The Internal Jukebox of the Brain

The feeling of getting a song stuck in your head is a pretty common one.

It happens in various ways. Maybe your irritating housemate was playing Gangnam Style on repeat earlier and now you can’t sleep because your brain is currently doing the same. Or you went to a gig the other day and the catchiest songs ran around your head for the entire journey home. Or throughout the Christmas period your brain randomly belted out “The power of looooove! Sent from aboooove!” because of that advert with the snowman that, let’s be honest, probably stole a hat and scarf from John Lewis.

One evening in my second year of uni, my next-door neighbour listened to Sixpence None the Richer’s ‘Kiss Me’ at least six times in a row. That was the only song I could think of for the next two days.

These are all completely understandable.

But sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever; your brain throws up a song that you haven’t heard in years and didn’t really like in the first place. Or creates an impromptu mashup of two completely unrelated songs.

(Incidentally, this is patently not the case with my ipod, which, when you put it on shuffle, is apparently limited to its favourite 20 songs or so.)

This can be fairly innocuous or phenomenally irritating. There are few things more frustrating than only remembering one line of the song that is on repeat in your head.

This one time I woke up singing the first two lines of the hymn ‘The day Thou gavest Lord has ended’ over and over.

And it often happens at the most inappropriate moments. Usually when you’re trying to sleep. Towards the end of my degree, I had stayed up late to get some composition work done and when I finally got to bed my brain kept me awake playing a tune I had written myself. Infuriating in the most post-modern way.


Apparently I have somewhat of a knack for this. Every so often I will get a text from a friend saying that the Ben Song or the Procrastination Song has been running around their head for the past hour or so.

I can only apologise.

This whole concept fascinates me – does the brain just get bored and fish something out of the nether regions of its musical memory and then play it on repeat?

If I were a better blogger I would do some sort of research into the science of it all.

But I’m not. Ah well.

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