10 songs so catchy we challenge you to un-hear them.
Try as you might to escape them, these are the songs so sticky they remain lodged in your ears for days. We love them. We hate them. We can’t get rid of them. But what makes an earworm? And how can we outrun them?
Research has shown that there are features (including fast tempos, unusual intervals and common melodic shapes) that can increase a song’s earworm-i-ness. Think: Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ – duh duh duh, duh duh da-da; or Kylie’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ – la la la, la la la-la-la. Songs may conjure memories or nostalgia, like Gotye’s ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’-inspired ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. Or they just might be so downright unique that they leave your brain spinning, trying to make sense of what you’ve heard. Try Aqua’s borderline insufferable ‘Barbie Girl’, or the Beatle’s ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Outrun them, outlast them, or outsmart them
While there’s no sure-fire way to banish an earworm to the recycle bin of your brain, we can recommend a few tips:
1. Try and think of something else entirely, and follow that wormhole as far away from the earworm as possible.
2. Listen to the song the whole way through, read the lyrics and engage with the piece – you might find that once the veil’s been lifted the thing vanishes altogether.
3. Find a ‘cure’ song (not to be confused with songs by British band, The Cure) that’s even earworm-i-er than the last one.
Obviously, this last tip has its limitations. But the good news is we can help* you with 10 earworm remedies right here. You can thank us later.
*Remedies may produce irritating side-effects. To find out more about your hearing health, book a free hearing test.
NHC blog is our place to explore ideas and themes of interest. For professional audiology advice, please contact your local clinic for a consultation.