A study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (via Eric Barker) offers a deeper, less psychedelic meaning to “Strange Magic” by Electric Light Orchestra (aka ELO, one of the greatest bands in the musical universe). According to this research, it makes perfect sense that ELO lead singer Jeff Lynne would go on and on and on about that “Strange magic/Oh what a strange magic.”
Researchers surveyed 157 heterosexual men and women to find out the big reasons behind their most recent breakups. Not surprisingly, gender differences emerged — but the differences themselves were surprising and decidedly non-stereotypical. Women tended to cut things off due to lack of autonomy, openness and equity; in other words, for practical reasons. Men’s breakup rationale was far more vague. Guys’ primary breakup logic? The loss of “the inexplicable ‘magic’ quality” in romantic relationships.
Of course, everyone breaks up for different reasons. And I’d be interested to see how researchers would approach and evaluate this study with same-sex couples. Also, since this research comes to us from 1986 — the year ELO released its penultimate album “Balance of Power” — I wonder if people might respond any differently today, or if there’s anyone who’s ever broken up with someone to due to his or her too-strong musical devotion to ELO.