Why Certain Songs Get Stuck in Our Heads: Insights from Recent Research



Have you ever found yourself singing the same tune over and over again, unable to shake it off no matter what you do? If so, you’re not alone. A recent study conducted by the University of New South Wales in Australia has shed light on why some songs get stuck in our heads and how to get rid of them. In This Article, we Tell you Why Certain Songs Get Stuck in Our Heads

Why Certain Songs Get Stuck in Our Heads
Why Certain Songs Get Stuck in Our Heads

Structure, Not Just Melody

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the melody that makes a song an earworm. According to the research, it’s the structure of the song that plays a significant role in making it “sticky”. Specifically, repetition is a crucial element that our brains recognize and remember. Moreover, the study found that most of the songs that stick in our heads are choruses sung by many people.

Repetition as the Key Element

  • Songs with repetitive elements create a lasting impact.
  • Choruses, often sung collectively, enhance memorability.

Other Contributing Factors

While repetition is a critical aspect of the earworm effect, it’s not the only one. The study identified several other factors that can make a song hard to forget. Novelty, familiarity, and our current state of mind all contribute to why certain songs get stuck in our heads. For example, if we hear a song that’s entirely new and catchy while we’re in a good mood, it’s more likely to stick in our heads.

Novelty and Familiarity

  • Novelty and familiarity contribute to the stickiness of a song.
  • Exposure to a catchy new song in a positive mood increases retention.

Getting Rid of an Earworm

Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of an earworm. The researchers recommend distracting yourself with a mentally challenging task or listening to a different song that’s not as catchy. Doing an activity that requires concentration, like reading a book or solving a puzzle, can also help shift your focus away from the song that’s stuck in your head.

Strategies for Breaking the Cycle

  • Engage in a mentally challenging task to divert focus.
  • Listen to an alternative, less catchy song.
  • Concentrated activities like reading or puzzle-solving help shift attention.

Final Thoughts

The study provides valuable insights into the earworm effect and how to get rid of it. However, it’s essential to remember that there is still much to be learned about the complex interplay of factors that contribute to this phenomenon. In the meantime, the next time you find yourself humming the same tune repeatedly, try one of the suggested techniques to break the cycle and get back to your day.


In conclusion, earworms are a common and often frustrating phenomenon. The repetition and emotional connection we have to certain songs, combined with exposure and perplexity, all contribute to why certain songs get stuck in our heads. While getting rid of earworms can be difficult, understanding the science behind them can help us better manage and cope with the phenomenon.


  1. Kellaris, J. J., & Cox, A. D. (2014). The earworm phenomenon: When catchy tunes become auditory agnosias. In The psychology of music in multimedia (pp. 83-102). Oxford University Press.
  2. Jakubowski, K., Farrugia, N., & Stewart, L. (2015). Probing imagined tempo for music: Effects of motor engagement and musical experience. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 9, 157.
  3. Williamson, V. J., Liikkanen, L. A., Jakubowski, K., & Stewart, L. (2014). Sticky tunes: How do people react to involuntary musical imagery?. PloS one, 9(1), e86170.
  4. Schellenberg, E. G., & Habashi, P. (2015). Remembering popular music. Memory & Cognition, 43(8), 1228-1241.
  5. Beaman, C. P., & Williams, T. I. (2010). Earworms (stuck song syndrome): Towards a natural history of intrusive thoughts. British Journal of Psychology, 101(4), 637-653.

Additional Insights

I hope these references help provide further insight into the phenomenon of earworms. If you have encountered other aspects or have experiences to share, feel free to let me know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Earworms

What exactly is an earworm?

An earworm refers to a catchy and often repetitive piece of music or melody that involuntarily plays in a person’s mind, seemingly stuck on a loop. These tunes can be challenging to shake off and may persist for varying durations.

Why do certain songs become earworms?

Several factors contribute to a song becoming an earworm. Repetition, the song’s structure, novelty, familiarity, and one’s current emotional state all play a role. The combination of these elements enhances the memorability and “stickiness” of certain tunes.

Are there specific genres of music more prone to becoming earworms?

Earworms can emerge from any music genre, as the key factors involve repetition and memorability. However, catchy choruses and widely sung tunes, often found in pop music, have been observed to become earworms more frequently.

Can the earworm phenomenon be prevented?

While it’s challenging to completely prevent earworms, there are strategies to minimize their impact. Engaging in mentally challenging tasks, listening to alternative music, or focusing on activities requiring concentration can help divert attention and break the cycle of repetitive tunes.

Is there a link between earworms and memory?

Yes, there is a connection between earworms and memory. The repetition and emotional connection to certain songs can enhance memory retention. Researchers suggest that understanding this link may provide insights into memory processes and cognitive functions.


So in This Post,  Why Certain Songs Get Stuck in Our Heads: Insights from Recent Research What other points can you think of/have experienced? Let me know in the comments.

If you found this helpful feel free to share your experience if you can relate to these points and if you are comfortable share

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