It happens to the best of us. You listen to a song that seems catchy and cluelessly start singing along. Then, many hours later, you realize that pesky song has set up camp in your brain and has no plans of leaving. That phenomenon is called an earworm, and scientists have actually investigated why it happens.
In 2016, scientists at the University of St Andrews developed a mathematical formula for explaining what makes an earworm. According to researcher Bede Williams, an earworm must possess five key elements: rhythmic repetition, predictability, surprise, melodic potency, and receptiveness (how the listener feels about the song).
The formula is expressed as receptiveness + (predictability-surprise) + (melodic potency) + (rhythmic repetition x1.5) = earworm.
Accordingly, the researchers identified the 20 most addictive earworm songs of all time based on this formula, and we’re sharing them with you here.e
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