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Earworms: Why songs get stuck in our heads

Music has a tendency to get stuck in our heads. You know the experience - a tune intrudes on your thoughts and plays, and replays, in a never-ending loop. It happened recently to me. So, as a science reporter, I thought I'd try to find out why.

Several weeks ago, I was at home on a Sunday morning when, for no apparent reason, three words popped into my head - "Funky Cold Medina".

That's the name of a song performed by rapper Tone Loc. I'm told it was a hit in the 1990s, but I hadn't heard it until the night before when a friend sang it at a karaoke bar.

I kept hearing the lyrics - "Cold coolin' at a bar, and I'm looking for some action. But like Mick Jagger said, I can't get no satisfaction."

When the song reappeared in my head, I could hear my friend singing it again and again... and again.

I was stuck with it for nearly a day and a half, before it finally went away.

But it left behind a nagging question. Why do we get songs stuck in our heads in the first place?
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