I picked up a new CD at the weekend, The Rough Guide to Brazilian Electronica, and it's full of "ear worms." That's not a bad thing, it's a great CD and the songs stick in my head. I found this BBC Science article a while back that explains them: 'Brain itch' keeps songs in the head.
Research in the US has found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a "brain itch" that can only be scratched by repeating the tune over and over. In Germany, this type of song is known as an "ohrwurm" - an earworm - and typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying. Songs such as the Village People's YMCA, Los Del Rio's Macarena, and the Baha Men's Who Let The Dogs Out owe their success to their ability to create a "cognitive itch," according to Professor James Kellaris, of the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration. "A cognitive itch is a kind of metaphor that explains how these songs get stuck in our head," Professor Kellaris told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.
Women are more susceptible than men, and musicians more than non-musicians. As a female flute player I'm going to get these songs stuck in my head. Same thing happens with The Rough Guide to Arabesque, Tarkan, Arabesque, and Arabesque Zoudge, which are all excellent CDs.