The thing about humans is we are quite terrible at keeping a steady beat without prompts, despite the metronome inside our chest keeping us alive. Tell someone to tap their desk every 0.6 seconds for a few minutes and see how badly they perform.

Contrarily, humans are quite good at memorising the tempo of popular songs. Hum a song inside your head now, and it’s likely you are remembering it at basically the pace it was recorded at.

This is a godsend when it comes to learning CPR, and in the type of twist of fate that makes you believe in magic, the Bee Gees song ‘Staying Alive’ has a tempo of 103 beats per minute, which is close enough to the recommend 100 compression a minute needed to perform CPR.

Because of this, the song has been used for years to teach CPR to people around the world; the ubiquity of the tune and the steady, thumping beat is the perfect anchor for people to sing inside their heads while they perform the compressions.

A training booth at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport actually blasts this song as they instruct users how to learn the lifesaving technique. It’s handy, and fortuitously named too.

Of course, this song is not known everywhere in the world. That’s where The Beatles come in.

In Japan, the band’s bouncy ‘Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da’ is used in a similar way, with new lyrics being added in order to further instruct learners on how to perform the technique.

Dr. Yoshihiro Yamahata, of Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, told Live Science of a study he conducted in which 74 nurses were divided into different groups, some of whom were taught the method with music, the others without.

The group who learned with the music later performed the chest compressions best.

Music is a lifesaver, in many special ways.

Play