Songs that get stuck in our heads

20051118_ohrwurmWho doesn’t know this feeling, a certain melody playing continuously inside your head and there is no way of getting it out of your consciousness.

This can be a really annoying thing if your head tells you over and over that ‘I’m a big big girl in a big big world’ or that somebody broke your heart last Christmas (finally the heart breaking season is over for some time now). But, perhaps the worst ear-worm is the desperately hopeful assumption that ‘tonight’s gonna be a good night’ combined with the Sonic the Hedgehog theme.

Almost every free second I am listening to music I like. But as a coffee addict I spend a lot of time also in coffee-houses and that is when the ear-worm attacks. I sometimes try to replace one ear-worm with another catchy melody, one which I like, striving for some neutralisation.

Here is an interesting article about the possible meaning of ear-worms. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with an answer on how to get rid of a melody that got stuck:



Author: André Savetier

Since 2011 André Savetier is actively working as a music journalist with an expertise on contemporary new wave music phenomena. His scientific specialization is anthropology of music and anthropology of popular culture. Savetier remains intrigued by the interplay between the aforementioned social phenomena, the told (and untold) legends of music and its roots.

4 thoughts on “Ear-Worms
Songs that get stuck in our heads

  1. Maria Herchak says:

    how is your work concerning groovology going on? have you found the essence, why some songs are popular and more listened to and others not?

  2. Rhea says:

    Very interesting, I never thought about why do these simply annoying, unwanted melodies just sometimes suddenly emerge from our consciousness. I guess that many factors are responsible – their textual and melodic side is usually very easy and repetitive (“catchy”) if not even primitive or shocking for the sensible listener.. it happened to me many times when I suddenly listened to such a song that I considered it even bizzare or absurd (“what was that”? or “was that really a song?”). The repetition is also a very noticable character (e.g. I consider this to be a very good example of an ear-worm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0GtRI4Ulo). They are simply easy to remember, too annoying or too bizzare and after further consideration many times even too “upbeat”. What interested me in the link you posted was the part that they can serve as a method of emotional regulation. Sometimes it is really true because they distort from your previous feelings and their bizzarness sometimes removes emotional tension. Somehow, now the association with commercial adds sprang in my mind, in a sense, that they seem to work on the same level. They are here, they are annoying, cheerful, melodic etc (and often ehm, absurd) and they attack us almost from every corner 🙂

    1. André Savetier says:

      Thank you for your elaborate comment. May I ask you, which songs usually get stuck in your head? For a further analysis it would be nice to compare and find a pattern.


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