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What's That Sound? The Rhythm That Ruled 2011

"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO was one of the dozens of pop hits this year to use the same hammering disco beat. (YouTube)

There's one sound that pretty much dominated pop music this year. Monster hits by LMFAO, Adele, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears and more all relied on the hammering beat known as "four-on-the-floor."

"You feel it in your whole body, just on every beat: boom, boom, boom, boom," says Jordan Roseman. "It's so easy to understand, it's almost hard not to move to it."

Roseman, better known as DJ Earworm, is intimately familiar with these songs and their matching beats. He mixed them all together in his annual mashup of the year's biggest pop hits, a series he calls "The United State of Pop." He says that four-on-the-floor, while not a new sensation, dominated the radio dial in 2011.

"It goes back to disco. Right when these big speakers came along, all of a sudden the kick drum took this new prominence in music because you could really feel it," Roseman says. "It's definitely peaking right now."

You can download Roseman's 2011 mashup, "World Go Boom," at the DJ Earworm website.

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Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVES LIKE JAGGER")

REBECCA SHEIR, HOST:

If there was one sound that dominated pop music this year, it's got to be this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVES LIKE JAGGER")

SHEIR: You heard it in songs like...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARTY ROCK ANTHEM")

LMFAO: (Singing) Shake that.

SHEIR: And...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIREWORK")

KATY PERRY: (Singing) Baby, you're a firework...

SHEIR: And, yes...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPER BASS")

NICKI MINAJ: (Singing) Heartbeat running away...

SHEIR: It turns out that omnipresent sound actually has a name.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TILL THE WORLD ENDS")

SHEIR: Four-on-the-floor.

DJ EARWORM: Four-on-the-floor is when the bass drum goes boom, boom, boom, boom.

SHEIR: This is Jordan Roseman, aka DJ Earworm.

EARWORM: You feel it in your whole body just on every beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN THIS WAY")

LADY GAGA: (Singing) in my way 'cause God makes no mistakes...

EARWORM: Boom, boom, boom, boom.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN THIS WAY")

GAGA: (Singing) I'm on the right track baby I was born this way.

EARWORM: And it's so easy to understand, it's almost hard, you know, not to move to it.

SHEIR: Each year, Roseman concocts a mashup of the year's biggest pop hits. He calls it "The United State of Pop." And surprise, surprise, four-on-the-floor is pretty much a constant in this year's mix.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHEIR: The idea here, says Roseman, is four-on-the-floor is so simple, so instantly danceable it's almost instinctive. So if you have no sense of rhythm, you can still get down with four-on-the-floor?

EARWORM: Yeah. I think so.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EARWORM: You can have a pretty poor sense. If you have no sense, then I don't know how to help you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SHEIR: Now, where did four-on-the-floor originate? Is it a European thing?

EARWORM: If you want to say what the current trend, it goes back to disco right when these big speakers came along and all of a sudden the kick drums...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EARWORM: ...took this new prominence in music because you could really feel it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EARWORM: It's definitely peaking right now for sure. It also has to do with, you know, us opening up to the whole world. Four-on-the-floor has this global sound. It's - while it's resurging in the States, it's been in Europe. And so I feel like it'll be here for a little while longer until the next wave comes.

SHEIR: Jordan Roseman, aka DJ Earworm. You can download his 2011 "United State of Pop" at djearworm.com. Mr. Earworm, Happy New Year.

EARWORM: Happy New Year to you too.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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