Everyone has that song, that once you hear it, it plays repeatedly in your head for days, even weeks at a time. These are known as earworms, an everyday dilemma we are all too familiar with; but why these songs? And why are some people more susceptible to earworms than others?
A study published in Psychology of Music says that the more musical someone is, the more earworms he or she will experience. Although, this is not the sole reason. A strong factor is the composition of the song itself. Understandably, the songs you hear most recently and most frequently would be more likely to stick than new songs you’re hearing for the first time. The less your brain has to work to remember a song, the better. You’re also more likely to develop an earworm while doing something routine, like exercising or chores. But what causes earworms in the first place?
When your brain hears an unfinished song, it is compelled to “fill in the blank”, finishing the song for you. Your brain, in its search for closure, plays the song over and over again, trying to reach an unknown end. This stimulates the bothersome sensation of an earworm.
Getting rid of an earworm is a lot harder than it sounds. How do you get rid of something that when you think about it, only gets worse? The answer is simple, you don’t. As of now, scientists have not found a definite way to get rid of earworms, in fact, everything they’ve tried just made them worse. The more you try to get rid of an earworm, the sticker they get. Thinking about them only makes the tune more defined for your head, making the most annoying songs that stick the longest. Unfortunately, for the time being, we’ll just have to let our earworms live out their days until they naturally subside.