Based on a year-long UK study, researchers have compiled a list of the 20 catchiest songs and have concluded that the 1996 hit song Wannabe by the Spice Girls is the catchiest of them all.

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The year-long study was developed and conducted by the UK’s Museum of Science and Industry and involved an interactive online game called Hooked on Music. Hooked on Music was created by computational musicologist John Ashley Burgoyne and a team at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht. The game had 1 000 best-selling songs from the 1940s up until today. 12 000 people participated and there were four different ways to play:

  1. Recognise that Tune – Players had to hum along to a song and continued to hum when the song stops and check whether they are still in time when the sound returns;
  2. What’s the Hook – Players had to choose which of two different clips from the same song is the catchiest;
  3. Time Trial – Players had 3 minutes in which to recognise as many songs as they could; and
  4. In a Row – Players had to recognise as many song in a row as possible.

The researchers aim to use the data it has collected with the study to determine what makes a song catchy and, more importantly, how memory works to assist people who suffer from dementia, with Burgoyne explaining that:

There has already been some research that shows that if you can find the right piece of music, something that had a very strong meaning, playing that piece of music can be very therapeutic. But the challenge is figuring out what is the best piece of music.

Check out the full list and we apologise in advance for being responsible for you humming one of these 20 catchiest songs for a week:

  1. Wannabe by the Spice Girls – 2.29 seconds (to recognise on average)
  2. Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega – 2.48 seconds
  3. Eye of the Tiger by Survivor – 2.62 seconds
  4. Just Dance by Lady Gaga – 2.66 seconds
  5. SOS by ABBA – 2.73 seconds
  6. Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison – 2.73 seconds
  7. Beat It by Michael Jackson – 2.80 seconds
  8. I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston – 2.83 seconds
  9. Don’t You Want Me by The Human League – 2.83 seconds
  10. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith – 2.84 seconds
  11. Poker Face by Lady Gaga – 2.88 seconds
  12. MMMbop by Hanson – 2.89 seconds
  13. It’s Now or Never by Elvis Presley – 2.91 seconds
  14. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet by Bachman-Turner Overdrive – 2.94 seconds
  15. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson – 2.97 seconds
  16. Karma Chameleon by Culture Club – 2.99 seconds
  17. Baby One More Time by Britney Spears – 2.99 seconds
  18. Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley – 3.01 seconds
  19. Rivers of Babylon by Boney M – 3.03 seconds
  20. Candle in the Wind by Elton John – 3.04 seconds

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