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How to get rid of a song that's stuck in your head

Dragan Otasevic
Dragan Otasevic Nov 15, 2021
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How do you get rid of a song that's playing on repeat in your head?
Problem description
Earworms or musical obsessions (also known as stuck song syndrome [SSS]) are common in the general population but can be more pronounced and debilitating in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Earworms are considered intrusions: unwelcome involuntary thoughts, they are a subtype of obsessions. People experiencing earworms as terribly annoying and stressful are more likely to express typical OCD symptoms (such as mysophobia — fear of germs, dirt, and contamination).
Songs have been used to actually torture people.

[1]Euser, Anne Margriet et al. “Stuck song syndrome: musical obsessions - when to look for OCD.” The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners vol. 66,643 (2016): 90. doi:10.3399/bjgp16X683629

Creative contributions

Play it till the end

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Nov 15, 2021
In 2014, a study evaluated surveys on ways that people employ to cope with earworms and found that the most effective ways were:
  1. Play the song till the end
  2. Play other more distracting music
  3. Verbal conversation
There is usually a snippet from the song that is stuck in your head. Playing the entire song helps you lose that.

[1]Williamson VJ, Liikkanen LA, Jakubowski K, Stewart L. Sticky tunes: how do people react to involuntary musical imagery?. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e86170. Published 2014 Jan 31. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086170

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Replace it with a new song that you really like

Povilas S
Povilas S Nov 16, 2021
It's quite natural for songs that you enjoy a lot to get stuck in your head for a while, your mind keeps playing the tune, and/or you keep singing it because and until it still positively affects your mood. I suppose the issue raised here is that a person doesn't like the song that's stuck in their head or doesn't like it anymore. The worst case is when a song that you didn't even like initially gets stuck in your head anyway.
From personal experience, I'd say that the best (or perhaps quickest) way to get rid of an unpleasant song stuck in your head is to replace it with something that you like and preferably something you newly discovered. Put some effort to search for a song that you'd really resonate with and it will naturally replace the old earworm.
However, for people to whom any song can get stuck in a protracted mind-loop and the issue is not about liking it or not this might just lead to an endless circle of replacing one song with another. So the suggestion is valid for cases where this is not a chronic condition.
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Play some cool electronic music without lyrics

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 15, 2021
I find that if I overlay it with some cool electronic music, it calms down the earworm monster. For some reason, electronic music rarely gets stuck in my head. If it does, it's not unpleasant.

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
There was a nightclub near my town that played live music on the terrace. If you got hungry while partying inside you had to to the terrace because everything else was closed in the area. The band only played 3 songs. It scarred me for life. To this day they randomly start playing in my head. I'm not linking them here for your sake:)
I imagine that kids' songs and christmas songs are the two categories that haunt people a lot.
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General comments

Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
Here's a cool explainer on earworms:

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