Got A Song Stuck In Your Head? Try These Tricks

Did a co-worker start humming "Baby Shark" and now it's stuck in your head? Then you’ve almost certainly had an earworm. We explain the science behind why it happens and what you can do to "deworm!"

Are you finding it impossible to “get rid of” that incredibly popular song that you’ve heard many times today? Did a colleague hum a few lines of Baby Shark and now it’s continuously replaying in your thoughts? Then, undoubtedly, you’ve fallen victim to an earworm. However, fear not! It’s not a creepy-crawly creature that resides in your ear. Instead, it refers to those catchy (albeit annoying) melodies that become lodged in your mind without any warning.

You may have come across alternate names for earworms such as brain worms, stuck song syndrome, cognitive itch, or the scientific term, involuntary musical imagery, abbreviated as INMI. An overwhelming 98% of individuals have experienced earworms, with 90% encountering at least one per week.

So, what is the reason behind this occurrence? And how can you cease it?!

Sure, it’s all fun and games until that song stays in your head for weeks.

Why Do We Get Earworms?

Over the past decade, there has been a significant amount of time and effort dedicated by the scientific community to researching earworms. Many experts believe that these catchy tunes hold the key to developing new techniques for learning and memorization. The cause of earworms can vary greatly, ranging from listening to a favorite song to a childhood memory, or even something as simple as boredom.

Although the factors that contribute to earworms can be diverse, certain aspects do appear to increase the likelihood of getting a song stuck in your head. For instance, if a song has a catchy tune that is easy to sing or hum, it is more prone to becoming an earworm. Repeat exposure to song lyrics or frequently hearing a particular song significantly heightens the chances of it turning into an earworm. Dr. Vicky Williamson from Goldsmiths, University of London, observed that during Michael Jackson’s trial, many individuals reported experiencing his songs being stuck in their heads.

Interestingly, daydreaming and stress seem to render individuals more susceptible to earworms. According to James Kellaris from the University of Cincinnati, women are more likely to be plagued by earworms than men. Musicians, due to spending a substantial amount of time rehearsing songs, are even more prone to experiencing earworms. Lastly, if you happen to be a chronic worrier, you not only have a higher likelihood of having an internal soundtrack, but also of being bothered by it.

“Deworming” Your Ears

Research from the Western Washington University suggests earworms most often get stuck in your working memory while you’re doing something that doesn’t require your full attention, like walking or doing the dishes. Therefore, the best way to rid yourself of an earworm is to use your working memory for something else. Psychologists suggest solving anagrams because challenges involving words seem to work best. However, anything that taxes your working memory (like a number puzzle or a good book) might work.

This strategy comes with a caveat, however: Your mental workout needs to be hard enough to provide you with a challenge, but it can’t be too hard, otherwise you’ll quickly lose focus on the task and the earworm will return.

If you don’t have a puzzle or a good book handy, here are some other strategies that might work:

Try a fun “eraser song”! If you happen to know a tune that might banish those pesky earworms, give it a go by singing or humming it. Just remember to proceed with caution, as your eraser song could potentially transform into a brand new earworm if you concentrate too intensely!

Take a moment to ponder why that catchy tune is stuck in your head. If the song is linked to something you’re not actively thinking about, such as a childhood memory or a news article you read, identifying the underlying cause may help you bid adieu to the melody.

Give chewing gum a try! Recent research from British scientists suggests a possible connection between the brain regions responsible for storing speech and music and the ones involved in generating them. They argue that it’s much more challenging to retain words or tunes while chewing gum.

If those strategies aren’t enough, then this next one is sure to work! Some researchers believe that earworms happen because of the Zeigarnik Effect, which causes your brain to dwell on an incomplete thought or process. Given that most earworms are short 15 to 30-second snippets of a song that repeats over and over, you might be able to break the cycle simply by satisfying your brain’s desire to hear the entire song.

Some songs become earworms more often than others do, but earworms are contagious, so we won’t list those catchy tunes here. If you know of a few sticky songs (or some ways to get rid of them) let us know in the comments section!

Our apologies in advance. Take a listen:

Did you use a mnemonic device today to remember something?

Are you guilty of using these phrases incorrectly?

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Amber Kanuckel

Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.

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It’s the BeeGees song living it up? I don’t even want to look it up to see what it is called.


My dog passed away a couple of days ago and its broken my heart
I have a song in my head that i have never had before its cold play hhmm for the weekend. I do suffer with chronic anxiety and PTSD so it may be something i have had for a while but never noticed until i lost my dog?

It goes away when im at work or chatting to someone, but when im relaxed or its quite it comes back. Its actually giving me more anxiety in which i do not need


We are sorry about the loss of your dog. We hope you find peace (and quiet!) soon!

Deborah Grondman

Here’s an ear worm: The Oscar Bologna song

ellen schinderman

6 months ago it was anything from En Canto (especially We Don’t Talk About Bruno). Now, it’s the Victoria’s Secret song by Jax. killing me all night.

Keith Cooney

I once had “White Wing Dove” by Stevie Nicks stuck in my head for 2 months!!! Every single day ALL day long for 2 months!!! Another song that was in my head for a few weeks was “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel

Sierra Renee

Omg. Geraldine by Miranda lambert is stuck in my head on repeat and I literally am going insane. Lol. It’s been there for over a week. Tiktok causes me to have constant earworms due to the short songs they play. Ugh.


Every. “Aqua.” Song. Ever.


Recently I saw a music clip of a sea shanty, and the catchy chorus has now been stuck in my head & waking me at around 01:00 am. I often get earworms but what’s interesting is that the ones that recur during waking hours are often an indication of my state of mind. For example, I was stuck in a job I hated and after a while I noticed I kept singing the same line from We Gotta Get Out Of This Place by The Animals under my breath. Whereas the earworms that wake me might be advertising jingles or pop tunes, & totally random stuff.


One time, I went to bed at 8:30 and fell asleep at 11:00 only bc of earworm


I have earworms 24/7. When I don’t listen to a song, I can hear a song deep inside my head.

Folake Carter

I am so glad I am not alone, I thought I was going mad. I started researching and came across “earworm” this earworm is very annoying it just keeps on going on and on all through the night. All yesterday night I couldn’t sleep it was Celine Dion in my head. I am just fed up makes me very depressed and angry ?


I need to know, is it ‘it’s all coming back to me now’…? I’ve had that song stuck in my head for 5 days and all I can hear is that line “BABY BABY WHEN YOU KISS ME LIKE THIS” it’s driving me insane ?

Folake Carter



I been getting earworms for months and they keep me from getting back to sleep. It’s annoying, irritating, and frustrating. I know what started them was I used songs to replace fear that was keeping me from sleeping. So I don’t have that fear but now I get songs and they are different songs each night. I feel like getting my phone out to find a song at 2 or 3 in the morning is not productive to helping me fall back asleep that will keep me up and make me sing more. I just want to fall back asleep peacefully like I once did. ?????

Susan Higgins

Rebecca, try one of those soothing apps like Calm. They can help “reset” your brain for bedtime!

Norene Pell

Dear fellow earworm sufferer, I am having the same problem, songs are there as soon as I wake up and I can’t go back to sleep

ellen schinderman

same. ugh.


I get earworms 24/7


I have a very annoying earworm that never stop, how I can permanently rid them, I want a long period of time with no earworms pls or I will sob!

Roxi Guillory

I’ve just started getting these earworms…. Very very annoying, Glad to see I’m not alone. I’ve been stressing thinking I’m going crazy… .I just want it to go away !!! I hear them all-day at night and in the morning as soon as I wake up…

Last edited 3 years ago by Roxi Guillory
Frank Chapman

I have had a tune stuck in my head for a couple of months that I can’t identify because I have never heard it before ever, and don’t know why!!


Frank, Mine started about 2 months ago and it’s a song I never heard . At times it fades away but back . I getting nervous in thinking it’s something bad happening in my brain.


My started with the lockdown but it’s got worse even though we are out of lockdown. I have anxiety & insomnia from the ear worm. Is their something wrong with my brain

Susan Higgins

No, when your brain is “idle” you’ll find you get songs stuck in your head more often. Try keeping busy with tasks that require brain power: crosswords, etc.


I’ve had Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home“ stuck in my head for about 4 days now. I’ve listened to it in full, several times hoping that will get rid of it… but to no avail. I’ve also tried listening to the MOST annoying songs possible to get it to go away and that doesn’t work either. I usually wake up to a new ‘ear worm’ every day so I am used to it… but this one just WONT GO AWAY!! SOS


I get a song every night when I am in bed trying to fall asleep. Most often it is nothing I’ve heard recently or even like. Sometimes it’s a commercial jingle with only one line repeated over and over. I have tried to replace the song with another which slows the mania and sometimes stops it or just swaps out the song. I try to fall asleep with thoughts of building a small home space where I am safe. I walk through the rooms and methodically lock up all the doors and windows so that no one can see in or get in. I am cozy in a cottage-like home and eventually I fall asleep. I don’t understand where this comes from, nor have I ever shared this with anyone. My brief respit was during this pandemic when a lot came to pass and I thought, finally the music died. I also considered, did I mentally give up and lose something I didn’t even know was important. The music came back! I don’t know if it means I am alive or crazy. I just want one good nights sleep!


The same thing happens to me. Thank you for sharing because I also don’t know if I’m alive or just crazy! Haha. Hope you can get some sleep. Xanax helps 😉


Even instrumental tunes can keep me from falling asleep. So I put on a CD of Gregorian chant. Without recognizable lyrics or melody, I fall asleep, even if the worm is still with me the next morning.


My latest: I wake up with it. When an earworm gets too bothersome, I have an old earworm hymn I begin to think of which usually usurps the latest annoyance.


I say some prayers and really concentrate hard on the words especially when I’m trying to sleep- helps a lot. I also say my times tables. The 8’s are the hardest – I need to concentrate and it’s distracting from the stupid song in my head. The key for me is forcing my brain to concentrate on something else…


This is so annoying. Many times I need to stay in the living room to sleep as I don’t have a TV in the bedroom. I’ll also repeat the Lord’s prayer or the serenity prayer. Also I go through the alphabet and list 5 names for each letter… and women.I hate it, I wonder if a psychologist would help.

Roxi Guillory

Is it still going on with the earworms, I’m having the same problem

Jackie Harter

My problem is that the songs keep me awake at night. I have insomnia and wake up often through the night, and a song I listened to early in the day (or even the day before) will start running through my mind and I can’t shut it off. I do not take stimulants and have no more than 2 cups of tea early in the morning, no caffeine after 9:00 am.

Roxi Guillory

My exact problem I’m so sick and tired of hearing random songs pop up in my head all-day at night when I’m trying to sleep and as soon as I wake up. Lately I can’t sleep toss and turn hearing the songs in my head is driving me nuts… it’s been 3 years ago you wrote this post, is it still going on with you … This been happening with me for about 2weeks …

Susan Higgins

Hi Roxi, it’s happening more and more to everyone. My brother and I had Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in our head for 2 weeks after watching an online concert. Certain times of the day you’ll find a song gets stuck in your head when you’re most “receptive” (for example, if your alarm goes off to a song, that might get stuck in your head versus a song you hear on the radio after lunch). Try our remedies, they work!


I sing in a choir, and I tend to get earworms when we are rehearsing for a big choir event (i.e. a holiday). Usually it’s one of the pieces that are in the program and that I think is uniquely beautiful. It usually goes away when I play my meditation music before bed.


You are so right. This happens to me all the time in choir.


Sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself a couple of times. Concentrate on the words. It won’t remain in your head after your finished because we are used to it being only sung one or two times for an occasion. It really does work. Every time the earworm tries to reappear, sing Happy Birthday again.


I was told a long time ago that if you want to get rid of an earworm, you just hummed the theme song to Hawaii Five O. I have found that it works for me.


It’s baseball season, so “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” plays through my head every night while I’m trying to fall asleep. 🙁

Julie Humphreys

‘The Entertainer’ and ‘Turkey in the Straw’. Silly ice cream truck. I hear it in my head for days.


I can’t take it! That lousy Geico commercial, (which I find funny) the guy at work in the bland looking kitchen standing by the microwave waiting patiently for his Burrito to be done…12 seconds left and a song (I never even heard of before!) “It’s the Final Countdown”! Damn…over and over all day long when I am doing mindless household chores or raking leaves…etc and needless to say anytime I warm up anything at all in the microwave! Must be 50 times a day! I tried to “allow myself” to sing it all I want without concern…(I think just having it concern me so much makes it happen all the more) but nothing is working! Damn that commercial….whoever thought it up did some mighty effective advertising there, give that man/woman a raise I suppose…meanwhile I’m a heartbeat away from the nut house over it !

Vicki Law

Mine is a Geico commercial too. Buttercup Baby, the woman in the motorcycle shop. It’s been driving me crazy day and night for a week or so.


I have NEVER cared for taylor swifts music but, shhhh, dont tell anyone, i sing “shake it off ” in my head ALL THE TIME and ur mention of it at the beginning of this article just fired up the old player in my head again! Thanks a lot! LOL



J Roberts


J Roberts

Earworms? Interesting terminology. I have had songs in my head since a child in the early 70s. I used to listen to the radio every night an sing my self to sleep. An wake up singin. Now that I think about it..I started singing a TV commercial jingle as a toddler about Juicy Fruit Gum. As mentioned, things can tigger a song to play over an over on my head. I just get it on YouTube an listen to it an it goes away. For a minute until the next song. I absolutely hate it when I am sick an have that happen. Its horrible to me. I guess I must be infested with earworms..or am I nutty? Hehe

Ken O'Brien

“It’s A Small World After All”

sorry if I set anyone off.


I love it when I wake up in the morning and I have a contemporary Christian song playing in my head. I say it’s the Holy Spirit praising God while I’ve been sleeping.
It just starts my day off Great!

dr fish

I get rid of mine by Ingesting Medical Cannabis-Y’all should too as this works the BEST! Ishould know, I’m a Doctor!

Roberta Pigg

I have had this problem for years, and it has been awful since I’ve incurred the problem of daily chronic migraines. One day I had enough! so it came to my mind to say and repeat the word happiness over and over for several seconds. Sometimes I need to repeat it, but the broken record goes away and I have my mind to myself again. Yay!


My old ear worm was Rob Zombie’s “Dragula”, but it stopped after I downloaded it & listened to it regularly. Now, I frequently wake up in the middle of the night with some innocuous pop song stuck in my head usually something I don’t even like. White noise seems to help me fall back asleep especially rain sounds.


We call them brain songs.

Mary Langer

This most often happens when I am trying to go to sleep. Best thing I have found is using the alphabet A-Z and picking a subject like ‘fruits’ and then trying to list fruits in alphabetical order: A-Apple, B-Banana, C-Cherry etc then go to animals: A-Ape, B-Bear etc pretty soon I’m asleep or have lost the worm.


My earworm started after a skull fracture. I started writing down the names of the songs and the list is amazing. Worst song is Angel Eyes by the Jeff Healey Band, the best…well, anything other than that song lol.


Sadly, my “earworms” have caused me to give up listening to any music especially while driving.

Debra Johnson

The Addams Family theme song will go on for days or No Mild Today by Herman’s Hermits.


It has recently gotten a lot worse! All these commercials that have short snippets from songs drive me crazy!!! Watching a college football game last weekend I heard one of the songs they play after a touchdown. Later that night I had the new Ford commercial snippet song in my head and instantly thought of the touchdown. I played the song in my head twice and haven’t heard had the problem since. Every once in a while I use the touchdown song to clear my mind and I’m doing great now.

Susan Higgins

Once, a colleague simply held the note, “Ahhhhhhh” and I had The Mr. Ed theme song stuck in my head for a month.

Bev B.

I sing Joe Cocker’s “You are so beautiful to me.” The tempo is slow and reminds me of happier times.


I have earworms every day all day long. Even when I wake in the middle of the night. Drives me crazy. Want it to stop.

Roxi Guillory

Me too…. Are you still having them I see you wrote this 5 years ago ….


Almost very night between 3 and 4 am I wind up listening to the theme song for Goldfinger or listening to MC Hammer song. Can’t get it to stop. When I take a sleeping pill (Lunesta) it does not happen. Only nights when I take Melatonin. No trouble getting to sleep, just staying asleep 3-6 am.


This is why I listen to classical music instead of everything else. No lyrics, no earworm, and if one does get stuck, I never mind cos it’s classical.

Norene Pell

Listening to classical music does help me but I sure wish there was help for this problem , it drives me and apparently a lot of others crazy

Susan Higgins

Hi Norene, did you try the suggestions in our story and they didn’t work?


Mine usually come up at night when I’m sleeping or trying to get to sleep. I usually try thinking of another tune, but then that becomes the earworm. I thought to try a song I really hate, but found that even a commercial jiggle on the radio that is annoying can easily become the earworm…. no help here.


we always called them “song bombs” and we would intentionally hum a
sticky tune to infect the person next to us. My husband and I do it to each other all the time, its particularly fun to hum a Disney tune and watch it go.

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