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What makes a song popular? The brain may know
June 10th, 2011
05:25 PM ET

What makes a song popular? The brain may know

Do you know a future hit when you hear one?

New research from Emory University suggests that particular patterns of brain activity may be able to predict the popularity of music. More importantly, says lead researcher Gregory Berns, brain research might help forecast how culturally influential ideas can become. The study will be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Berns and colleagues discovered the phenomenon accidentally. They had set out to look at the effects of popular opinion on adolescent preferences, using 120 songs by unsigned artists on MySpace that the participants probably hadn't heard of before. They conducted the experiment in 2006 with 27 participants aged 12 to 17, and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record brain responses to each of the songs.

Most of these songs didn't ever sell well. But in a few cases, they realized in the intervening years, several of the songs had gone on to become more widely popular, such as “Apologize” by One Republic.

Comparing brain response data with sales of those songs from 2007 to 2010, they found a correlation between particular brain responses and songs that would go on to sell more than 20,000 units. About 1/3 of the songs that sold more than this drew strong activity from two brain regions associated with reward. Weak responses were even better at predicting flops; lower activity was associated with about 90% of songs selling less than 20,000 units.

Strong activity in two brain regions could predict hits about 1/3 of the time. Weak activity was even better at predicting non-hits.

There are caveats, of course. The sample size of 27 is relatively small, and may not be representative of the general population, although teenagers do tend to buy a lot of music, Berns said.

The two brain regions researchers identified as important in this study, called the orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum, have been shown previously to be activated in situations where a person is anticipating something that he or she likes. That could be money, music, wine, and other items that people purchase.

"There's the sense that this circuit is somehow representing common utility or value to the person," Berns said.

Interestingly, the brain responses in those regions were better predictors of song success than whether the participants said they liked or disliked any given song. Berns speculates that's because when someone asks you what you think of a song, you might tailor your answer to what you believe the questioner wants to hear. The brain response may be the raw feeling you have about it.

While previous research looked at individual preferences, this study suggests that brain scans can predict widespread preferences of others. And actually, there are plenty of "neuromarketing" companies out there trying to exploit that idea, although these researchers are not affiliated with them.

Berns and colleagues are also studying how religious and political ideology are represented in the brain.

"There’s no reason why we couldn’t apply the same type of techniques to understand how people process concepts and ideas, and try to forecast whether those will will have staying power," he said.


soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Rory

    It's called music theory. Duh. There are certain chord progressions that always sound appealing that artists use frequently, henche the "catchiness" of certain songs.

    June 10, 2011 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      True. But some innovative musicians changed the musical landscape. The Beatles used chord progressions that were NOT standard. We have grown accustomed to them now, but when we first heard a V- IV progression in a pop song, it was quite unusual

      June 10, 2011 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
    • Joe D'

      Yeah- but, this is more insidious... and another tool that will be used to further corporatize [reduce in quality] music- as the industry cyclically does... early rock, progressive rock [Beatles, etc], punk/new wave, "Outlaw" country, & hip-hop were each waves of rebellion against corporate music. Boy bands, interchange-able girl singers, Fabian/Frankie/Pat Boone drivel, disco, & [sorry to say] todays "new country" are all examples of this over-produced contrived corporate crap. AND the easiest the movers & shakers in the music industry can identify and produce this ear junk... the more of it they'll make

      June 11, 2011 at 08:58 | Report abuse |
    • twiddly

      You're so right JoeD, especially about "new country" drivel. Just look at results of latest American Idol crappola.

      June 11, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse |
    • donutman

      it can't have anything to do with the songs because it's all about marketing the performer, Bieber, gaga, whoever...songs are secondary, that's why today's pop music is so generic, boring, one dimensional...compared to past years..one or two chord songlets are floating around in todays "music" fan's brains

      June 11, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
    • 12Bar

      The V-IV came way before the beatles... 12 bar blues anyone? Thats what got us started on I-IV-V addiction.

      June 11, 2011 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
  2. Jerrod

    Y'all are retarded

    June 11, 2011 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yourmama

      Yeah y'all and hee haw to you.

      June 11, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse |
  3. Kamereon

    Nope, songs that I don't think should be in the running end up being popular. Songs I really enjoy never make it out of the gate.

    June 11, 2011 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      Kamereon...I totally agree. I hear songs all the time on the radio that make me want to crash my car, but more often than not they end up being "popular". It gets me to thinking, "Is my taste in music so different from everyone elses?". I don't think so.

      June 11, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
  4. letsgomets2011

    There's got to be something to the "it's got a good beat and it's easy to dance to" and something to "it's catchy." Something about songs that are catchy or good beat and easy to dance to always make it a big hit -it's got to have something to do with the brain and how the arrangement of notes hits it.

    June 11, 2011 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Doodle HoHa

    What a bunch of junk this article is. Songs are made popular by the record companies, what they push out as singles and force upon us everywhere. Not that i mind, i love music, i love hearing a new song a thousand times in a week (i am totally serious)- it becomes like "my song" for that week, or weekend.... some songs stay with me more than others, but if the execs released track 3 instead of 2 as the second single, i would probably then never heard #2, like most other people, and it wouldn't be as "popular"...... i dont know just my theory.....

    June 11, 2011 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • iMaturity

      True, but how does the record company decide which single to force upon the unsuspecting populace? I'm pretty sure they don't just spin around three times and then throw darts at a board covered in demo CDs.

      June 11, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • August West

      Fails to explain the popularity (almost complete devotion) to the Grateful Dead

      June 11, 2011 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • Uthor

      Record companies increasingly have nothing to do with it. The business model has changed for all but a few hugely-popular musicians

      June 11, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
  6. Mitch

    You can't hear every hit. But those you can hear, usually sound like several loud pops in quick succession followed by squealing tires and a racing engine.

    June 11, 2011 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jimmy

    E=mcART. It's called a "hook" geniuses.. and your sample study shouldn't be 27 teenage girls who casually invest in music. "One Republic" is your sample? Never heard of them.. never will.

    June 11, 2011 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sunny

      I guess you didnt read the whole article. The study was done intentially with no name bands. One republic coincidentally became popular after the study and they found a correlation years later.

      June 12, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
  8. The Cheebahawk

    I have to wonder what "Smells like Teen Spirit" would have done to this study. :p

    June 11, 2011 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe D'

      Exactly-
      Except in these days, a transcendent song like "Smells Like..." would've been STOLEN by millions "sharing" it.

      June 11, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse |
    • MikeD

      There are enough people raised on the music of those like The Who. They appreciated this song at once.
      Then there's "Satisfaction." Everyone recognized this was a hit after the first verse. Go Bo.

      June 11, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  9. rudedog

    The most awesome unsigned song is Bella Mia by a band called One second Till Forever! All ages, all genres love it at first listen.

    June 11, 2011 at 06:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Duly unimpressed

      Oh. That must be a great song. SO good, in fact, that I will just trust your judgment, not listen to it, and continue listening to all the music I like, which I feel the same way about. See what I did there? lol

      June 11, 2011 at 07:45 | Report abuse |
    • hohum

      It's not a bad song, but not great...sounds like a lot of songs I've heard in Cuba.

      June 11, 2011 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Run4DaHills

      The song is pretty decent and although, not a chart topper, which, BTW, should NEVER be the reason to create music, the tune would be one fans would anticipate hearing at a live concert. The recored spoken voice (girl's) is a bit cheesy and overdone and for me, detracted from the nice drum,bass groove break, in the same way the "shaky cam" effect is no longer as effective as when it was first introduced. The band's various musical and style inspirations are apparent but everyone starts from somewhere and it takes some time to forge your own undeniably, unique "sound," which, this band seems quite capable of doing. The band is definitely tight, well synch'd and the vocals are crisp and smooth, with a good tonality. Certainly, not for everyone but what ever is?

      June 12, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
  10. InTheKnow

    The public does NOT determine what songs become popular. Radio stations & the record labels who pay them (with concert tickets, memorabilia, artist interviews, artist performances at radio station concerts, etc, anything but actual cash) are the ones who decide what will be played over & over & over & over & over & over & over again till the public can't help but respond to them. If a label pushes the song & artist thru very well paid independent promoters, the program directors of the major city stations will play them & the smaller city/town stations will follow. There are plenty of sure-fire hit songs that never get the airplay they deserve, from both major label neglected artists, smaller label artists, independent label artists & talent signed or not signed to any label that can't afford to or just won't for some reason play the radio promo game. The public can't know a hit when they don't even get the chance to hear it.

    June 11, 2011 at 07:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Uthor

      Things have changed. That old model you describe was in force once. And there is a sort of vestigial structure of this left, but it's dying. Once the buying public decided not to pay for music as a "product," and instead essentially steal it, the incentive for companies to invest in producing and distributing a product has gone away. Once music was no longer effectively part of a market economy, musicians have needed to explore different ways of being able to write songs and make a living from performing (if they wish to perform).

      This isn't a complaint, but just a statement of reality. Radio as a venue for demonstrating songs has long been gone, probably around the time MTV got popular.

      June 11, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
  11. HogGriffin

    Having this ability since i was a kid i can understand it, some beats are nice if repetative, some are catchy and you cant get them out of your head but that doesnt mean they are good and the rare of the rare is the one that sends electrical shivers through my head....they have mostly become big sellers...if they are publicized well.....it doesnt matter if you build the best car in the world if you dont tell anyone it wont sell.

    Of course some hits dont have this physical responce because they are hyped to a hit even when not deserving...but i ALWAYS get the brain tingles for a great song, be it R&R, Country, New Age, Rap, etc...i cant control the feelings but i do understand what they mean

    June 11, 2011 at 07:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. It doesn't take a brain...

    Just listen to The Ventures, then listen to Justin Bieber. There's timeless talent and then there's the rest of the trash in the landfill. 'Nuff said.

    June 11, 2011 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. c

    i knew, 'pocket dialing,' by fear nutting band is gonna be their, 'hit,' the first time i heard it.

    June 11, 2011 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. steeve-o

    It has a lot to do with major keys, progressions, BPMs... the chances are good some of the songs played had a familiar progression or beat pattern and root note from another popular song, which is going to subliminally trigger those neurons telling the listener the song is a hit. Writers and producers have been emulating these patterns when they write new songs. Club DJs and producers of their songs know if the song shares a root note and BPM of another club banger, the chances are good it will get played by other DJs in succession. It's less of the user being able to discern a pop tune cerebrally, and more that the pop tunes are made to do that (which is why they usually lack in any other substance to make a song memorable). In other words, don't believe the hype.

    June 11, 2011 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • steeve-o

      For Example, listen to Katy Perry's tracks "Tik Tok" and "California Gurls", which are identical. Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce were sold songs by the same producer, that were identical in everything but lyrics. Lady Gaga is systematically recreating every Madonna hit single. These days what makes a hit song is redundancy; both in the structure of the song and the radio playing the chosen singles every 45 minutes.

      June 11, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
  15. Ronald Hussein Reagan

    I used to work with retarded kids and they were infallible in picking out which songs wold be popular.

    June 11, 2011 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. EcA

    Each to their own? i'm guessing when a remake can tack up 900 thousand hits, it's good.

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXf-SuBbJa0&w=640&h=360]

    June 11, 2011 at 08:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. ddalton

    I've been producing records for fifty-five years, and I can tell you one thing that is the absolute truth. NOBODY KNOWS IF A SONG IS GOING TO BE A BIG HIT, OR AS THEY SAY IN THE BUSINESS, A "STIFF"! The artist, the group, the producer, and the record company, and their promotion staff all have their opinions, and opinions are just like belly buttons. Everyone has one! You don't really know until it gets on the radio, gets played and either gets great response from the listeners, or not.
    Why is it that a Paul McCartney song like "Yesterday", becomes the MOST RECORDED SONG IN HISTORY, and one of his other songs becomes a "stiff". It's truly magical when you cut what you think is a hit, and it does become a hit. But really, we're all GUESSING! And that goes for the record companies as well. If anyone truly could tell what song would become a hit, he would be a billionaire today. Some are more successful than others, but even they are wrong more times than they are right. You, the public, are the ones that make a record a hit, and you are the ones that make an artist into a hit artist. In the sixties, our target audience was a 13 YEAR OLD FEMALE! No wonder that "Bubble Gum Music" became popular. A hit is truly MAGICAL! We'd like to created that magic every time out, but we don't.

    June 11, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Per

      Hi Ddalton,

      I am a former record producer with a wall full of platinum records and awards, and Ddalton is the only comment here that has any brains. We just don't know what's a hit. If you can feel it in your stomach, chances are someone else can too. That's as close as you'll ever get to knowing. I'm intrigued by the study, though, because you're measuring the impact of the song on the person rather than the qualities of the song, which means that the reading takes the person's entire environment and cultural time into consideration. Fascinating that they mention that the brain region that fires up is associated with a promise of reward. I'll have to think about that. Anyway, nobody ever reads comments, I just felt like writing one.

      June 11, 2011 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
    • Floretta

      Absolutely ddalton. Most posters here are too young to remember the days when variety was everywhere. It wasn't broken down into micro-niches. Look at the year end 1964 Billboard Top 100 and you'll find everyone from the Beatles (of course) to Al Hirt to Manfred Mann, Dean Martin to Martha and the Vandellas, Nancy Wilson to the Jelly Beans, Roger Miller to Al Martino, the Supremes to the Rip Chords. One big gumbo of music – radio play was wide open comparatively speaking, and at that time still largely AM!

      Many a songwriter would love to know how to guarantee their songs would become hits but there just is no way to know what is going to hit the collective zeitgeist in the heart/mind/gut and catch fire.

      June 11, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse |
    • doug

      Mosty right but yes you can predict a hit sometimes.

      If a major artist like Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Usher, or Britney make an uptempo record with a good beat and an infectious hook you got a hit.

      I always know what the most played songs on the radio will be months from now. I'm wrong maybe 3% of the time.

      Proof, Jason Derulo Dont wanna go home, Beyonce Best thing I ever had, Ptbull and Marc Anonthy new song, these will al be huge hits this summer.

      Most people 18-44 will love these songs, smelly hippie elitists will hate them but what they like no one else likes. The weiners will always be elitsts and always wrong, it is best to just ignore them.

      June 11, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • Floretta

      "smelly hippie elitists"? really?? where does one find a hippie these days? I'm past 44 – WELL over 18 – and love Adele's Rolling in the Deep and a few other non-oldie songs currently getting airplay.

      June 11, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • Albert

      After working in Radio for 33 years, (every station number 1) I would have to disagree with you on picking hits. Everyday we would receive...back in the time.... 40 to 100 45's a day at the station. We would pick out the name artists and check their work out first. Most of those artists had 2 to 3 Top Ten hits per album and the record company knew which ones would work. Many times the hit was the name of the album. Maybe once a month a named artist would have a number 1 with a bullet and everyone in the business knew ahead of time that would happen. I hate to say this, but Program Directors, Music Directors have an ear for hits. It's called knowing your listener's or Demo's. I worked in Rock, Country and Jazz.

      Even after working in TV...for the last decade. I'll bet if you place 100 songs in front of me. I'll pick your hits for any format and the stiffs. That was our job, and the ratings backed us up.

      June 12, 2011 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
    • lauriegoldsteincsp4project

      Hi
      I'm doing a project on popular music at university. I'd really like to speak with any old record producing veterans that would be interested to talk to me about their productions. I'd especially like to speak with Albert because I'm interested to hear your process on how you knew what a hit record was. Can you tell me if there are any patterns you look for when making your decision and how quickly do you make this decision? Much Thanks, Laurie

      October 12, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
  18. Roberto Valverde

    I use the Music as a CURE for Ilnesses visit the page:
    http://www.fudacionrobertovalverde.org
    I make wonderfoul recoveries with SOUNDS

    June 11, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SilentBoy741

      Me too - usually about a half-hour after having Taco Bell.

      June 12, 2011 at 06:48 | Report abuse |
  19. donutman

    Nothing's memorable in today's lackluster hit parade of garbage, do you actually think any of today's pop songs will be remembered in the future like in the 60's, 70's and 80's? it's all throwaway junk songlets just put out to market the performers nowadays

    June 11, 2011 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baby Boomer

      Strangely enough that's what the older generation said in the 60s, 70s and 80s except they quoted the great years as the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

      June 11, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse |
    • Floretta

      Good stuff will always be good stuff. Heck, "Greensleeves" has been around since, what, at least the 16th century. Classical music has considerable staying power as well. As for popular music, we are still hearing Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, rogers (and Hart) and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, big band and swing music from our parents' or grandparents' eras – no reason why music from the 2nd half of the 20th century shouldn't survive and thrive.

      All children should be exposed to the widest variety of music daily, not just current stuff. Maybe there's a place for pop-up music videos that explain ragtime, boogie-woogie, swing, etc.

      June 11, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
    • donutman

      @babyboomer..i like a lot of current stuff..problem is, you don't hear it on the radio....the music industry turns a blind eye to anything that might upset their greedy applecart..there's a sameness to today's music, it's boring, bland and blah...the 30's, 40's and 50's generation weren't complaining about 60's, 70's and 80's music because it was boring and blah...why do i see a lot of 20 somethings going back and listening to Zeppelin, The beatles, the Who, Steely Dan etc...they're not babyboomers, just know the difference between good music and bad

      June 11, 2011 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
  20. Laure

    I don't think you need to image people's brains to see if a song will be popular; you could just ask them if they like the song!

    June 11, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doug

      and that is what radio does to make sure that they are playing the best music possible for their target demo.

      It does take people hearing a song a few times before they can really judge if they like it or not. It has to be familiar to get an accurate opinion.

      Call out research and music tests are the truth of what people like...and what if you want to say it is good. SOrry, the ivorty tower elitst is not superior to all and is the one and only decider of good and bad. If they cared about others and didn't think they were better then they wouldn't need to force feed their opinions with government money.

      June 11, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • wayne

      i think most of you missed the point of the article its not about having a "catchy hook" or a certain chord progression the whole point of the article is postulating that certain tones bpm or arrangements effect the brain and trigger positive responses in the brain and make the song more appealing . i play music myself and know that even certain tempos can put the brain into different brainwave patterns .

      June 12, 2011 at 02:07 | Report abuse |
  21. Will

    All awesome songs at their core contain different ways of arranging a three cord progression, each cord a full step distant from the other two. The tonic and second cords need to be major. The top cord can be either major or minor. Inversions matter too, but not as much. You can have a good tune without the perfect inversion; however, the best one to my ear places the root in the middle. Take that to the bank aspiring artists or record company execs. You might lose the forest for the trees, but those are the theoretical elements of a good tune. Example: Level 42's "Something About You" released in 1986. How a toneless rap song becomes a hit, I have no idea.

    June 11, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. erich2112x

    If you have more than 3 chords in a rock song, you better be 'Yes' or "Rush', otherwise you sck.

    June 11, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. doug

    Wow, the elitism of the political ticker has been beat with this thread here.

    Music is not about making you feel that you are better than everyone else. It is these progressives who may love a band to death, go to all their shows, have all their music, and have posters on their walls. Then that band finally makes a mass appeal song, the masses now know them, and the progressive screams they sold out, throws away all their cds, and actually gets on the verge of violence if someone claims they now like this band.

    So what if people like gaga or britney, how does their musical choice affect your life? They are not lesser beings than you on your ivory tower with your ipod filled of your indie bands.

    Those of us on the right and center know that music is subjective, their is no real good or bad, it is up each individual to make up their own mind.

    These progressive elitists think they should be able to force their music on others. THey are so much better than everyone else. They are the same ones who want to censor voices on the radio because those hosts are saying things that the progressive doesn't agree with.

    Face it, radio plays the best music possible all the time. They test music with the intended target demographics. That is how they stay in business. When you get government money to stay on the air you can air whatever you want and force your tastes on people.

    June 11, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Floretta

      Music is apolitical. Lyrics can, and frequently do, reflect the world view of the songwriter, but not the music.

      June 11, 2011 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
    • Heliocracy

      Come now, the definition of art is counting how many people like it? By that measure, Shakespeare's work cannot be called art, but Lady Gaga's can. There is some standard that goes beyond popularity...and the most popular is almost never an indicator of the best, in music or pretty much anything else.

      June 12, 2011 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
  24. stupidDOPE.com

    If you are looking for HIT music check out http://stupidDOPE.com daily!

    June 11, 2011 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Jennifer J

    Interesting. This explains why a song I HATED in the 1970s STILL doesn't appeal to me. It never got through to that part of my brain that made me feel rewarded, and still doesn't. I guess sometimes your tastes can't change.

    June 11, 2011 at 19:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Robert Popa

    There are plenty of artists out there with "Hit" songs but have no radio airplay, exposure or label deal.

    What makes a Hit song is a 700k budget for radio airplay. If you get a million spins on the air, that counts as a hit song.

    I'm a hit songwriter

    June 11, 2011 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. edvhou812

    I can spot a hit instantly. The rule is simple: If it has a significantly catchy element, and I hate the song, it will be a hit.

    June 11, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Bill Duke

    I like turtles.

    June 11, 2011 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. tapuhere

    If Nude Midget Donkey Wrestling is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right.

    June 11, 2011 at 20:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. standingwave

    They'll never figure out what makes a song a hit.But they'll never stop trying either.

    June 11, 2011 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. MCR

    There was one song I remember hearing for the first time and thinking it would be a huge hit. I was at Jones Beach in NY with some friends and the song came on the radio. We all immediately sat up, looked at each other and said, whoa! The song? My Sharona. Sure, it was annoying to many people, but it turned out to be a mega-hit

    June 11, 2011 at 22:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. erich2112x

    Remember the old Dick Clark specials, what would they always say if they liked a song? "It has a good beat, and it's easy to listen to." That's what a hit song is still today.

    June 11, 2011 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heliocracy

      Sure, but don't mistake that for art, as many people seem to these days.

      June 12, 2011 at 12:12 | Report abuse |
  33. Blessed Geek

    War is not about who is Right but who is Left and liberated to enjoy their own definition of a "hit".

    Do you want to listen to an Arabic "hit", or a Cantonese opera "hit", or a Cambodian liltalating "hit".

    A "hit" is not about the brain's innateness but what is left in it after being fed by artillery from all the cultural wars.

    June 11, 2011 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sanderp

    The girl in that photo looks like she's enjoying that song a little TOO much...

    June 12, 2011 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • fiskenmann

      That's because she's singing about a 'load'! LOLOLOLOLOL!!!

      June 12, 2011 at 05:17 | Report abuse |
  35. dante

    I think we can all agree the age of the "hit " as we knew it is over. Now even horrible songs can be hits...its just requires marketing. Nothng proves this better than that AWFUL song "My Humps" by the Blackeyed Peas....actually the fact that ANY of their songs even made it on the radio proves that horrible music can just be promoted into "hits".

    June 12, 2011 at 00:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Andy

    Most music today is popular because it tries to sound good or just different enough to be interesting. Very little popular music is actually good artistically.

    – A

    June 12, 2011 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 45vinyljunkie

    There's only one thing you have to remember regarding popular music: If it was recorded after 1979, it probably sucks.

    June 12, 2011 at 02:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heliocracy

      Please...you can say the same thing about pop music before 1979. It's always been somewhat of a cr*apfest.

      June 12, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  38. netninja

    Music execs know a hit when they release it, Movie execs know when a moive is going to do well when they release it. They use focus groups.
    Here is an example, When a new movie is about to be released and it's going to suck they send the actors out to sell the crap out of it. I call it putting lipstick on a pig.
    When a new album is going to drop they play the 1 hit wonder from the entire album every 15 damn minutes on every radio station. back in the day it was called the A side and the B side. the fluff songs were putt on the B side.
    It's called selling the sizzle and not the steak and when the consumer is robbed for paying more than $20 bucks for 1 decent song on the album they wonder why everyone is not paying for music anymore and downloading it for free.
    Music stations couldn't even remember what songs were released 6 months ago becuase they are paid to play the most recent release every 15 mins.

    June 12, 2011 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Splovengates

    This study misses the boat completely. ITS 'BOUT CULTURE MAN!

    June 12, 2011 at 05:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. FU

    If she's smart she wont get back up after the first hit...

    June 12, 2011 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Gerry

    This is relevant to my interests.

    June 12, 2011 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. sandroni

    "A hit is a hit" Soprano's 1999. This is not news it is a rerun.

    June 12, 2011 at 07:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. chris

    I like bluegrass.

    June 12, 2011 at 08:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. cpc65

    So Lady Gaga is the leading cause of cerebral hemorrhaging?

    June 12, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Robert

    If a song doesn't follow the rules that govern The Harmonic Wheel, it won't be pleasing to the ear!

    June 12, 2011 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Heliocracy

    I do know I'd like to "hit" that fine chick in the photo.

    June 12, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. r

    If it was Greg Lake singing the phone book I'd still like it.

    June 12, 2011 at 23:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. albie

    27 as a sample size means that this probably means nothing except that the researches probably want another grant

    June 13, 2011 at 00:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Sum of Squares

    This is the blueprint on how to write a hit: "The Line Keeps Repeating!"

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTjjVWmCenM&w=640&h=360]

    July 14, 2011 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. the ones

    wooaaahhh we are using this for our science project!

    October 27, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.