It may not compare to the invention of the wheel, but scientists say they have discovered the catchiest pop song in history -- and it’s a spicy revelation. “Wannabe,” the debut hit from “The Spice Girls,” was the most easily recognized song on a list of 1,000 pop tunes in a yearlong study by the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England. Using an online test called “Hooked on Music,” researchers asked some 12,000 participants to identify hit songs from the 1940s to the present day.
On average, listeners picked out the 1996 hit in 2.29 seconds, compared to an average of 5 seconds for the entire list. Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5” ranked second, with listeners identifying that 1999 song in just 2.48 seconds. Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Abba’s “SOS” rounded out the top five.
The “Hooked on Music” test was designed by researchers led by Ashley Burgoyne, a computational musicologist at the University of Amsterdam. “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,” Burgoyne told BBC News.
Burgoyne said there is something about pop songs that register on the memory even after only a couple of listens, as opposed to less accessible music that might not have the same effect.
If anything, the finding lends credence to the idea pop music has become a little too scientifically engineered.
Manchester Science Festival compiled the “Hooked on Music” top 10 in a (very catchy) video montage. Watch it below. You know you can’t resist.