Scientific Study Determines Catchiest Hit Song Ever
UK study participants recognized Spice Girls' 'Wannabe' in just 2.29 seconds
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2014 1:30 PM CST
The Spice Girls in 2007; from left, Victoria Beckham, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell, Emma Bunton, and Melanie Brown at the Royal Observatory in London.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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(Newser) – What makes that earworm an earworm? Musicologists at the University of Amsterdam recently set out to find out, collecting data from 12,000 participants who listened to a random selection from 1,000 hit singles in the UK dating back to the 1940s. The results were unveiled at the Manchester Science Festival over the weekend. While it took most participants an average of 5 seconds to identify a song, the 17 most popular were all detectable in less than 3 seconds, with the top song—1996 hit "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls—averaging just 2.29 seconds, reports the Independent. "Very strong melodic hooks seem to be the most memorable for people," the lead researcher said. The interactive game Hooked on Music is online for now, reports the BBC, so see how you compare to the top 10:

  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"
Click for the full list of 20—Gaga appears again.