(source) - In a finding that's sure to ignite debates among music lovers around the world, researchers say they've identified the catchiest song of all time. The winner: the 1996 Spice Girls hit "Wannabe." (Try getting that out of your head now.)
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam worked with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, U.K., to figure out why some songs are catchy and others are not. "You may only hear something a couple of times yet 10 years later you immediately realize that you have heard it before," Ashley Burgoyne, a computational musicologist from the University of Amsterdam, told the BBC. "Yet other songs, even if you have heard them a lot, do not have this effect."
So what makes a song catchy? It's not simply your ability to know it and recognize it. It's how the song stays in your head even when it stops playing -- the so-called earworm effect. To measure this, the researchers developed a game. Because they're measuring "catchiness," it's not your typical name-that-tune type of arrangement. Instead, you hit the stop button the moment you recognize a tune, and then the game tests the ability of the song to keep playing inside your head. It's called Hooked on Music, which you can actually play for yourself right here. Warning: Your productivity for the day will plummet the moment you click on that link. Then again, how often do you get to participate in real science?
The game used the top 40 songs from each decade over the past 70 years. Of the 12,000 people who played during the yearlong study period, the Spice Girls track was tops, recognized in an average of 2.29 seconds. And while the game may seem silly, there is a very serious purpose behind the study. The researchers wrote on the game's website that they hope to use the results to further research into dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Here's the full list of the top 20 catchiest songs, at least as determined by the study:
- Spice Girls, "Wannabe"
- Lou Bega, "Mambo No. 5"
- Survivor, "Eye Of The Tiger"
- Lady Gaga, "Just Dance"
- ABBA, "SOS"
- Roy Orbison, "Pretty Woman"
- Michael Jackson, "Beat It"
- Whitney Houston, "I Will Always Love You"
- The Human League, "Don't You Want Me"
- Aerosmith, "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing"
- Lady Gaga, "Poker Face"
- Hanson, "Mmmmbop
- Elvis Presley, "It's Now Or Never
- Bachman-Turner Overdrive, "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"
- Michael Jackson, "Billie Jean"
- Culture Club, "Karma Chameleon
- Britney Spears, "Baby One More Time"
- Elvis Presley, "Devil in Disguise
- Boney M., "Rivers of Babylon"
- Elton John, "Candle in the Wind"
There you go science, just proving you're bullshit once again. Lady Gaga appears twice on the top 20 catchiest songs of ALL TIME?! Do you know how much time that is? She's been around for what, like 5 years, maybe 10? You're telling me that all of my parents and the older generation know "Poker Face" well enough to get it stuck in their head? Do you think me or most of my friends know Abba? I get it, the study is to see what songs stick in your head, not necessarily songs that everyone knows, but my point is that songs with singable lyrics get stuck in my head all the time, meaning that you need to at least think you know the words, even to one small section, in order for it to truly stick in there. There's at least three songs there that I couldn't hum or sing if my life depended on it. You're gonna give me a top 20 catchiest list that doesn't include "Heat of the Moment" (Asia), "Just Can't Get Enough" (Depeche Mode), "Lovefool" (The Cardigans), "Never Gonna Give You Up" (Rick Astley), "It Wasn't Me" (Shaggy), "Ignition (remix)" (R. Kelly), or pretty much anything by Steve Winwood? Clean it up science.
Having said that, I will say that there are a couple great calls, and I can't really disagree with number 1. I wouldn't argue it's MY number 1, but I can't say it's not a solid pick. Hanson, Whitney, Boy Goerge, Lou Bega: surefire top 20 candidates. I just think you need to reach a wider audience and really know what the people want before you start throwing out lists and declaring songs catchy or not. I mean this is serious shit, don't go fucking it up.
P.S. Throw up your catchiest song candidates on the Facebook comment section.
P.P.S. I tried that song listening game to see how they came up with it. I will say, it seemed comprehensive in terms of total songs used, but it kept crashing on me AND it's not always right... or maybe I wasn't right, who knows.
P.P.P.S Seriously, no Winwood...? Unacceptable