Science: This is the catchiest song of all time

Still going strong in 2012.
Still going strong in 2012.
Image: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
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The Spice Girls released their first single, Wannabe, in 1996 but its legacy clearly lives on. Researchers at Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, and the University of Amsterdam named it the catchiest song of all time in a test of how quickly people can name a tune.

The researchers created an interactive site, Hooked on Music, to ask 12,000 people to listen to the 40 best-selling songs from each decade, beginning with the 1940s. People could identify Wannabe in 2.29 seconds, placing it at the top of the pile. Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Elvis Presley all have two songs in the top 20—though Billie Jean is only 15th, with some listeners taking 2.97 seconds to identify its iconic beat. (Who are these people?)

Here are the top 10 songs, and how long it took people to identify then:

1. Spice Girls, Wannabe — 2.29 seconds

2. Lou Bega, Mambo No. 5 — 2.48 seconds

3. Survivor, Eye of the Tiger — 2.62 seconds

4. Lady Gaga, Just Dance — 2.66 seconds

5. Abba, SOS — 2.73 seconds

6. Roy Orbison, Pretty Woman — 2.73 seconds

7. Michael Jackson, Beat It — 2.80 seconds

8. Whitney Houston, I Will Always Love You — 2.83 seconds

9. The Human League, Don’t You Want Me — 2.83 seconds

10. Aerosmith, I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing — 2.84 seconds