Musical Creativity, Science of Music

We Don’t Talk About….Earworms

If you’ve seen the movie “Encanto”, you know what the next word would be. Well, you probably will start singing the rest of the song, if you’re anything like me! If you haven’t seen the movie, or you want to indulge yourself, here you go:

Don’t talk about him!

So, why does this song (and other songs) get stuck in our head? I remember back a few years ago when my girls were in the “Frozen” phase of life. The song “Let It Go” was sung non-stop in my house….and in my head. Why do we get these….earworms?

It could be something as simple as the rhythm or the melody, but I think in songs like these, it’s the repetition of lyrics. If you know “Bruno” or you just watched the linked video, the line of “We don’t talk about Bruno” gets repeated. This isn’t something original to Lin-Manuel Miranda, but if you listen to some of the songs or themes in his musical “Hamilton”, you’ll understand how he excels at this concept.

Here’s another video explaining the science of earworms:

Yes, studies have been done by researchers to figure out how songs get stuck in our head. The “catchiness” or repetitiveness of the song is usually what makes it easy to get stuck in our head, but there’s really no easy trick to get it out.

So, I apologize for getting a song stuck in your head today. But actually, I’m not sorry. If you haven’t watched “Encanto” on Disney+, you need to. It’s an excellent movie with excellent songs that will get stuck in your head!

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