That Catchy Last Song Syndrome, There's a Science Behind It!

Admin | Published 2016-11-25 01:15

Scientists found patterns and formulas consistent with how songs stick in our heads even after we turn off the radio. It seems that Lady Gaga mastered the art of using these melodic patterns.

Earworm is the term used by the scientists to name these songs that stick in our heads more often than other songs. Kelly Jakubowski, PhD, of Durham University, the lead author of the study said that earworms usually have faster rhythm and follows a repetitive, consistently wavy patterns of the tempo and phasing. There is a melodic contour patterns of rise and drop common for American pop songs. The most popular and classic example of that is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" where the first phrase rises while the second suddenly falls. Another crucial earworm pattern that can make the song catchy is the sudden repetitive interval and notes like “My Sharona” by the Knack. Jakubowski said their findings show that we can predict which songs are more likely to stick in people's head base on the song's melodic content. With that being said, we can predict the music's marketability in terms of records sale. The researchers conducted the study in Goldsmiths, University of London. They asked 3,000 respondents to name the songs they consider earworm. The researchers matched the result to the already established songs in a database. They considered looking into the popularity and how long the songs had been in the UK charts. Lady Gaga seemed to havev hit the nail on the head when she composed the music for her singles. Out of the 9 most earworm songs that came up in the study, Lady Gaga got 3 of her songs in the list. Below are the mostly frequently named earworms in the study.
  1. “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
  2. “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” by Kylie Minogue
  3. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey
  4. “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye
  5. “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5
  6. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry
  7. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
  8. “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga
  9. “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga
The studies of earworm songs can help understand the brain network through involuntary musical imagery. The researchers released their study in APA Journal.  
Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!