Nine out of 10 workers work better when listening to music, according to a Mindlab International study, with almost 90% of participants producing their most accurate test results when music was playing, and 81% delivering their fastest work.

The study, for MusicWorks (the joint campaign from music licencing companies PRS for Music and PPL), saw participants completing a range of tasks over five days. These ranged from spell-checking or equation solving, mathematical word problems to data entry and abstract reasoning. Participants were then subjected to four different music genres (or none at all) to see which had the greater effect on accuracy and speed of correct responses.

The study found that classical music worked best for those whose work involved numbers or needed attention to detail, pop worked for those involved in data entry or working to strict deadlines, dance music helped the proof-readers and problem solvers, with ambient music inspiring those mired in equations.

Christine Geissmar, Operations Director, PPL said: “The results of this experiment are a clear indication of the value music can add to the workplace. Music is a key tool for business success.”

Find out more about the Mindlab International study externallink

Introducing the NBS Construction Top 40

Never ones to shy away from a tenuous connection all that got us thinking about the vast number of songs with a direct (or ridiculously laboured) connection to building and the broader construction industry.

With this in mind, in an NBS nod to the summer silly season externallink, we asked you for your suggestions to help compile a Top 40 playlist for construction. Enjoy the tunes, watch the videos and check out the lyrics to hone your karaoke skills...

Find out how to contribute your song suggestions to our chart

Parental Advisory Logo

Parental advisory

  • Not all of the song selections and associated videos and lyrics are entirely work safe.
  • Construction industry connections may be tenuous.
  • Caution is advised.
  • Singing optional.

The chart rundown

40. The Mock Turtles – Can You Dig it?

Excavations get underway at the top of our chart courtesy of Manchester’s The Mock Turtles. Can You Dig it? reached 18 in the UK charts in 1991.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

39. The Foundations – Build Me Up Buttercup

Digging done, our building needs solid foundations – why not, therefore, an entry from British soulsters, The Foundations? When it came to the choice of song, there really was only one construction-related choice – Build Me Up Buttercup peaked at number two in the UK charts back in 1968.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

38. The Housemartins – Build

Perhaps most famous for their cover of the Isley Brothers’ Caravan of Love, The Housemartins’ Build has a thing or two to say about the relentless pace of construction. Build reached number 15 in the UK charts back in 1987 – way before Hull’s dreams of becoming UK City of Culture were realised.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

37. Madness – Our House

Suggs’ views on ideal house location (equidistant from either end of the street) are well-known. Our House secured a number five slot in the UK charts in 1982. Perhaps best not to wear your Baggy Trousers to the construction site though?

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

36. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Our House

A very, very, very fine house at 36 if you accept an invitation chez Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Our House hit number 30 in the US charts in 1979.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

35. Shakin Stevens – This Ole House

The first chart nod to renovation projects in our chart and we’ve gone for the Shakin Steven’s version of Stuart Hamblen’s toe-tapping tune, This Ole House – a UK number one in March 1981.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

34. Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood

The first entry for construction products in the 40. We’ve opted for Amii Stewart’s disco-fuelled version of Eddie Floyd’s Knock On Wood which reached number six in the UK in 1979.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

33. Kraftwerk – The Model

From tiny models great construction projects are grown – Kraftwerk were lookin’ fine as The Model reached the top of the UK charts back in 1982.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

32. Jack ‘n’ Chill – The Jack That House Built

Dancing shoes on for Jack ‘n’ Chill’s house anthem The Jack That House Built – it reached number six back in 1987.

View video on YouTube

31. Can – Paperhouse

Sometimes you just can’t give any more than you can give. Can sing home the point in Paperhouse.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

30. Michael Jackson – Off The Wall

From the album of the same name, Off The Wall, is our first chart entry for the King of Pop.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

29. The House of Love – Shine On

The House of Love reached number 20 in the UK charts with Shine On. Because every shiny new house needs love, care and attention and plastic garden furniture.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

28. Depeche Mode – Home

BBC Four reruns have proved that TOTP presenters were, shall we say, conflicted when deciding whether to opt for ‘De-pesh’ or ‘Depeshay’. Regardless, DM sing here about what we all call Home.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

27. China Crisis – Working With Fire And Steel

A China Crisis in construction products – we’re Working with Fire and Steel in this song that peaked at 48 back in 1983.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

26. Wax – Bridge To Your Heart

Wax’s (Building a) Bridge to Your Heart reached number 12 in the UK singles chart in 1987 in our first formal acknowledgement of non-residential construction projects.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

25. XTC – Making Plans for Nigel

Plans are an important part of any construction project, whether or not it’s Nigel who needs them. XTC were scheming up chart success back in 1979 – Nigel helped them to number 17.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

24. The Eagles – Hotel California

With its mirrored ceilings and unavailable spirit selections this Golden State-based hotel saw The Eagles peak at number 8 in the UK charts back in 1978.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

23. Radiohead – Everything in its Right Place

The melancholic Radiohead hint at clash detection issues (possibly) in this, the opening track from the band’s fourth album, Kid A, released back in 2000.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

22. Green Jelly – Three Little Pigs

The proverbial piggies underline the importance of choosing the right construction materials for any given environment – Green Jelly bothered the UK charts for eight weeks back in 1998 with Three Little Pigs.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

21. Blood Sweat & Tears – Spinning Wheel

Demolition in progress as Blood Sweat & Tears wax lyrical on how what goes up must, surely, in the fullness of time, come down. Generation X may have memories of embossed wallpaper upon hearing this song, don’t worry, this is normal and will pass in time, unless you’re named Graham or Brown.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

20. Chairmen Of The Board – Working on a Building of Love

This song from 1972 sees the Chairmen of the Board Working on a Building of Love. Always nice to see management getting involved in the construction process.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

19. Men Without Hats – Safety Dance

Going on site without safety hats probably isn’t advisable. Neither is dancing on the job. All told then, a pretty rubbish Safety Dance. ‘Danger Dance’, more like…

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

18. The Dandy Warhols – Plan A

The best projects are well-planned so while a Plan B may be advisable, aiming to implement the more optimal Plan A is just Dandy. This tune peaked at 66 in the UK back in 2003 and everyone’s required to sing along.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

17. Morning Runner – Drawing Shapes EP

Released in 1986 Drawing Shapes from British rock band Morning Runner seemed to have a clear architectural connection to us…

View playlist on YouTube | View lyrics

16. Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball

Miley’s in full-on demolition mode in Wrecking Ball which reached the top of the UK charts back in 2013.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

15. The Jam – Town Called Malice

When your town’s called Malice, you’re in something of a Jam. Good urban planning could surely have gone some way of alleviating a myriad of problems in Malace-Ville. This hit topped the UK singles chart in 1982.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

14. Blur – Country House

Reigniting the early 90s Britpop wars and it’s Blur, not Oasis, that secure a position in our hot 40 with this ditty about sizeable accomodation located out of town. Blur got to number one in 1995 and are at number 14 in the NBS Chart.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

13. Commodores – BrickHouse

A mighty contribution from Lionel and Co as the Commodores charted just outside the Top 30 back in 1977 with this well put-together number.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

12. Tom Waits – What’s He Building In There?

It’s always best to be transparent about your construction plans. In the absence of facts people can tend to speculate about just what it is you’re building and that can cause all kinds of awkwardness.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

11. Cowboy Junkies – Working On A Building

A religious experience as the Cowboy Junkies share experiences Working On A Building.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

10. Melissa Etheridge – Come To My Window

First mention of windows in our chart as Melissa Etheridge beckons us in.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

9. Gorillaz – Highway Under Construction

A top 10 entry from the Gorillaz gang constructing roads.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

8. Nizlopi – JCB Song

The first chart mention of plant equipment in this touching song from Nizlopi lamenting the humble JCB.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

7. Kraftwerk – Computer Love

A second chart entry for Kraftwerk as they perhaps reference the brave new digital future for the construction industry – Computer Love charted (appropriately enough) combined with The Model back in 1981.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

6. Peter, Paul And Mary – If I Had A Hammer

The construction site on deadline – workers busy morning noon and night, right across the land. That’s the gist of this 1962 ditty from Peter, Paul and Mary. Don’t mention Handy Andy from Changing Rooms though – his cover version charted in 1987 back when we were all awash with bright coloured paint and MDF.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

5. Petula Clarke – Downtown

At a low ebb? Pet Clarke reckons you’d better head Downtown, a tune that reached number two in the singles chart back in 1964 (and number 10 as Downtown ’88 with added, erm, ‘danciness’).

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

4. Sting – Demolition Man

Sting advises not to mess around with the Demolition Man in this song from 1993 that peaked at 21 in the UK Charts. Wise words.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

3. Madame Gazelle (from Peppa Pig) – The Bing Bong Song (BIM Bong Song?)

Stretching credibility to the limits we opt for Peppa Pig’s Bing Bong Song given its BIMspirational potential to be easily adapted to accomodate three-letter construction industry acronyms. Needless to say this classic loved by parents across the nation hasn’t (yet) troubled the UK charts. A shame that Daddy Pig and Mr Bull don’t feature here given their own construction connections.

View video on YouTube

2. Starship – We Built This City

We’re back in 1985 for Starship and the anthemic We Built This City (on rock and roll, naturally) which reached number 12 in the UK charts (and 25 when re-released in 2014).

View video on YouTube | View lyrics

1. Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It?

A positive message that resonates with all – even when things go wrong or break, a positive attitude will inevitably lead you to the solution. Bob The Builder and the relentlessly cheery Can We Fix It? Answer: Yes We Can, is this summer’s number one.

View video on YouTube | View lyrics


Share your song selections

We’ve been impressed by the songs you've suggested for our playlist - unfortunately with so many to choose from we haven't been able to include everyone's choices. Have we missed your favourite? Follow us on Twitter externallink or Facebook externallink and join the conversation there – using the hashtag #nbsplay. With your help we may be able to expand the 40 to a Hot 100 by the time of the Christmas chart rundown.


To keep up to date with the latest additions to the NBS Construction Top 40, why not sign up to the NBS eWeekly newsletter? Get the latest content from carefully crafted into a handy weekly email.

Sign up to the NBS eWeekly newsletter