Piotr Migdał

Metal bands bring happiness (as chocolate brings Nobel Prizes)

21 Jan 2023 | by Piotr Migdał

Do metal bands bring happiness or maybe does happiness bring metal bands? For clarification, its about music groups - not personal ornaments!


Data comes from two sources:

I got inspired by a map by Jakub Marian:

Number of metal bands per capita in Europe by Jakub Marian

and this meme:

Scandinavian music vs Scandinavian society, compared to Polish music & society

If you want to explore the density of metal bands, see an Interactive Map of Heavy Metal Bands By Country Per 100,000 People.

"Chocolate brings Nobel Prizes" is a reference to There's A Shocking Connection Between Eating More Chocolate And Winning The Nobel Prize. Ironically, this research article takes this correlation non-ironically. While not entirely implausible (chocolate contains a lot of healthy ingredients that improve cognitive functions), most likely this relationship diminishes a lot after controlling for GDP per capita. Sure, the Swiss have lovely chocolate and they eat a lot of it. But also live in one of the richest countries.

A figure from F.H. Messerli, "Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates", N Engl J Med (2012)


Correlation is not causation. I don't think there is a direct, causal link between metal bands and happiness. The title is intended to be humorous, not treated as real science! To the point that I didn't care that much that I combine data from 2016 (metal band count) and 2022 (happiness score).

I picked European countries on purpose - as it is a region (but not the only one!) in which metal music is a thing. Plus, to get all countries with a label, I had to reduce the dataset somehow.

In other countries most likely it correlated to other locally popular music or other creative activities. While possible, I would be rather surprised if the correlation goes only for metal music.

I guess that it is about conditions that are favorable for creative activities. That is - disposable income and safety net, tolerance and freedom of speech.

Also, all surveys measuring happiness have their shortcomings. The answer might depend on the meanings of words in a given language or culture. Especially as Finland, a country with the highest density of metal bands is the happiest country in the world but also has relatively high suicide rates. If anything, results may make more sense within a given country:

Money can buy happiness - The Economist

Source code

Generated in ggplot2. Since quite a few people asked about the code, I share it here to


df <- read.csv("./metal_bands_happiness.csv")

ggplot(df, aes(x=Metal.bands.per.capita, y=Score, label=Country.or.region)) +
  scale_x_log10() +
  stat_smooth(method = "lm", size = 0.5, alpha = 0.2) +
  geom_point(color = "red", size = 0.5) +
  geom_text_repel(size = 3, point.size = 0.5, segment.alpha = 0.5, segment.color = "red") +
  xlab("Metal bands per 1M people") +
  ylab("Average happiness score") +
  labs(caption = "Data sources: Enc. Metallum (2016), after Jakub Marian; World Happiness Report (2022). Chart by Piotr Migdał, p.migdal.pl, CC-BY.")

geom_text_repel creates non-overlapping text labels see its documentation and is a drop-in replacement for geom_text. I have just found it and I will use it again a lot.

Full code with data as a GitHub Gist.