Cynical – believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. (Google definition)
I was recently scrolling through MSN and came across an article titled “four minutes of Taylor Swift can spark feel-good chemicals, according to new research”. Nothing in the news was that interesting to me at that time but that headline set natural my cynicism off.
What do I know about Taylor Swift? I’m not really a fan of hers, I don’t follow any news about her or her career either. What I am aware of is the fact that she’s a singer that I’ve probably heard on the radio a few times. As far as I was aware singing and dancing were already known to be good for stress relief and positive hormone generation, attaching a specific singer to this idea strikes me as strange. Just seeing the title made me think someone was trying to sell me something.
I read through the article which stated that scientists have found that dopamine levels soar when belting out (singing) the Taylor Swift hit “Shake it off”. These same scientists think dancing to Taylor Swift is the cure to feeling low. I now had a specific song to work from. “Shake it off” is full of repetition and has a bouncy, fairly fast tune, although not my choice of music I can see why this could cause singing and dancing, therefore proving the title.
The article then had a bit about how we don’t all like heavy exercise and that singing increases out heartbeats per minute making it a good alternative. Apparently group singing is even better. It’s all believable so far but once again already known as far as I’m concerned.
On I read and suddenly “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars and “Call me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson we suddenly stated to have the same effect. Taylor isn’t that important to this discovery really, she’s just a big name that they could attach to the article for attention and a picture of her could be used for a feature image which pulls people into reading.
There it was, hidden near the end of the article. Someone was trying to sell me something. Where I thought it was Taylor Swift selling a new album or the anniversary of a song, it was that a new music streaming platform needed to get its name in the news. They were hiding behind something more famous than them and pretending to be scientifically factual as an attempt at advertising without the reader realising. My cynical brain got it straight away.
The scientific part involved 16 people over 24 hours and here’s two direct quotes from the article: “Monitored with high-tech devices that gathered the wearer’s heart rate, happiness, engagement, relaxation and synchronicity.” “The experiment analysed the differences between: listening to a track (audio only), watching a music video (audio visual) and singing along to four minutes of the same song. And compared the effects of doing each activity individually versus with a friend or family member.” – The sample size is pathetic, it states nothing about the age range or music preferences of the subjects and although 24 hours seems like a lot it really isn’t much for scientific proof. Once again it just seems like something to hide an advertisement behind.
The conclusion of the science was that any health benefits of singing come from the effort you put in, just like with exercise. My conclusion are that Taylor Swift wasn’t important to the science, the science was already known and advertisers are getting sneakier. My cynicism was just too much and it caught them out, don’t make the mistake of thinking something is good because a famous face is attached to it, often it’s just more of the same.
Solving negative moods and depression is a big thing so as much as I criticise, do take the idea of having fun while singing and dancing as important. Find pleasure and joy wherever you can.
Just to make clear, I have nothing against Taylor Swift and wish her no ill, she was just the subject of an article.