Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Science Doesn't Know Music

I love it when scientists set out to prove stuff and come up with some really outlandish and silly ideas, and try to back it up by saying that science says this, so it must be true.

A pair of doctors from the University of London recently released their top ten catchiest songs of all time.


Dude, that is pretty awesome that science can determine what we all think of as being catchy.

Dr. Alison Pawley - a musicologist. What is a musicologist you ask? So do I, so I looked up a definition of it...

This is what Dictionary.com says:




  [myoo-zi-kol-uh-jee]  Show IPA
the scholarly or scientific study of musicas in historical research, musical theory, or the physical nature ofsound.
1905–10; music + -o- + -logy

mu·si·co·log·i·cal  [myoo-zi-kuh-loj-i-kuhl]  Show IPA adjective
mu·si·co·log·i·cal·ly, adverb
mu·si·col·o·gist, noun

Okay, so there really is a science to being a musicologist, who knew? I could have easily dedicated my life to studying music, no problem whatsoever.

I digress. 

Along with Dr. Pawley is her colleague from the University of London, Psychologist, Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen. Together they did a study to find out the ten catchiest tunes of all time and they based their results on the following criteria: 1) Long and detailed musical phrases. 2) Number of pitches in the hook. 3) The singers were male (sexist). and 4) The pitch was noticeably higher.

According to Dr Daniel Mullensiefen's:

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 synthesizers 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.
We hope that our study will inspire musicians of the future to crack the equation for the textbook tune.
Okay, so do you want to see what science has determined to be the top ten catchiest tunes, of all time?
  • 10. Living on a prayer by Bon Jovi
  • 9. Teenage dirtbag by Wheatus
  • 8. Brown eyed girl by Van Morrison
  • 7. I'm always here by Jimi Jemison
  • 6. Ruby by The Kaiser Chiefs
  • 5. Monster by The Automatic
  • 4. The Final Countdown by Europe
  • 3. Fat Lip by Sum 41
  • 2. YMCA by The Village People
  • 1 We are the Champions by Queen

See what science has done there? How many of those songs do you even recognize? Be honest.

Living on a Prayer is a great song, but I don't even think it is Bon Jovi's catchiest, what about "You Give Love a Bad Name" or "Wanted Dead or Alive?"

Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus - um who? I will admit to having heard the song before, but had no clue what it was until I went to YouTube and listened to it.

Brown eyed girl by Van Morrison deserves to be in the top ten, no doubt.

I'm always there by Jimi Jemison  - most of us have heard it before and never knew it more than the theme song for Baywatch. Yeah, Baywatch.

Ruby by The Kaiser Chiefs, I only know it from Guitar Hero, to be honest. Top ten material though, no I don't think so.

Monster by The Automatic, never heard of it or them before, have a listen...
I still say no.

The Final Countdown by Europe. NO. NO. NEVER, NEVER, NO!

Fat Lip by Sum 41 - I like this song and do find it catchy

YMCA by The Village People - I find this song, like I have always found this song - annoying as all get out. I will have to admit that it is catchy though, but I still don't like the over saturated pop song, and never will.

We are the Champions by Queen. Great song, no doubt about it, but when you think Queen is this the first song you even think of?

Off the top of my head I give you ten more that are worthy of being called the catchiest tune, in no particular order...

  1. Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis
  2. Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
  3. RESPECT by Aretha Franklin
  4. Shout by The Isley Brothers, performed by Otis Day and the Knights
  5. Never gonna give you up - Rick Astley (you're welcome for my not including the video and completely "rickrolling" you)
  6. Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
  7. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
  8. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da by The Beatles
  9. Another Brick in the Wall pt 2 (We don't need no education) by Pink Floyd
  10. Barbara Ann by The Beach Boys
Those ten came to me without really thinking too much about it and I'm sure there are more in my head that I haven't shared.

So what am I really saying here? I don't think science has anything to do with catchy tunes and I can pretty much guarantee that you can come up with a different ten than either science or I came up with. 

Please share them all, or just one, of your catchiest tunes in the comments and we'll see how wrong science really is, in this case.