Richard Gray @ Daily Mail
Now Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit has been named as the most iconic song ever made following a study that analysed the tracks most often singled out by critics.
Computer scientist and musician Dr Mick Grierson, from Goldsmiths, University of London, examined 50 of the greatest themes to see what features they shared.
Dr Grierson examined songs featured in seven ‘all-time best’ lists produced by major music magazines including Rolling Stone, VH-1, NME and Q magazine, along with those produced by newspapers.
He then used analytical software to examine what is that appears to make these tracks iconic, including their key, the number of beats per minute, chord variety, lyrical content, timbral variety and sonic variance.
By analysing the 50 songs that most often appeared in the greatest ever lists, Dr Grierson found around 80 per cent were in a major key and a similar proportion were in the keys of A, E, C or G.
He also found the average tempo was 125BPM, with around 40 per cent being around 120BPM.
Chord changes were found to be low in most of the songs, with between six and eight in the list of songs.
Dr Grierson also found that certain words appear regularly in iconic rock songs such as ‘Baby’, ‘Feel’, ‘Love’ and ‘Nah’.
However he also found a number of words that appear repeatedly over and over again in the same song, such as ‘generation’, ‘hallelujah’, ‘every breath’ and ‘Queen’.
The analysis additionally found the spectral flux – how the power of a note from one to the next varies – was high for many of the iconic songs, and this was far more varied than the chords or key changes.
The timbral dissonance, or conflict between tones, was also found to be quite high for the majority of the songs, meaning the sound tends to be harmonically jarring, apart from in the ballads in the list.
Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' was the lowest rated for variation in sound.
THE FULL LIST OF THE ICONIC SONGS AS RANKED BY FIAT
1. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
2. Imagine, John Lennon
3. One, U2
4. Billie Jean, Michael Jackson
5. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
6. Hey Jude, The Beatles
7. Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
8. I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Rolling Stones
9. God Save The Queen, Sex Pistols
10. Sweet Child O’Mine, Guns N’ Roses
11. London Calling, The Clash
12. Waterloo Sunset, The Kinks
13. Hotel California, The Eagles
14. Your Song, Elton John
15. Stairway To Heaven, Led Zeppelin
16. The Twist, Chubby Checker
17. Live Forever, Oasis
18. I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
19. Life On Mars? David Bowie
20. Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley
21. Over The Rainbow, Judy Garland
22. What’s Goin’ On, Marvin Gaye
23. Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen
24. Be My Baby, The Ronettes
25. Creep, Radiohead
26. Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon & Garfunkel
27. Respect, Aretha Franklin
28. Family Affair, Sky And The Family Stone
29. Dancing Queen, ABBA
30. Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys
31. Purple Haze, Jimi Hendrix
32. Yesterday, The Beatles
33. Jonny B Good, Chuck Berry
34. No Woman No Cry, Bob Marley
35. Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley
36. Every Breath You Take, The Police
37. A Day In The Life, The Beatles
38. Stand By Me, Ben E King
39. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag, James Brown
40. Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stones
41. What’d I Say, Ray Charles
42. Sultans Of Swing, Dire Straits
43. God Only Knows, The Beach Boys
44. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, The Righteous Brothers
45. My Generation, The Who
46. Dancing In The Street, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
47. When Doves Cry, Prince
48. A Change Is Gonna Come, Sam Cooke
49. River Deep Mountain High, Ike and Tina Turner
50. Best Of My Love, The Emotions