Love and Hate: The Music Stuck in My Head and in My Heart
Music is a major part of my life, as it is for many people. While unfortunately I am not gifted with the ability to play any instrument particularly well, music is a constant feature of my day-to-day activities. I feel as though something is missing if music is not always floating into my expectant and eager ears. I do not know what I would do to control my neurotic thoughts if it were not for music. Case in point, I must drive, work, study, exercise, cook, clean and, under the best of circumstances, eat with music. My musical tastes are far-ranging and there is never a time when I cannot find some type of music to match my many moods.
One of the things that I love about music is its accessibility. It is always there for you on your computer or iPod, just waiting to be played. I can spend countless hours finding new artists or bands on the Internet or just listening to the vast quantities of music I already have. For me, there is no better feeling than finding a new song or artist that you immediately connect with and know right away that you absolutely have to download or buy. I also love how the musical tastes of someone can reveal so much about them, or at least the person they are trying to be. It is even revealing if someone cannot be bothered to listen to music at all, a behavior that I can not seem to comprehend. It also interests me how a song I find so unexciting can be considered by someone else the best song in the world.
The journey of refining one’s musical tastes can change throughout life or even remain constant. It is especially rewarding when you can find someone that has similar musical tastes in order to share new or old songs. However, the musically-inclined person, such as myself, can easily succumb to getting songs stuck in his or her head, especially when people around them purposefully try to sing or hum those especially catchy tunes because they recognize this inescapable weakness.
My brother knows too well my penchant for easily getting songs stuck in my head, which is why he cruelly chooses to sing some of the worst songs imaginable in order to taint my love for music. For instance, while we are often discussing events in our lives from the past few years, he almost always chimes in with the chorus from the truly dreadful Cher song, ‘If I Could Turn Back Time.’ He knows I hate this song, but because he has sung this refrain roughly 500 times, it becomes stuck in my head for the rest of the day or, in the worst case, for the rest of the week.
Another one of his favorites to torment me with is the popular Kelis song, ‘Milkshake.’ No self-respecting person would loudly sing the chorus of this song but my brother sheds his dignity in order to cloud my mind with such tripe. I am lucky that I don’t sing songs out loud that are stuck in my head, otherwise it would surely be embarrassing to explain why I am singing the songs I only have my brother to thank for.
In a recent interview with the Washington Post, record producer-turned-neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, author of ‘This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession,’ claims the occurrence of songs getting stuck in your head is called ‘earworms,’ after the German Ohrwurm. Apparently, it is typically not a whole song that gets stuck in your head but just 15-20 seconds of a simple segment that is easy to remember. Therefore, my brother’s humming of simple parts from simple songs, and I do mean simple songs, makes it easier for such words to become stuck in my head and scientifically speaking, it’s not my fault.
Asked whether there is a cure, Levitin said that antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are available for people who get earworms so badly that they cannot properly function, in terms of getting sleep of being able to work. I guess I know what lies in store for me, unless I can wear my mp3 player 24 hours a day to protect my ears from my brother, which in the end, doesn’t sound too bad.