The Real Reason That Same Song Is Stuck In Your Head
As soon as you turn on the radio, chances are that the song playing is one of the same five that have been on repeat all season. This summer, it feels like "Bad Blood" by Taylor Swift and Walk The Moon's "Shut Up and Dance With Me" are on an endless loop. Of course, there are plenty of tunes out there, but a certain few seem to stick and researchers discovered a reason why.
According to a study done at the University of Southern California, the simpler the lyrics, the more popular a song will be. The USC team looked at all Billboard hits dating back to 1958 to find that songs thrive on repeating the same choruses over and over again. In the Journal of Consumer Psychology, the researchers wrote,
“While every artist strives to create a catchy hook, they may also consider striving to write a coherent song in which the chorus is repeated frequently while utilizing a limited vocabulary.”
The study shows that the brain enjoys familiarity and simplicity, a phenomenon known as processing fluency. That's why the lyrics to hit songs aren't overly complex. Further explaining this idea, co-author of the study and USC professor, Joseph Nunes says,
“If it’s easier, it feels better. If it feels better, it tells me I like it more. If I have a positive feeling about something because it’s familiar, then I think I like it more. Whether or not you really like it is a philosophical question.”