Feeds

Boffins prove Queen ballad 'world's most catchy song'

We are the Champions hits right note

High performance access to file storage

Enterprising "music scientists" have declared Queen's 1977 cheesy power ballad We are the Champions as the world's catchiest song after thoroughly analysing it.

Certain features of Freddie Mercury's voice stir a primal urge in us, gush the boffins, and make us more likely to raise our voices in a chant and then, er, follow him into battle. So says musicologist Dr Alisun Pawley, who has just completed a PhD in "singability" at York University, and Goldsmiths music psychologist Dr Daniel Müllensiefen.

They believe that singing along to a song is "a subconscious war cry" that keys into an inherent tribal part of our consciousness. And that's why songs sung by men tend to be catchier: "Psychologically we look to men to lead us into battle, so it could be in our intuitive nature to follow male-fronted songs."

But not any old male-fronted song. A higher male voice with noticeable vocal effort indicates high energy and purpose, say Pawley and Müllensiefen, particularly when combined with a small vocal range. Both Mercury and rock boss Bon Jovi seem to have the requisite voice qualities.

Otherwise phrase length and pitch complexity are the attributes that make a song catchy.

"Longer and detailed musical phrases – the breath a vocalist takes as they sing a line is crucial to creating a sing-along-able tune," their overtly technical statement explains. "The longer a vocal in one breath, the more likely we are to succumb to a sing-song."

And a final crucial characteristic is the number of pitches in the chorus's hook. And the more the better. "The more sounds there are, the more infectious a song becomes" say the researchers. The ultimate catchy songs combined longer musical phrases and a hook over three different pitches.

The research, based on Pawley's PhD, has been published as part of a campaign to get the kids interested in science and engineering and to encourage entries to the National Science & Engineering Competition for 11-18 year olds.

Top 10 most annoying songs

By their reckoning, these are the top ten catchiest songs of all time:

  1. We are the Champions, Queen (1977)
  2. Y.M.C.A, The Village People (1978)
  3. Fat Lip, Sum 41 (2001)
  4. The Final Countdown, Europe (1986)
  5. Monster, The Automatic (2006)
  6. Ruby, The Kaiser Chiefs (2007)
  7. I’m Always Here, Jimi Jamison (1996)
  8. Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison (1967)
  9. Teenage Dirtbag, Wheatus (2000)
  10. Livin’ on a Prayer, Bon Jovi (1986)

Apologies, Reg readers: you'll probably be stuck with these in your head all day now. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
It may be ILLEGAL to run Heartbleed health checks – IT lawyer
Do the right thing, earn up to 10 years in clink
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Adrian Mole author Sue Townsend dies at 68
RIP Blighty's best-selling author of the 1980s
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.