What Music are the World’s Greatest Minds Listening to?

We’re all guilty of putting the most rich and famous people in the world on the highest of pedestals, believing they’re far removed from the average person. In reality, these celebrities are still only human and, just like us, enjoy a good toe-tapping tune every now and then! But, have you ever wondered what music our idols are listening to? Well, we dived into the BBC’s widely successful radio show, Desert Island Discs, to find out which tunes make the world’s greatest minds tick and how you at home, can make the most of your office playlist.

After analysing over 42,000 songs, dating back to 1942, to find out the most featured artists and songs, as well as the most prominent genres, we’re here to help you build a playlist that will no doubt be a recipe for success.

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The Top 10 Desert Island Discs Songs of All Time

As the second most popular radio show and podcast in the UK, Desert Island Discs has been running for the last 75 years and is most popular amongst the baby boomer generation and men. We were curious as to what songs have been the most highly requested on the show since it began in 1942 and were quite surprised by the results. Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 in D minor ‘Choral’ was the number one most requested song of all time, followed closely by Violin Concerto in D major by Tchaikovsky.

In fact, the classical genre dominated the list of the top 10 most requested songs of all time…which just goes to show that you really can’t beat a classic.

Song Mentions Genre
Symphony No. 9 in D minor ‘Choral’ 103 Classical
Violin Concerto in D major 102 Classical
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor 80 Classical
String Quintet in C major 73 Classical
Symphony No. 6 in F major ‘Pastoral’ 63 Classical
Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1 in D major ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ 59 Classical
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ‘Emperor’ 57 Classical
Symphony No. 7 In A Major 56 Classical
Enigma Variations — Nimrod 55 Classical

Top 10 Desert Island Discs Artists’ of All Time

After finding out the top 10 Desert Island songs, we then decided to research which 10 artists have been the most requested over the last 75 years. It shouldn’t come as a shock that the majority were classical music artists, with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart topping the list with a huge 970 mentions! But, The Beatles, who are well-known for being one of the greatest rock bands of all time, were the only non-classical artist who made their way into the top 10 list with 293 mentions.

Artist Mentions
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 970
Ludwig van Beethoven 816
Johann Sebastian Bach 781
Franz Schubert 394
Giuseppe Verdi 365
Giacomo Puccini 337
Sir Edward Elgar 335
George Frideric Handel 306
The Beatles 293
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky 280

Top Genres Desert Island Discs’ Most Famous Celebrities Listen to

When it comes to your favourite celebrities you may have an idea of the kind of music they listen to based on who they are and who their famous friends are, but that isn’t always necessarily the case. After extensive research we discovered that David Beckham isn’t actually listening to The Spice Girls on repeat (shocking right?) but is instead, listening to timeless classics like the jazz-hit Every Time We Say Goodbye by Ella Fitzgerald, Something About the Way You Look Tonight by Elton John and The Girl is Mine by Michael Jackson.

As one of the most popular and recognisable movie stars in the world, Tom Hanks is loved by many and it may interest you to learn that he has a very versatile taste in music. From when he was on Desert Island Discs, it was discovered that some of his favourite songs included There’s a Place by The Beatles, Doodlin’ by Dusty Springfield, Mama Said Knock You Out by LL Cool J and Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads.

Ever wondered if Paul McCartney, lead singer of The Beatles, listens to his bandmates’ music? Well, it turns out he does! Some of his favourite songs of all time include Beautiful Boy by John Lennon, Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley, Sweet Little Sixteen by Chuck Berry and Searchin’ by The Coasters. We’re not surprised at all that his playlist is full of legendary rock classics!

Top Genres Desert Island Discs’ Business Moguls listen to

If you want to get in the mindset of the top business moguls in the world, listening to their favourite songs should do the trick. As the founder of Microsoft, and the second richest person in the world, Bill Gates is the inspiration for many up and coming entrepreneurs and his music tastes are pretty diverse. The first song he chose on Desert Island Discs was Under Pressure, a collaboration by Queen and David Bowie. Sing by Ed Sheeran, Are you Experienced by Jimi Hendrix and My Shot by the extremely popular broadway show, Hamilton, also made his top 8 song list. https://nicaraguasurfhotel.com/

Facebook COO and philanthropist, Sheryl Sandberg had a very upbeat and motivating playlist with Run the World (Girls) by Beyonce being one of her top songs along with Landslide by Dixie Chicks, I’m Still Standing by Elton John and You’ll Be Back from Hamilton…it seems this musical is a firm favourite amongst the top business moguls!

As the co-founder of Green and Black’s chocolate, Jo Fairley’s playlist had a more easy-listening, ambient vibes with a few pop hits thrown in too. Her favourite songs include Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra, Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb, Liebestod by Richard Wagner and Careless Whisper by George Michael.

Interestingly, out of both the celebrities and business moguls that were on Desert Island Discs, rock music was the most popular genre for all with 22% of businessmen and women listening to rock music to get their brains motivated and 18% of celebrities — perhaps we need to start switching out our pop playlist and rocking out on our way to work or on our morning runs!

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Top Songs and Genres Desert Island Discs’ Politicians listen to

Politicians can usually be relied upon to be less than entertaining but across Desert Island Discs’ long history, some of Downing Street’s biggest names have left the polished, rehearsed versions of themselves outside the studio.

The former Prime Minister John Major was on air in 1992, surprising listeners with a candid interview before listing his songs which included The Happening by Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Boris Johnson’s taste in music was vast — ranging from Start Me Up by The Rolling Stones to the highly popular Symphony No. 5 in C minor by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Like business mogul’s, politicians also preferred classical and rock music which is why Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen topped the list as their most liked artists.

Politician’s Top Genres Politician’s Top Artists’
Classical = 26.15% Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (6 mentions)
Rock = 21.03% Ludwig van Beethoven (6 mentions)
Pop = 5.64% Sir Edward Elgar (5 mentions)
Folk = 5.12% The Beatles (5 mentions)
Jazz = 4.62% Frank Sinatra (3 mentions)
Soft rock = 3.59% Giacomo Puccini (3 mentions)
Permanent wave = 3.08% Giuseppe Verdi (3 mentions)
Motown = 2.05% Bob Dylan (2 mentions)
New wave = 2.05% Bruce Springsteen (2 mentions)
Swing = 2.05% David Bowie (2 mentions)

Top Songs and Genres in Spotify’s Working From Home Playlists

From learning all about the music tastes of the rich and famous, we decided to carry out our own research on the average joe listening to music while working from home. And, it turns out, our taste in music differs greatly to the most successful people!

To get this data, we analysed all playlists saved in Spotify’s database as ‘working from home’ and then averaged out the songs which were featured the most. From this, we learned that 64% of people creating and listening to these playlists enjoy listening to pop while working from home, with Blinding Lights by The Weeknd being the song featured the most followed by Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles.

Arist Song Genre
The Weekend Blinding Lights r&b, pop
Harry Styles Watermelon Sugar pop
Topic, A7S Breaking Me dance, pop
Powfu ft Beabadoobee Death Bed rap
Surf Mesa, Emilee Ily (I Love You Baby) pop, chill
Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber Stuck With You pop
Tones and I Dance Monkey pop
BENEE, Gus Dapperton Supalonely r&b, pop
Lewis Capaldi Someone You Loved pop
Taylor Swift Cardigan pop

Top Songs and Genres in Spotify’s Office Playlists

We also carried out the same research to find out if office playlists were any different from working from home playlists. Once again pop music dominated the playlists with 60% of workers listening to it and Blinding Lights by The Weeknd still being the top song.

Artist Song Genre
The Weekend Blinding Lights r&b, pop
Dua Lipa Don’t Start Now pop
Harry Styles Watermelon Sugar pop
Surfaces Sunday Best soul, pop
Maroon 5 Memories pop, rock
Regard Ride It pop, tropical house
Dua Lipa Don’t Start Now pop
Billie Eilish Everything I wanted pop
Marshmello, Bastille Happier pop, processive electro house

While pop music is typically upbeat, lively and therefore, thought as to motivate employees, it seems that rock music is the most productive genre to listen to based on the celebrities and entrepreneurs above. So, the next time you’re at work or focusing on your side hustle, try building a playlist full of Bill Gates or Paul McCartney’s favourite songs and see how it impacts your productivity levels.

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