The Beatles ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ is “the perfect pop song”, according to science

Beating Genesis' 'Invisible Touch', no less

The Beatles‘ 1968 track ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ has been declared the most perfect pop song ever written by researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

The scientists analysed 80,000 different chord progressions from 700 songs recorded between 1958 and 1991, using machine learning to give a score to each chord based on how “surprising” it was compared to the chord preceding it.

Chord sequences from 30 of the songs were then played to 39 volunteers, stripped of lyrics and melody to make the source track unrecognisable. The volunteers were asked to rate how enjoyable they felt each chord to be.


The research found that when the volunteers were relatively sure what chord was coming next, they enjoyed being surprised instead.

The research also found that being unsure of how the song would progress would cause activity in a region of the brain connected with musical pleasure.

According to The Times Vincent Cheung, a PhD student at the institute, said“It is fascinating that humans derive pleasure from a piece of music just by how sounds are ordered over time.

“Songs that we find pleasant strike a good balance between us knowing what is going to happen next and surprising us with something we did not expect.”

‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ was the closest song the researchers could find to “perfection”, followed by Genesis’ ‘Invisible Touch’, and BJ Thomas’ ‘Hooked on a Feeling’.


The Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’, The La’s’ ‘There She Goes’, Van Halen’s ‘When It’s Love’ and UB40’s ‘Red Red Wine’ also scored highly.

Despite what science has to say, John Lennon was famously disparaging of the Paul McCartney-written song, declaring it “granny music shit”.


You May Like