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Top 20 Most Recognizable Songs Of All Time

Spice Girls

Oddly enough, a recent study by Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) argues that “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls may be the most recognizable song — the catchiest song ever. It’s official!

To collect data, researchers developed an interactive online game, called “Hooked On Music” that asked 12,000 participants to name a song randomly selected from over 1,000 best-selling tunes when it began playing from the hook.

Apparently, of all the songs played, the Spice Girls’ anthem ‘Wannabe’ was recognised in the fastest time — 2.29 seconds, to be precise.

Elvis Presley had two songs (It’s Now Or Never and Devil in Disguise) on the list, as did Lady Gaga (Just Dance and Poker Face).

Other songs in the top ten included Lou Bega’s “Mambo No 5,” which was the second most recognisable song in the list, clocking in at just 2.48 seconds.

Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” came in third at 2.62 seconds with Lady Gaga, Abba, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Roy Orbison, Aerosmith and the Human League rounding out the top ten.

Spice Girls
Image: The Spice Girls perform during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games (Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)

Here is the list in full – Top 20 Most Recognizable Songs Of All Time:

  1. Spice Girls – Wannabe: 2.29 seconds
  2. Lou Bega – Mambo No 5: 2.48 seconds
  3. Survivor – Eye of the Tiger: 2.62 seconds
  4. Lady Gaga – Just Dance: 2.66 seconds
  5. ABBA – SOS: 2.73 seconds
  6. Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman: 2.73 seconds
  7. Michael Jackson – Beat It: 2.80 seconds
  8. Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You: 2.83 seconds
  9. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me: 2.83 seconds
  10. Aerosmith – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing: 2.84 seconds
  11. Lady Gaga – Poker Face: 2.88 seconds
  12. Hanson – MMMbop: 2.89 seconds
  13. Elvis Presley – It’s Now Or Never: 2.91 seconds
  14. Bachman-Turner Overdrive – You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet: 2.94 seconds
  15. Michael Jackson – Billie Jean: 2.97 seconds
  16. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon: 2.99 seconds
  17. Britney Spears – Baby One More Time: 2.99 seconds
  18. Elvis Presley – Devil in Disguise: 3.01 seconds
  19. Boney M – Rivers of Babylon: 3.03 seconds
  20. Elton John – Candle in the Wind: 3.04 seconds

Ashley Burgoyne, a computational musicologist from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, who conceived the idea, told BBC News there is “very little” scientific literature on whether the most memorable pieces of music shared particular characteristics.

“You may only hear something a couple of times yet 10 years later you immediately realise that you have heard it before,” he said.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - C-Suite Agenda - Top 20 Most Recognizable Songs Of All Time
Megan Batchelor
Executive features editor at The CEOWORLD magazine and lover of reality TV. I eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.