They call them earworms. They're those songs that come around a few times a year that you just can’t get out of your head. And then the DJ plays it again, transforming your migraine headache into a whirlwind that ultimately marks a moment in culture and our lives.
Once that kind of song gets its hold on you, the theory goes, it is almost impossible to lose that connection, even as you hit old age. By identifying what sparks that instant memory, a project by the Manchester Science Festival in England called #Hooked is hoping to contribute to research for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
They festival group has been working to develop the project with professor Henkjan Honing, who's based at the University of Amsterdam. “Music plays with our hearing, our memory, our emotions, and our expectations in a fascinating way," Honing wrote in his new book Musical Cognition. "In reality, the listening doesn’t happen in the outer world of audible sound but in the inner world of our minds and our brains.”
Through November 3, the project is collecting submissions for catchy songs. From there scientists will attempt to break down exactly what makes a song so memorable.
Recently, #Hooked released a list of what its researchers have dubbed the "Top 10 Catchiest Songs Of All Time." Understandably, the songs at the top of the list are the same ones that have been bothering us for months now:
- Kylie Minogue – "Can’t Get You Out Of My Head"
- Robin Thicke – "Blurred Lines"
- Daft Punk – "Get Lucky"
- ABBA – "SOS"
- Sinead O’Connor – "Nothing Compares 2 U"
- Tweets – "The Birdie Song"
- Alabama 3 – "Woke Up This Morning"
- Aerosmith – "Love Me Two Times"
- Adam Sutherland – "The Road To Erogie"
- ABBA – "Dancing Queen"
In addition to this list, they are compiling what is perhaps the most annoying (but most memorable) playlist in the history of mankind.
Oh, and some British guy sings “Ice, Ice Baby” in the best of all possible ways in this promo clip for the project:
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.