That song that's stuck in your head: the psychology of music

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posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:20 PM
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(Fairly new member here, and the first time I've posted a topic so I hope this is an appropriate place to put it.)


Recently for me it's been One Republic's "counting stars". But why this song in particular? There must be some combination of lyrics and music that is really effective. Ryan Tedder of One Republic writes songs for a number of other famous artists, including Beyoncé and J-Lo. Some of the singles that he has written or co-written have been massive hits, so he must really be on to something, although the styles and songs are quite diverse.

In 2012 Carly Rae Jepson's "call me maybe" became the second biggest selling single in Britain. It was a really catchy song, and I heard a piece on the radio that said that part of the appeal psychologically was to do with how the words baby and crazy nearly rhyme but not quite. So your brain expects a rhyme but it doesn't happen so it sticks in your head more.

Robin Thicke's horrible "blurred lines" song was huuuuuge in 2013, and in spite of the controversy around the lyrics, the video and a lawsuit by Marvin Gaye's estate, again there's something really catchy about it, but I think this one is more about the tune than the lyrics. I found myself dancing to it and humming it even when I totally didn't want to! I don't know much about melodies or composition, so maybe someone can tell me a bit more? Are there pieces of classical music that have this same basic psychological appeal?

Anyway, I'm not presenting this as a massive sinister conspiracy theory or exercise in mind control, but I'm just interested to hear what songs get stuck in your head and why. Do you think there's a formula for the perfect pop song, putting personalities and the meanings of lyrics aside to a certain extent? Has the formula changed over time?

Let me know what you think...




posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:28 PM
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a reply to: MRM13

chicken fat

youtu.be...




May you all be blessed, with this stuck in your head
edit on 023131p://bWednesday2014 by Stormdancer777 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:33 PM
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a reply to: Stormdancer777
Oh man I think it is gatorade that is running a commercial with that song right now. Always gets stuck in my head after

Mine is some good ole CCR



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:36 PM
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a reply to: Sremmos80

My sweet lord and,here comes the sun, every morning.
Harrison

edit on 023131p://bWednesday2014 by Stormdancer777 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:41 PM
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posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:47 PM
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Tiny tim "Tiptoe through the tulips" never listen to it,its as bad as Culture club..who MADE me feel like hurting them.



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:55 PM
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a reply to: Stormdancer777

Omg ya now that song is gonna be in my head all day.
Really catchy



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 02:58 PM
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Here's my current "head song" it's a good one!!

www.youtube.com...


Let me know if this tune sticks in your head as well.



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:09 PM
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The music of the 70's, 80's and 90's (the stuff I grew up listening to) doesn't stick in my head as much, or at least not in the same way, as the newer stuff does. I don't listen to a whole lot of the newer Top 40 type stuff, but we have kids from 14 to 9 years old, and they listen to it. Sometimes I have mercy on them in the car, turn off the Counting Crows and Tori Amos (hey, the 90's were GOOD), and turn on the radio for them.

Then that music gets stuck in my head. For about a month it was "Happy" by Pherrell and now it's this "Talk Dirty to Me" song - no idea who it is.

How stupid does it look for a grown woman to be walking around, singing "Been all around the world, don't speak the language/ But your booty don't need explaining" under her breath in the office?!?



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:12 PM
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a reply to: Sremmos80

For some reason I found a lot of comfort in listening to Harrison when my brother passed two years ago,

I love his philosophy and spirituality
edit on 033131p://bWednesday2014 by Stormdancer777 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:13 PM
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a reply to: DustbowlDebutante

OH NO, you went and brought up Happy.



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: Stormdancer777

Yes, Happy was a bad one. Nearly drove me insane before I replaced it's spot in my head with "Talk Dirty." I looked it up, and it's by Jason Derulo. I guess the upside is that my little one and I sure do enjoy dancing in the car to it!



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:31 PM
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Howdy,
This is an interesting topic... I'd love to know the psychology behind earwigs (songs you initially don't like and then start to...). I've heard it is a result of the exposure effect (The more you experience it, the more familiar it becomes, and the more you like it), but I don't know how reliable the claim it. I mean, I'm younger than the music that constantly gets stuck in my head... (Huey Lewis and Ian Dury currently). This less than scientific source seems to suggest the songs remain "active" in our auditory cortex... I like that.
blogs.law.harvard.edu...
Cheers.



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:31 PM
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Does this count?


It's literally a song in my head HAH!

ETA: By the way String Cheese Incident is an AMAZING band, it's worth getting that song stuck in your head.
edit on 9-7-2014 by Krazysh0t because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:32 PM
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I often hear the theme tunes of childrens programs when visiting relatives, and they stay in my head all day!!!
I hate them yet they play over and over in my head.
OP may not be looking for anything sinister, but I'm sure its being used for sinister reasons. Why else would tunes I hate keep replaying in my head unless they've been designed to do just that.



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:51 PM
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a reply to: MRM13

My daughter watches Bubble Guppies episodes...A children's cartoon, and I sing that damn bubble bubble bubble gup gup guppies, bubble bubble bubble guppies...Song all DAY!!! lol...

I know what you are saying with the songs you listed in your OP...I am singing that stupid call me maybe song and I didn't even listen to it, just reading it put it back in my head....Now I am mad..



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 03:54 PM
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Few things more annoying than a bad ear worm. I sometimes wake up with a tune that I haven't heard in ages playing over and over in my head. Often it's some tacky 80's pop music or 70's rock. I wish I could find a switch to turn it off. Damn it. Just thinking about it turned one on. Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' just turned on. I'm going to crank up some Slayer to drown it out.



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 04:19 PM
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originally posted by: skunkape23
Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' just turned on.


Ahhhhhgh!!!
One of my daughters used to play that while screeching her little heart out. Every day I'd hear that awful row emanating from her room. Why did you have to remind me!

I'll be having nightmares tonight!



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 04:19 PM
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Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition Repetition

Just exactly what puts a song in your mind and also makes it popular??
There has been so much just @$$ bad music made in the past and it has sold!
Why though?



posted on Jul, 9 2014 @ 04:21 PM
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I'd like to be of some assistance in this thread if I may. Got a degree in music, hence the name bassplyr.

Why does the song get stuck in your head, why's it catchy? Whats the psychology?

Well, the brain to be very basis likes patterns that make sense. Chords for songs are created along frequencies that are fractions of the fundamental wave also called the tonic (the songs key C#, A etc...) They mathematically fit neatly into the main wave form. The notes in between the diatonic (within the key) chords are called dissonant or tension notes. They don't mathematically fit as a fraction in that waveform the key is in. They are out of phase and don't form a complete pattern. It drives the brain crazy. It wants that note or chord to "resolve" into a note or chord (collection of notes) that does fit as a fraction into the fundamental note (key) so that the pattern is complete.

A good song will tease the brain by going back and forth between notes or chords that are in phase with the key and ones that aren't. IT creates a mental itch that needs to be scratched so to speak. You hear a note or chord that's out of phase and the brain wants it to resolve to one that is in key. When that happens the itch is scratched and the brain goes "ahhhh...much better" That's why a lot of catchy songs all sound similar. The equation of which notes or chords you are going back and forth between to create that itch and relief are only so many.

When you hear a siren. the notes are usually whats called a tritone. (a sharp 4 in music terms #11) The sharp 4 lands mathematically as one of the most out of phase notes for most major keys. It's extremely dissonant when compaired to the fundamental note. It creates an itch that can't be scratched. The brain gets no relieve. It's jarring. And that's how a siren works. Do the opposite and you have Harmony, play the two concepts against each other skillfully and you have music.

But that's whats going on in your heads when you listen to music. That's where the pleasure is generated. From that dissonance resolving into harmony fulfilling a pattern and making the brain happy. I can go into more detail but that's the gist of it.





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