'Earworms' Bother Women, Musicians Most By Daniel DeNoon Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD on Thursday, February 27, 2003 WebMD Medical News
Feb. 27, 2003 -- They bore into your head. They won't let go. There's no known cure. Earworms can attack almost anyone at almost any time.
No, it's not an invasion of jungle insects. It's worse. Earworms are those songs, jingles, and tunes that get stuck inside your head. You're almost certain to know the feeling, according to marketing professor James J. Kellaris, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati.
Nearly 98% of people have had songs stuck in their head, Kellaris reported at the recent meeting of the Society for Consumer Psychology. The 559 students -- at an average age of 23 -- had lots of trouble with the Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" Jingle and with the Baha Men song "Who Let the Dogs Out." But Kellaris found that most often, each person tends to be haunted by their own demon tunes.
"Songs with lyrics are reported as most frequently stuck (74%), followed by commercial jingles (15%) and instrumental tunes without words (11%)," Kellaris writes in his study abstract. "On average, the episodes last over a few hours and occur 'frequently' or 'very frequently' among 61.5% of the sample."
Here's the students' top-10 earworm list: 1. Other. Everyone has his or her own worst earworm. 2. Chili's "Baby Back Ribs" jingle. 3. "Who Let the Dogs Out" 4. "We Will Rock You" 5. Kit-Kat candy-bar jingle ("Gimme a Break ...") 6. "Mission Impossible" theme 7. "YMCA" 8. "Whoomp, There It Is" 9. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" 10. "It's a Small World After All"
Stuck song syndrome annoyed, frustrated, and irritated women significantly more than men. And earworm attacks were more frequent -- and lasted longer -- for musicians and music lovers. Slightly neurotic people also seemed to suffer more.
Kellaris hasn't yet found a cure. Women are more likely to try to get rid of the offending ditties. Men are just as likely to do nothing as to fight their earworms.
What helps? Kellaris doesn't know. But he found that when people battle their earworms, nearly two-thirds of the time they try to use another tune to dislodge the one that's stuck. About half the time people simply try to distract themselves from hearing the stuck song. More than a third of the time people with songs stuck in their heads try talking with someone about it. And 14% of the time, people try to complete the song in their heads in an effort to get it to end.
SOURCE: "Dissecting Earworms: Further Evidence on the 'Song-Stuck-in-Your Head' Phenomenon, James J. Kellaris, PhD, presentation to Society for Consumer Psychology, Feb. 22, 2003.
There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. - Theodore Roosevelt, Ocotber 12, 1915
Man....I can't believe "Mickey" didn't make that list. When I hear "Hey Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind....hey Mickey," I want to shoot myself. I know it'll be stuck in my head for at least 3-4 days.
I find that I'll get whole albums in my head. It starts with any given song on any given album, and after an hour or two I'll finally mentally work my way through that song, and then the next song on the album enters my head and haunts me, till I've finally progressed through all twelve or so tracks. I've also found that putting on the offending song is my best way to combat that affliction. I do think that earworms is a dumb name for it, though.
What sucks is that at my office, I can hear the basslines from the radio of the office next door through my wall, and I can usually pick out what song is playing. And as a result, that song gets stuck in my head. Stupid dentist's office.
Originally posted by Enojado Viento. . .I just KNOW "All The Things She Said" has to be an earworm. That tune can't be dislogded by ANYTHING.
You need the Duck Tales Theme... STAT!
And Eddie I share the 'run the album through your head' disorder. You ever gone through "Dookie", "So Much For the Afterglow", or any Eminem album?
. . .damn you, AngryJohnny. *L* Your musical kung-fu is superb.
"Life is like a hurricane/here in Duckburg/race cars, laser, aeroplanes--it's a duck-blur. . ."
The sad thing is, I used to think that show RULED and I'm not altogether sure I still don't. The NES game kicked ass tho.
And another song that will stay in your head for weeks--Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican radio." How many times have total strangers been able to complete the lyric when you start off with "I wish I was in Tijuana. . ."
Haha, no, I'm a customer service representative at Blockbuster. We sell gum in our store, though, so... who knows? If I can be serious for a minute, though-- I'm very partial to Dentyne Ice for some reason.