They may get in through the ear, but the real problem is in the brain:
- Earworms are those songs, jingles, and tunes that get stuck inside your head. You’re almost certain to know the feeling, according to marketing professor James J. Kellaris, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati.
Nearly 98% of people have had songs stuck in their head, Kellaris reported at the recent meeting of the Society for Consumer Psychology. The 559 students — at an average age of 23 — had lots of trouble with the Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs” Jingle and with the Baha Men song “Who Let the Dogs Out.” But Kellaris found that most often, each person tends to be haunted by their own demon tunes.
“Songs with lyrics are reported as most frequently stuck (74%), followed by commercial jingles (15%) and instrumental tunes without words (11%),” Kellaris writes in his study abstract. “On average, the episodes last over a few hours and occur ‘frequently’ or ‘very frequently’ among 61.5% of the sample.”
Here’s the students’ top-10 earworm list:
1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm.
2. Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs” jingle.
3. “Who Let the Dogs Out”
4. “We Will Rock You”
5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle (“Gimme a Break …”)
6. “Mission Impossible” theme
8. “Whoomp, There It Is”
9. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”
10. “It’s a Small World After All”
Stuck song syndrome annoyed, frustrated, and irritated women significantly more than men. And earworm attacks were more frequent — and lasted longer — for musicians and music lovers. Slightly neurotic people also seemed to suffer more.
Kellaris hasn’t yet found a cure. Women are more likely to try to get rid of the offending ditties. Men are just as likely to do nothing as to fight their earworms. [WebMD]
My biggest problem with earworms isn’t any song in particular, but often the last song I heard before I went to sleep rolls around in my brain all night long driving me beat the musicans with their won instruments in my dreams. Sometimes that works. This is why I almost always listen to weird ambient music, jazz of classical before I go to sleep, ie, nothing with a hook.