How to Get Rid of Earworm

By Brent Ramirez
Blog Content Contributor

Also known as brain worm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, earworm is an illness that many, if not all people have had to fight off at one point in their lives. Essentially, it’s when you get a catchy song stuck in your head long after you’ve heard it. Notable songs that are notorious for giving people earworm in the past include, but are not limited to: Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, Rude by MAGIC! and Lady Gaga’s Poker Face. Chances are, the mere mentioning of those songs may have even given you earworm as you’re reading this. Personally, I don’t mind having music constantly stuck in my head, but for others, it can become a nuisance. So for those of you looking to clear your mind of all those catchy tunes, here are a few tips on how to get rid of earworm.

Listen to the song.

This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but it can be an easily overlooked remedy. It’s the simple solution, but it also has the potential to make things worse. Listening to the song that’s been making you go insane could possibly keep it in your head longer. In choosing the listening method, you subject yourself to the chance of ending up in a straight jacket singing Wannabe by the Spice Girls for the rest of your life.

Listen to a different song.

If the first method is a bust, you might have better luck with this one. Personally, I tend to rely on listening to that same song over and over again for hours, sometimes days. But oftentimes, it just doesn’t quite work out and I have to rely on other songs to get me out of the trance. The only thing that really bothers me about drowning out the earworm song with another, is that it can be mentally frustrating. It’s like if you’re eating a banana and you suddenly decide to shove some sushi in your mouth. Both foods are pretty tasty on their own, but forcing them together might not be pleasant (if bananas and sushi are your thing then I truly apologize). It’s just not right. Be careful in choosing this method. You have been warned.

Shake that booty.

This strategy not only helps get rid of that never ending hook, but it could also help tighten that tush. Dancing let’s you take the song in your mind and turn it into cardio. While you’re getting rid of Abba’s Dancing Queen, you’re also getting rid of those excess calories. So go get your groove on! The only drawback to this strategy is if your song isn’t exactly upbeat, it might be kind of hard to dance. Just imagine someone violently dancing to Whitney’s I Will Always Love You. Eeee…

SING!

If none of those methods possibly work, this is THE cure. Just let it out. Let it all out. That song has been stuck in your head for a reason and that reason is for you to become human record player that’s stuck on repeat. Letting a song build up inside you and not choosing to release it vocally, is like holding in a fart for five hours. It’s going to come out of you eventually and when it does, it will be the most powerful thing in the world. Don’t ask me how I know what that feels like (RIP to all those people on that flight to San Francisco. I sincerely apologize). You just have to embrace the worm and let your voice do all the work.

If you’re shy about singing, don’t worry. There are places to truly be free, like the shower, in your car, or my personal favorite, an empty parking garage. The acoustics make you feel like your voice can reach across oceans. The best part about it all, is that you don’t have to sound like Freddie Mercury, you just have to power through that song like Freddie. It’s all about rockin’ out and having a good time.  

Aside from singing, there have been actual scientific studies on how to get rid of earworm, some involving chewing gum or holding mentally stimulating conversations to drown out the music. Personally, I feel better embracing it and listening and singing for days on end. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you go about remedying earworm. Just make sure you do something about it before you go crazy. Don’t neglect the worm! Happy jamming my friends.

Featured illustration by Joseph Wallace.

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