The Most Popular Song In The World

The Nokia ringtone used to be heard more than a billion times per day, making it one of the most popular songs in the world. We tend to consider cellphone rings as somewhat antithetical to
music. There is a whole subset of YouTube videos dedicated to the perverse thrill of watching a delicately beautiful musical moment ruined by the harsh cry of a default ringtone. In this episode, we zoom in on one of these annoying melodies to see if there’s not some hidden musical craft present in the ubiquitous bleeps and bloops that envelop us. Later, Charlie shares a piece made solely of this sonic detritus, and a data scientist locates surprising musical patterns in a most unexpected source.


  • The Nokia Tune
  • The Beatles – She’s So Heavy
  • One Direction – Live While We’re Young
  • Francisco Tarrega – Gran Vals
  • Charlie Harding – Bowl Arrow


Redaction: an earlier edit of this show made in insensitive and inappropriate quip about an act of war, which we have removed. We apologize to our listeners.