Hongkongers Are the 'Saddest' on Spotify

Hongkongers Are the 'Saddest' on Spotify
Photo Credit: Vincent Yu / AP Photo / 達志影像

What you need to know

Hongkongers listen to the 'saddest' songs on Spotify. This doesn't appear to be an accident.

The Economist published an intriguing survey that analyzes music consumption in different countries, evaluating whether listeners prefer happy or sad songs.

Data from Spotify shows a specific algorithm that calculates each song’s “valence,” or its happiness on a scale from 0 to 100. A happier song would score higher on the scale. The Economist collected data from 30 countries, including over 40,000 tracks with 330 billion streams in total.

So, who listens to the saddest songs?


The report only provided data without much detailed explanation. It mentioned that a February slump occurs mostly in North America and Europe, but also in sunny places in the southern hemisphere. This is perhaps due to a comedown after the holiday season and the gloomiest weather during midwinter. Most countries love listening to happy songs in July, whereas lively Latin music is popular in Hispanic countries all-year-round.

Hongkongers, though, listen to the gloomiest music regardless of the season.

Spotify’s user base is predominantly millennials. Perhaps Hongkongers’ music preferences are only related to their culture or tastes, not because of their social environment. But Hongkongers are infamous for their grim faces — Hong Kong’s service industry staff scored only 56 out of 100 in last year’s “global smile index.” The result should come as no surprise: The city has one of the world’s longest working hours and the most unaffordable housing prices that wouldn’t even budge in the face of a global recession. Hongkongers are of course gloomy to their core; this reality is reflected in their music choices.

Moreover, the lower public approval the government officials have, the longer they can stay in office. Grassroots legislative election wins are basically “treacherous.” A judge praised a knife attacker for having “noble sentiments” because he reported himself to the police station after injuring a reporter and two protesters last year. Hong Kong police officers who allegedly broke the land and housing laws are still swaggering around town.

Carrie Lam is also acting as if she did Hongkongers a favor by distributing reusable face masks resembling underwear months into the outbreak. Hong Kong Coalition, recently formed by a bunch of pro-establishment elites, is boasting about how it would “get Hong Kong started again.” It’s been a few decades and we’re still seeing the same faces rotating — ghostly as they are, they’re acting out a perfect Hong Kong tragedy.

Living in a society like this, Hongkongers would just find happy tunes to be another sneer.

This article was originally published in Chinese on The News Lens.

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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty, Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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