Music to My Earworms

by Carol A Westbrook

What song did you have in your head when you woke up today? Was it, “Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling” as you recalled your St. Patrick’s Day celebration from the previous weekend?

Probably not. Chances are, the song in your head was not a slow, melodic ballad with simple lyrics, but a catchy, snappy tune. It might have been a line from a popular song, such as Lady Gaga’s  “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah” from her song Bad Romance, or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Maybe it was an annoying commercial jingle “1-8-7-7-Kars-4-Kids.” Maybe you’re thinking of food, and getting hungry. O-Oh! How about some Spaghetti O’s? Or Rice a Roni, that San Francisco treat?

If you didn’t wake up with a song in your head, you probably have one after reading this far. I’ve just infected you with an earworm.

An earworm is a catchy tune that worms its way into your head when you hear or even read it, and then seems to get stuck there. And it’s really hard to get rid of. Many people enjoy these tunes that loop through their brains, much like they enjoy listening to music on the radio or their iPod. Others find them distracting. And for a very small number of people, they can be incapacitating. Read more »