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Listening to ironically-enjoyed music: A self-regulatory perspective


Psychology of Music

Published online on


This research examines adults’ reported motivations for listening to music that they enjoy ironically using Thematic Analysis. Based on the pilot study (N = 96), ironically-enjoyed music was defined as "Music that is enjoyed because of being bad, despite being bad, or for different reasons than intended." Many relevant self-regulatory functions of listening to music in general were relevant to ironically-enjoyed music in the main study (N = 175). Ironic enjoyment of music also has unique characteristics: the additional role of mocking, ridiculing, and laughing at the music, and the social benefit that this provides. Music that was listened to "because of" its negative features had a variety of musical features, and the listening usually served functions unique to ironic enjoyment of music. When music was listened to "despite" negative qualities, the music itself was often described as having attractive rhythm, melody or lyrics, while the irony protected the listener from conflicting values associated with the music, helping the listener communicate to others that they did not identify with the music on a higher level. Unfamiliar music mainly played a social role, whereas familiar music related to nostalgia as well as most other functions.