Heavy metal and jazz have a lot more in common than the uninitiated might think.
While the genres vary drastically in terms of aesthetics and volume, they make up for those differences where it counts — in making people happy. Fans of jazz and heavy metal are generally twice as happy as fans of pop music, according to the findings of a recent online study from OnBuy.com.
OnBuy analyzed more than 2.1 million Reddit comments from subreddits of 27 different musical genres, calculating the number of times positive expressions were used.
As a result of that research, OnBuy concluded that jazz fans were the happiest, using an average of 77 positive words for every 100 comments.
The heavy metal community came in second place with 62 positive expressions used in every 100 comments. The metal subreddit includes a robust 1.3 million users and more than twice as many comments as the jazz subreddit.
Opera came in third place with 56 positive words per 100 comments, but with a smaller following than the jazz subreddit.
Psychologist Şirin Atçeken of WeCure attempted to explain what might differentiate jazz and metal fans from people who follow other genres.
"Jazz and metal are emotive and allow us to express our emotions whilst we listen to the music, but it’s two extremes," Atçeken told OnBuy. "Jazz is a major stress buster and causes positive effects. It physically changes the body, and lowers heart rate and pulse, making us feel calmer and relaxed. Jazz can also improve memory, focus, and boost our mood.
"Metal also 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."
From a social standpoint, too, jazz and heavy metal get high marks for their sense of community.
Perhaps because of their relegation in the popular culture sphere, people who love jazz or metal are more likely to strike up friendships with other likeminded listeners, Atçeken notes. Those communities — particularly during a rough 2020 — provide members valuable support and acceptance.
If you identify as a jazz fan or a metalhead, you've probably accepted something very important about yourself: you are different from other people, and that's okay.
Jazz and metal fans have few illusions of conformity and have "accepted who they are as individuals and are more assured of themselves," Atçeken concluded. "Acceptance and understanding is the key to happiness after all."
The OnBuy study is one of many in recent years to push back against heavy metal's negative stereotypes with scientific evidence to the contrary.
In 2019, Ph.D. psychologist Nick Perham theorized that metalheads are happier and more well-adjusted compared to other non-metal fans.
That same year, a study by an Australian university found that a death metal song about cannibalism was no more likely to inspire violence than a cheery pop songs about feeling happy.
People within the metal world, too, have long endorsed the genre's welcoming environment.
"There are no labels on us in the metal community. We're just all together," he said.
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