How to Get Beyoncé Out of Your Head: The Scientific Solution

The Atlantic:

Here are, in no particular order, some of the songs most likely to get stuck in your head when you hear them. Apologies in advance.

- “Single Ladies” – Beyoncé
- “Alejandro” – Lady Gaga
- “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga
- “Call Me Maybe” – Carly Rae Jepsen
- “I Want to Hold Your Hand” – The Beatles
- “She Loves You” – The Beatles
- “SOS” – Rihanna
- “You Belong With Me” – Taylor Swift

According to music psychologist Ira Hyman, who recently published a paper on earworm science in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, songs function much like puzzles in our brains: Music is catchy because its patterns and rhythms engage our minds like a crossword puzzle would. Listening to it — really hearing songs’ lyrics, particularly when they come in the form of a repetitive chorus — requires some concentration, but not much of it. The stylings of Carly Rae Jepsen (and Beyoncé, and Rihanna, and Gaga, and The Beatles) fall into that cognitive sweet spot of attention and inattention, making them especially sticky. Oh-oh-oh.

Music is different from puzzles, though, in one significant way: While puzzles can be solved — the crossword gets filled in, the anagrams get de-jumbled — songs have no obvious solution. So they stay. And stay. And stay. Haunting and taunting and put-a-ring-ing in our ears.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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