Dr. Jacob Jolij, a neuroscientist from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, claims to have made the most uplifting playlist and has supported his claims with data gathered through large surveys taken in the UK and Ireland. After analyzing the many responses of song names, he came to a few conclusions about what people's preferences were for uplifting songs.
It wasn't as easy as crunching some numbers, though. As Jolij wrote:
A "feel good song" is rather tricky to define. Music appreciation is highly personal and strongly depends on social context, and personal associations. In that respect, the idea of a "feel good formula" is a bit odd -- factoring in all these personal aspects is next to impossible, in particular if you want to come up with a quantitative feel good formula. Basically, what you need are song features that you can express in numbers.
Those features, like tempo and mode, were used to analyze the song data set. Two big things stuck out to Jolij.
The big association that stood out was the tempo of the song. "The pattern was very clear -- the average tempo of a 'feel good'-song was substantially higher than the average pop song," Jolij wrote. "Where the average tempo of pop songs is around 118 BPM, the list of feel good songs had an average tempo of around 140 to 150 BPM."
There was also a difference in the key, he says: "Again a very clear pattern: only two or three songs were in a minor key, the rest was all in a major key."
And lastly, the lyrics seemed to play a role, at least in the songs that made lyrical sense:
Of course, a song is more than its score. I have also looked at lyrical themes.
Predominantly, the feel good songs were about positive events (going to a beach, going to a party, doing something with your love, etc.) or did not make sense at all.
Read the rest of the story here: The most uplifting playlist ever, according to a neuroscientist
Here is a list of songs that he identified:
- Don't Stop Me Now by Queen
- Dancing Queen by ABBA
- Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
- Uptown Girl by Billy Joel
- Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
- I'm A Believer by The Monkees
- Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
- Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
- I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
- Walking On Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves
It's interesting to see that the most recent song on this list was released in 1986, so it seems to me that there is definitely a strong preference for older songs. This may be a bias that occurred because of both the location of where the surveys were given and who they were given to. So that got me thinking, since we have readers of all ages reading this blog, maybe we could get a wider, more encompassing perspective.
Which songs do you all think should be on the list that aren't and which songs shouldn't be?