2020 · Life · Life Copes · Music · October

Why is that song stuck in your head?

On a fairly regular basis, I have a song stuck in my head. More often than not, I wake up with a song in my head. This morning the song was “Moves Like Jagger” LOL! Yesterday’s song was “Baby Got Back”. Funny thing is, I haven’t heard either of those songs any time in the recent past. So where did they come from and why are they stuck in my head? Those are just the last two, this happens to me on regular basis. I have noticed that when I am stressed or tired the music in my head seems to disappear. I have that happen frequently as well.

As a general rule though, throughout the day, I hear song lyrics all the time. It happens in general conversations I am involved in. It happens while I am walking through the grocery store, yep, even though they have music playing. It happens when I’m driving, walking, whatever I’m doing, it happens. It’s like I have the music in me and it simply spews from me like I am a radio DJ. It doesn’t matter what the topic of conversation is or what the situation is I can usually spill some lyric to fit and then that song is stuck in my head until the next trigger brings forth a new one.

I seem to have this knack for singing song lyrics at the most random times. Some folks find it funny, some find it annoying, but here’s the thing, I can’t seem to control it. Even if I don’t sing the lyrics out loud, I still hear them in my head. It is very distracting at times. However, I don’t find that it inhibits my listening ability. I listen quite well and am actively listening even when I am singing the lyric in my head.

woman standing watching LED light musical instrument
Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

Of course, being me, I wanted to know why this happens. Where did I go? GOOGLE, of course!! Turns out there IS actual research about this topic. Well, almost this exact topic. Most of the research is about why songs get stuck in our head and not why random songs come to mind, which, for me, is close enough, I suppose.

When a song gets stuck in your head (“This is the Song that Doesn’t End”, comes to mind), it is something called “involuntary musical imagery,” or INMI for short. This phenomena is also called an “earworm”. I think they could’ve come up with a better name but hey, who am I? Basically, the brain processes and learns music quicker than it does words. Think, teaching kids the alphabet; we sing it, it’s a catchy tune, they learn it. Our brains are wired to process music faster and sometimes, like in the case of songs getting stuck in our heads, it may be our brain is helping place context through music for whatever situation we are experiencing.

Interestingly enough, several researchers have said earworms are usually more prevalent in people who have OCD or other neurotic tendencies. “Earworm susceptibility also has an idiosyncratic component—experiencing them seems to involve being in the right mood (or wrong one, depending on your opinion of the earworm) at the right time. “In addition to traits of songs and traits of people (such as being mildly neurotic or having high exposure levels to music), situation comes into play as a third factor,” Kellaris wrote. “It appears that earworms are more likely to bite when the victim is tired, stressed, or idle.” (Science Friday, 2014)

I have OCD (organization is A MUST for me) and I listen to music as often as I can. So that may be it, but I found it interesting the research also stated “earthworms are more likely when a person is tired, stressed, or idle.” I find the exact opposite to be the case for me. I never do things like anyone else, in fact, I’m the odd man out on a regular basis. If there’s one way to do something, you can bet I am going to figure out an unconventional way to do it instead. 😉


I suppose the music will be apart of me regardless of the reason it happens and I will continue to blurt out random song lyrics at any given moment. I am learning to embrace this part of me and to love that I can do it. I’ve tried several times to stop doing it, but I simply cannot. However, IF you also have this issue, random songs getting stuck in your head, AND if you hate it, you might try a suggestion from David J. Lee, PhD. The good doctor says,

“So if you find yourself battling a pesky earworm, here is an “evidence-informed” experimental treatment technique to help:

  1. Identify the song playing in your head.
  2. Search the internet and find a complete version of the song.
  3. Play it and listen to it. Spend that three minutes focused on it. Don’t do something else while it plays and limit yourself to half your attention; you might doom yourself to making it your permanent lifetime mental soundtrack.
  4. After the song is finished, immediately engage in a cognitively-engrossing activity. The researchers used sudoku on their participants, but you could also try crossword puzzles, word games, or some other activity that absorbs your attention and forces your brain to sweat a little bit. Avoid doing something that lets your mind wander!

    (If you are driving, assuming you stopped the car to search the internet and self-administer the whole song, find something to do mentally while you drive. Doing mileage calculations in your head is useful—figure out how long it will take you to reach your destination, going at different speeds. This will fill up some of that cognitive capacity that could otherwise wander back to the song.)
  5. Finally, try my strategy of then replacing that earworm with other, favorite, well-known songs (although this might be an individualistic strategy).” (David J. Ley, 2015)

It didn’t work for me, but I’ve learned to embrace this part of me. LOL! It might work for you. Let me know if it does.

I would like to know what songs get stuck in your head? Fill the comments up with them so we can all have them stuck in their heads too!!! *insert evil laugh here*

Till next time, R

3 thoughts on “Why is that song stuck in your head?

  1. I was a radio dee jay for a couple of years. Good times. As for your ear worm agitation, maybe I can help you with that. Give me a call at 867-5309 anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

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