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Earworm cure

An earworm is a piece of repetitive memorable music that gets stuck in your head. How do you cure it? Chew gum.

Earworm

Franz Stuck [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The term earworm comes from the German word for an earwig. They are really really annoying, and in my experience tend to manifest when you are tired. I am really sorry to do this, but it will hurt me more than it will hurt you. Here are some particularly noxious earworms:

  • “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong
  • “Gangam Style” by Psy
  • “Agadoo” by Black Lace
  • “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye
  • “The Final Countdown” by Europe (the band, not the continent)
  • “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by The Beatles (a song so bad it made their sound engineer quit)

Feel free to add to this list if you’ve got any other candidates for most annoying earworm. Do you have at least one of those stuck in your head now? Want to get it out?

According to a Mark Twain short story from 1876, you just have to get it stuck in someone else’s head (kinda like the horror movie The Ring, but with less ghost murder and more rhythm and melody). Fortunately, science comes to the rescue once again.

Apparently, chewing gum, or even working your jaw like you are chewing gum, will get that earworm right out. The academic research calls this “interfering with articulatory motor programming” – in other words, it works because there’s some kind of link between moving your jaw and remembering music. Maybe you’re singing along in your head?

Categories: Arts & recreation Health & medicine Music Sciences

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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