What do the following songs have in common? Habits by Tove Lo? Good Time by Owl City? Ivy by Frank Ocean? Baby by Justin Bieber? Use Somebody by Kings of Leon?

According to journalist Patrick Metzger, they all feature the ‘millennial whoop’. This ‘whoop’, according to Metzger, is “a sequence of notes that alternates between the fifth and third notes of a major scale, typically starting on the fifth.” This pattern may be familiar to Music applicants or musicians, but to everyone else, it can be summed up as a ‘wa-oh-wa-oh’ pattern, prominently featured on the chorus of Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen.

While this pattern occurs in dozens of popular songs over the past decade, it is interesting to consider why this is so. Metzger posits that the whoop is a useful musical device, because it allows us to get hooked by a piece of music we haven’t heard before. The whoop, to put it simply, makes the unfamiliar seem familiar.

Music and History applicants should consider the shrinking diversity in music, and why we are seeing increasing homogeneity in music versus the pre-1950 period.

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