The Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ is catchiest pop song of last 60 years, study finds

It took people an average of 2.3 seconds to recognise the 1996 hit

The Spice Girls’ number one hit ‘Wannabe’ is the catchiest pop song since the 1940s, a new study has found.

The pop group’s popular debut, which topped the UK singles chart for seven weeks in the summer of 1996 and sold 7 million copies worldwide, has been rated as the most recognisable track of more than 220 bestselling songs, according to research by the University of Amsterdam in association with Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry.

The survey was conducted via an interactive online game called Hooked On Music, which asked more than 12,000 participants to record how recognisable selected songs were. On average, it took people 2.3 seconds to recognise the Spice Girls track, compared to 5 seconds for other tracks.


Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo No 5’ was the second most recognisable track at 2.48 seconds, and Rocky theme tune ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor came third at 2.62 seconds. Lady Gaga, Abba, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston also featured in the top 10.

The aim of the study was to identify whether the catchiest songs have similar characteristics. Dr John Ashley Burgoyne, who conceived the idea, told BBC news: “We were particularly interested in music and memory and why exactly it is that certain pieces of music stay in your memory for such a long time.

“You may only hear something a couple of times yet 10 years later you immediately realise that you have heard it before. Yet other songs, even if you have heard them a lot, do not have this effect.”

This summer, X Factor girl group Little Mix beat the Spice Girls’ US chart record with their debut album, ‘DNA’, which entered the Billboard 200 chart at Number Four. It was the highest ever debut for a British female group, beating the Number Six position the Spice Girls achieved in 1997 with their debut album ‘Spice’.

The UK’s top 10 catchiest songs:


Spice Girls – Wannabe
Lou Bega – Mambo No 5
Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger
Lady Gaga – Just Dance
Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman
Michael Jackson – Beat It
Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
The Human League – Don’t You Want Me
Aerosmith – I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing

You May Like