Why Popular Music Shifts with the Seasons

Image courtesy of Alejandro Izurieta

We all experience feelings that are beyond our five senses. Love, overwhelming joy, and fear are emotions that start off as a feeling, but seem to become a physical “sense.” 

The most obscure one of these senses is the ability to ‘feel’ the time of the year. During Halloween, for example, whenever a spooky song is playing on a cold October night, many of us have indescribable feelings that make our bodies internalize the “vibe” of Halloween. 

“On Halloween, it’s as if I embody the spirits that are said to haunt the spooky season,” said Theodore L. ‘25. 

Research also suggests a correlation between time of year and feelings. Specifically, through Seasonal Affective Disorder the gloominess (both literally and metaphorically) of the winter causes an uptick in depression in those long winter months. Clearly, there is an indescribable sixth sense in the ability to ‘feel’ a time of year.

Students at Grace seem to believe that music amplifies the fluctuations of feelings throughout the seasons. 

“When I’m sad, I play sad music.,” Leo M. ’25 said. “When I’m happy, I play happy music.” 

Leo explained that the music that matches his emotion, in turn, helps him understand the music more. He connected this to the idea of festive music by explaining: “When music is in the correct season, it is more impactful…. 

“Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You,’ while a great song any time of the year, adds a special kick to the Christmas season.”  Leo also mentioned that, “Happier pop music is better in the summer.” 

From looking at this summer’s Spotify hits, some of the most played songs of the summer were “Last Night,” by Morgan Wallen; “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift; and “Ella Bailia Sola,” by Peso Pluma. 

Billboard chart anylist, music critic, and host of the popular podcast Hit Parade, Chris Molanphy, said in an interview with The Gazette, that, “While songs of the summer don’t fall under one genre, it usually is an uptempo record that sounds appropriate outside, on the beach, or in a supermarket, and usually caters to a younger audience.”  

File:Chris Molanphy 02.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Musicologist and critic Chris Molanphy. Courtesy of Joe Mabel.

Because kids are off from school, and people are in a good mood during the summer, these types of songs tend to gain traction.

But it’s not just summer that has a correlation to types of music. In the fall, people are typically upset that summer is over, and enjoy more sad and melancholy songs. A popular example of this is “Rockstarby Post Malone. 

During the winter holiday season, surprising no one, holiday songs increase in popularity because … it’s Christmas. However, other songs about snow or the winter also increase in popularity, as not everyone celebrates Christmas.  

In the winter, more upbeat tunes and dance music take center stage, despite the gloomy weather, because people want to dance away their sadness. 

According To Molanphy: “In the spring, songs of the summer are released — like Can’t Stop the Feeling — to gain traction in attempts to become eventual songs of the summer.”  Molanphy also theorizes that Spring doesn’t have its own “type of music,” due to the fact that it is “culturally” only one and a half months in length – beginning in late March and ending on  Memorial Day. 

Music and seasons have many correlations. Seasons make our feelings fluctuate a lot. It isn’t just the weather and the sunlight, but also what we are doing at that time of year. Depending on whether we are vacationing, studying, going out, or staying in, our mood shifts. Depending on what season we are in, we will have different interests, feelings, and moods; and those correlate into the types of music we listen too. In the summer people are generally happier, more romantic, and more excited. Therefore, that type of music is more commonly streamed. This Christmas, listen to “Last Christmas” or Jingle Bell Rock.”

Chances are you won’t just hear the music, but you will feel it too.

Milo Pesca ’25 is a staff writer for The Gazette.