Charlie Thompson is a statistical data analyst, he enjoys programming complex algorithms to extract information from large amounts of numerical and measurable data. And his favorite band is Radiohead. Combining the two, he recently completed a complex algorithm that analyses the lyrics of all their songs, defining what he calls the “Gloom index”, a measurable sadness index, with which it is possible to assign a value from 1 to 100 to each song. The algorithm is explained in every single detail here and it calculates the melancholy of each track basing on the number of sad words in the lyrics, the positiveness/negativeness indicator provided by Spotify and the lyrical density. We recommend you to avoid the headaches and go directly to the results, displayed in a well-navigable way in the chart below (click on the image to go to the original page).
It emerged that, on average, latest album A Moon Shaped Pool is the most depressed one of their entire discography, with a gloom index of 32/100, while the “happiest” is In Rainbows, which measures 54/100. The happiest song ever made by them is 15 Steps, while the most depressed is True Love Waits. You can find it below.
The news has become viral recently, feeding the common cliché about the depressing mood of Radiohead’s music.
Why do supposedly more depressing songs get a lower gloom index? Surely it should be higher. Also, True Love Waits is a gorgeous song – it might be about unrequited love, but I don’t find it remotely depressing.