Scientists Reveal The Happiest Song Of All Time

17 February 2023 | 8:29 am | Mary Varvaris

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Music psychologist Dr Michael Bonshor from the University of Sheffield has revealed the happiest song of all time.

In a study commissioned by the yogurt brand Müllerlight, Dr Bonshor found that the happiest-sounding songs are in a major key. Using a formula for the study, he discovered that Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys is the best example of his work. 

Dr Bonshor found that the most uplifting songs contain a tempo of 137 beats per minute (bpm) and an ordinary verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. However, what makes human beings latch onto a song is an unpredictable element like a key change or a "seventh chord".

"Previous studies have found songs are perceived as happy if they are in a major key, with a sweet spot of approximately 137 beats per minute. We like ‘7th chords’ as they add interest – regular chords use three notes, whereas ‘seventh chords’ add an extra note which provides a sense of musical 'tension' and 'relief,'" Dr Bonshor said in a statement, per The Daily Mail.

He continued, "Alongside this, cheery songs usually have a strong 1-2-1-2 beat to them, so that you can dance along – and a short introduction means the song kicks off with a bang straight away, and there’s not a long build-up. 

"We like high volume when it comes to how our happy songs are made, with notes played in a bright and bouncy way by instruments such as trumpets or electric guitars, instead of mellower instruments. Finally, a repetitive rhythm or guitar riff that people can latch onto and becomes memorable is the cherry on the cake."

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According to the formula, the top ten scientifically happy songs are: 

  1. Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
  2. I Got You (I Feel Good) by James Brown
  3. House Of Fun by Madness
  4. Get The Party Started by P!nk
  5. Uptown Girl by Billy Joel
  6. Sun Is Shining by Bob Marley
  7. I Get Around by The Beach Boys
  8. YMCA by Village People
  9. Waterloo by ABBA
  10. September by Earth, Wind & Fire

A few months ago, The Beach Boys celebrated their 60th year as a band by releasing the Sail On Sailor - 1972 limited edition box set

Sail On Sailor -1972 features 120 tracks, 80 of which were previously unreleased. Coming in all different packages and formats, the 'super deluxe' set is by far the most exclusive and includes remastered versions of the original albums (Carl and The Passions “So Tough” and Holland) as well as a previously unreleased concert from Carnegie Hall recorded in 1972 and unreleased bonus tracks, including the original Mount Vernon and Fairway 7inch EP from Holland, unavailable on vinyl since the 1970s. 

Fans will also enjoy a 38-page book with extensive liner notes, rare photos and a reproduction of the original Holland promotional book telling the story of the making of the album and four collectable lithos.