A Nature article from July used the underpinnings of analysing large datasets to take a look at developments in popular music over the last fifty years. This is certainly a method that brings out some different results to the work of historians of popular culture, musicologists and the claims of actual participants. Without copying the paper, the authors argue that music is a universal and that, like any other body of information, can be broken down into discrete, quantifiable elements, as defined by our understanding of music. This found a number of commonalities that indicated popular music over the last fifty years was based on common foundations.
The paper identified three changes that underpinned changes in styles: pitch palettes becoming narrower, homogeneous timbre palette and a trend towards loudness. There is no explanation given for why this trend has continued without change over the last half century. It is a pattern recognised.
A useful example of how big data can cast a fresh light on these subjects. Can we apply it to jokes and superhero comics. Over the last eighty years, we have seen a trend towards more ridiculous costumes; the trend commenced when a man wore his underpants outside his trousers with a cape.