When you get a song stuck in your head it can really affect your mental state and ruin your mood. A recent Finnish poll revealed that nearly 92% of people experience involuntary musical imagery at least once a week. As you might expect, the main reason is recent and repeated exposure to a song.
It’s a very common phenomenon. A recent Finnish poll revealed that nearly 92% of people experience involuntary musical imagery at least once a week.
As you might expect, the main reason is recent and repeated exposure to a song. However, other factors are also in play, such as memory triggers. Your brain may have created a firm memory of hearing Summertime at a pool party. Next time you’re partying by a pool, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince pop into your head. Or maybe you’re getting ready to go to a pool party, and all of a sudden you’re like, “Drums please…”
Some people might also experience visual triggers. You see a kid with a red balloon, and maybe right that moment, maybe an hour later, maybe even the next day 99 Red Balloons is rattling around your skull (bonus points to you if it’s the original German version). Even seeing the phrase “red balloons” could start up someone’s mental jukeboxes.
That this particular song has potential to get stuck in your head is backed up by science. A 2001 study on properties of songs that were more likely to get stuck in your head suggested that “musical simplicity” — often present in children’s songs — and repetition contributed to earworms.
The best way to get rid of an earworm is to find an activity that’s so engrossing, the song simply slips out of your head. If you find that doesn’t work, and you proactively want to try and battle your musical demon, there are two options: Confront it or suppress it.
Option one — embrace your earworm. It’s what the scientists describe as the “saturate and seek closure” method. Listen to the tune all the way through, at full volume, preferably singing along. Hopefully by confronting your brain with the full version of the tune, your earworm agony will end.
The second option is find your “cure” song. This needs to be a song that will chase away the earworm, but hopefully isn’t so catchy that it will take its place. In one British study, the most popular “cure” song was the national anthem — God Save the Queen. How very patriotic. Read more…