If you've ever turned on the radio and thought that all popular music sounds the same, it turns out you might just be right. A recent study attempted to determine this once and for all by looking at 464,411 popular songs recorded between 1955 and 2010, from genres ranging from pop and rock to electronic and metal. The researchers examined three different aspects of each song — including pitch, volume, and timbre ("the sound color, texture, or tone quality") — and then analyzed the data.
They determined that the results "point towards less variety in pitch transitions, towards a consistent homogenization of the timbral palette, and towards louder and, in the end, potentially poorer volume dynamics." Not only does this show that music is getting nosier and more homogeneous, but as the researchers point out, it also shows why cover songs are so popular — you simply need to update these three aspects and an old piece of music will sound modern once again.