Updated on December 10, 2021
A Dutch cognitive neuroscientist named Dr. Jacob Jolij has been doing research into which songs are supposedly the best scientifically at making us feel good. He’s determined that the criteria for this include songs with “positive lyrics,” a tempo of at least 150 beats per minute, and being in a third major key.
The songs that fit these criteria the best, according to Dr. Jolij, are mostly pop and rock songs from the 1980s. Songs from after the 80s apparently don’t do as good a job.
The top 10 songs chosen, in order:
- Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
- Dancing Queen (Abba)
- Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)
- Uptown Girl (Billie Joel)
- Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)
- I’m a Believer (The Monkees)
- Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
- Livin’ on a Prayer (Jon Bon Jovi)
- I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
- Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves)
The top song by each decade was also chosen. The winners:
- 2010s: Happy (Pharrell Williams)
- 2000s: Dancing in the Moonlight (Toploader)
- 1990s: Let Me Entertain You (Robbie Williams)
- 1980s: Uptown Girl (Billy Joel)
- 1970s: Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
- 1960s: Good Vibrations (The Beach Boys)
The information above is based on that gathered by a British electronics firm that surveyed individuals in the United Kingdom and Ireland on song preferences. I assume the results (and chosen songs) would be different if this study were done here in the United States.
The website Mental Floss has a playlist of all 10 songs above.