What’s the last song you just couldn’t get out of your head? Do you remember? Chances are there’s even a melody playing in your head right now! How did it get there? How to get rid of it? What is it anyway?



  • earworm – a catchy song or tune that runs continually through someone’s mind
  • (musical) note – a sign used in musical notation to represent the relative duration and pitch of a sound (♪, ♫); a pitched sound itself
  • interval – a pause or break in activity
  • chorus – a part of a song which is repeated after each verse
  • susceptible – likely or liable to be influenced or harmed by a particular thing
  • trigger – cause (e.g. a device) to function
  • mundane – lacking interest or excitement; dull
  • chore – a routine task, especially a household one


Think about it

Watch the video and answer the questions below. To find the answers just watch the video again and pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What is an earworm? (0:19)
  • What are the characteristic features of songs that are likely to become earworms? (0:44)
  • Which part of a song is most likely to become an earworm and why? (1:03)
  • What kind of people is most likely to suffer from earworms?
  • What may happen to auditory cortex when you imagine you hear a song? (1:39)
  • What factors are conducive to earworms? (2:02)
  • How to get rid of an earworm?


Practice makes perfect

Put the words in bold back into the text. Check your answers here.

by    –    caused    –    triggers    –    chorus    –    culled    –    loop    –    earworm    –    yet 

Can’t get that new song out of your head? You’ve probably got an ________, which “tends to be this little fragment, often a bit of the ________ of the song, that just plays and replays like it’s stuck on ________ 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. [ . . .]


As frequent as earworms may be, however, what ________ them and why they occur still remain mysteries. That’s mainly because earworms—which tend to last eight seconds—are ________ definition involuntary, and therefore tracking them in a scientific setting can be a near-impossible task. Researchers have ________ to develop consistent methods of inducing earworms in test subjects. The data that researchers have ________ 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 ________ the earworm to disappear, and so on.

Source: http://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/why-do-songs-get-stuck-in-our-heads/


Explore it more

What do you think this song is about? An earworm, or a man?