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Why you can’t get a song out of your head and what to do about it

October 4, 2017

About the Author

photo of Srini Pillay, MD

Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Srini Pillay, M.D. ( is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Part-Time) at Harvard Medical School. After graduating as the overall top medical student in South Africa, he completed his residency in psychiatry at McLean Hospital—Harvard’s largest freestanding … See Full Bio
View all posts by Srini Pillay, MD


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November 8, 2017

Now I have “Karma Chameleon”stuck in my head.

Michael Hartford
October 12, 2017

In addition to the “normal” earworm described here, where you hear a song and it sticks with you for the rest of the day, I also experience a different kind that I wonder if others do as well. I will be doing something where I’m not listening to music, like preparing food, or walking somewhere, and a snippet of a song that I heard anywhere from 1-3 days ago just pops back in my head. And not always just the “hook” of the song, but sometimes a guitar lick, or horn line, or a part of the drum beat. Nothing external triggers it, it just pops back in out of the blue, and it happens to me all the time, although really only with songs that I know well, not a new song I had only just heard. So I wonder if other get that too. Maybe it means that I have a lot of suppressed memories ;-).

Alison C
November 6, 2017

What you’re describing happens to me more often than the usual earworm. It could be due to the fact that my father raised me to listen to all parts of a song and how they fit together since he is a musician, and I also have some (basic) musical training. I most recently had an organ intro from a Uriah Heep song replaying in my head, but nothing more. I know the whole song, but that was the only part! I don’t know if that’s technically the same as an earworm, but I know what you mean.

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