You know what they always say … music makes the world go round. Whether it’s a happy tune that helps brighten your day, a sad melody to help you through a tough time, or a love song to dedicate to the person you care most about, music often is the soundtrack to our life.
So which tune exactly is the happiest song on Earth according to science?
The World’s Happiest Song
An initial study revealed that “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen was the world’s happiest song. But after a refining of the formula used to determine the happiest song, there is now a new contender, even though “Don’t Stop Me Now” still comes in at number two on the list. The world’s current happiest song, according to researcher Jacob Jolij, who came up with the formula used in the happiest song selection, is “Mr. Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra.
How Was the World’s Happiest Song Determined?
So, how exactly was the world’s happiest song determined? Jolij came up with a formula by studying 126 songs from a period of 50 years. When coming up with the formula, he also surveyed over 2,000 people to see which songs made them the happiest.
According to Jolij’s research, he discovered that “we generally like songs with a tempo that deviates from the average pop song tempo, that are in a major key, and are a bit more complex than three-chord songs, unless the song is a major key.”
What that boils down to is that happy songs tend to be in the range of 150 beats per minute (BPM), or more, when compared to the 118 BPM of an average pop song. In the example of “Don’t Stop Me Now,” the song is in the range of 156 BPM and is also in the key of F Major, making it a very happy song.
Called the Feel Good Formula, it has now been further refined by Jolij to include a continuous rating system that rates how “feel good” a particular song is on a scale ranging from 1 to 100. According to Jolij, this gives a better statistical model overall.
Jolij also countered that what might be considered a happy song in Liverpool is probably a little different than what is considered a happy song in Jakarta.
An Earlier Study
Jolij’s research was based upon the earlier findings of researchers at the University of Missouri. Following a two-week study, these researchers discovered that music makes humans happier.
It was Jolij who developed the formula that took into account the BPM of a particular song. He also made the discovery that the key the song was in played an important factor in determining the happiness of a song. In addition, he determined that the best feel-good songs focused on positive themes and lyrics or were nonsensical in nature.
Other Songs on the List
Songs on the list include “Mr. Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra, currently number one on the list; Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” which now comes in at number two; and “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys at number three. The rest of the top 10 includes:
- “The Riddle” by Nik Kershaw
- “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees
- “I’ll Be There for You” by the Rembrandts
- “Pamela” by Toto
- “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega
- “Our House” by Madness
- “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” by Wham
The Feel Good Formula
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So what exactly is the Feel Good Formula used to determine the happiest song? According to Jolij, the full regression formula is:
Rating = 60 + (0.00165 * BPM – 120)^2 + (4.376 * Major) + 0.78 * nChords – (Major * nChords)
You can find out more about what Jolij has to say about his research here. Listen to the world’s happiest song below.