How to get a song out of your head?

Discussion Comments


When I get an earworm, it’s usually a song ‘veI become attached to due to some symbolic connective lyrics. If I’m hearing it in my head, (even when I’m sleeping) I feel the need to listen to the actual song, but I can listen to the same song, if it is my earworm at the time, over and over which usually doesn’t bother me as much as it does the people around me. I’m generally enjoying it and usually singing along to the song.

I noticed one aspect of my earworms is once I have learned the entire song and lyrics from memory, the song fades away, but until I know every word I have to keep listening to it.


I think I may be the one who has the worst situation that all the songs in my list continuously and alternatively playing in my head. I watch a lot of music performances online and find new songs for my list. I have been suffering this earworm for about two weeks and it takes me an hour or two to get to sleep.


I’ve had the song, "Little Black Book" by Pink Floyd repeat over and over random times and random parts of the song. I’m afraid because I think this is what my future will be like and I’m so opposite: a mom of three teens, into yoga, meditation etc. I also believe I am to learn something, but I don’t know what.

Can anyone tell me how to stop this earworm because it’s been two weeks of ‘Little Black Book’ lyrics over and over and over and over and I cannot take the agitation anymore! I’ve tried singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’ — simple songs — and nothing. I consciously have to tell myself stop. Please help.


Well, I’m glad I’m not alone. I’ve tried everything and nothing works short of a bottle of vodka or a brick to the head.

Chai Mai is my antidote to the constant chart music I have on my Ipod shuffle in the brain but that gets wiped by others after a time. Worst song ever though, was "She’ll be coming round the mountain." Go figure.


Keep saying "By Mennen!" over in your head or even out loud. It helps me to rid annoying songs that are stuck on repeat in my head.


Currentl, and for the last two days, it’s been "Night Moves" by Bob Seger. I’ve never liked it. It’s so annoying and I cannot wipe it out!


"I don’t think people truly understand how annoying this can be for some…"

I certainly do because I’ve been suffering with this problem – probably an odd form of OCD – for about 43 years!


If you have this problem with instrumentals, you can try to imagine the song slowing down, almost to a halt, and stretch it in to a sound instead of melody.


Sing "The Final Countdown" melody, the whole melody and allow it to resolve. Anything stuck in your head will be gone and countdown will be gone too, as long as you finish the melody and resolve the chord progression.


I don’t think people truly understand how annoying this can be for some. I’ve had songs stuck in my head for so long that I can’t sleep, can’t focus, can’t even finish a thought. I’ve begun to avoid all music entirely because of this problem. But I suppose it beats a perpetual headache.


Ugh, I’ve had "Toxicity" by System Of A Down in my head for two days now, and it only goes away when I’m doing something, but when I’m not it keeps on coming back! Ahhhhh!!! (Also the creepy thing is, I keep picturing S.O.A.D playing that song in my head!)

The ‘turn down’ thing only works for me for a while and then it gets so loud I can’t concentrate. It’s driving me insane. Anyone else having this type of problem? With the pictures and all?


I cannot get little boxes by malvina reynolds out of my head. It’s like a virus 24/7. If she were alive, I’d be annoying her 24/7 with her song!


I’ve had the "If I die young" song in my head for three days! No matter what I do, it is still there, even if I try to get another song stuck in my head, this one still plays in the background with the new one I’m trying to stick in my head to cover it up.

It is driving me insane! I only got 30 minutes of sleep last night. By the time i fell asleep it was time to go to work! Help!


@anon8472: Me too!


Note from a psychotherapist: just think of what the song means to you. Interpret the lyrics. Even if it is something silly! Is there something in the lyrics that sort of relate to your life in a way? Does the song have a meaning for you? Maybe there is a reason why your unconscious has decided to put this song "on repeat."


well, the turning down theory helped a little, but I hate it when the songs I hate get stuck in my head, but the songs I love, I forget about it until I hear it on the radio, which never happens,since I’m a Coldplay, Phoenix and Jet fan.


this seems to work for me but tonight it’s not working but i usually sing a song that i like that gets stuck to replace the one i hate and the one i like will go away faster so I’m hoping that maybe I can just take some xanax and go to bed.


I go to bed with a song in my head. Wake up with a song in my head. Go through my day with a song in my head. Sometimes I don’t know what is coming out of my mouth because of the lyrics playing in my mind. Can’t focus. Can’t concentrate. Hate this!


I have Nelly’s "Just A Dream in my head". I took sleeping medicine for about two or three nights but whenever I have an earworm I just can’t sleep. I tried doing these things but it’s still in my head!


I’ve tried everything listed here, but nothing is working. It’s plaguing me and I have not slept in four days because of it and because of some history, I am not allowed to take any sleeping pills anymore.

What do I do now?


I’m having problems with the fact that my daughters love justin bieber, and although I find his music very annoying (no offense intended, he’s not a bad kid, I just can’t stand the music), the awful thing is that a lot of the music is catchy and does get stuck in my head!

My solution is that if they wish to listen to JB it must always be with earphones on (so I hear nothing) from now on!


I can’t sing my song the whole way because it scares me! I’m trying an antidote! Actually I was joking around when I put this in my search, but I was happy to find some suggestions.


how can i enjoy a song without getting it stuck in my head? Do you have any other ideas?


This article was very helpful to me. About ran out of distractions to keep music out of my head.


canon in d is awesome. best piece of classical music ever. i’ve got cherlye Cole’s new song in my head. "love worth fighting for." i got the first stanza in my head. nothing i try will get it out.

i got work tomorrow.


Thank you so much. I could hardly sleep at all last night thanks to this song in my head. Unfortunately I hear it several times a day at work thanks to someone’s radio. Some of these ideas might actually work though.


What do you do if you have an instrumental game song stuck in your head?


that was very helpful! because I can remember nearly every song I’ve ever listened to, even when I only remember the title, I remember nearly the whole song o.o, but that’s over now 😀


The turning the volume down idea really helped me.

Thanks! I was about going nuts. I’ve had a song in my head the whole weekend.


Great. Now I have the Pink panther Music stuck in my head.


2. Physical remedies

But should these earworm prevention tips have failed, how can we get rid of intrusive musical thoughts?

A recent research paper claims that chewing gum provides a simple solution. In a series of experiments, participants who were given gum to chew reported fewer earworms than those who weren’t. Normally, our vocal apparatus is involved in singing, so the theory goes that when our jaws are otherwise engaged, our ability to imagine music is impaired.

Another tip to foil your earworm is to walk at a much faster or slower pace than the song’s beat. It seems that we form relatively accurate memories for the tempo of familiar music.

We also know that movement (for example dancing, tapping, nodding along) is an important contributor to earworm experience. By using body movement to disturb our memory for the musical tempo, we can interrupt the musical flow to end the seemingly automatic mental replay.

Who is most likely to experience earworms?

It is understood that 98% of people experience earworms and that men and women are affected at equal rates.  No studies have investigated as to whether earworms may be more or less likely to occur in populations based on a person’s age.  Since elderly adults (age 65+) are more prone to neurodegeneration and hearing loss (each of which impair auditory memory), we would expect earworms to be less likely among the elderly.

Interestingly, some research suggests that earworms tend to persist for a longer duration in women than men.  In addition, earworms reportedly irritate women more than men.  Keep in mind that most of the information available about earworms is derived from surveys – meaning the strength of the findings are not very strong.

Other findings by researchers were that songs with lyrics tend to provoke more earworms than those without lyrics.  This makes a lot of sense when considering that our brain is highly attuned to learning and perceiving spoken language, and lyrics are exactly that – spoken language.  When we hear lyrics, we subvocalize them and they cycle through the phonological loop, whereas background instruments do not.

For this reason, it should be expected that individuals listening to instrumentals (devoid of lyrics) are less likely to report earworms.  (This isn’t to suggest that instrumental-only music cannot cause earworms, rather, it’s suggesting that earworms are less likely to result from music without lyrics).  Another speculation is that certain neuropsychiatric disorders could increase and/or decrease likelihood of earworms.

It seems as though individuals with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) may be more prone to earworm attacks, but if properly treated with medication, earworm attacks normalize.  On the other hand, individuals with neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. dementia) and schizophrenia may be less likely to experience earworms as a result of impairment and/or dysregulation of auditory memory centers.  If attempting to know whether someone is likely to experience an earworm, account for their neurological status.

5. Phone a friend

To eradicate earworms altogether, consider doing a mental activity that is either more or less challenging. We know that routine activities which are low in cognitive load, such as tooth brushing, are conducive to mind wandering, which can, in turn, lead to involuntary musical imagery. On the other hand, mentally demanding tasks such as difficult homework have also been associated with earworms.

But mind wandering rarely occurs when we socialise; an activity that lies in the middle of the range for its mental challenge. A potentially pleasant way to banish unwanted musical thoughts could be to spend time with friends.