Enjoyment of pop music classics linked to combination of uncertainty and surprise

Why is it that people find songs such as James Taylor’s ‘Country Roads,’ UB40’s ‘Red, Red Wine,’ or The Beatles’ ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ so irresistibly enjoyable? Researchers analyze 80,000 chords in 745 classic US Billboard pop songs — including those three — and find that musical pleasure comes from the right combination of uncertainty and surprise.

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