Neuroscientists have discovered a link between happy feelings and listening to music – and found that Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now is the perfect happy song.
Scientists developed a formula for happy songs by studying 126 songs from a 50 year period, and asked people to pick which songs make them feel the happiest. They then looks at the beat, key, theme and lyrics of the most popular songs.
They discovered that the average tempo of a ‘feel-good’ song was significantly higher than the average pop song. The tempo of the average song is 118 beats per minutes, while feel good songs had an average tempo of around 140-150 beats per minutes. Music applicants should consider how this theory surrounding tempo is contrasted by theories of cognitive dissonance, whereby music sounds happy but the lyrics are morose, and if this has an impact on the happiness of the listener.
Psychology applicants should analyse the premises and conclusions of this discovery. Is it fair to say Don’t Stop Me Now is the happiest song, given the survey was of 2000 people from one country and doesn’t offer a clear definition of happiness? Is it enough to reduce happiness in music to tempo, rather than paying attention to more qualitative data like lyrics?