Why you can't get a song out of your head and what to do about it


“Earworms” are unwanted catchy tunes that repeat in your head. These relentless tunes play in a loop in up to 98% of people in the western world. For two-thirds of people they are neutral to positive, but the remaining third find it disturbing or annoying when these songs wriggle their way into the brain’s memory centers and set up home, threatening to disrupt their inner peace. Read on >

Repeat After Me: It’s Normal to Play the Same Song Over and Over Again

“Dad, can you please play another song?”

The request came on a recent Sunday morning from my 14-year-old son, as I was in the kitchen listening for the 12th straight time to Wes Montgomery’s 1965 recording of John Coltrane’s “Impressions” — a whirlwind of sensational guitar playing, complemented by bass (Arthur Harper), piano (Harold Mabern), and drums (Jimmy Lovelace) that lift Montgomery’s chords into the sonic stratosphere.

But this gem of musical dervish-ness — Montgomery and jazz at their best — is only three minutes and 37 seconds long. I want the song’s feeling to last much, much longer. And I have the power to do that, by changing the YouTube URL just a tiny bit. In a few seconds, I’ve commanded my computer to repeat the song ad infinitum. Read on >