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Experts reveal the happiest songs in the world – with Good Vibrations and YMCA at the top of the list

The happiest songs in the world, according to science: experts reveal the formula for the ultimate happy tunes – with Good Vibrations, Uptown Girl and YMCA topping the list

  • Music psychologist Dr. Michael Bonshor has found the formula for a happy song
  • The most uplifting tunes are at 137 bpm and have a regular rhythm and structure
  • The song that best meets the requirements is ‘Good Vibrations’ by The Beach Boys

When you’re feeling down, nothing like a happy song to put a smile on your face.

Now a music psychologist has discovered the formula for the happiest songs in the world – and the melody that comes closest is ‘Good Vibrations’ by The Beach Boys.

Dr. Michael Bonshor of the University of Sheffield found that the most uplifting songs have a tempo of 137 beats per minute (bpm) and a regular verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, but are peppered with unpredictable elements such as a key change or chords.

“We like seventh chords because they add interest,” said Dr. Bonshor.

“Regular chords use three notes, while seventh chords add an extra note that creates a sense of musical tension and relief.”

A music psychologist has discovered the formula for the happiest song in the world – and the next closest is The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” (pictured)

Rank Title of the song Artist
1 Pleasant ambience The beach boys
2 I got you (I feel good) James Brown
3 House of pleasure Insanity
4 Let the party begin P!nk
5 Uptown girl Billy Joel
6 Sun shines Bob Marly
7 I come around The beach boys
8 YMCA Village people
9 Waterloo ABBA
10 September Earth, Wind

Second and third on the list of the world’s happiest songs are James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and Madness’ “House of Fun,” respectively.


Key: Important

pace: 137 beats per minute

Time format: Four strong beats to one measure

Show: Clear

Volume: Noisy

Structure: verse-chorus-verse-chorus

Other possibilities: Seventh chords, short introduction, repeated riffs, elements of surprise (e.g. key change)

Through his research, commissioned by yogurt brand Müllerlight, Dr. Bonshor discovered that songs are generally perceived as happier when they are in a major key.

“In addition, happy songs usually have a strong 1-2-1-2 beat so you can dance along,” he said.

‘A short introduction ensures that the song hits right away and there is no long build-up.

“We like high volume when it comes to how our upbeat songs are crafted, with notes played in a clear and springy way by instruments like trumpets or electric guitars rather than softer instruments.

“Finally a repetitive rhythm or guitar riff that people can cling to and become memorable is the icing on the cake.”

All these elements have been combined in a track called ‘The Lighter Note’, which has been scientifically proven to help break through the winter blues.

A survey of 2,000 Brits found that two-thirds listen to music to cheer them up, and 40 per cent cite cold weather and dark nights as a reason for needing it.

In fact, 71 percent said music is one of the most powerful influences on their mood.

Second and third on the list of the world's happiest songs are James Brown's

Billy Joel's

Second and third on the list of the world’s happiest songs are James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and Madness’ “House of Fun,” respectively. Village People’s “YMCA” (left) placed eighth and Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” (right) placed fifth

On average, the participants had eight songs that they couldn’t resist skipping, and they only had to listen to them for 14 seconds to get there.

Pop is considered the happiest genre by most respondents, but 69 percent also said they enjoy listening to different types of music.

When asked which song puts them in the best mood, those from the North East, South East, Wales and Northern Ireland all replied ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen.

ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ was considered the happiest song in Scotland, Yorkshire, the North West, East Midlands and East Anglia, according to the interactive map.

Music lovers in the South West and West Midlands were delighted by Katrina and the Waves’ ‘Walking on Sunshine’, and Londoners say Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ is the happiest.

What your favorite lyrics say about your romantic attachment style

Researchers at the University of Toronto say the words to our most loved tunes reveal our attachment style.

Individuals with a “secure” attachment style feel comfortable with closeness, while “avoidant” people may withdraw if their partner gets too close.

An “anxious” attachment style indicates that the person tends to be overly attentive to their partner and constantly seeks reassurance from their bond.

Lyrics like “think she gave you things I didn’t give you” from Adele’s “Someone Like You” reflect an anxious attachment style, according to the study.

Individuals with an avoidant attachment style may lean towards Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to do With It?” in which the words “who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” stands.

People with a secure attachment style might like “there’s not a hill or a mountain we can’t climb” from Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe.”

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