Why do songs get stuck in our heads?

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Perhaps there is a song in your life that transports you to a special place as soon as you hear the first chord? It could be a time in your life, a waterfall of emotions, or a song that speaks to you that you can’t help but sing whenever you get the chance. Sometimes it’s all too tempting to hit replay, but why can’t we get enough of these tunes?

Coming to terms

Relax, you’re not alone in the replay crew. In fact, if you want to sound fancy, then you can give your action an official name – extreme re-listening. Now we know what it means to be in love with the same tune, just why do our brains feel the need to hear the same song over and over again?

Drumroll, please

To understand why we listen to the same song on repeat, we need to start with the categories most popular to hear time and time again. Happy, upbeat songs, as well as calming music are two popular choices when it comes to music. It could be that people are looking for a way to lift the mood or a chance to put things into perspective with a more mellow tune. However, there is one runaway choice of songs that keep the world going back: bittersweet melodies. There are many reasons for this result, too. People admit that bittersweet lyrics are usually memorized a lot easier than others, they can easily be linked to specific memories, and these songs typically produce the most in-depth connections, so it looks as though our minds are looking for a way to maintain our moods when we can’t stop hitting repeat.

How much is too much?

So when we keep replaying our songs, how many times is too many before we have to turn off the tunes and find something else to play? Well, Frederick Conrad took it upon himself to round up 204 willing participants to find out just how many times we have been listening to our favorite songs. In the survey, he found out that rock and pop songs were the most popular choice, but can how many times do you think people were listening to these songs? 86% of people asked admitted they listened to their tune of choice at least once a week, while nearly 50% confessed that theirs is played every day. To top it off, 60% of people revealed they would listen to these sons up to four times in a row before they turned them off! Putting that into perspective, that can be over 15 minutes of the same music – wowza.

Well, there we have it. It isn’t just us that can’t stop listening to the same songs over and over again, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the same tune. Although there are plenty of songs out there, why would we bother to listen to them when we can enjoy the same music for the rest of time? Exactly, we’re not crazy.

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