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aviona's avatar

Why do we get songs "stuck in our head"?

Asked by aviona (3237 points ) March 27th, 2009

And why are certain ones bound to get “stuck” harder or longer or more often than others?

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17 Answers

RedPowerLady's avatar

This is such a good question. I won’t pretend to know the answer. For me I get a song stuck in my head when some thought or life event prompts the song. I find that the songs stuck in my head are relevant to whats going on around me. It is like the brain picks up on it and accesses it without you asking it to.

aviona's avatar

Earworm! I knew it had another name.

Acyd's avatar

The reason some tunes get stuck while others don’t may have to do with repetition. The more you hear one chorus, beat, or whatever, the more likely it will burrow into your subconscious.

aviona's avatar

@Acyd eww burrow…like a worm.

ptarnbsn's avatar

I think those songs are a way to fill up an empty brain. Maybe God thinks those unused neurons will fire to the beat of the music.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I’m not sure, but I know I have to be really careful as to what song I hear first thing in the morning. Having some bubble gum pop easy listening crap stuck in my head all day makes me crazy!

Allie's avatar

Tangent question: Why do we always know the words to the songs we hate?

asmonet's avatar

^Because they suck so hard we have to. :’(

Kraken's avatar

Perhaps it has something to do with the construct of our brains. I love the concept of the holographic mind which may play a part in the resonance of sounds, mentalated thoughts (my word there) and other sensory input that gets processed and stored in our mind. Remember that the amygdala is the emotional tagger of the brain and will place an imprint upon the input.

OK, regarding songs, clearly emotion will have a great role to play upon having it be remembered. If nothing is stirred, there is a less likelihood that the song will be remembered. Therefore to conclude this impromptu synopsis on synapses and memory, emotion is a key player in memorization.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Probably something to do with the loopiness of the melody or some such thing.

asmonet's avatar

@Kraken: What is a mentalated thought? Mental? Isn’t thought by nature mental?

And I highly doubt emotion has anything to do with this getting stuck in my head.

aviona's avatar

hahahahhaha @asmonet fuck that song for that reason

asmonet's avatar

@aviona: You know, I once read a poll in English speaking countries that was in the top ten most earwormy songs ever produced.

I love it. :)

mattbrowne's avatar

Because an earworm crawled into your head. Here’s a nice article about the little creatures:

Earworm, a calque of the German Ohrwurm, is a term for a portion of a song or other musical material that repeats compulsively within one’s mind, known colloquially as “music being stuck in one’s head”. Use of the English translation was popularized by James Kellaris and Daniel Levitin. Kellaris’ studies demonstrated that different people have varying susceptibilities to earworms, but that almost everybody has been afflicted with one at some time or another. A more scientific term for the phenomenon, involuntary musical imagery, was suggested by the neurologist Oliver Sacks in 2007.

There have been claims “that earworms may be songs or tunes that become stuck in the phonological loop, the part of the brain that rehearses verbal information in Baddeley’s model of working memory. This usually happens when a person sings the song or hums the tune once and then repeats it in his or her mind.”

lifeflame's avatar

I was curious, so I did some research.
The most extensive answer I found was Keith Lang’s… here

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