We’ve all done it – played the same song on repeat and most likely driven the people around us potty. But why do we do it and why is it only certain songs we can bear to listen to on loop?
Scientists reckon they’ve found the answer.
In a study published in Psychology of Music, researchers from the University of Michigan surveyed 204 men and women, in their 30s or younger, and asked them about the songs they listened to most often and how often they listened to them. It was revealed that 86 percent of participants listened to their favourite songs once a week and almost half every day.
They then questioned participants about their listening experience, e.g., the deepness of their connection to the song, which aspects of the song drew them back to certain memories, how much of the song they were able to hear in their heads, and how (in their own words) the song made them feel, which they classified as “happy,” “calm,” and “bittersweet.”
For people who’s favourite song was classed as “happy” it was concluded that people were repeatedly drawn to it because of its beat and rhythm.
For “bittersweet” songs – the type that make you feel a bit sad and reminiscent but not miserable – they were the most likely to produce deep connections for people, and were also associated with a greater ability to build a “mental model” of the song, measured by how much of the song participants said they could replay in their heads.
The scientists found that people went back to certain songs because of their connection to the memories and emotions it evoked. The British Psychological Society says, “the emotional payoff is reliable, much as is a mood-regulating drug, and that reliable payoff can be more important than the hit of something novel”.
Tempted to fire up that 1999 track that reminds you of the first time you fell in love? Prepare for all the feels. (The Guardian)