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The interest in the first research results of ‘Hooked on Music’, a project in which UvA researchers Henkjan Honing and Ashley Burgoyne are collaborating with the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, UK, is growing ever more intense and international. All over the world, social and conventional media have been reporting ‘Wannabe’ by the Spice Girls as the most catchy hit single.

Source: UU/UvA

Following reports out of Great Britain, including from The Independent, The Guardian, The Mirror, Daily Mail and Sunday Telegraph, the news was picked up by American media outlets such as CNN, Time Magazine, FoxNews and Huffington Post. The project has also been receiving plenty of attention in European countries such as Spain and Sweden and on social media. 

Honing is delighted with the attention: ‘Hopefully, it will mean even more people will play the Hooked on Music and Hooked! games, producing yet more data to help us determine what it is that gives a song that musical “hook”.’ The game developed for the study is based on an app created by a consortium together with Utrecht University and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision with grants from NWO-CATCH and the Centre for Digital Humanities. The game tests how fast players can identify various song fragments. By comparing thousands of such fragments, the researchers are hoping to discover the precise elements, such as the melody line, the rhythm or a special chord, that make a particular song fragment ‘stick’ in people's minds. 

To date, the song Wannabe by the Spice Girls has come out of the study as the catchiest British hit single ever. The participants in the online experiment recognised the song in an average of 2.3 seconds, compared with an average of five seconds for other popular hits. 

The research project will be open for participation until the end of the year (see link below).