Study finds metalheads amongst happiest music fans

Fans of heavy metal music have created their own subculture that encompasses more than just appreciation of the style of music. Fans affirm their membership in the subculture or scene by attending metal concerts (an activity seen as central to the subculture), buying albums, growing their hair long in most to almost all cases, wearing jackets or vests often made of denim and adorned with band patches and often studs, and since the early 1980s, by contributing to metal publications.[1] Some critics and musicians have suggested that the subculture is largely intolerant to other musical genres. The metal scene, like the rock scene in general, is associated with alcohol, tobacco, and drug use as well as riding motorcycles and having many tattoos. While there are songs that celebrate drinking, smoking/dipping, drug use, gambling, having tattoos, and partying, there are also many songs that warn about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, gambling, tattoo, and drug addictions. The metal fan base was traditionally white and male in the 1970s, and since the 1980s, more female fans have developed an interest in the style. Also, its popularity and interest in it has grown among African Americans and other groups recently.

What’s that R.E.M song called again… Shiny Happy Metal People? Okay, those aren’t the real lyrics, but according to a new study they probably should be.

New research courtesy of online marketplace OnBuy.com (no, we’re not sure why they’re researching this, either) has found that metal is home to music’s second happiest fan base, thanks to the high level of positivity the community shows online.

The rigorous and absolutely definitely scientifically-sound research was compiled through the analysis of more than two million Reddit comments from the subreddits of 27 different music genres. The number of times positive words were used within the subreddits was calculated to reveal the hierarchy of fan base happiness, revealing that jazz listeners are the most positive, followed by metallers. At the more negative end of the spectrum were drill, grime, and drum and bass fans.

So here’s the stats: metal fans boasted one of the biggest Reddit communities with 1,388,473 members, and averaged 62 positive words per 100 comments. Throughout the community’s 57,837 total comments, 35,737 positive words were used.

To uncover the correlation between certain genre types and the happiness of their fans, OnBuy.com asked WeCure’s psychologist, Şirin Atçeken for the answers, who explained: “It is no secret that music affects your mental health, but it may surprise you that it is claimed that most jazz and metal fans are the happiest amongst music lovers. And this is for several reasons.”

“Jazz and metal are emotive and allow us to express our emotions whilst we listen to the music, but it’s two extremes. Metal affects us and is a natural anger management tool. It allows us to tap into our anger sensors, and actively address them, helping to manage these negative emotions.”

“People feel that their anger is matched to the music when listening to metal, and therefore find it easier to process it. Metal formulates a safe, and healthy space for this to happen. In some cases, metal also combats loneliness and makes us feel less alone in these emotions, allowing the listener to accept them.”

So there you have it, next time you’re feeling a little uneasy, listen to some metal. Doctor’s orders.

To read more about OnBuy's research and for the full list of music genres, find it over on their blog.

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Danny Boyle
Poet, Novelist and passionate Music lover ...

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