Britain’s catchiest tune is a Spice Girls’ song!
Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry developed an on-line experiment in the form of an interactive game called “Hooked on Music” in which people were asked if they recognised a song which was randomly selected from 1,000 clips dating from the 1940s to the present day.
The Spice Girls’ debut single “Wannabe” , which spent 7 weeks at No 1 in 1996, was the one most quickly recognised by participants – in an average of 2.29 seconds.
Second was Lou Bega’s “Mambo” identified in 2.48 seconds, followed by Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” which took participants an average of 2.62 seconds to recognise.
Overall it took people an average of 5 seconds to recognise a clip from a UK best-selling record.
Originally designed by a computational musicologist from the University of Amsterdam the experiment had a serious purpose; to try and understand what makes a piece of music so memorable that we can instantly recognise years after we first heard it and how the memory retains certain pieces of music. For example do all the more memorable pieces share the same characteristics?
The Manchester museum is revealing the results at this week’s Science Festival. Although the Science Festival Director says this experiment attracted a large diverse group of participants, 12,000, I can see it appealing mainly to people who like playing on-line games so it may not be representative of the population as a whole.
The remaining top 10 catchiest tunes were:
4 Lady GaGa “Just Dance”
5 ABBA “SOS”
6 Roy Orbison “Pretty Woman”
7 Michael Jackson “Beat It”
8 Whitney Houston “I will always love you”
9 The Human League “Don’t you want me”
10 Aerosmith “I don’t want to miss a thing”
The game will be on-line until the end of 2014 so if you want to play the game yourself and contribute to science just click here.
If you’ve never heard the song (and you’re not missing much) or want a reminder here it is