Dublin: 12 °C Monday 27 June, 2022

Researchers have discovered what the catchiest song of all time is

The top five head-wreckers are revealed.

AN ONLINE EXPERIMENT has found that the catchiest UK single ever is… the Spice Girls’ Wannabe.


Source: emimusic/YouTube

To determine the title, researchers developed an interactive game to collect data on British hits. Hooked on Music asked participants to name a tune randomly played from a library of 1,000 hit songs.

Data from over 12,000 participants was collected and it was discovered that they recognised Wannabe in just 2.3 seconds, with participants recognising other songs in an average of five seconds.

The year-long study played songs dating back to the 1940s during different hooks, and players were asked to identify them as quick as they could. Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry published the results.

The study’s Musicologist Ashley Burgoyne from the University of Amsterdam told the BBC that there is very little scientific literature on the topic of music and memory.

We were particularly interested in music and memory and why exactly it is that certain pieces of music stay in your memory for such a long time. You may only hear something a couple of times yet 10 years later you immediately realise that you have heard it before. Yet other songs, even if you have heard them a lot, do not have this effect.

Good luck getting that out of your head now.

Here’s the top five:

1. Spice Girls, Wannabe 2.29 s

2. Lou Bega, Mambo No. 5 2.48 s

Source: LouBegaVEVO/YouTube

3. Survivor, Eye of the Tiger  2.62 s

Source: SurvivorVEVO/YouTube

4. Lady Gaga, Just Dance 2.66 s

Source: LadyGagaVEVO/YouTube

5. ABBA, SOS 2.73 s

Source: AbbaVEVO/YouTube

What’s that tune? 11 songs from ads currently plaguing your brain>

How alike are these two songs?>

About the author:

Read next: