesting enough that it catches you, but predictable enough that it has that repeated chorus,” said Mendoza, explaining “Shake It Off’s” 21-week reign.

Sometimes it won’t be Taylor Swift to cheer you up, it might be the band you were obsessed with in middle school, and that’s psychological too. “A lot of people’s music preference is based on their adolescent period because music at that point is a really strong sign of identity. A lot of the way you identify with a social group is through music.” said Mendoza. “Because of its heightened importance at that point in one’s life, it often lingers throughout adulthood.”

Mendoza explained that a loud, fast, simple song is associated with happiness, and a slow, soft and complex song is associated with sadness.

So, don’t fill in that blank space of yours with sad Starbucks lovers (or your long list of ex-lovers), but rather fill it with some encouraging and cheerful music to feel happy. After all, “the number one reason that people usually cite (listening to music) is that they want it to help regulate their emotional state somehow… people seek music for that reason,” said Mendoza.

Follow Mike Mendoza on Twitter @MikeWheresIke

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Mike Mendoza

Mike Mendoza

Mike is an Arts and Culture reporter covering campus events while dabbling into the entertainment side of things. His free time is spent listening to Taylor Swift and researching Richard Nixon.