Ever get a tune "stuck" in your head and you keep thinking about it? Here is why:
3. Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?"
2. Chili's restaurant jingle about Baby Back Ribs
When University of Cincinnati researchers tried to find out what song gets stuck in our heads the most, the non-answer they came up with was quite revealing: Other. As in, there were way too many titles for a single poll to tally. Almost all of us suffer through this mental torture of having a song stuck on replay in our brains, repeating itself over and over and over until we want to just scream. If this happens to you frequently, we're very sorry to inform you that those University of Cincinnati researchers have determined you have slightly neurotic tendencies. Either that or you just enjoy music and listen to it often. (Personally, we're opting for the second choice.)
Which songs get stuck? Kellaris explained to Reuters that when we get a song stuck in our heads, it's usually the first or last song we heard in a specific situation, such as the song playing on the clock radio alarm or the song on the car radio when we turned off the ignition. "Just about anything can get stuck in people's heads," Kellaris told Reuters. "We each have our personal demonic tunes that get stuck in our heads, I guess."
Stuck songs, which the Germans call "earworm," tend to have these features in common:
--They are relatively simple.
--They are repetitive.
--They contain an element that surprises the listener, such as an interrupted pattern or something that violates expectations of what comes next. --The most common culprits are songs with lyrics.
--They stay stuck in our heads for a few hours on average. What do you do to erase the stuck song from your brain?
Kellaris advises you not to worry about it. (If you take him up on his advice, just don't listen to Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy" or you're sure to just trade one stuck song for another.) Other tips include listening to different music or distracting yourself with another activity. You can also try singing the entire song--and not just the snippet that's stuck in your head--even if you can't quite remember all the lyrics. There's even a folklore cure: Chew on cinnamon sticks.