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Song Stuck in Your Head? You're Not Alone
Reuters ^ | Monday, Feb 24, 2003 | Alison McCook

Posted on 02/24/2003 8:26:14 PM PST by InShanghai

Song Stuck in Your Head? You're Not Alone
By Alison McCook

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The vast majority of people say they have been mentally tortured at one point in their lives by a song that keeps repeating itself over and over in their heads.

And new research shows that people most frequently plagued by this phenomenon are those with slightly neurotic tendencies , and people who enjoy and listen to music often.

These mental broken records are also more likely to play the first or last song we hear in different situations, such as the first song that comes on in the morning alarm, or the last song playing before we turn off the car, study findings show.

Songs that topped the list as being most likely to stick around in someone's head included the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" and the Chili's restaurant jingle about Baby Back Ribs.

But the number one song rated most likely to cause this phenomenon, referred to as an "earworm" in Germany, is "other"--indicating that many different songs can become stuck in our heads.

"Just about anything can get stuck in people's heads," study author Dr. James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati told Reuters Health.

"We each have our personal demonic tunes that get stuck in our heads, I guess," he added.

Kellaris presented results from his current study on Saturday at the Society for Consumer Psychology Winter Conference in New Orleans.

Kellaris's previous research into the phenomenon of earworms revealed that "sticky" songs are those that are relatively simple, repetitive, and contain an element that surprises the listener. This incongruous element can be an interrupted pattern, or something that violates expectations of what comes next.

During the current study, Kellaris distributed surveys to 559 people aged 18 to 49 asking them about their personalities, how often tunes got stuck in their heads, how long the episodes lasted, and when the phenomenon was most likely to happen.

Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they had experienced stuck songs. Most said the episodes occurred "frequently," and lasted an average of a few hours.

Songs with lyrics were most often the culprits, a trend that Kellaris said is not surprising. Often what gets sticky is not just a tune, but also lyrics, a trend he calls "stupid lyrics syndrome." Combining a tune and lyrics ups the chance of song snippets staying with the listener for hours, he said.

Episodes of earworms also tend to strike people with neurotic tendencies more often. These people are not seriously neurotic, Kellaris said, but may simply be more prone to worrying and anxiety, and may have neurotic habits like biting pencils or tapping fingernails.

Women were more likely than men to report feeling annoyed, frustrated, or irritated about having songs stuck in their heads--a trend Kellaris said he is hard pressed to explain.

In terms of how to protect yourself from earworms, Kellaris recommended that people not worry about a stuck song as soon as it appears, and perhaps avoid listening to music for a spell if it becomes too sticky.

Strategies people report using to rid themselves of stuck tunes involved trying to listen to something else, distracting themselves with another activity, and trying to erase the repetition of one song snippet by singing the song all the way through.

"If they can't remember the lyrics, sometimes it helps for them to sing through the entire song, and then it will go away," Kellaris said.

Kellaris said he has also heard a "folkloric" recommendation of chewing on cinnamon sticks to rid the brain of a sticky song.

"Some people swear that will unstick a stuck tune," he said.

TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: greatthreads; lyricalneurosis; music; songs
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To: InShanghai
Plop, plop, fizz, fizz ... oh, what a relief it is ...
821 posted on 02/25/2003 11:15:55 PM PST by BunnySlippers
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To: always paddle your own canoe
We're not gonna take it!
Another one bites the dust.
Bohemian Rhapsody.
We are the Champions.
W will rock you.
Come on Eileen.
Red Red Wine.
Purple People Eater.

One, two, three, four, tell the people what she wore. It was an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka-dot bikini That she wore for the first time today. ...

Let's not forget this one!

Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where are you? We got some work to do now.
Scooby-Dooby-Doo, Where are you? We need some help from you now.
Come on Scooby-Doo, I see you... pretending you got a sliver.
But you're not fooling me, cause I can see, the way you shake and shiver.
You know we've got a mystery to solve, so Scooby Doo be ready for your act Don't hold back!
And scooby Doo if you come through your going to have yourself a scooby snack!
That's a fact!
Scooby-Dooby-Doo, here are you, Your ready and your willing.
If we can count on you Scooby-Doo, I know you'll catch the villian!

822 posted on 02/25/2003 11:16:50 PM PST by CARDINALRULES (;-)
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To: bootless
"Hey, Mr. Guder..."

Ah, geez, I think I last heard that when I was three!

823 posted on 02/25/2003 11:18:27 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (There be no shelter here; the front line is everywhere!)
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W will rock you.
Damn keyboard....that's WE will Rock you.

Of course if I was talking about SoDamn Insane that would be correct. ;-`)

824 posted on 02/25/2003 11:20:32 PM PST by CARDINALRULES (;-)
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To: speedy
Darn reminded me of the other "Patches." "Patches, I'm dependin' on ya son to pull the family through, my son it's all left up to you..."
825 posted on 02/25/2003 11:22:18 PM PST by jejones
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To: InShanghai
A similar article about this "syndrome" came out a while ago. I'll see if I can find the link.

Sign me,
Tortured Musician (the earworm thing is for real!!! ;-)

826 posted on 02/25/2003 11:22:41 PM PST by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: P.O.E.
I had to drive 20 hours back from DisneyWorld with that "Yo Ho, Yo Ho a pirate's life for me" stuck in my head almost the whole time.

You don't know the HALF of it. Imagine the torture my family and I went through when we were on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when it BROKE DOWN for nearly 25 minutes. I'm not kidding when I thought I was gonna have to cart my husband out of there in a straight jacket. We are both trained musicians. My husband is a composer. And I'm not joking - this was REAL torture for us musicians. We should have sued Disney! ;-)

827 posted on 02/25/2003 11:24:55 PM PST by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: RecentConvert
Speaking of little girls singing about vegetables: "I don't like folks that tweak your nose or people that squirt you with the garden hose but--oooooh, I love onions..."
828 posted on 02/25/2003 11:25:02 PM PST by jejones
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To: InShanghai
Wish I had a song stuck in my head, instead I have a sub-par thread title stuck on my screen...
829 posted on 02/25/2003 11:34:14 PM PST by djf
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To: djf; BunnySlippers; DreamWeaver; unspun
Too much work I'd say...

I've been working on the raaailroad,
allll the live long daayyy.
I've been working on the raailroad....

830 posted on 02/25/2003 11:54:17 PM PST by InShanghai (Saddam will eat pork!)
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To: Clemenza
Does Basketball Jones count?

I can remember a commercial with that song in it. I can't remember what it was for, but they would play it on Saturday Mornings. For some strange reason, it scared the sh-t out of me, especially that shrieking kid.

Years later, I rented the movie Being There where Peter Sellers' character puts on the TV and lo and behold, that commercial came on. The painful memories returned...

ROTFL! What a funny post! I've got to tell zelig about that... "Being There" is one of his favorite movies. :-)

831 posted on 02/25/2003 11:59:03 PM PST by nutmeg
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To: gg188
Speaking of which, "Time to Bomb Saddam" is a catchy little ditty.
832 posted on 02/26/2003 12:05:48 AM PST by MattAMiller
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To: MattAMiller
Then surely you cannot forget
"bomb bomb bomb the tune of Barbara Ann!!!!
833 posted on 02/26/2003 12:31:47 AM PST by always paddle your own canoe (Love many, trust few)
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To: Chemnitz
That's why he is your ex.

LOL! Yes... If I'd stuck a Jethro Tull song in his head, he'd have been perfectly happy. But no, I had to be sadistic!

834 posted on 02/26/2003 5:02:26 AM PST by A_perfect_lady (Let them eat cake.)
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To: Marauder
Yeah, wasn't that one was done by Telly ("Who loves ya, baby?") Savalas?

Nope... Desiderata was done by Les Crane.

835 posted on 02/26/2003 5:05:07 AM PST by Interesting Times
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To: Willie Green
Anytime a bad song was stuck in my head as a youth, I would start 'playing' Elton John's Rocket Man in my head. Now I can't stand that song either.
836 posted on 02/26/2003 5:06:07 AM PST by 11th Earl of Mar (TheCubsWinTheWorldSeries)
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To: InShanghai
What's new Pussycat, woooooh wooooooh wooooh?
837 posted on 02/26/2003 5:07:02 AM PST by renosathug
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To: jejones
Okay, just one post this morning before I head to work - your Donovan songs forced me into it -- thoughts stray naturally to The Continent of Atlantis -- but also to the Epistle To Dippy.

"Jennifer, Juniper, hair of golden flax.
Jennifer, Juniper, longs for what she lacks."

What was he trying to tell us? And your transliteration of "Sukiyaki" was as good as it gets. "Nah kah dee me wah oh da lay on da lee" or words to that affect. I waive consecutive translation.

See those of you who still want to play tonight. Will you be staying after Sunday, or go home on Monday?

Dominique, in-ique, in-ique bump.
838 posted on 02/26/2003 5:27:17 AM PST by speedy
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To: speedy
839 posted on 02/26/2003 5:32:27 AM PST by Interesting Times
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To: jejones
And this thread really wouldn't be complete without a nod to April Wine's short-lived "If You See Kay..."
840 posted on 02/26/2003 5:33:21 AM PST by Interesting Times
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