How Do You Get A Song Out Of Your Head? Chewing Gum Might Cure Earworms, Says Wacky New Study
I spend a large proportion of my day singing — not because I'm a diva rockstar, but because I always have at least one song stuck in my head. I'm constantly, and often unconsciously, humming a tune much to the annoyance of pretty much everyone around me. But the good news for me (and better news for my co-workers) is that a new study has been released by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology suggesting that chewing gum is an effective way of battling "earworms."
What is an "earworm?" Well, for starters, it's not a literal worm (thank goodness). Instead, it's an incredibly gross term for songs — or more specifically, song fragments — that get stuck in your head. Earworms (ugh) tend to be around 10 seconds long, with less variant notes. It makes sense — songs with easy-to-hit notes and simple melodies are always my go-to for singing under my breath. There's also evidence that earworms take hold when we're not fully paying attention (hence why ad jingles are the worst).
This new study, however, found that chewing gum interferes with "articulatory motor programming" — the motor skills involved in speech — and thus can prevent musical memories from forming. Great! However, I still think I need to test this one for myself as I'm a naturally distrustful person.
Grab some headphones and your gum of choice, and let's battle some earworms.
1. Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe"
Let's start with a classic. Carly... ughhhhhhhhh why did you do this to me?!
2. Lady Gaga, "Just Dance"
Is the line "Da da doo doo"? Am I saying that right? Eh, it doesn't really matter. Chew chew chew!
3. Lou Bega, "Mambo No. 5"
I am chewing SO HARD on this one because it brings back really vivid memories of 4th grade social events.
4. Nick Jonas, "Jealous"
I realize this is pretty new to already be designated an "earworm classic," but this song is so heavily entrenched in my brain. It also goes against what I said about "less variant notes" — I cannot sing this well, I always sound like a screetchy bat, but I do not care.
5. Spice Girls, "Wannabe"
According to studies, this is the catchiest song in the world. Personally, I will be abstaining from gum chewing on this one because I love it and I think it's a work of art.