You’ve probably got an earworm,
which “tends to be this little fragment, often a bit of the chorus of tahe song, that just plays and replays like it's stuck on loop in your head,” says Elizabeth Margulis, director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas and author of
"On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind".
The quirky YouTube hit "What Does the Fox Say?" by Ylvis, Starship's "We Built This City," and The Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" are just a few tunes known to spawn earworms, according to Margulis.
The phenomenon is quite common.
For instance, a study from the Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition found that more than 91 percent of people reported having an earworm at least once a week, while about a quarter had them more than once a day.
As frequent as earworms may be, however, what triggers them and why they occur still remain mysteries. That’s mainly because earworms—which tend to last eight seconds—are by definition involuntary, and therefore tracking them in a scientific setting can be a near-impossible task. Researchers have yet to develop consistent methods of inducing earworms in test subjects. The data that researchers have culled on the subject so far come from surveys of a few thousand people or from small diary studies—but participants can be unreliable in recalling how often they get earworms, for how long, what they were doing at the time, what might have caused the earworm to disappear, and so on.
Music cognition research suggests that earworms could have something to do with how music affects the brain’s motor cortex, according to Margulis. When people listen to music, “there’s a lot of activity in the motor planning regions,” she says. “People are often imaginatively participating even while they’re sitting still.”
Repetitive listening could also breed earworms.
Indeed, 90 percent of the time, we listen to music we’ve heard before, says Margulis, and “when you've heard [a song] the fourth or fifth time, [one] note carries with it just so clearly the implications of the next note. You can almost feel exactly what's going to happen next.”
Despite the complaints of sufferers, however, the majority of our earworms are actually somewhat enjoyable or neutral experiences, according to Williamson. Her research has shown that people consider only about 30 percent of earworms to be “annoying.”
“We're more inclined to remember the things that annoy us,” she says. “So if you ask somebody about an earworm, they'll tell you about the one that annoyed them yesterday. They won't tell you the three or four they briefly had in their head which they didn't really notice, or [which] just kept them company as they walked around.”
YOUR LOCAL MALCONTENT'S EARWORM IS
THE THEME FOR INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU-- this simplistic theme runs in my head constantly, especially the flutes, & bells~ those tones, those short, hopeful tones- 'bing, bing, bong', bing, bing, bong...'- it SO reminds me of the hypnotic sounds of the casino games', from all those years~ and now, as I inspect all those casinos, too~
(I can't help it- blame it on the Indian casinos):
Other earworms frequently cited as annoying include:
The "Love Boat" theme:
And the "Seinfield" TV theme:
YouTube.com is Fk'ed up today, as you can tell~