Toto's "Africa": Science's take on the "best" song ever
For as long as we've had toes to tap, society's great minds have tried to explain the inner workings of music, searching for what makes it "good."
The results of this search range from the most basic reductions like minor-key-sad/major-key-happy to sophisticated brain wave data analysis and dopamine measurements — all aimed at decoding how a composer's decisions impact the quality of a song.
So when Gizmodo asked a small group of neuroscientist and music enthusiasts for their take on science's role in determining what makes a song "good," the answers touched on every aspect of music interpretation from the most analytical to the most visceral.
"We can measure how people respond to a song in a bunch of ways, including brain scans," neuroscientist and Director of the Science Gallery at King’s College London Daniel Glaser explains. "Actually measuring foot tapping or the smile muscles is probably just as good as more 'scientific methods.'"
In the end, perhaps the most convincing argument is the impromptu tweetstorm that prompted Gizmodo's investigation to confirm that, indeed, GRAMMY-winning band Toto's "Africa" is the best song ever made. Just ask a scientist:
"Science says 'Africa' is the best song ever made," jokes David Poeppel, professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, after concurring with the sentiment on Twitter and pointing to Toto's respected musical credentials.
While we love this song too, somehow we think this is a case that is far from closed.