Earworm tuned to 11
September 28, 2010 9:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a word that describes consistent loops of music in one's head. Not just earworms, though of course earworms are part of it. I'm talking about a radio station in your head which plays a song more often than you ever heard in actual audio life.

I could describe this phenomenon as K-ME (on the eastern part of the U.S., it'd be W-ME; in Mexico, I guess it'd be XA-YO).

For instance, someone today mentioned the Tubes' "Talk to you later," as an earworm. That made me realize that though I didn't hear the Tubes' "Prime time" between ninth grade and a couple years ago, it's been in my mind's radio station constantly. I've heard it in my head more than I've heard it outside my head. This applies to several other pieces of music.

The term earworm (which is so useful) to me denotes a tune which you can't get rid of unless you employ another earworm against it. A full-on-playlist of tunes that you've heard more often in your head than anyplace else seems worthy of a different term. Anyone got one?
posted by goofyfoot to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's still an earworm. You've just got more than one. You don't need to have heard the song to get it stuck in your head. It could be triggered by some words that remind you of the lyrics, or a garbage bin that sounds a little like the snare drum from a song. It doesn't even need to sound anything like the actual song (or even be a sound) but your brain finds some correlation between something that you've experienced, and your memory of the impression of that song, and then you've got an earworm. I'd say that you're either very susceptible to earworms, or you just encounter something that triggers the Tubes "Prime Time" an awful lot without realising it.

At least that's my understanding of earworms...

What's the collctive term for a group of earworms?
That's a whole other askme...
posted by robotot at 11:29 PM on September 28, 2010

I heard it called "cranium radio", and that's been my name for it since.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:22 AM on September 29, 2010

It's not precisely what you're asking about, but the term "phonological loop" may be useful to you.
posted by foursentences at 2:55 AM on September 29, 2010

It's been a while since I read it and I don't know if it had a specific answer to your terminology question, but Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks contains tons of information on this topic and was very enjoyable.
posted by mmoncur at 3:12 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Had to say Talk To Ya Later didn't you? Goddammit! Now I've got it too.
posted by timsteil at 4:34 AM on September 29, 2010

Inner soundtrack?
posted by ladybird at 7:50 AM on September 29, 2010

Slightly off-topic, but for me, this is usually a sign that my ADHD medication levels need some fine-tuning. Obviously YMMV.
posted by elizardbits at 9:50 AM on September 29, 2010

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