Using a formula and a survey sample, neuroscientists may have discovered the happiest, most rousing song ever written.
Here are a few hints: It’s from the 1970s, and
the band is British. You might remember it from the cinematic peak of the 2004 cult comedy, ‘Shaun of the Dead.’
Yup, the most feel-good song of all time is Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” a exuberant 1979 tune. Though the song was a British
chart-topper, it only reached No. 86 in the United States.
Frequently covered on TV singing competitions, the hit contains all the components of a bona fide feel-good song: a major key, happy lyrics, and a very fast tempo of 155 beats per minute, which is significantly faster than the average pop song.
These three elements were determined byDr. Jacob Jolij, assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who began his research by examining a survey that asked 2,000 British adults what their favorite uplifting song was.
“A feel-good song is very personal. Music is intimately linked with memory and emotion,” Dr. Jolij told the Daily Mail. “However, there are some key criteria for composers to consider when creating feel good songs.”
Using the variables L for positive lyrics, BPM for beats per minute, and K for a musical key that features heavy major thirds, Jolij
created an equation to measure each of the 126 songs from the survey results.
While “Don’t Stop Me Now” came out on the very top, the nine runner-ups are also mostly oldies. Here’s the list from the study:
“Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen (1979)
“Dancing Queen,” by Abba (1976)
“Good Vibrations,” by The Beach Boys (1966)
“Uptown Girl,” by Billy Joel (1983)
“Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor (1982)
“I’m a Believer”, by The Monkeys (1966)
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” by Cyndi Lauper (1983)
“Livin’ on a Prayer,” by Bon Jovi (1986)
“I Will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor
“Walking on Sunshine,” by Katrina & The Waves (1983)