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Science Proves That Fetuses Really Like "Bohemian Rhapsody"

A Spanish study has shown that the music of Queen stimulates fetuses in the womb, along with regular infant favorites like Mozart and Bach. They don't care for Shakira, apparently.
L: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images

For a long time, parents have been told to play Mozart for their toddlers, as it's supposed to make them smarter. I've been told this is what happened to me, which also likely resulted in my becoming an insufferable music nerd (the gag is that all music nerds are insufferable to some extent). However, few have ever wondered what fetuses enjoy. This may be because their ears aren't fully developed just yet and they're also still inside another human, but scientists in Spain have decided to explore this, and the results prove a universal truth: that every human has the capacity to enjoy "Bohemian Rhapsody."


A new study by the Institut Marquès, presented in Barcelona, collated results from the listening habits of 300 fetuses "between 18 and 38 weeks of gestation." They used something called an "intravaginal speaker" to accomplish this, which I sincerely hope wasn't as unpleasant for the mothers as it sounds. Anyways, the researchers checked for stimulation from the fetuses, visible in them sticking their tongues out and opening/closing their mouths. The most stimulation among any pop song resulted from Queen's enduring prog-rock opus, which 90 percent of the fetuses mouthed to. They were likely not actually singing along to the song, but seeing as 99.9 percent of people in a group setting will begin screaming with the opera section of "Bohemian Rhapsody" whenever it comes on, I'd say it's at least a little feasible that's what's happening here.

The study says that the Village People's "Y.M.C.A" came in a close second from the pop world, but classical music from Mozart and Bach got far better results on average, while traditional music from India and "Africa" (they didn't specify the country for whatever reason) also scored highly. Songs by Adele, Shakira, and the Bee Gees were met with disapproval from the fetuses, which is slanderous considering the bops the latter two have given us (Adele is great, but she didn't make "Whenever, Wherever").

The Institut hypothesizes that the fetuses responded best to music with higher pitches, with director Dr. Marisa López-Teijón saying that "We still tend instinctively to speak [to newborns] in a high-pitched voice, because we know that newborns perceive those better." Freddie Mercury and co. do hit some skyscraping notes on "Bohemian Rhapsody," so there's your answer. You can read more about the study here.

Phil is on Twitter.