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August 3, 2013

Get That Song Out of My Head!

Thanks to GabiSakura on DeviantArt
Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for a long time, the chorus of it repeating over and over and over inside your brain, almost driving you crazy?

Of course you have. Everybody has. Some have it more than others, though. I'm one of those people.

The technical term for this is earworms (for some reason, I kept thinking "earwigs," which are things you do *not* want). According to How Stuff Works, earworms are actually a function of the brain.
"When we listen to a song, it triggers a part of the brain called the auditory cortex. Researchers at Dartmouth University found that when they played part of a familiar song to research subjects, the participants' auditory cortex automatically filled in the rest -- in other words, their brains kept "singing" long after the song had ended. The only way to "scratch" brain itch is to repeat the song over and over in your mind. Unfortunately, like with mosquito bites, the more you scratch the more you itch, and so on until you're stuck in an unending song cycle."
Yes, they can be annoying. They are truly annoying when the brain feels like there's nothing but earworms in it.

The song in my head keeps changing, sometimes quickly and sometimes after days, and only if I've listened to something else for a long period of time to "scrub" the old one out of my brain.

I love Les Miserables, but it is dangerous to me. I bought the 25th anniversary stage celebration and watched it. For days, and maybe even a couple of weeks, I had snippets of songs from the musical stuck in my head, verses going over and over and over and over in my thoughts, sometimes stepping on each other like excited puppies when their owner comes home. The movie last Christmas? I loved it. But it happened again. Weeks of Les Miz segments almost driving me insane.

Recently, I've listened to a lot of Matchbox 20's latest album (what do we call these things nowadays when everybody gets their music individually on iTunes and such? Can't really even say "CD" anymore), and now some of those songs are rolling over and over inside there.

For me, and I don't know how unique I am in this, it doesn't even have to be something I've listened to recently. Sometimes there's a logical impetus. Some mornings when I see our cat getting in my way as I'm trying to get ready for work, Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat" will start buzzing in my head. Just the chorus line "the year of the cat...[music]". I don't know the song well enough for the rest of it to go through there.

But sometimes, it's completely out of the blue and I'll have no idea where it came from. One day, Debbie Gibson's "Staying Together" just popped in there. No reason whatsoever. I hadn't heard it in years. I was a big fan of her back in the day, and I still follow her on Twitter. But I haven't listened to anything by her in a long time.

Suddenly, there it was, worming it's way into my brain functions and not letting me go. It was there for at least half a day.

Is it simply the case of our brains "idling?" And if that's the case, why does our brain go to music? Why can't it go to, say, creating ways to make ourselves millions?

So everybody has this to some degree. What are some songs that you've had stuck in your head for long periods of time? Or how do you prevent it or get rid of them?

I'm sure there's some kind of mind training out there so that you can prod your brain into thinking of better things when it doesn't have anything else to do.

I'll go research that after I finish internally singing "She's So Mean."


  1. That happens to me all the time. I'm musical, so there's always some song in my head. Sometimes it's very annoying, especially when it's a stupid song like Ray Parker Jr.'s "Bad Boy".

    1. Thankfully, I don't know that song, so you did not successfully implant it into my insanity. :)


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