Markowitz, D.M. & Hancock, J.T. (2016). The 27 Club: Music lyrics reflect psychological distress. Communication Reports, 1-13.
People in psychological distress communicate differently than those who are free from psychological pain. We examine whether this phenomenon extends to musicians in popular media by investigating the lyrics of artists in the 27 Club, a notorious group of musicians who either committed suicide or who died of nonsuicidal causes at the age of 27. As predicted, the lyrics of suicidal musicians contained more self-references, more emotion terms, and were written with more verbal immediacy and in a more dynamic style compared to the lyrics of nonsuicidal musicians. These findings replicate and extend prior work on suicidal poets, suggesting that communication patterns in popular media can provide insights into the private psychological states of the artists who write them.