top of page

Young people connect with songs about mental health and confidence more than adults 

- Adults resonate more with lyrics around nostalgia, friendship, love, and desire–

- 89% of UK residents believe music is a great platform to express yourself -

Young people and adults in the UK are worlds apart when it comes to the music that they connect with the most, according to a study released today that lays bare the most common themes being written about in songs that pull on people’s heart strings, whilst at the same time unveiling the true impact that the pandemic has had on our society – especially the young, who believe that music is the answer to their problems.

An overwhelming majority (89%) of the 3,000 respondents quizzed by NCS (National Citizen Service) - a non-for-profit organisation that gives young people a platform to meet new people, learn new skills and make a positive difference in their local community – confirmed that music is a great platform for expressing how you feel, rising to a staggering 96% of young people.


The YouthSight & YouGov Study conducted in February 2022 takes a deep look into the connection that music has with different age groups in the UK throwing up some interesting comparisons. 


16 – 24-year-olds are twice as likely as those over 25 to resonate with music that speaks to personal concerns such as mental health or confidence issues than adults would.   34% of young people selected these as one of their top 3 themes, compared to only 17% of their elder counterparts. Suggesting that they could be the driving force behind some of thecountry’s well-known artists topping the UK charts with their songs about anxiety and depression. ‘Save Myself’ by Ed Sheeran, ‘In My Blood’ by Shawn Mendes, and ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay were all big hits that openly discussed their personal battles through their music for others to connect with.


These figures clearly signal that the “lost generation” in the UK are trying to find coping mechanisms to help them overcome some of the issues they may be dealing with after the past two years of unprecedented times and support recent claims from the UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has acknowledged that national levels of depression have almost doubled since the start of the disruption caused by COVID19.


When asked to imagine being a songwriter, and what would music listeners be most inspired to write about “anything that my emotions wanted me to express” was the overall front runner with over half (55%) of UK respondents choosing this as one of their top 3, rising to nearly 7 in 10 (64%) young people.   18–21-year-olds felt this the most, with 67% placing it in their top 3, with the 16–17-year-old teenagers closely behind (62%). Specific to the South West, nearly 3 in 5 people also felt this (59%).


Over a quarter (27%) of people from the South West also prioritise music that provides “the chance to give a voice to those who don't have one” further justifying the claim that young adults in the UK truly believe that music is a fantastic way to connect with oneself, or a helping hand through personal issues that they could be suffering from - as they fight to rise from the ashes of the pandemic that has arguably, been felt by this group of people the most.


The research has been released to coincide with the launch of NCS’ Mixtape 22 - a six-minute journey through music and opinions that has seen three up and coming artists collaborate with young people across the UK, to create a song whose lyrics represent the real thoughts and feelings of a generation and the world around them.


Rising stars Saidu, Victoria Jane, Emma Cannon, producers Star.One and NCS joined forces with a selection of young people to develop this audio-visual representation of a generation that symbolises the organisation's ‘No We Can’ attitude – a push back to society that is often guilty of tarnishing Gen Z as lazy and mobile gazers.

Miriam Jordan Keane, Chief Brand Officer NCS said: Music is an incredibly powerful tool to not only share your own feelings but also spark emotion and discussion amongst others, and that was our real motivation behind Mixtape 22.   Working with such inspirational young, rising artists in the music industry whilst recording this campaign continues our commitment to giving the next generation who have arguably suffered the most during these past two years, a platform to not only get their voices heard but also to use that voice to comment on the world around them and bring people together.


When continuing to look at the top themes that music lovers in the UK connect with things the most, whilst the young and adults are from different worlds on some themes, they closely connect on others.  Lyrics that express Love and Desire topped the top 10 list, with over half of respondents from the South West (52%) saying that these themes allowed them to connect with the music they’re listening to more than others. Heart-warmingly it’s the young people in the UK that connect with these lyrics the most - 62% selecting this in their top 3 compared to 48% of adults over 25.


Songs that evoke feelings of nostalgia were a close second to love in terms of what resonates with those living in the UK the most. Lyrically, it seems someone reminiscing both the good and bad moments of a failed relationship or moment in their life, during which the singer becomes nostalgic while finally acknowledging its culmination, hits the right note with nearly 3 in 5 (58%) of those quizzed from the South West placing this in their top 3.


In contrast, and arguably unsurprising it’s the over 25s who connect with nostalgic songs the most, with 57% choosing the theme as the music that draws them to having a connection with, compared to their younger counterparts (42%). Yearning for the past hit the spot with the over 65s group the most, with 70% of respondents placing it in their top 3.

Furthermore, writers’ breakup stories resonate twice as much with young people than adults according to the study with a quarter (25%) of the younger generation strongly connecting to these lyrics, with nearly 3 in 10 (27%) of 16–17-year-olds including this response in their top 3 choices, and possibly the driving force behind Adele’s album‘30’  that diarises her divorce being big hit and her comeback hit single “Easy on Me” soaring straight to Number 1 on the Official Singles Chart. 


The Mixtape 22 video can be viewed on NCS or via YouTube

bottom of page