Get this damn tune out of my head
July 21, 2009 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Any tips for getting a tune out of your head? There's this damn ice cream truck which makes several passes a day with like a 5 second loop of a tune, and it's been struck in my head for about a week. Can't concentrate on my work. I can only imagine how insane the poor driver is by now.
posted by hungrysquirrels to Grab Bag (44 answers total)
This is a good argument for an urban application of a standard anti tank missle. Since they seem to be in short supply, i would recommend listening to or thinking about the Abba song 'Dancing Queen', which as sufficed for me occasionally.
posted by lester at 6:29 AM on July 21, 2009

The only proven antidote is to listen to an equally if not more annoying song. My suggestion is Spice Girls' Wannabe.
posted by spec80 at 6:30 AM on July 21, 2009

Just reading that made my local ice cream truck song get stuck in my head.

Ummmm, if you have headphones at work, have you tried listening to other songs? Something you really like and can get into. If not, maybe go for a walk and get distracted by something else.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:30 AM on July 21, 2009

Expert advice on the removal of earworms.
posted by bigmusic at 6:31 AM on July 21, 2009

Another good "get another song out of your head" tune is the theme from The Flintstones, the advantage being that it is a bit too complicated for a short bit of it to get stuck in your head, but it is just catchy enough to replace some other tune.

Personally I listen to some Derek Bailey, Iannis Xenakis, or Merzbow, depending on my mood, but I realize they are all acquired tastes that probably won't help you much.
posted by idiopath at 6:33 AM on July 21, 2009

Two words:

posted by 8dot3 at 6:36 AM on July 21, 2009

Tom's Diner.

posted by handee at 6:37 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]

posted by 8dot3 at 6:44 AM on July 21, 2009

Can't you play music most of the day or carry an iPod? Rather than play one or two songs, carpet bomb it.
posted by crapmatic at 6:51 AM on July 21, 2009

I've found the only thing that works for me is to listen to the song again. Then somehow my brain feels it has permission to move on.
With a stupid little jingle, I'm not sure that would work though--I guess I would then follow others' advice by trying to remove it with an equally annoying song.
posted by Eicats at 6:54 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've been trying other music, but it's still there lingering in the background. I like the missile idea, rocket launcher perhaps, but as mentioned they're not readily available. I was also toying with using my baseball bat. "Yes, I'd like a chocolate ice cream please, BAM". Other suggestions still welcome.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 6:54 AM on July 21, 2009

"Low Rider" is my all-purpose solvent for shit stuck in my head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on July 21, 2009

The more annoyed you are, the more you notice the ice cream truck. Practice a zen-like calm.

Train your brain to start thinking about Copacabana as soon as you hear it. Of course, now you have Copacabana stuck in your head.
posted by theora55 at 7:04 AM on July 21, 2009

Sing "Staying Alive" by the Beegees to yourself. It will get rid of the other tune and WON'T get stuck in your head, because you don't know the lyrics to the song. No one really knows the lyrics past the first two lines.
posted by achmorrison at 7:06 AM on July 21, 2009

If I sing the Inspector Gadget theme song to myself for a while that always seems to work.
posted by ohyouknow at 7:07 AM on July 21, 2009

The problem is you'll get it out but your repeated exposure throughout the summer will put it back in. If it drives by every day it will get stuck in your head every day (my wife and I had this problem with Abba songs for months when Mamma Mia played in our ran every day on the news for months, and when we'd get it out we'd see the ads's happening now that Jersey Boys is playing).

So your first step is to find a way to stop hearing it, if humanly possible. Can you wear earplugs? Sound blocking headphones? Turn up the TV so loud you don't hear the ice cream truck? Otherwise, everything you do is a Band-Aid on a wound ripped open daily.

Then as stated above the best thing to get a song out of your head is to listen to another song. But I have a special trick for me...turn OFF the song you want stuck in your head in the middle of a line in the middle of the chorus. Without the closure of the song, the chorus, or even the line, that song is in my head for hours and hours, my subconscious wanting to play the song out.

Good luck.
posted by arniec at 7:11 AM on July 21, 2009

A good friend swears by the technique of old Gangsta Rap, on the theory that "it scares the hell out of anything that might be stuck in your head."

It kinda works. I'd suggest old NWA. Failing that, Slayer works pretty well too.
posted by swngnmonk at 7:11 AM on July 21, 2009

On a completely different tact, my partner read a book on music and the brain, and the author recommends doing arithmetic (because it uses the same part of the brain). My own limited testing of this strategy has been successful.
posted by carmen at 7:19 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

How's this for contextual catchiness:

If I Had A Rocket Launcher
posted by Sys Rq at 7:20 AM on July 21, 2009

Run the five second loop. As the loop ends, substitute by thinking about the colour purple. Try to think of as many things as you can that are purple. Look around the room you're in, and spot things. Really focus on the purple.

It'll give your brain something else to do and think about and process, so there's no room for the song to play. A computer analogy - make purple.exe use 100% of your CPU, so irritatingnoise.exe doesn't have any CPU cycles to run with, and crashes.
posted by Solomon at 7:23 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

No one really knows the lyrics [to "Stayin' Alive"] past the first two lines.

....I know that it has the lyric "We can't try to understand/The NEW YORK TIMES' effect on man."

But I only know that because I have been contemplating what on earth that observation could possibly mean for at least five years now. ...Come to think of it, trying to think about that little koan could also help our OP.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on July 21, 2009

"Low Rider" worked, for now, but of course now it's stuck in my head instead... Still, preferable to the ice cream truck tune though. :-)
posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:39 AM on July 21, 2009

Well I always use something catchy but NOT lame. I'm particularly fond of Throwing Muses "Not Too Soon" from 'The Real Ramona'. Undeniably poppy and it doesnt suck. Always has a place on my IPod, for emergencies. PS. dont watch the video - it sucks - just listen.
posted by elendil71 at 7:41 AM on July 21, 2009

hungrysquirrels: "Any tips for getting a tune out of your head? There's this damn ice cream truck which makes several passes a day with like a 5 second loop of a tune, and it's been struck in my head for about a week."

This happens to me, and I think it has something to do with your mind wanting to complete the fragment but being unable to. With me, the solution has always been to listen to the complete song; the pattern having then been completed, the song gets out of my head.
posted by WCityMike at 7:48 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

We always prefer a more charming Muppets ear worm: Muh Nuh Muh Nuh. It's fun to have in your head and it goes away pretty fast.
posted by Kimberly at 7:48 AM on July 21, 2009

A friend of ours says that the perfect solution is to sing "Kung Fu Fighting" to yourself. His theory is that if you always do "Kung Fu Fighting", you will practice getting "Kung Fu Fighting" out of your head frequently enough that eventually it will become trivial.

On the "urban warfare" tip, let me share the Largely Mythological Husband's song A Couple of Photon Torpedoes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:52 AM on July 21, 2009

posted by mikeh at 8:00 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Girl from Ipanema. Note: no cure for Girl from Ipanema.
posted by heather-b at 8:13 AM on July 21, 2009

You're getting a lot of suggestions for good palette-cleanser songs. I like the ABCs for this purpose, as it tends to knock out whatever's stuck in my brain but is then familiar enough that it just sort of fades away itself afterward.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:16 AM on July 21, 2009

It will get rid of the other tune and WON'T get stuck in your head, because you don't know the lyrics to the song.

I actually thought that songs you don't know all the lyrics to are the ones that get stuck in your head. I've heard that listening to the full song or learning all the lyrics will prevent it from ever getting stuck there again, but I'm not sure I buy that.
posted by timory at 8:29 AM on July 21, 2009

Failure's Stuck On You is a song about an earworm, which song is itself catchy enough that it might work as a counter-worm.
posted by grobstein at 8:33 AM on July 21, 2009

Years ago someone told me singing "Happy Birthday" works. And it does, for me.
Now I'll have to use it on "Staying Alive". Thanks a fucking lot, achmorrison.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:04 AM on July 21, 2009

I'm apologizing in advance for this, but if you need something to replace it with, here's my AskMe thread on "insidious earworms".
posted by JaredSeth at 9:10 AM on July 21, 2009

posted by Jaltcoh at 9:22 AM on July 21, 2009

Maim That Tune.
posted by booth at 9:44 AM on July 21, 2009

Tainted Love.
posted by umbĂș at 9:45 AM on July 21, 2009

yum yum bumblebee, bumblee tuna!
posted by beandip at 10:02 AM on July 21, 2009

A long time back, my friend gave me a mix CD with Radiohead's Creep. He didn't realize this, but it was one of those downloads sabotaged by anti-piracy goons. About 1:30 into the song, there would be five seconds of unbearable screeching noise, and then it would continue as usual. To this day, when I hear Creep and it reaches that point, I sort of cringe because I know what's about to come. Incidentally, it took me a year or two or figure out it wasn't actually part of the song. You never know with Radiohead...

If you could find an mp3 of the tune, you could play it for a minute or so and then fade into a catchier song that you enjoy. Then if it's stuck in your head, you would just have to loop it in your mind for a minute and then the new song would take over.
posted by yaymukund at 10:37 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Take Mark Twain's advice. Infect someone else with the tune.

A Literary Nightmare (Wikipedia summary)

The actual text
posted by Schmucko at 10:58 AM on July 21, 2009

I listen to music that I really like, and that I can sing along with. singing really helps remove the earworm, though it will be replaced with the song you've just sung, which is why it's important to make it one you like.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:25 PM on July 21, 2009

The only thing that's ever worked for me is to voluntarily subject myself to an earworm until it strangles itself.

Here are some mp3 files of ice cream truck tunes. Knock yourself out.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 9:35 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

The mysterious they say to listen to Girl from Ipanema.

However, I just want you to know that I had a song stuck in my head for at least 10 years once. If I think about it too hard, it will come back and not go away for a few weeks at a time. Pray you're not in it for the long haul, like I was.

(For what it's worth, my 10 year earworm was the Court of Miracles song from the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I've now resigned myself to hearing it incessantly for the next week.)
posted by srrh at 4:33 AM on July 22, 2009

If you want to get it out of your head and not replace it with another tune, think through your multiplication tables. Allegedly it uses the other hemisphere of your brain and 'breaks' the loop.
posted by jack.tinker at 6:10 PM on July 22, 2009

When nothing else works I use Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. I sing through the entire thing in my head. Nothing remains in my head once that's done. And because it's 4 equally catchy songs stuck together the cancel each other out.
posted by Kattullus at 1:13 PM on July 24, 2009

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