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New Cuckooland Research Reveals Modern Day Lullabies

With the help of data sourced from Spotify, we analysed over 4,500 songs from lullaby playlists to calculate the ‘perfect’ formula for a lullaby. We then matched this formula against songs in the charts to create our Top Ten Modern Lullabies playlist.

We know just how important bedtime is for you, your children and everyone in your family. Establishing a bedtime routine is essential, it’s the first step in ensuring that you and baby get a good night’s sleep. Research has shown that music can help your baby drift off to sleep, and for most children and their parents, a lullaby is the time when special bonds are formed. What is it about a lullaby that is so soothing? This got us thinking at Cuckooland HQ… is there a magic formula? Could a modern pop song work just as well? So, we decided to conduct a study to find the perfect lullaby formula. With the help of data sourced from Spotify, we analysed over 4,500 songs from playlists that included the word ‘lullaby’ and found the top ten of most common classic lullabies…

Top Ten Classic Lullabies

  • Hush Little Baby
  • Brahms Lullaby
  • Rockabye Baby
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
  • Mary Had a Little Lamb
  • Air on a G String
  • Ave Maria
  • Greensleeves
  • Row Row Row Your Boat

Listen to our ‘Top Ten Classic Lullabies‘ playlist on Spotify here!

Using our findings we then set out on finding the average beats per minute (BPM), most common key and time signatures of the top ten classic lullabies to calculate the ‘perfect’ formula for a lullaby, which looks like:

Beats Per Minute – 91

Key – C

Time Signature – 4/4

When we matched this formula against the songs featured recently in the UK Top 40 charts and the Billboard Hot 100, we were able to create the Top Ten Modern Lullabies, featured below.

Top Ten 'Modern Lullabies' (Descending in Similarity)

  • Jonas Brothers – Only Human
  • Taylor Swift – You Need to Calm Down
  • Lizzo – Good As Hell
  • Khalid – Better
  • Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved
  • Nicki Minaj – Hot Girl Summer
  • Lil Nas X – Old Town Road
  • Dermot Kennedy – Outnumbered
  • Sean Paul, David Guetta – Mad Love
  • Lil Nas X – Wrangler

Listen to our ‘Top Ten Modern Lullabies‘ playlist on Spotify here!

Our research also analysed songs to find those with the closest properties to individual lullabies, which found:

Individual Songs Closest Match to a Lullaby:

Stormzy – Shut Up – a close match to Hush Little Baby

Ellie Goulding – Hate Me – a close match to Mary Had a Little Lamb

Jax Jones, Bebe Rexha – Harder – a close match to Air on a G String

Explaining the typical features of a lullaby, Annaliese Grimaud, who is a researcher at the Music & Science Lab at Durham University, explained what makes a lullaby a effective:

“The function of a lullaby is to soothe a baby and put them to sleep, so common features we would expect to see in lullabies would be, a slow(ish) tempo, relatively quiet dynamics, simple rhythm pattern – potentially one that imitates a rocking movement – a simple melody that’s easier to memorise and easier to sing, predictability achieved by repetitive phrases and verses, and a high pitch due to the connotations that mothers/females usually sing lullabies.”

Our research did find an exact match to the formula though!

U2 – One – contained all the properties of a ‘perfect lullaby’ according to our study!

Lullabies - A Soothing Bedtime Routine

Lullabies can form an integral part of a child’s bedtime routine explains, Holly Pither, mum blogger at PitterPatterPither:

“Since day dot we have tried to initiate some form of routine into our baby’s life, specifically when it came to sleep. When she was really little we always played some calming music, dimmed the lights, did a bit of baby massage, then bath and milk. This was always done at the same time and in the same order. Whilst my baby is older now (nearly 2) we still have quite a strict routine at bed time and don’t deviate from the pattern/ times if at all.

We have found that even doing one thing differently or slightly out of order has resulted in her being upset or out of sorts. I personally love routine (it’s human nature to want to know ‘what’s next’) and I think she is no different.”

For more information

For any more information on the study please contact laura.hampton@impression.co.uk.

*All data correct as of September 2019.


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