What Makes Songs Ubiquitous

Do you recognize the name Daniel Powter? I didn’t. He was the guy who sang the song “Bad Day,” which you’ve heard everywhere in the last couple years (“‘Cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down/You sing a sad song just to turn it around…”). Since Daniel Powter’s not really famous, and “Bad Day” was no “Umbrella,” what made it so popular? The BBC’s magazine investigated…

  • There’s very little detail about the “you” in the song. He/she stands in line for coffee, and goes for a ride, and that’s about it. This makes it universal.
  • It’s about a sort of bad day, not one that involved people dying or not having money to buy food.
  • The song structure is extremely simple, and the lyrics use “we.” Both of these are things that attract advertisers to a song for use in commercials.
  • And that’s about it. I apologize for getting the song stuck in your head. [BBC]