The Catchiest Pop Songs of All Time Revealed in New Survey

Researchers find these songs get stuck in your head.

ByABC News
November 4, 2014, 1:14 PM

— -- From Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," to Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time," to “Mambo No 5,” to Rihanna's "Umbrella," they are the pop songs you just can't get out of your head.

With catchy lyrics and boppy beats and that musical hook, these songs produce what musicologists call "earworms," causing them to get stuck in your head long after the song is over.

But ever wonder which pop song earns the distinction of being the catchiest of all time? A new survey found that the Spice Girls’ hit song “Wannabe” holds the title.

Researchers conducted a year-long online experiment called "Hooked On Music," in association with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, to analyze what makes music so catchy and explore musical memory.

Online participants were asked to listen to clips of music to see how fast they were able to recognize the song, and also asked to identify the catchiest part of the tune. The musical library included clips of 1,000 hit songs over the past 70 years, from the Beatles to the Spice Girls and beyond. After collecting data on over 12,000 people, they ranked the top 20 songs on a scale of how recognizable each was for listeners.

"Wannabe" took the top spot, recognized in a mere 2.29 seconds, on average. Lou Bega’s “Mambo No 5” came in second place at 2.48 seconds, followed by “Eye of the Tiger,” which was identified in 2.62 seconds.