back to article Boffins prove Queen ballad 'world's most catchy song'

Enterprising "music scientists" have declared Queen's 1977 cheesy power ballad We are the Champions as the world's catchiest song after thoroughly analysing it. Certain features of Freddie Mercury's voice stir a primal urge in us, gush the boffins, and make us more likely to raise our voices in a chant and then, er, follow him …


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  1. Woolly Jumper

    and what about "Sweet Child o' Mine"?!?!?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Psychologically we look to men to lead us into battle"

    "2. Y.M.C.A, The Village People (1978)"

    Sound of sudden movement of needle across vinyl.

  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    Unfortunately for them.

    As soon as I read "world's catchiest song", I immediately thought of "Echo Beach" by Martha and the Muffins.

    That's now on permanent repeat loop in my head (curse you) AND IT'S NOT EVEN ON THEIR BLOODY LIST!




    Nooooooooo.......make it stop........please........

  4. djb321

    Most catchily annoying song?

    They obviously haven't heard the Weebl's Stuff Baby Baboon song...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They sound more like trick cyclists to me.

  6. Paul 28

    One word ...


  7. James O'Shea Silver badge

    I must be old

    I only know three of those songs, the Queen, VP, and Morrison songs.

    And 'We are the Champions' isn't even Queen's catchiest song, that would be 'Hammer to Fall'. 'Under Pressure', ''39', and 'The Prophet's Song' all rate higher than 'We are the Champions'. (Why, yes, I do have every Queen album ever released, why do you ask?)

  8. NoneSuch
    Thumb Up

    We miss you Freddie.

    All we had to replace you since you left is courtesy of Simon Cowell.

    1. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up


      I thought the Badger song could never be topped. I've never felt quite so ambivalent about being wrong...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Saag aloo-loo-loo

      Chicken tikka, vindaloo

    3. John G Imrie Silver badge

      I was thinking the same

      But then I considered that there appears to be some real research here into what the common elements of a catchy tune are.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Yes, but does it support the theory?

        If I had a bit of free time (OK, a bit more than is required to respond to irrelevant Register articles) I'd read the paper, or the original dissertation. It does sound like there's some real research here in identifying the common elements of these supposedly-catchy songs.

        But the whole "lead into battle" bit sounds suspiciously like sociobiology, perhaps the least-rigorous pseudo-science this side of homeopathy. (I've read actual peer-reviewed sociobiology papers published in research journals, and believe me, they are an awesome vein of utter bullshit. If we could figure out how to extract it we'd have a great new source of phosphorus. Is Worstall reading this?)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I figured half of them just weren't that catchy if they hadn't survived well enough for me to have heard of them. And I would've picked "Another One Bites the Dust", "We Will Rock You" or "Bohemian Rhapsody" over "We Are the Champions" too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fat bottomed girls?


    5. Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps they meant … "In The Navy"?

  9. Wize

    Where can I find a job like that?

    Sounds like all fun and no real work.

  10. Code Monkey

    Most Infectious Earworm

    The most infectious earworm is Spanish Flea by Herb Alpert. It also has the advantage of not getting on my tits, so is great as brainwash (as is the A-Team theme and Monkey Man by Toots and the Maytals) for shite like We Are the Champions (a rare rubbish Queen song, I'll grant you).

  11. Dog@86G


    Y'all forgot the seminal classic

    Surfin USM by the effervescent Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.

    Who could resist the Line "You Fat Bastard!" or "wham Bam, Thank you Ma'am"

  12. Mr Larrington


    I am only familiar with half of their so-called "top" ten. I do not know whether to laugh or top myself.

    1. bill 36
      Thumb Down

      but what about

      Puppy Love by Donny Osmond and some of that other shite that the Carpenters churned out.

      Real sing along wrist slashing stuff that was!

      1. BritPad

        I'm on the top of the world, looking down on creation.......................................

        1. Joefish

          'Cause I'm on - Antidepressants,

          Popping - this great prescription

          Since a wonderful physician came on by.

          Now this drug that I've found

          Takes away my ups and downs;

          I'm no longer so pissed off at the world. [--Bob Rivers]

    2. Joefish

      I find a good cure for earworms

      Is Max Steiner's Theme From 'A Summer Place', instrumental version, particularly that by Percy Faith. Knocks any others out and is fairly benign to be left with.

    3. Rattus Rattus

      I only...

      ...know three of them, myself. And I'm not so sure about male voices necessarily making the most "catchy" songs. The song I've been least able to get out of my head is "Winter Wrap-Up" which is sung entirely by female voices.

  13. Pete 2 Silver badge

    One missing attribute

    ... the people judging the singers and songs must have actually heard (of) them.

    Who's to say that these, all english/american-language songs contain the _world's_ most catchiest tunes? Other cultures have completely different musical scales and would presumably therefore be attuned to different musical attributes to stir their loins into battle - or football.

    Given that this is just an attempt to appear "down wiv' da kidz" to try and convince them that science is "cool" I can see why they've skewed their results in such a startling manner. However, as a piece of science it does appear lacking (in the whole history of music - all the entries, ALL of them are from the past 50 years) in any sort of rigour and I really can't see how this could possibly be worthy of a PhD.

    Maybe I should write up my list of top 10 favourite power ballads and submit that, so I can be known as Dr. Pete 2 - I'm sure I could come up with enough random psychobabble to convince whoever dished out this degree.

  14. Stoneshop Silver badge

    And how

    was this 'research' biased by the fact that cassette tapes left in a car's glove compartment evenually turn into a "Best of Queen" compilation?

    1. Ian 31
      Thumb Up

      Good Omens

      Sir Terry and Neil Gaiman in one reference, good work

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "particularly when combined with a small vocal range"

    That doesn't describe Freddie Mercury.

    (Or didn't while he was alive and singing, at least).

    1. Glen 1 Bronze badge


      robbie williams on the other hand....

    2. Lennart Sorensen

      I believe they meant "small vocal range" of the song, not of the singer. After all if the range of the song is huge, most people can't comfortably sing along.

      So it does describe the song, but absolutely not the singer.

  16. Armando 123

    On the bright side

    No one has yet mentioned "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves, so that's ... Damn, sorry. Let me get some steel wool so we can get that out of our minds.

  17. alain williams Silver badge

    Why all so recent ?

    The oldest song listed is Brown Eyed Girl of 1967. There are huge numbers of catchy songs from before then, eg: 'Land of hope and glory', 'Happy Birthday', 'Rudolph the red nose reindeer' (& similar), 'Hello Dolly', 'My old man's a dustman', lots of music hall stuff,... quite appart from being entirely English language biased!

    1. BritPad


      What about Je t'aime - that's a very catchy song, you'll catch lots of things with that song

  18. g e

    El Condor Pasa?

    Iiiiiii'd rather be a sparrow than a snaaaiiiiilll

  19. anarchic-teapot

    IIRC it was actually written with football crowds in mind

    Although the thought of Freddie Mercury playing football does not easily come to mind.

  20. disgruntled yank Silver badge


    I have to agree with them on "Teenage Dirtbag". And if I'm attacked by a co-worker for humming it constantly today, it will be all your fault.

    The rest, not so much. YMCA seems to spur the immature of all ages to make strange contortions. "We Are the Champions" is sort of Lawrence Welk for the disco age, isn't it?

  21. b166er

    I always though Dock of the Bay was the most accessible song.

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      Range is too big, no one can remember the words, and it isn't catchy, so no one cares to remember the words. Most people have heard of it, so at least it has that.

    2. Oninoshiko

      now I have that in my head

      Fortunately it's a good song.

      (interestingly enough, it is apperently the first posthumus chart-topper.)

  22. Bassey

    There is currently a debate where I live as to whether students studying university courses without any obvious benefit to the community should receive funding. The general consensus has been that it would be impossible to judge which courses might lead to future jobs. After all - as one "expert" pointed out - who would have thought, just ten years ago, that computer and e-gaming would become viable careers?

    I think "PhD in Singability" might well swing the argument

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Nice one ...

      ... I laughed in agreement. But actually I disagree. Expanding all human knowledge is an important cultural objective, by my reckoning the overarching one. Science and engineering have often done themselves a disservice by suggesting their PhDs are *useful*, and that Arts degrees aren't. Sooner or later, the result of such thinking is bad for blue-sky research or other interesting stuff which may only become technology in the far distant future. With the consequence that such technology retreats further from 'far distant future' to 'never'.

      If you stick to what is 'useful to the community now', on paper that has to be management degrees. Can you see where I'm going with this?

      If you think about it, 'singability' is an interesting hybrid of musicology, neurology, psychology and anthropology. Doesn't quite sound so airy fairy when you put it that way.

  23. Just Thinking

    Oh dear

    Teenage dirtbag is the most recent one I am familiar with.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Univeristy of the Bleedin Obvious!

    "They believe that singing along to a song is "a subconscious war cry" that keys into an inherent tribal part of our consciousness."

    I think that was Mr May and Mr Mercury's point, especially when, well you know, R.T.F.L.! The whole point in writing it, was an attempt to stir people up!

  25. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    They would say that!

    After hearing it, they just had an uncontrollable urge to ......

    Oh, wait.

  26. Spiracle

    Bit of a quandry

    I don't recall ever having heard 'Fat Lip' by Sum 41 and now I don't know whether to risk exposing myself to it. Just reading the word's 'Final Countdown' has me reaching for the iPod for something (anything) to drive it out of my head.

    This is dangerous stuff. A while back I switched on the radio first thing in the morning and heard about half a bar of 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool' by 'Little' Jimmy Osmond before I could switch stations. That was a whole day ruined.

  27. Tom 38 Silver badge

    How did this get past the Editor?

    No mention of 'trick cyclists' at all. Have I accidentally wandered into the BBC?

  28. Annihilator

    Have you not heard?

    There seems to be an absence of a certain ornithological piece. A headline regarding mass awareness of a certain avian variety..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      truly disappointed

      and there was i, thinking this would be the ever so "popular" :

      1. Steven Raith

        You utter....


        I've had to start an hour loop of "System Of A Down - Mr Jack" to act as brain bleach and cerebral scrubber to that festering pile of pish.

        Steven R

      2. DJV Silver badge

        @truly disappointed

        You bastard! I followed that link and, spotting the title, just managed to close the browser tab down before it played the second note!!


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