Thanks for the skin orgasms
Our resident Kiss92 DJ / journo tells you how and why certain music just makes us feel so dang good
If you like to read about music, you will know that the talk over the past few weeks has been all about "skin orgasms".
It is a vulgar-sounding phrase, but the sensation it describes is rather glorious.
A skin orgasm is that sensation when your hair stands up on your arms and you get chills down your spine.
It can occur when one comes across a particularly beautiful piece of music.
"Aesthetic chills" is perhaps a nicer term for the phenomena, or you could use the fancy-sounding French word "frisson".
Scientists have known about skin orgasms for some time, but it is only very recently that they have been given a full scientific look.
Last year, a PhD student at Utah State University measured the physiological responses of people listening to music and found that it triggered the same sort of euphoria as sex and food.
Basically, it releases dopamine, the brain chemical responsible for giving us the warm fuzzies.
Of course, it is not just any music that triggers skin orgasms.
The sort of songs that are most effective tend to be dynamic - those that feature unexpected or unusual flourishes.
It could be a sudden change in volume, like when the Pixies do their loud-quiet-loud thing in Gigantic.
There could be unusual harmonies, as in Bjork's lovely, bizarre Oceania.
Or perhaps it is the introduction of a new instrument or texture into a song, like when Lana Del Rey goes into her falsetto in the latter half of ballads such as Born To Die or Summertime Sadness.
These are the songs that give me chills.
A big part of experiencing skin orgasms is the anticipation of what is to come.
Even without ever having heard a song, we can usually tell when it is building up to something special. You can sense it.
When it does come, and especially if it exceeds our expectations, we get a nice dopamine rush.
Who needs drugs? This is so much better.
The sad thing is that not everyone experiences skin orgasms.
They do not have an exact figure, but up to 45 per cent of music listeners are missing out.
During the study, they also found that those capable of experiencing skin orgasms had close to three episodes for every 10 minutes they spent listening to music.
For your standard pop song, that would work out to about once per song.
As I am a DJ at Kiss92, I tend to listen to an awful lot of music, so it might seem like I would be having a skin orgasm all the time - and that sounds dangerous.
Fortunately for my mental and physical health, not every song we play does it for me.
There is always some plodding dud that kills the moment.
Jennifer Lopez's Ain't Your Mama is the place where skin orgasms go to die.