According to music psychology expert Michael Bonshor of the University of Sheffield, to create a happy song, music artists should combine a major key, 7th chords, 137 BPM (beats per minute), strong beats, four beats in every bar, and a verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. Moreover, happy songs should have a short intro, repeated riffs, bright tone, high volume, and a mix of predictability and surprise.
“Previous studies have found songs are perceived as happy if they are in a major key, with a sweet spot of approximately 137 beats per minute. We like ‘7th chords’ as they add interest; regular chords use three notes, whereas ‘7th chords’ add an extra note which provides a sense of musical ‘tension’ and ‘relief,’” Bonshor explained.
“Alongside this, cheery songs usually have a strong 1-2-1-2 beat to them, so that you can dance along – and a short introduction means the song kicks off with a bang straight away, and there’s not a long build up. We like high volume when it comes to how our happy songs are made, with notes played in a bright and bouncy way by instruments such as trumpets or electric guitars instead of mellower instruments. Finally, a repetitive rhythm or guitar riff that people can latch onto and becomes memorable is the cherry on the cake.”
According to Dr. Bonshor’s formula, the happiest song ever created and performed is “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys, followed by “I Got You” (I Feel Good) by James Brown, “House of Fun” by Madness, and “Get the Party Started” by P!nk. Moreover, this “happy formula” has now been turned by Jamie P and Oliver Price into a pitch-perfect track called “The Lighter Note.”
Here are the top 10 happiest songs according to Dr. Bonshor’s formula:
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