Science is cool, but does it really have the ability to determine the most iconic songs of all time? Researchers from Goldsmiths, University of London seem to think so.
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Dr. Mick Grierson, a computer scientist and musician, married his love of music and science by conducting a scientific study to determine the fifty most iconic songs of all time. To obtain results, Dr. Grierson, along with scientists from Goldsmiths University studied songs from seven various “best songs of all time” lists by using analytical software to compare their key, BPM, chord variety, lyrical content, timbral variety, and sonic variance against one another.
“We found the most significant thing these songs have in common is that most of them use sound in a very varied, dynamic way when compared to other records,” Grierson said of the findings. “This makes the sound of the record exciting, holding the listeners attention. By the same token, the sounds these songs use and the way they are combined is highly unique in each case.”
While he may be confident the findings determine the top 50 songs of all time, Grierson is not able to provide a specific formula to musicians to ensure their next song is a hit. “Ultimately there is no ‘formula’ for this,” he shared, “Other than to make your song sound as different, diverse, and exciting as possible.”
Curious to see what songs topped the list? Check out the top five below and visit the Daily Mail for a list of all 50.
5. "Bohemian Rhapsody," Queen
Originally released in 1975 as part of their A Night at the Opera album, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" has become an inescapable favorite. Peaking at number 9 during it's first run, the song would go one to live multiple lives thanks to its inclusion in 1992's Wayne's World, and again in the Oscar-winning biopic about the band, Bohemian Rhapsody.
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4. "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson
Released January 2, 1983, “Billie Jean,” only took three weeks to top the charts. Said to be inspired by claims made by groupies when he toured with the Jackson 5, the song, written by Michael Jackson, was the second single off his sixth studio album, Thriller.
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3. "One," U2
Released as the band’s third single from their seventh album, Achtung Baby, the song is an extra special one for the group as it’s credited for keeping them together after tensions flared with the creation of the album. Written by Bono, and inspired by sounds created by guitarist, Edge, the song has found many meanings over the years, each one helping fans mend their own relationships.
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2. "Imagine," John Lennon
“Imagine” was the title track for John Lennon’s 1971 album and quickly became his most successful song as a solo artist. Encouraging peace, love and harmony for all, it’s no wonder the song continues to resonate with people today, including the more than 200 artists who have covered the worldwide hit.
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1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana
With or without science, this hit tops a lot of lists. The lead single from Nirvana’s 1991 album, Nevermind, the song skyrocketed to the top of the charts in multiple countries. The "anthem for apathetic kids" remains one of the greatest hits of all time, and the most "iconic," according to science.
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