It’s been said that music soothes the savage beast, but how well does it work to help us humans get stuff done? News reports on how listening to certain tunes eases your workday productivity (if you don’t use headphones, at least) are widespread, claiming everything from acoustic string and classical music being good for writing, or jazz making mundane tasks easier, to classic rock speeding up your hands-on day in the mailroom or body shop garage.
But while those music genres seem to rationally match the corresponding jobs, recent research suggests some more bizarre combos, tied not to the mood of the tunes but simply to the BPM. Chief among these oddball mixes: According to a study presented at this year’s Euroanaesthesia congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, the “Macarena”—that mid-1990s Spanish dance song that everyone irritating in your life still remembers the dance moves for—utilizes an ideal BPM for administering chest compressions at the correct rate while performing CPR.
“It’s the most famous song in Spain, and probably one of the most well-known in the world, and the beat of the chorus of the song is 103 bpm, a correct rhythm for performing the rate of compressions,” Enrique Carrero Cardenal of the University of Barcelona, and one of the researchers involved in the study, told The Guardian.
So, we started thinking: What other tasks might we perform better when our favorite songs have the proper BPM?
Not surprisingly, speed preferences often vary from person to person. A survey of college students on which songs they find sexiest during sex revealed either 80 bpm or 130 bpm were the sweet spots, due to hip movements and other sexual rhythms. Think your partner’s speed is 80? Queue up “Woman in Chains” by Tears for Fears. If you’ve been out to the club, they may be on 130, so throw on “I Like It” by Enrique Iglesias, and see if they do, player. [Editor’s note: No one should ever have sex to either of these songs, please, for the love of God.]
Brushing Your Teeth
Many dentists agree that you should brush your pearly whites for at least two minutes to be sure they’re clean. Two-minute songs are abundant, but try cranking up tracks that approach 100 bpm or more to really get your morning going. “Fell in Love With a Girl” by The White Stripes is ideal to get your heart rate pounding while scrubbing your chompers.
Legendary distance-running coach Jack Daniels found that top runners take about 180 steps per minute. That’s equivalent to songs that have a BPM rate of — you guessed it, genius — 180. Of course, running takes a lot longer than the span of one song, so is a super-charged variety of songs to pound the pavement to, including “Hey Ya!” by OutKast, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin and “I Want It All” by Queen.
According to a 2014 study by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans said that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities. So, is there a single, perfect song guaranteed to send even the most resistant insomniac to La La Land? The British Academy of Sound Therapy says yes: It teamed up with English music trio Marconi Union in 2011 and utilized scientific theory to produce “the world’s most relaxing song,” called “Weightless.” The song contains a sustaining rhythm that starts at 60 beats per minute and gradually slows to around 50, ultimately causing your heart rate to follow suit. Sweet dreams, y’all.