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Science finds world’s happiest song – The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations

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Scientists have revealed that they have found the world’s happiest song – the Beach Boys’ song Good Vibrations.

Dr. Michael Bonshor, who teaches music psychology at the University of Sheffield, has created a simple formula to determine how happy a song is.

The formula for a happy song

Key: Major

Tempo: 137 beats per minute

Time signature: Four strong beats to a bar

Tone: Bright

Volume: Loud

Structure: Verse-chorus- verse-chorus

Other features: Seventh chords, a short introduction, repeated riffs, elements of surprise (eg key change)

The study found that songs are perceived as happy if they are in a major key, with a sweet spot of approximately 137 beats per minute.

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. Finally, a repetitive rhythm or guitar riff that people can latch onto and becomes memorable is the cherry on the cake.

Does this sound like ingredients to a song that makes you feel the happiest?

Using Dr Bonshor’s formula below is a list of the world’s happiest pop songs.


“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys
“I Got You” (I Feel Good) by James Brown
“House of Fun” by Madness
“Get the Party Started” by P!nk
“Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel
“Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley
“I Get Around” by The Beach Boys
“YMCA” by Village People
“Waterloo” by ABBA
“September” by Earth, Wind & Fire

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