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Top Smile Songs Proven By Science

Posted on May 3, 2016 in Just for Kicks

Put on your dancing shoes and dancing smile with these jams!

Music is powerful. It has the ability to make us cry, feel nostalgic and smile ear-to-ear.

And some types of music can make you smile more, so what characteristics make a song “happy?” Personal traits can affect your taste in feel-good music, such as past experiences and mood. However, these are key criteria that make the music itself—happy.

150+ Beats Per Minute

In theory, as music becomes faster, it becomes happier. A high tempo of 150 beats or more per minute subconsciously makes you feel energized. For example, Adele's “Hello” clocks 79 beats per minute, while Travolta's “Greased Lightening” comes in at 160 beats per minute.

Major Key

Songs that sit in a major key on the musical scale evoke positive emotions, according to cognitive neuroscience researchers. Think of traditional tunes played during times of merriment: “Wedding March,” “Happy Birthday,” and Kool and the Gang's “Celebration.” All of these songs hit the major key sweet spot.


Songs that incessantly repeat a word or phrase are almost always guaranteed for smile success. Though repetition can seem annoying, your brain disagrees. When a phrase repeats, it captures your brain's motor circuitry, making you feel like the music is pulling you along for the ride. Pharrell's “Happy” has a whole lot of happy—the song sings the word more than 50 times.

See if our playlist gets you smiling. Based on this formula, science says these songs have happiness in their DNA:

Uptown Girl, Billy Joel

Shake It Off, Taylor Swift

Don't Stop Me Now, Queen

Happy, Pharrell

Celebration, Kool and the Gang

Best Day of My Life, American Authors

Don't Stop Believin', Journey

Brave, Sara Bareilles

Which song gets you smiling? Let us know in the comments section below!