Oct 30, 2011

What makes a song 'catchy'?

Music psychologists at Goldsmiths University of London & University of York have worked out what makes a tune 'catchy' by asking thousands of volunteers to sing along with various songs. The researchers then identified the scientific properties that give certain melodies the 'sing-along' factor.

- Longer and detailed musical phrases. The breath a vocalist takes as they sing a line is crucial to creating a sing-along-able tune. The longer a vocal in one breath, the more likely we are to sing along.
- A greater number of pitches in the chorus hook. The more sounds there are, the more infectious a song becomes. Combining longer musical phrases and a hook over three different pitches was found to be key to sing-along success.
- Male vocalists. Singing along to a song may be a subconscious war cry, tapping into an inherent tribal part of our consciousness. Psychologically we look to men to lead us into battle, so it could be in our intuitive nature to follow male-fronted songs.
- Higher male voices with noticeable vocal effort. This indicates high energy and purpose, particularly when combined with a smaller vocal range.

Queen classic 'We are the Champions' topped the list followed by party anthem 'YMCA' by the Village People.
Here is the rest of the list in numbered sequences:

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