Attack of the Earworms!
Why does this happen?
Psychologists believe these catchy songs create this "cognitive itch" that the act of replaying the song over and over again is the only way to scratch it. It's the brain's way of closing a gap within lyrics, melody, and rhythm. For example, if I were to sing "Row, row, row your boat..." and stop, your brain would complete the song - obviously only if you were familiar with the song. The auditory cortex part of your brain would still be firing away, playing the rest of the tune in your head.
Is there a cure? You gotta help me...my brain keeps singing that stupid Barney theme song: "I love you, you love me...we're happy family..."
There's no real way to figure out what song will become an earworm. There are a few patterns researches have found concerning potential earworms, however:
>The tune is simple (simple lyrics, melody, rhyme)
>The tune is repetitive
>Songs with lyrics, for most people...although more musical people can get hooked on melody and scale
>Women seem to get more irritated and frustrated by earworms
>Neurotic people seem to be more susceptible
>People constantly exposed to music have more bouts of earworm attacks
So what's a person to do? Dr. Kellaris recommends the following:
>Listen to the radio (simple replacement)
>Distract yourself with another activity
>Sing the REST of the song, not just the part your brain is replaying over and over again. Your brain is trying to close the loop, so CLOSE it yourself...go find the lyrics if you have to
>Chew cinnamon sticks - not sure if it works, but one test subject swore by it
Another test subject reported having a case of earworm for over 6 months. I think I'd jump off a bridge.
Here are some songs I would think would be common earworms:
It's a Small World After All
This is the Song That Never Ends...
Meow Mix Jingle (meow meow meow meow)
Oompa Loompa doopidity doo
Chili's Jingle (I want my baby back, baby back, baby back...ribs)
I'm a Little Tea Pot
Who Let the Dogs Out
Don't Worry, Be Happy
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
We Will Rock You
Whoomp There It Is