September 1, 2013

"In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest song in the history of pop music."

"Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen said of the study, 'Every musical hit is reliant on maths, science, engineering and technology; from the physics and frequencies of sound that determine pitch and harmony, to the hi-tech digital processors and synthesisers which can add effects to make a song more catchy. We’ve discovered that there’s a science behind the sing-along and a special combination of neuroscience, maths and cognitive psychology can produce the elusive elixir of the perfect sing-along song.'"

Yeah, some Brit said it, with British spellings in his speech balloons, but nevertheless maybe he's right. Before clicking — here — guess what song he was talking about.

Speaking of speech balloons and things learned while clicking around in Wikipedia, here's an early precursor to the speech balloon:

42 comments:

EDH said...

Aren't they confuse "catchy" with the ability to suck you and the rest of an audience in, particularly with rhythm, when a song is being played. "Sing-along", as the researchers describe it, as opposed to the tendency repeat independently.

Isn't "Champions" alternatively too syncopated and baroque for most people to sing or hum while walking down the sidewalk?

I think of catchy as repeating over and over in your head/humming/singing after the song is no longer being played.

Like... Co-Stan-Za.

chrisnavin.com said...

Is it sung in Esperanto?

Christy said...

How funny. My guess was "We Will Rock You," the flip side.

Yesterday's Wikipedia ramblings took me from the Wirral Peninsula, a marsh settled by Christian Vikings, through Tacitus, to the Jewish-Roman War, to Philistia, to the Armana Letters, to The Sea Peoples. The Sea Peoples intrigue me. The first time I looked them up Wikipedia, maybe two years ago, had a brief bare review of how little we know. Yesterday I found a much more fleshed out review with several competing theories and what evidence exists. I love how Wikipedia grows before my very eyes.

My perambulations through The Sea Peoples introduced me to onomastics, the study of proper names and their origins. How great is that?

Pete said...

Never heard of it.

Bob Ellison said...

No. The chord progression is way too complex for most people to understand, and the melody covers too wide a range. Catchiness requires simple chords and a narrow range so that people can at least pretend to sing along. "All You Need Is Love" is much catchier. So are "Call Me Maybe", "Mmm-Bop", and many other tunes.

Sam L. said...

I woulda thought Bohemian Rhapsody.

Saint Croix said...

I went with "Back in the USSR" because that song has the dumbest lyrics in the history of rock music. But I always sing along anyway.

Bob Ellison said...

"Irene, Good Night"
"Amazing Grace"
"Ode to Joy" (no words, but still)

Possibly "Ligo". Try listening to that and figuring out what happened to the key-- restart it right after it ends.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I'm guessing Dancing Queen. I cannot fucking stand Abba for this reason.

Gahrie said...

My guess would have been Bohemian Rhapsody. Seriously have you ever heard that song anywhere and not immediately began to sing along with it? At least in your head? I haven't.

phx said...

I've always found Queen absolutely intolerable to listen to.

bpm4532 said...

Well, if it's from scientific researchers ... who are we to doubt.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Huh-- My guess was "I wanna hold your hand...."

Which is now stuck in my head since thinking the title is enough to start it up....

LarsPorsena said...

Muskrat Love

bandmeeting said...

If they say so then I guess it has to be true and I will fully believe it.

Broomhandle said...

He's been to too many soccer games. Either that or he can't acknowledge his inner fascist. It's a horrible song.

The Godfather said...

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a sci-fi story (perhaps in "Tales from the White Hart"?) in which a scientist discovers what makes a song stick in our minds and uses that knowledge to create the most-catchy possible tune. The scientist listens to the tune and loses his mind; he can't think of anything but that tune. You've been warned.

viator said...

I still get to visit construction sites. Classic rock is the genre of choice on the radios. Queen is a regular feature of these stations.

Good old Farrokh Bulsara aka Freddie Mercury who wasn't afraid of truth in advertising. His songs are more than a third of a century old and still going strong.

He family was Parsi, Persian Zoroastrian refugees from Islam.

"We Will Rock You" must be a close second in popularity.

Jason said...

My Bologna has a First Name.

I'm a Pepper.

Will Cate said...

Almost anything the Beatles recorded is catchier and more memorable than that song.

Joe said...

Yet more evidence that you can spew the biggest bullshit as long as you throw the word "scientific" into it.

Inga said...

I thought it was YMCA, kidding. I never did like "We are the Champions".

Abba's "Fernando", Beatles "Paperback Writer", Beach Boys "Sloop John B" much more to my liking.

sonicfrog said...

I guessed "Hey Jude".

I did not guess any of th songs I've written. They're not catchy. I can hardly remember them myself.

jr565 said...

There is no science that will determine the catchiest song. You can't derive that by a mathematical formula because it's a subjective choice.
Even if you plug in math and physicas and frequencies it says nothing about preferences.
This is like my friend who puts up a poll of the top singers in rock/pop and then has a vote off to see which one is the best. It's not scientific. (and he left off Paul Rodgers. How scientific is that). But at the end of the day, the choice was completely subjective.

Gahrie said...

How about "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band?

You're welcome.

eddie willers said...

My Bologna has a First Name.

Curse you!

Jason said...

I went to my doctor and said, "Doctor, I have this song stuck in my head for three weeks! I can't get rid of it! I can't get it out of my head! What can I do?"

My doctor said, "Well, what song is it?"

"It's "What's New, Pussycat!"

My doctor looked very grave and said. "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you."

"What's that?"

"You have Tom Jones Syndrome, my friend."

"Oh, my God! Is that very common?"

"It's Not Unusual."

Stoutcat said...

I was thinking more along the lines of the Coke commercial, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing".

But Queen is fine by me.

Mary Beth said...

The top 10 catchiest songs in the "history of pop music" are all English language songs. Wow, what are the odds of that?

Carol said...

I went with "Back in the USSR" because that song has the dumbest lyrics in the history of rock music.

And here I always took that song as some mighty fine irony.

Bob_R said...

"Isn't 'Champions' alternatively too syncopated and baroque for most people to sing or hum while walking down the sidewalk?"

Not if you waltz down the sidewalk.

Bob Ellison said...

Jason, we'll get you for that.

EMD said...

Wrong. It's Louie Louie.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

As for fairly recent tunes, probably "Lights" by Ellie Goulding or "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay. Absolute worst is the 20's ballad "Wreck of the Old 97", about the famous 1902 Southern Railway train wreck near Danville, VA, which has dreadful lyrics also (I would suggest not listening to it). "Champions" has never gotten stuck in my head at all. But I'm sure that I don't tend to remember catchy tunes, because I do try to completely banish them from my mind. With age and experience, doubtless I have become better at distinguishing songs that linger in my head because they are pretty from songs that against my wishes force me to keep them in my head. Still, when first listening to a mostly catchy song, it can even now be hard for me to tell whether it's appeal be from some prettiness or other that I should allow to be made to myself, which can let the song get a seductive grasp or two on me before I resolve for its banishment.

As last resort, I find that humming Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" is an effective sort of generally applicable music crucifix for exorcising catchy songs from the mind. The Judy Collins version is musically good, but it feels like when she sings "don't give yourself away" she wrongly interpreted the phrase's main intended meaning, a dreadful failing.

Duke Dan said...

Song complexity has already been analyzed from a computer science perspective decades ago (1977). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Complexity_of_Songs. The full paper (3 pages) is linked at the bottom. And for those not wanting to click the link, KC and the Sunshine Band rate as least complex.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Let's not forget "Wagon Wheel".

phx said...

Yeah, I'ma gonna go with Doo Wah Diddy. Infinitely better, more catchy. The lyrics have better imagery.

~~There she was just a-walkin' down the street, singin' "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do"
Poppin' her fingers and shufflin' her feet, singin' "Do wah diddy diddy dum diddy do"~~

bandmeeting said...

I nominate Cannonball by The Breeders.

I also want a Girl As Cool As Kim Deal but they don't exist.

boldface said...

If they really want to get the catchiest tune, it has to be "Do you know the way to San Jose?" Remember that one? Dionne Warwick?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqWt49o7R-k

Clyde said...

Sometimes the best songs don't even end up as hits, due to bad marketing, etc.

Here's one that I really like which you probably haven't heard:

Liz Phair - Count On My Love

Jim Ellison said...

The French F1 engine signing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgwr1SV7PMs

Saint Croix said...

And here I always took that song as some mighty fine irony.

Sure, Lennon is attempting to mock the Beach Boys and California Girls.

But to sing about the girls of the USSR, ugh. Why not a catchy little Nazi ditty while you're at it?

It's an idiotic song because it is so fucking glib about the horrors of Communism.