The classic 1971 reggae tune “Sun Is Shining” from Bob Marley and The Wailers is one of the Top 10 Happiest Songs identified by Dr. Michael Bonshor, a music psychologist and professor at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Bonshor, whose expertise is in musical well-being and performance psychology, currently teaches the Psychology of Music at the University. His research interests include confidence building for singers, musical leadership, and group dynamics in musical ensembles, developed a formula to identify the elements that make a song “happy.” These elements include having a tempo of 137 beats per minute (BPM), a short introduction, “bright” tones, combining a major key, 7th chords, four beats in every bar, and a verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. It should also have repeated riffs, high volume, and a mix of predictability and surprise.
According to Bonshor’s formula, “Sun Is Shining” by Marley and The Wailers ranks at Number 6 among the Top 10 happiest songs. The classic first appeared on the album “Soul Revolution Part II” released in 1971. Although Marley rarely played the song at a live performance, it was rediscovered following a remix in 1999 by Funkstar De Luxe, a Danish house producer, and hit Number 3 on the UK Singles Chart.
A poll conducted by OnePoll in the United Kingdom found that the average person in the UK listened to over 20 tracks per day, with half doing so in their homes and one in four listening most while driving. Forty-six percent of the adults surveyed said that singing along with their favorite tunes boosted their mood. According to the poll, it only takes an average of 14 seconds for these songs to begin lifting listeners’ moods. The three happiest music genres identified in the survey were pop, rock, and dance. A survey conducted in 2020 found that 58 percent of adults reported that the songs that made them happiest were those released during their youth.
Dr. Bonshor’s Top 10 Happy Songs, which he identified according to his formula, are, in order, “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys; “I Got You” (I Feel Good) by James Brown; “House of Fun” by Madness; “Get the Party Started” by P!nk; “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel; “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley; “I Get Around” by The Beach Boys; “YMCA” by Village People; “Waterloo” by ABBA; and “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.