Why songs get stuck in your head-- and how to get them out

- We’ve all had a song stuck in our head that would not go away. In fact, it’s estimated it happens to 90 percent of us at least once a week. Well, it happens to scientists, too. And they wanted to know why.

A study published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts has determined three simple reasons this happens: pace, shape of the melody, and a few unique intervals.

The catchiest songs in the study were those that were upbeat -- something you could move to. You aren’t just humming that earworm, you’re also bobbing your head or tapping your fingers.

The “shape” has a simple structure, but rhythmic pattern. Think of a nursery rhyme or the alphabet song. It’s so easy to remember -- you couldn’t forget it if you tried.

The final element is something unique that stands out to break away from the pattern. So it’s repetitive with a twist -- that’s what hooks you.

Scientists and musicians love the study, but we want to know their tricks for getting rid of a song that our brains are playing on repeat. They gave three options: just let it run its course, listen to the entire song, or distract yourself with a different song -- just don’t pick another earworm.

The catchiest songs according to the survey:

"Bad Romance" by  Lady Gaga

"Can't Get You Out Of My Head" by  Kylie Minogue

"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey

"Somebody That I Used To Know" by Gotye

"Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5

"California Gurls" by Katy Perry

"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen

"Alejandro" by Lady Gaga

"Poker Face" by Lady Gaga

Up Next:


Up Next

  • Why songs get stuck in your head-- and how to get them out
  • Beyonce's 'Lemonade' vinyl mistakenly included punk band songs
  • O.J. Simpson's post prison plans
  • Harrison Ford explains why he punched Ryan Gosling
  • Jennifer Lawrence says a Real Housewife's fate is in her hands
  • Selena Gomez undergoes kidney transplant due to lupus
  • TMZ: Frank Vincent dies at 78
  • 'IT's Pennywise clown Bill Skarsgard is scary hot
  • SeaWorld, Busch Gardens 'Florida Neighbor Offer'
  • Canadian poet accused of plagiarizing Tupac Shakur