Have you ever had a song stuck in your head? That's an earworm -- a piece of music that plays on loop in your head, though the song is no longer playing. It's a pretty common occurrence, and most of the songs that climb the Top 40 charts are earworms.
According to a 2016 study by the Goldsmiths University of London, songs need to have a simple and rhythmic melody that often rises and falls in pitch along with unusual intervals in the song structure. You can read more about earworms here.
Here are the most common earworms, according to the study:
Lady Gaga is an earworm master, but none of her songs exemplify an earworm quite like her 2009 hit "Bad Romance." The chorus is so catchy because of that rhythmic melody that moves up and down in pitch. We dare you to listen to it and not chant "Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah's" for the rest of the day.
The "la-la-la's" rise and fall in this song like little hills in a tune pleasant to the ear. Good luck getting this out of your head.
This is one of Journey's most well-known song for a reason. The instrumentals and vocals work together to produce the rising and falling rhythmic melody.
Easily the best song of 2011, and one of those that you just couldn't get away from. It was played everywhere and it's catchy tune made you bop and sing along, despite the lyrics that were a real bummer. Good job turning a song about heartbreak into a summer jam, Gotye.
This song is annoyingly catchy due to the up and down melody that is established in the opening rift and continued throughout the song.
The synthetic beat in the back builds the melodic rhythm and Snoop Dogg's verse acts as the unusual interval, making the perfect earworm.
One of the best songs ever written? Yes. It's not even a matter of opinion. This song uses unusual intervals as it leaps unexpectedly from one rhythm to the next over and over again. This earworm will grab hold of you and will not let you go (let him go)!
The "Alej-Alej-Andro, Alej-Alej-Andro's" and "don't call my names" rise and fall throughout this popular single, making Lady Gaga the only artist to appear more than once on this list.
Gaga opens and wraps up the list, ending with one of her first big signals. It seems she's always been a master at the elusive craft of the earworm.
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