The rise of mental health as a lyrical focus for musicians

Music takes on many trends over the years of the most recent trend that the music world has embraced, is featuring mental health as a core sentiment within their lyrics.

As a music and mindfulness blogger, while I am happy that the conversation around mental health has opened up in a big way, what I am not so happy about, is the lack of warning given to listeners, that a certain track on an album, could be potentially triggering or difficult or uncomfortable to listen to for whatever reason.

This incident happened to me as I was blissfully unaware while listening to the album Voyage, which is the long awaited release from ABBA. Having grown up listening to their music, I always felt that their songs represented love, music, and the happiness and sadness of relationships. So I naturally became a bit uneasy as I listened dumbfoundedly to the track I Can Be That Woman. At least Arlo Parks was extremely open about adding this angle to her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams.

There was no pre-warning, not even during the promotions, that there would actually be an ABBA track that was loosely based on a domestic argument. I found it difficult to continue listening to that particular song and the rest of the album. Its certainly far cry from I Have a Dream! A similar occasion happened with the release of Adele’s album 30. Another highly anticipated release, at least during promotions, it was clearly mentioned that her album was written during her divorce but I hadn’t quite braced myself for how open she would be with sharing those emotions.

Now you might be thinking, if I haven’t experienced either been those situations in real life (which I haven’t), then why should it bother me so much? Well because music is mostly a form of escapism that takes us away from our world and into another one, and if we suddenly find more serious topics being written into songs, (from such popular artists), then we might as well lose that escapism forever. Also, any area of mental health can be heavy and in my humble opinion, should always present itself with a warning.

It seems to show the that some mainstream artists have forgotten to think about their listeners and instead of inspiring, have tried and make their music a whole lot more personal. No disrespect to them for doing that but at least give some sort of warning in advance for a listener. That way, for sure, independent artists are way ahead when it comes to giving warnings and explanations about their music, if it is mental health related and I do hope mainstream artists will take note of this.

2 thoughts on “The rise of mental health as a lyrical focus for musicians

  1. Thank you for this post. It would be interesting to see some form of advisory warnings or ratings in the way that other media is marked explicit or violent or triggering, for all those who are sensitive to such.


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