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I have a problem, in that my head is sometimes like a broken iPod player. When I'm supposed to concentrate on a job, or simply try and shut my mind down to go to sleep, a song will pop into my head. Sometimes it will be some random song I haven't heard for ages, and suddenly the melody will keep repeating in my head. Even trying to sing the melody out loud doesn't usually work for me. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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7 Answers

There's only one way known to men to get a song out of one's head.

Replace it with an even worse one.

So try to find your personal song-buster. That'd be a song that's more annoying than most, but you actually enjoy and you have already gotten so used to it, it's just background noise. So you can concentrate on the job even with it on. Whenever a earworm squirms in, song-buster saves the day.

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I'll have to try that one - I just need to think which song I could use that would stop all the mental chatter in my head. –  Barry Hammer Nov 30 '11 at 15:05
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some 80s spankin' groove most likely. –  Vic Goldfeld Nov 30 '11 at 15:10
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This may sound a bit crazy, but whenever that happens to me it usually means my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Over the years I've noticed that if a song suddenly pops into my head for no discernible reason -i.e. not because I heard it on the radio that morning- I better pay attention to the lyrics. More often than not, the song describes my current emotional state or provides the answer to a dilemma I've been pondering.

Cognitive bias, coincidence? I don't know, probably, but it's a cool little brain quirk. I wonder if research has been done on the subject.

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There is a website called Unhear it which uses the latest reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology.

Some people get a song out of their head by listening to this Private Dancer

The best way is to occupy yourself in doing some thing like solving math problems. If you are busy enough, you will definitely forget that song!!

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hahaha good find, latest reverse-auditory-melodic-unstickification technology = only way known to cavemen to get a song out of one's furry head. I knew I had seen such a website before –  Vic Goldfeld Nov 30 '11 at 11:23
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The most effective method I know of is to imagine that Bob Dylan is singing the song (even if it isn't one of his). That always works for me.

But more seriously, does the song in your head actually actually prevent you from functioning? Other than a brief moment of "I haven't thought of that song in ages" how negative is the impact of having your own personal sound track.

I wonder if the problem is more the fact that you are fretting about having a song stuck in your head and how it might impact your productivity.

As Mary Poppins said:

In evry job that must be done
There is an element of fun 
You find the fun and snap! 
The job's a game

Or if you prefer, the Seven Dwarves might have said it best.

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Sometimes having the song in my head really does stop me from functioning properly, especially when I'm getting ready to go to bed. I actually once lied in bed staring at the ceiling while my mind played Mozart's Symphony No. 20 (1st movement) [which I didn't mind so much, as it's one of my favorite classical pieces. But I did wind up spending nearly 10 minutes lying in bed waiting for the song to 'finish']. –  Barry Hammer Nov 30 '11 at 15:04
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That is a tricky thing to do. Sounds like you might want to try some meditation techniques to clear your mind and to help you focus. This is not to be done when you actually need to focus on work but rather a daily exercise to help your mind get better at focusing. Good luck!

There's also a white/pink/brown noise generator site called SimplyNoise. You might want to use that while you meditate...and then when you need to focus on work, you can play it to help you achieve singular focus on the present task at hand.

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+1 for meditation, though it's 'let it die, don't avoid' philosophy might not save the OP much time at first, it's a continuous training to declutter your mind. –  Vic Goldfeld Nov 30 '11 at 23:26
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Your brain is too active. Do this: breathe slower and count your breath silently. And, most importantly, do your job. Please don't fight against this, it's like trying "very hard" not to think about something, which ends up the opposite way.

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The theme song to National Geographic is my "song eraser. ". It is snazzy enough to replace the current song, but it has a definite ending, so it doesn't stick around.

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