It takes an average of just over two seconds for most people to identify this song, which a new experiment describes as the most easily recognizable song to ever chart. But how does that work?
The University of Amsterdam partnered with Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry to conduct a year long experiment in how people identify pop songs (both correctly and incorrectly) by having over 12,000 participants play a song recognition game they made, Hooked On Music. At the end of the year, they were able to identify the ten most quickly recognized songs.
But what makes a song so easily recognizable? A quick peruse of the top ten list (via the BBC) reveals one unavoidable fact. Can you spot it?:
1. Spice Girls - Wannabe
2. Lou Bega - Mambo No 5
3. Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger
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 songs are…not great. Even the relatively better songs on the list tend to be the weaker ones in that musician's catalogue. (Please note! Each time that you've heard Pretty Woman is time that you could have spent listening to Only The Lonely.) What they are, if not enjoyable, is distinctive, even annoying. They are also repetitious.
It's a combination that may not be particularly melodious, but it does make the songs stick.