Much like how Rick Astley’s 1987 masterpiece is still a mainstay on the Internet, the catchiest songs are bound to linger both in streams and in your thoughts. (You know the rules and so do I.)
Most catchy songs, especially TV and film theme tunes, are designed to stick in your head. While some people may enjoy having an internal jukebox, others enjoy it less. If you are amongst the latter, good news! Scientists claim they have discovered how to make the brain block out the offending tunes.
“Earworms” are typically both catchy and annoying, with an upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics. According to researchers, one way to break the repetitive cycle is to solve anagrams, or do something that is mentally engaging.
The research suggests that solving anagrams or reading a novel are good ways to keep earworms out. Dr Ira Hyman, a music psychologist at Western Washington University explained, “if you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head. Something we can do automatically like driving or walking means you are not using all of your cognitive resource, so there is plenty of space left for that internal jukebox to start playing. Likewise, if you are trying something too hard, then your brain will not be engaged successfully, so that music can come back.”
Chart topping songs of Lady Gaga such as Alejandro, Bad Romance, Just Dance, and Paparazzi came out as strong contenders for earworms. Katy Perry’s California Girls also rated highly. Hyman added: “Choruses tend to get stuck in your head because they are the bit we know best and because we don’t know the second or third verse, the song remains unfinished. Unfinished thoughts are more likely to return.”
Here is a list of some of the catchiest tunes, as used by the researchers, along with some of our favorite TV tunes that are sure to stick in your head for hours. Listen if you dare.
1.“We Will Rock You” by Queen
The 1977 hit song has served as a popular anthem for sports events around the world. Since its release, the track has been remixed, parodied, covered, and used in countless TV shows, commercials, and films.
2. “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen
Freddie Mercury breaks the conventions of songwriting in this six-minute suite by omitting the chorus. While the track is the British rock band’s most beloved hit, it is by far one of their most mysterious. Besides confirming that it’s about relationships, the band remains secretive about the song’s real meaning.
3. “Living On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi
Released in 1986, the catchy song is the band’s signature track. It paints the struggles experienced by the working class, something that resonates with many people even to this day.
4. “Don’t Stop Believing’” by Journey
Written by Steve Perry, the famous rock anthem serves as inspiration to every person trying to make it big.
5.“Jingle Bells” written by James Lord Pierpoint
As soon as the holidays come around, this classic earworm is all over the radio, playing in stores, and even issuing from elevator speakers. Fun fact: this song originally had no connection to Christmas. Some say it was actually intended to be either a Sunday school choir piece or a drinking song.
6. “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” by Beyonce
This song isn’t just infectious—it’s also award-winning. It bagged three Grammy Awards in 2010, with “Song of the Year” being one of them.
7.“Happy” by Pharrell Williams
If you need a mood booster, then there’s no better song for the job than Pharrell’s “Happy.” The track served as the theme song for a popular Disney film, Despicable Me.
8. “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
Inspired by the funky, upbeat tracks of the 1980s, this song made many people bust some serious moves on the dance floor when it was first released. The simple lyrics and catchy tempo made it arguably one of the most memorable earworms of 2015.
9. “Gangnam Style” by Psy
Who could forget the song that dominated the internet back in 2012? The hit single written by K-pop singer Psy is notable for its out-of-this-world music video and signature, “invisible horse” dance move.
10. “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
“Shake It Off” marked the singer-songwriter’s transition from country to pop music. The bop track was a hit, staying on the Billboard Hot 100 for 50 weeks in the US.