We all know what a good hook can do. Those riffs or melodies that can nestle their way into our heads and settle there on repeat for hours, or even days.
Those catchy tunes that only seem to come unstuck from our brains once another equally infectious song comes along to replace it. But what are music’s most potent ear-worms of all time?
That’s the query that was put to 700 music fans in the UK, as part of the largest ever experiment into what makes certain kinds of music so memorable, in an effort to help future research into Alzheimer’s disease, as The Telegraph reports.
Appropriately topping the poll was none other than ‘our’ Kylie, the diminutive ARIA accolade-mongering Ms. Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ fittingly named as the catchiest song of all time.
Following closely behind, and demonstrating that most music fans have a short memory, was Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ in second place and in third place, another of this year’s most successful singles, Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’.
Others tune voted into the ‘can’t get it out of our head’ stakes included Sinead O’Connor’s Prince-penned hit ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, memorable theme tune to The Sopranos – ‘Woke Up This Morning’ by Alabama 3, Aerosmith’s ‘Love Me Two Times’, and two singles from Swedish pop maestros, ABBA, with ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘SOS’.
The Top 10 Catchiest Songs have been selected as part of #Hooked, a project launched as part of the Manchester Science Festival, with the results of the 700-person strong poll being used to help scientists researching Alzheimer’s better understand ‘musical memory’, using catchy musical fragments to help identify and predict ways in which music’s inherent memory triggers and therapeutical benefits work.
“Understanding catchy music is about much more than just a recipe for next week’s number one hit: It’s the key to understanding why musical memories last a lifetime,” says computational musicologist John Ashley Burgoyne, who is working on the #Hooked project.
“Catchy music sticks in your head and lingers there. When you hear catchy music again years or even decades later, all of a sudden the song comes back to and you find yourself singing along in your head,” he adds.
The citizen science project is being run by The Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester (MOSI) and through the Manchester Science Festival they are aiming to gain further examples of catchy songs through a ‘name-that-tune’ game, where listeners identify the ‘hookiest’ part of a song, how it sounds, and why it’s so damn memorable.
Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow and citizen science pioneer Erinma Ochu tells The Telegraph that the public #Hooked project and festival, which runs until 3rd November, is about “harnessing the wisdom of the crowd.” Getting more people involved will only increase the data available to help aid Alzheimer’s researchers identify ways in which music can help dementia patients improve their quality of life.
“Much of human history is remembered through songs and as an added bonus, we aim to tap into, evoke and share the musical memories of many generations around the world,” she said.
The relationship between music and memory was also recently investigated to have cross-generational meaning, with new research giving a scientific explanation to why we often love our parents’ music or get nostalgic about songs from our youth.
Check out the catchiest songs ever list below, and revisit Kylie Mingoue’s potentially Alzheimer’s-aiding tune below… just be prepared to have something else ready to get it out of your head again. (‘This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend…)
The Top 10 Catchiest Songs Of All Time
1. Kylie Minogue – ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’
2. Robin Thicke – ‘Blurred Lines’
3. Daft Punk – ‘Get Lucky’
4. ABBA – ‘SOS’
5. Sinead O’Connor – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
6. Tweets – ‘The Birdie Song’
7. Alabama 3 – ‘Woke Up This Morning’
8. Aerosmith – ‘Love Me Two Times’
9. Adam Sutherland – ‘The Road To Erogie’
10. ABBA – ‘Dancing Queen’