The psychology of the sea shanty: Why work songs are such earworms © Getty Images

The psychology of the sea shanty: Why work songs are such earworms

The psychology of a great sea shanty, the psychology of a great sea shanty, the psychology of a great sea shanty, earl-y in the morning.

2021 has got off to a strange start, with a surprising trend sweeping the internet: sea shanties. This ancient genre of music has exploded in popularity in recent weeks, thanks to people on social media singing them, sharing them and adding their own twists.

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In fact, they’ve become so popular that Bristol-based shanty band The Longest Johns have entered the top 40 in the UK singles chart.

Naturally, we here at BBC Science Focus wanted to know what it was about sea shanties that makes them so catchy. So this week, we spoke to Professor Catherine Loveday of the University of Westminster. She’s a neuropsychologist who specialises in music.

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