Can’t Get That Song Out of My Head: An Animation of a Psychological Phenomenon We All Know

You know what it feels like when, no matter how hard you try to shake it, you can’t get that song out of your head. Psychologists have a technical name for this phenomenon. They call it an “earworm,” referring to those songs that “arrive without permission and refuse to leave when we tell them to.” In the video above, the Danish design agency Benny Box has created a short animated film — called Jazz that nobody asked for – that serves as an “ode to all those unwanted songs out there, that have nowhere to go.” The music taunting the main character is “Quaker City Jazz” (1937) by Jan Savitt and His Top Hatters Orchestra. If you’ve had your own earworm — your own maddening soundtrack for this film — let us know in the comments section below.

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  1. Carter Blackwell says . . . | March 10, 2013 / 7:06 am

    Scissor sisters “take your mama out” be careful this is highly addictive

  2. el Ted says . . . | March 10, 2013 / 7:06 am

    Two chords of Hallelujah usually does it for me; for weeks, sometimes. A possible antidote though: I worked for a month on a presentation using the last two minutes of Rhapsody in Blue and never suffered a moment of earworm. Perhaps the complexity of the piece exceeded my earworm capacity?

  3. Ed Ducharme says . . . | March 10, 2013 / 11:47 am

    I have ear worm almost constantly on many days. The range that I hear is from “Frosty the Snowman” (a song I hate) to “I’ll Be Seeing You,” a song I love.

  4. Paul Stillman says . . . | March 10, 2013 / 12:02 pm

    Yesterday I had Mozart’s Concerto for Bassoon in B flat major playing in my head throughout the afternoon. It kept playing while I read Thoreau. Luckily, I have it on CD so I played it a few times.

  5. Alexov says . . . | March 10, 2013 / 1:22 pm

    Isn’t this normal? Like others above, I have “ear worms” daily, sometimes of one tune that sticks for days, and it’s always a melody I have either heard that day – they are without fail melodies that I know well – or been reminded of while doing something apparently unrelated. To get rid of them, I have to concentrate for a short while on something else or just another melody.

  6. Peter says . . . | March 10, 2013 / 5:27 pm

    Mac the Knife, and Frank Sinatra singing Love and Marriage – aaargh!! why did I even mention them?

  7. AHMET ISSEVER says . . . | March 11, 2013 / 5:04 am

    mOST OFTEN THAN NOT AT ALL; I’D THİNK THE ANGELS ARE TOO İNVOLVED İN THE PROCESS. tHEY WOULD NOT KNOW FOR SURE İF YOU WERE A COMPOSER, OR A STUDENT OF MUSİC TRYİNG TO MEMORİZE A SONG OR MAYBE MYSELF ı HAD BEEN MİSTAKEN İN MY OWN I.D. I’D THİNK I WAS ONE MUSİC LOVER OF A KİND. SALUTES

  8. David Maloney says . . . | March 11, 2013 / 6:36 am

    Delta Dawn
    That bitch sticks. (I humbly apologize if I caused stickage)

  9. Jenn says . . . | March 13, 2013 / 5:51 pm

    Carly Rae Jepson Call Me Maybe – when I hear it it takes DAYS to get over.

  10. John Thomas says . . . | March 15, 2013 / 6:42 am

    Some friends and I once agreed that the only known antidote to earworms was “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull. Of course, then you had to get rid of it, but it never failed to kill the original earwork.

  11. maria says . . . | May 28, 2013 / 2:32 am

    As a music therapist working primarily with children, ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ was a perpetual earworm for years.The regularity of the windscreen wipers or indicators on my car consistently evoke various child-like marches which rotate round and round my brain like a CD on ‘repeat’. I have learnt that for some reason, simply humming the first line of ‘Morning Has Broken’ (a melody I like and which has pleasant connotations) successfully disrupts the otherwise endless cycle of monotony.

  12. Nalrus says . . . | December 19, 2013 / 9:12 am

    Thanks a bunch! Now I’ve got Love & Marriage on repeat! Peter, you’re a dead man!

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