News — May 13, 2015 at 6:31 pm

How to get that annoying song out of your head

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We’ve all had it before. You don’t even know where you heard it but now ‘that song’ is stuck in your head – running laps around your grey matter. So what can you do?hand-ears

 

Known as earworms, these songs can make life unbearable, repeating over and over in our heads. Some people are more susceptible to getting songs stuck in their heads than others but according to research from the University of Cincinatti, nearly all of us (98% to be exact) have experienced an earworm in their lifetime, and it seems like they can come from pretty much anywhere.

“Hearing The Village People’s “YMCA” can get the mental tape rolling. Other head music may be induced by a memory from summer camp, the stresses of work or simply the boredom of office meetings.”

So you don’t even need to hear a song to get it stuck in your brain – it can be triggered by mood, memory, stress and even just boredom (thanks brain, you jerk). So when your neural circuits are running on repeat, what can you do? Well according to science there’s a few different approaches.

 

Identify and Destroy

Whether it’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or “Somebody That I Used to Know,” “Bad” or “Bad Romance,” it’s easy to get the chorus stuck in your head, perhaps even a part that you don’t particularly like. It plays over and over on repeat, as if the “loop” button got stuck on your music player. Some people swear by the method of hearing a song from start to finish in order to get it out of their heads. Which is great if you know what that is.  If not, there are apps like SoundHound or Shazaam that can identify songs by you humming or whistling a portion of the song it can tell you what the song is. Just hear the song through and hopefully banish that song for good.

shazaan-soundhound

Distract yourself

Have you ever had the hiccups for so long you thought they would never end? After a while realize that by not paying attention to the persistent rhythm of your esophagus spasming your body just kind of sorted it out? Well getting a stubborn song out of your head can be achieved in much the same way through the power of distraction. For some people it’s easy to just tune out but for others, a few cognitive tricks are in order.

By putting an elastic band around your wrist and slapping yourself it can work as a distraction or try disengaging yourself by checking out Facebook, do a Sudoku or a crossword puzzle.

Dr Ira Hyman, a music psychologist at Western Washington University who conducted research into this very subject had this to say: “The key is to find something that will give the right level of challenge,” he said. “If you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head.

“Something we can do automatically like driving or walking means you are not using all of your cognitive resource, so there is plenty of space left for that internal jukebox to start playing.”

 

Create your own playlist

Sometimes you need to bring in the heavy artillery. If a song refuses to budge, it might be time to flood it out with a custom created barrage of beats. Make yourself a playlist of your favorite songs and clear that sucker out for good. Just putting on the radio can be enough to dislodge even the most firmly entrenched songs for some people – unless, of course, the song you were trying to get rid of in the first place comes on air.

spotify-playlistImage: Mashable

 

Chew Gum

If all else fails there is another solution – simply chew on some gum. Yup, a recent study from the University of Reading stated that chewing gum could reduce the number of unwanted (and wanted) musical thoughts. Apparently, the act of chewing gum disrupts the mental pathways that holds on to catchy songs. So, next time a song gets stuck in your head, you know what to do.

gum