Why do songs get stuck in your head?

Jukely Sound Projects 2016

“Who let the dogs out? Who who who who who?”

I should apologize for that now, before we get any further. I’m sorry. Because if you’re like a lot of people, Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” is going to be in your head for a while.

That being said, WHY?

Many scientists refer to songs like this as earworms and there are two main reasons why they get stuck in your brain and can’t get out. Reason number one? Because they’re a popular song you’ve heard a lot and your brain wants to fill in the blanks.

If it’s a sound or a phrase or a hook, your brain knows what comes next and can’t help but try and make it so. So, you’re stuck with it for a bit and the better you know the song, the easier it is to get stuck.

Rah rah ah-ah-ah!
Ro mah ro-mah-mah
Gaga oh-la-la!
Want your bad romance.

Sorry, I did it again. Maybe “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is no longer in there, though? Right?

Reason number two? The stickiest of songs in your brain usually have simple patterns with an added surprise. The two songs above are PRIME extreme examples of it.

Now, how do you get rid of that pesky earworm? Check out some other music! There’s something to be said about singing the Happy Birthday song a few times out loud to get rid of even the burrowiest of earworms.

Good luck!


Jason Donnelly is the Content Manager of all things Jukely. If you don’t know what Jukely is, it’s a concert membership that allows fans in 16 cities worldwide to pay a monthly $25 for live shows at hundreds of venues. Check it out at www.jukely.com and when you’re ready to sign up, here’s a code for $15 off your first month: JJ15OFF