Does pop music have a ‘Rhythm Of The Rain?’

Weather is frequently portrayed in pop music, with a new scientific study finding over 750 popular music songs referring to weather.

The most common were sun and rain, and blizzards being the least common. The joint study published in the journal Weather also found many song writers were inspired by weather events.

The study involving The University of Manchester academics along with colleagues from Newcastle, Southampton, Oxford and Reading analysed the weather through lyrics, musical genre, keys and links to specific weather events.

Frequently, songs mentioned more than one weather type, indicating a range of emotions within a song. Songs mentioned up to six weather types, such as ‘Stormy’ by Cobb and Buie. Over 900 songwriters or singers have written or sung about weather, the most common being Bob Dylan, followed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Weather-related songs are also very popular, with 7 per cent of them appearing Rolling Stone’s (2011) top 500 list of the Greatest Songs Of All Time[1].

The study also found that musicians were inspired by specific weather events. Dr Sarah Mander, from the University of Manchester, said: “There is definitely a pattern whereby after periods of bad weather you get a lot of weather related songs. References to bad weather in pop songs were statistically more significant in the USA during the more stormy 1950s and 1960s than the quieter periods of 1970s and 1980s, for example.

“And in 1969, George Harrison wrote the Beatles’ hit “Here Comes The Sun” after being inspired by one of the first sunny days of spring after a ‘long cold lonely winter’.”

The study concluded by noting a total of 30 weather-related artists, bands and lyricists, including Wet Wet Wet, The Weather Girls and KC and the Sunshine Band.

The team, who conducted the research in their spare time, are interested to learn about any weather-orientated music songs they may have missed in their study. For a full list of weather songs and to add missing songs, see http://bit.ly/1IfrtoL

Notes for editors

A copy of the paper ‘Is there a rhythm of the rain? An analysis of weather in popular music’ Brown, S., Aplin, K.L., Jenkins, K., Mander, S., Walsh, C. and Williams, P. (2015) Weather (doi:10.1002/wea.2464) is available from Media Relations on request. http://doi.org/10.1002/wea.2464

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