Pop music represents ageing and elderly in a negative light, research from Anglia Ruskin University shows

 
Francesca Washtell
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Elton John was among the artists found by the study to be portraying ageing in a bad light (Source: Getty)

We've probably all thought there was something seriously wrong with pop music at times, a feeling that tends to increase as people get older. But it turns out pop music seems has turned against old age too.

New research shows mainstream pop music tends to focus on the negative aspects of ageing and old people, with 55 out of 76 songs examined portraying getting older in a bad light.

In a study looking at musical archives from the 1930s to 2016, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University's school of nursing searched Songfacts, the Music Lyric Database and The Maconium, among others, for English language music texts that referenced ageing.

The researchers then categorised the songs as either "contented and celebrated aged", "pitiful and petulant pensioners" and "frail and flagging old folks".

While Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Dusty Springfield were found to have written kindly about ageing in their songs Forever Young, Borrowed Time and Goin' Back; Elton, Pulp, The Who and The Beatles were all found to be in the unpleasant majority.

"It is imagined that the negative representations of age and ageing can be dispiriting, confidence and esteem lowering for older people and their potential impact might be considered carefully by artists," the researchers, led by Dr Jacinta Kelly, conclude from their research.

"However, while evidence exists that negative and positive emotions can influence health and well-being, further qualitative research is needed to explore what impact precisely the negative texts have on those experiencing ageing."

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