The more musical the person, the more earworms they were likely to experience, that study found, and that result has been backed up by other surveys.
The pianist's distaste for earworms extended even to songs that he found most emotive, he wrote — mainly because the most affecting music was also a distraction from real life. People often think that annoying songs are the ones most likely to get stuck in people's heads, Jakubowski told Live Science, but survey results suggest that only about a third of earworms are unpleasant.
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However, those times when "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" ends up on mental repeat may simply be more memorable than the times when a favorite song becomes an earworm. Like it or not, the brain gloms on to recent and frequently heard songs.
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A study in the journal Psychology of Music , for example, found that the more familiar the song, the more likely it was to become an earworm. Participants didn't have to think too hard about the music to get it stuck in their heads, as anyone who has started humming along to a grocery-store soundtrack can probably attest: The researchers found that asking study participants questions about the songs, to make them process the music more deeply, did not affect the chance that the music would go full-earworm on them.
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Research presented at the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in in Thessaloniki, Greece, found that longer notes with smaller intervals of pitch between them made for stickier earworms , perhaps because long notes and limited changes in pitch are simply easier to sing think "It's a Small World" versus an operatic aria.
Jakubowski's research — published in November in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts — did not find the same relationship between long notes, small intervals and earworms, but it did suggest that the easier a song was to sing, the more likely it was to get stuck in people's heads. That research, based on surveys conducted between and , compared earworms to similarly popular songs that were never cited as earworms. The study found that Lady Gaga was quite the earworm generator, with "Bad Romance," "Alejandro" and "Poker Face" all making the Top 10 list of songs that frequently got stuck in people's heads.
These sticky songs had faster tempos than non-earworm songs, Jakubowski and her colleagues found. Earworms were also likely to share pitch patterns that are common in Western music, particularly opening riffs that start out rising and then fall in pitch. But a dash of surprise seemed to help a song become sticky, too. Within these common structures, the researchers found that earworms tended to have unusual melodic features, like more leaps between pitches than typically expected in a pop song, or larger leaps in pitch.
That's why in order to create the perfect "wake up" playlist, Spotify enlisted the help of music psychologist and Cambridge PhD candidate, David M. Greenberg and Spotify's data team identified three main elements these songs needed to have:. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Nathan McAlone. Honestly, an entire playlist from this Frank Sinatra twin could wake me up in the morning.
Swoon worthy. Take a deep breath with this beautiful French song to bring about positive vibes.
A common phenomenon
Even in the morning. Mika is basically the god of happy songs with that amazingly high-pitched voice of his.
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I dare you. Aside from their brilliant chemistry, this dynamic duo has provided the world with one of the most high-spirited songs ever. I just want to clap my hands and jump around on my bed to this song.