Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Why Do Songs Get Stuck in Your Head?

Lesson One



I had a lot of wonderful ideas for my music lessons and I plan to do them ALL! Hah! But this one (beside all Chick-fil-a questions) was the most popular:

Why do songs get stuck in your head?

I initially meant to have someone send me a song that they loved and I'd analyze it for why that song was so appealing. However, the way I stated the question was a bit different, so I'll answer this question first.

We know that there are plenty of songs that get stuck in our heads that we don't even like (ahem, Barney's I Love You or Oops, I Did it Again) so it's not just the songs we enjoy that seem to stick. What happens is that we get what is equivalent to a "brain itch" where we keep wanting to fill in the consecutive words or tune. Then the itch loops again. And again. And again.

Since we are verbal, it tends to happen more with songs with lyrics (I've noticed that even the instrumental songs that loop we sing with sound words, ie: The Pink Panther or Mission: Impossible, and it is usually a song that is repetitive and/or simple (We Will Rock You or It's a Small World).

This happens more to musicians (obviously) and women (odd, I think) and happens more when you're tired or stressed.

The solution I find is to listen to a song that also gets stuck in your head that you love. Then you still have a song in your head, but hey! you like it.

Everyone has their own worst "earworm," the clinical name for this phenomenon (from the German "ohrwurm"). Some of mine? Well, I seem to have the most issues with Elmo's World, Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time, Carmen and, thanks to my loving husband, the theme song for the animated Hercules cartoon series.

I must know, what's yours?

P.S. Feel free to follow me! I promise only ever to lead you to bright, sunny places!



39 comments:

  1. Mine changes all the time. When I'm stressed, I tend to stick to one song and listen to it over and over again on my computer, cd player or ipod. I really like Long, Long, Long by the Beatles lately and Mexican Blue by Jolie Holland.

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  2. Interesting post! I tend to get the Lion King soundtrack stuck in my head. I don't hate it :-)

    pixiedrivein.blogspot.com

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  3. interesting! there is something for you over on my blog.

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  4. Dude. Elmo's world is in my head all day long after the dude watches Sesame Street!

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  5. For me, generally Christmas songs, even when it isn't Christmas :)

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  6. Very interesting! :D I get Lady Gaga stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. It's just a never-ending cycle of Bad Romance in my head 24/7.

    http://playingdressupwithkellie.blogspot.com/

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  7. Fascinating!! Great post! "Deck the Halls" gets randomly stuck in my head all the time. And this morning, I had "Womanizer" stuck in my head, which was a little bit irritating. It sometimes depends on what I've been listening to. I've been getting songs from my Sherman Brothers' cd stuck in my head. Songs like "The Aristocats," "The Parent Trap," and "Pineapple Princess."

    By the way, does the same rule apply to getting movie scenes stuck in your head? This happens to me all the time. I had the first scene from Toy Story stuck in my head for hours at work today ("Well I brought my dinosaur who eats force-field dogs!" "I-yi-yi-yi!")

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  8. What a lovely post and so enjoyable to read! The songs that gets stuck in my head differs from time to time, usually it's a current favourite. At times, something annoyingly catchy like Lady Gaga's Bad Romance will latch onto my head and I will keep singing it over and over again to annoy my sister, good times:)

    xx

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  9. I've had the jingle for Subway stuck in my head for days... "Five... five dollar... five dollar foot longs...."

    Oooh, makes me so mad. It's dang catchy though.

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  10. You are going to laugh but right now it's that really annoying song from Pinocchio, "high diddly dee, an actor's life for me..." WHY???

    I love the facts behind it, so interesting! You are totally right, why is it always the bad songs??

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  11. Haha, the songs stuck in my head are usually ones that I last listened to.

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  12. It's definitely kids songs for me! lol Like The Berenstein Bears theme.

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  13. Wow. Our brains are amazing!

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  14. Oh - I just came away from this with 'Elmo's World' stuck in my head, however it's now become 'Emma's World'... Very tricky...

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  15. Great, now I have Oops I Did It Again stuck in my head!!
    Fun post, darling!

    xoxox,
    CC

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  16. Interesting! Lately the song Bed Rock gets stuck in my head..and I cannot stand it!! lol

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  17. How interesting!!! It does loop because generally when I have a song in my head it's just one part (whatever is most repetitive and prevalent, I suppose).. over and over and over! So funny. I usually have a bit of whatever I've been listening to stuck in my head, but occasionally annoying songs will sneak in. [Oh no.. like "the song that never ends" - Great, I just had to think about it!]

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  18. Currently my earworm is "Might as well be spring" from Carnival, hehe.

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  19. "Stormy Weather." It's always in my head!

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  20. love this post! i've had "love is a rose" by neil young in my head for several days (thankfully it's a favorite).
    my worst earworm is "walking on sunshine". i can't put into words how much i despise that song. great! i hope it doesn't get stuck in my head now :O hehehe

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  21. Thanks for the comment (:
    Haha, now I have Opps I Did it Again stuck in my head. Thanks. (;
    Your blog is cute, now following.

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  22. This was such an interesting post! I always get the song from the McDonald's filet o fish commercial stuck in my head! ALL THE TIME! Also "The Song That Never Ends"

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  23. Hey sweetie! Nice to meet a fellow musician. Love your music and your blog! xo

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  24. A little white ago, I had Waterloo stuck in my head ALL.THE.TIME. But that song makes me happy, hehe.
    Lots of times, I get german songs stuck in my head, especially Nena Songs or songs by Wir Sind Helden (good band)

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  25. the song that's always stuck in my head these days is tik tok by ke$ha. absolutely horrible lyrics but the beat is way too catchy haha :)

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  26. This is the perfect post! Ever since watching the Bachelor I have had "On the wings of love" stuck in my head! I literally can't stop singing it! My beau is totally annoyed :)

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  27. Hahaha I was just thinking about how "The Lady is a Tramp" was stuck in my head today and still is, probably because we were listening to it in my American studies class.

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  28. hi emma

    nice post
    hey thanks for comment

    http://101smiles.blogspot.com/

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  29. 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' has always been a recurring 'stuck in my head' song. I love this post, what an interesting bit of information. It makes sense, when you thing about it :)

    http://adelaidestayed.blogspot.com/

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  30. How interesting!! Unfortunately I always get Cliff Richard's song stuck in my head "It's Christmas time, Mistletoe and Wine....." Why?! Why?! Why?! I actually hate this song, but I must subconsciously like it because it often loops in my head. You're right about listening to other songs to erase it from our mind.

    Looking forward to future music lessons!

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  31. Great post, Emma! i love the term 'earworm' it's certainly fit for this phenomenon. Mine changes all the time.. i think the last one was Lady Gaga's Paparazzi. i ended up liking it, haha.

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  32. It always changes for me, but it's usually something I DON'T want stuck in my head.. like the $5 Dollar Footlong song from the Subway commercial-- Sorry if I just made that get stuck in anyone else's head now :) xo

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  33. Intriguing information. I'm quite partial to collecting interesting facts :)

    My most recent earworm (thanks for the etymology!) has been "Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga. Thankfully I can't recall any others at the moment!

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  34. "I Like What You Like" by Shirley Temple!!! I know what you may want to ask..."How often are you hearing these songs by Shirley Temple?" But this is the thing...you only have to hear it once (or twice) and you are theirs FOREVER!.... "On account of 'I love you!'"

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  35. Ooooh I sooooo HATE when I get s song in my head that I cannot stand... UGH... and all day long I sing it... UGH!!!

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  37. Hello, I do not agree with the previous commentator - not so simple

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