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The key ingredient for a hit pop song? ‘Reproductive messages.’

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Science can’t write a catchy melody for you, but it can advise you to include more references to sex in your songs if you want to reach the top of the charts. This advice comes from a 2011 study in Evolutionary Psychology by Dawn Hobbs and Gordon Gallup, who found that songs that made it onto the Billboard Top Ten in 2009 were far more likely to include references to sex (or, in the dry academic parlance of our times, “reproductive messages”) than songs that didn’t. Oh yes, there’s a chart:

This isn’t a recent phenomenon, either: “An analysis of the lyrics of opera arias and art songs also revealed evidence for many of the same embedded reproductive messages extending back more than 400 years.” Even Mozart knew that sex sells.

(Study via Eric Barker.)

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