The Science Of A Damn Good Song

We, The Institute for Research into Damn Good Songs, would like to present some of our current findings.

We have discovered that for a song to be elevated from merely a ‘Song’ or even a ‘Good Song’ into a ‘Damn Good Song’, it must fit into at least one of the following categories.

The first category is upbeat. By this we mean that the music has to be upbeat rather than the lyrics. It has to have the sort of tune that, when you hear it on the radio as you’re washing the dishes, you just have to dance to it so enthusiastically that various parts of your body start to wobble. If a person is dancing to a song and imagining that they are acting out the opening scene of a romantic comedy then that song is most certainly a Damn Good Song.

The next category follows on from upbeat but can also occur in slow songs. This category is hand movements. During our research we’ve found that people identify a song as being a Damn Good one when they instinctively want to do accompanying hand movements to it. Mr Brightside is an excellent example of this with patients showing us that ‘it started off with a kiss’, ‘he takes off her dress now’ and that they ‘just can’t look, it’s killing me’ amongst other things. If someone is incapable of listening to a tune without wanting to turn it into a game of charades then they are quite clearly listening to a Damn Good Song.

The third category is one that is most often seen in slow songs and that is the making a face category. The songs in this category often deal with the more unhappy side of relationships but they are far from being pathetic, sad, slow songs. As part of our research process patients were asked to pretend that they were auditioning for X Factor and many selected songs in this category as their audition song. These songs are just so Damn Good and full of emotion that one can’t help but pull lots of facial expressions, mostly pained or disgusted, when singing them, as we discovered when the patients completed their fake auditions. Songs in this category include ‘Don’t Forget’ by Demi Lovato, ‘If I were a Boy’ by Beyoncé and anything by Adele.

The fourth category is the mimic category. Again, songs in this group can straddle the other three but they can also fit solely into this category. A song is a mimic song when the listener enjoys trying to mimic the artist’s unusual voice and will quite often say afterwards “Don’t I sound just like him/her?” when they quite clearly don’t. The people we conducted the research on particularly loved copying the line ‘make out like it never happened and that we were nothing’ in Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. Other mimic songs include those sung by people with strong accents: Lily Allen, The Arctic Monkeys etc.

The final category is the Stand By Me category so named after the Ben E. King song which does not fit into any of the other groups but is still, unquestionably, a Damn Good Song.

This is not an exhaustive list, and our research still continues. We would greatly appreciate any insights that people have to offer.

The Institute for Research into Damn Good Songs
Spring 2013

You can read more from Grace Cox on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

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