How Many Of ‘The 20 Catchiest Songs Of All Time’ Have Been Stuck In Your Head?


Have you ever wondered which hit songs have the most unforgettable hooks? Yeah, me either, but researchers have answered the question we didn’t ask. Researchers at The Museum of Science and Industry (Manchester, England) and The University of Amsterdam have enlisted 12,000 people to listen to the hook of 280 chart-topping songs (the 40 best-sellers from each decade from the 1940s onward) and name the song as quickly as they could.

Here’s the list of damnable earworms the researchers came up with, ranked by how quickly the 12,000 respondents could recognize each chart-topping song when played from the hook (the timestamp in parenthesis):

Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” — 2.29 seconds (0:45)
Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5″ — 2.48 seconds (0:50)
Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” — 2.62 seconds (2:04)
Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” — 2.66 seconds (1:39)
Abba’s “SOS” — 2.73 seconds (2:25)
Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” — 2.73 seconds (1:07)
Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” — 2.80 seconds (0:38)
Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” — 2.83 seconds (3:09)
The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” — 2.83 seconds (3:05)
Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” — 2.84 seconds (2:22)
Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” — 2.88 seconds (0:57)
Hanson’s “Mmmmbop” — seconds (1:44)
Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now Or Never” — 2.91 seconds (2:14)
Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” — 2.94 seconds (1:48)
Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” — 2.97 seconds (1:25)
Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” — 2.99 seconds (0:41)
Britney Spears’s “Baby One More Time” — 2.99 seconds (0:33)
Elvis Presley’s “Devil in Disguise” — 3.01 seconds (1:21)
Boney M.’s “Rivers of Babylon” — 3.03 seconds (0:23)
Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” — 3.04 seconds (0:39)
If you want to listen to the recognizable hook of these songs and get them stuck in your head all over again (Why would you do this?), Quartz arranged the top ten as a wall of videos which we scrolled past doing our best impression of this little fellow.