Who hasn’t fallen victim to sonic intruders at some point? Sometimes, it’s a catchy chart-topping pop hit; other times, it’s a jingle from a TV commercial. They’re relentless, and they spare no one. If you thought you were alone in this, think again. We found some songs online that music lovers couldn’t keep out of their heads.
1. “Made You Look” by Meghan Trainor
The most diabolical aspect of this earworm is how it comes on, no matter where you are — even at work or a fancy dinner party, pretending to be sophisticated. This song can sneak into your subconscious and turn you into a mindless, foot-tapping zombie.
2. “Bones” by Imagine Dragons
“Show me your bones,” a line from the lyrics, might sound intriguing initially, but after hearing it for the millionth time, it loses its charm. You may even be lost in thoughts over the meaning behind those words. Questions like: Are you supposed to go on a bone-collecting expedition? Should we carry around a skeleton at all times? Whatever it is, don’t sweat it. We know it’ll be just too puzzling for your poor brain.
3. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and The Waves
This upbeat tune may have brought sunshine into many people’s lives and is notorious for getting stuck in their heads. As soon as the opening guitar riff of “Walking on Sunshine” starts playing in your mind, you know you’re in for a long day. Victims have confirmed the experience is like having a personal DJ in your head who is relentlessly looping the chorus.
4. “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga
This tune is the auditory equivalent of glitter — it gets everywhere and sticks to you like a clingy ex. Just when you think you’re free from its clutches, bam! It’s back, resurrected from the depths of your subconscious to haunt your waking hours. If you’ve listened to it well enough, you’ll agree the entire song is designed to be an insidious earworm.
5. “Click Click Boom” by Saliva
It’s as if the lead singer gargled with gravel before approaching the microphone. His voice feels like a force of nature coming from a cave’s hollow. You can’t help but attempt to mimic his growls and screams, much to the dismay of anyone within earshot. Well, thanks for that, Saliva.
6. “Hold Me Now” by The Thompson Twins
If aliens ever invade Earth and want to torture us with mind control, they won’t need mind-altering technology. All they’ll need is a loop of this song, and everyone will surrender in a heartbeat. When you think you’ve finally escaped its clutches, someone hums a few notes, and boom! You’re back to square one, desperately trying to shake off the hold of “Hold Me Now.”
7. “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” by Jay-Z
If you’ve listened, you’ll agree the opening beat is catchy. It’s like a musical magnet that latches onto your eardrums and refuses to let go.
8. “Two of Hearts” by Stacey Q
Imagine you’re at a crowded party, feeling shy and awkward. Suddenly, “Two of Hearts” starts playing, and like a magical spell, the entire room erupts into synchronized dance moves. You’ll witness a sea of people doing the ’80s side step and twirling their imaginary dance partners. It’s a heartwarming sight that’ll make you forget your timidity immediately. But what happens when you get home, and the earworm torment starts crawling in?
9. “Hotline Bling” by Drake
Because of this song, Drake’s awkward swaying and pseudo-boxing moves became the stuff of internet memes and embarrassing wedding dance floor moments. But guess what? “Hotline Bling” did more than accompany Drake’s shenanigans. It got stuck in the heads of many fans. Some even found themselves involuntarily busting out moves in the most inconvenient places.
10. “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift
If you found yourself plagued by the persistent presence of “Bad Blood,” we’re sure you can remember what it felt like. Just when you thought you should start embracing the drama along with the melody, it's too late, and the lyrics will never leave your head.
11. “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal
Maybe it’s the opening notes of “Kiss From A Rose” that invades minds. There is something about it that lingers like an uninvited guest. You try to move past it, but it’s too late. The chorus takes hold, and you hum, “Baby, I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the gray.” And there you have it — the seal gets broken, and you’re trapped in a never-ending loop of romantic metaphors.
12. “Material Girl” by Madonna
This earworm’s ability to trigger impulsive shopping sprees is disconcerting. Once you’re hooked, you may find yourself mindlessly scrolling through online stores. The feeling is like Madonna’s voice is whispering in your ear, “Go ahead, treat yourself. You deserve it!” Next thing you know, your credit card is weeping, and your closet is bursting at the seams.
13. “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey
Once it’s Christmas time, you must add earmuffs to your fashion items or prepare to have Mariah’s 2009 Christmas knock the wind out of your sails into the new year. Can someone else create a unique Christmas anthem and deliver us from the horrors of going through this every year?
14. “Witch Doctor” by Cartoons
You know the feeling — you wake up one morning, ready to conquer the day, only to find that your mental soundscape has been hijacked by “Oo-ee-oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla-bing-bang.” It’s an auditory assault that can drive even the strongest to madness. Good luck recovering from that!
15. “Gotta Jibboo” by Phish
Since I heard “Mama sing sing when she gotta jibboo, Papa sing gotta jibboo,” it has been challenging to rid my ear of the catchy hook. It’s been over a decade, and my brain still brings it back to taunt me as often as possible.
16. “Out of My Head” by Brett Dennen
Initially, the exciting way Brett belts, “Get out of my head, out of my head, out of my head now,” piqued the initial interest. Now, whenever fans struggle to rid their minds of thought, Brett’s voice screams the lyrics like it would magically make the other ideas leave.
17. “Waka Waka” by Shakira
You can bet when Shakira was handpicked to be on the official World Cup in 2010, the organizers and the rest of the world had no clue that the lyrics would have such a great replay value not only on the radio but in the brain's music box. It would be merciful if most of the lyrics were in English, but you’re stuck replaying a song you don’t even understand.
18. “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift
Sadly, with Taylor Swift being an industry fave, you can’t escape most of the songs in her catalog. Once the new breakup anthem drops, it’ll follow you everywhere till you involuntarily learn all the lyrics, and your brain is singing back. Even when you are in love again and want nothing to do with it, it has a mind of its own.
19. “Hotel California” by Eagles
“Hotel California” is phenomenal; you have to give it that. One listen is never really enough. The issue starts when you have heard your heart’s fill, and your brain doesn’t get the memo. Now, the long and tortuous journey with Don Felder’s voice and the rest of the band’s guitar starts.
20. “Piano Man” by Billy Joel
It’s hard to pinpoint why “Piano Man” is such an earworm. Maybe it’s the unique melody or how relatable the lyrics are. Whatever the reason, it’s a song that’s hard to get out of your head. It’ll cheer you up initially, but the catch is that it’ll likely get stuck in your head afterward.
21. “Imagine” by John Lennon
While serenading you with soothing melodies, “Imagine” drives you to dare to hope for a better world. Before long, there’s nowhere to hide as the message keeps playing over and over in your mind in a loop. It’s much better than having the lyrics from some weak, mumble rap record repeated all day in your head.
22. “Fresh” by Kool and The Gang
Everything about Kool and The Gang’s hit record, Fresh, draws you in and keeps you addicted. Every carefully penned lyric is tailored to ring in your head over and over long after it blasts from your stereo. You’ll likely have “She’s fresh, exciting…” ringing in your ears every second. If you have a real-life object of affection to attach to the lyrics, then may the force be with you as you attempt to keep it fresh out of your mind.
23. “Barbie Girl” by Aqua
“Barbie Girl” was every little girl’s childhood anthem back in the day and was cute until you discover that it just won’t leave your head. Then comes the Barbie movie with a Barbie World soundtrack that samples the original, and the endless torture resumes just when you thought it had finally been laid to rest years ago.
24. “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong
Parents worldwide have had the misfortune of dealing with one of the worst and the most persistent musical earworms in history. Kids gravitate towards the song like a Shark towards blood. They don’t stop until the music transcends beyond the physical planes and jumps into their unfortunate parent’s dreams.
Nicole Tommasulo is a travel writer and editor based in Boston, Massachusetts. For almost a decade, Nicole has been covering the lifestyle beat, writing about mental health, physical health, nutrition, food, travel, and books.
She has an MFA in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design and has been previously published by The List, Explore, MSN, AP, Heels Down Magazine, Hello Giggles, xoJane, Femsplain, and more.
Besides working at Wealth of Geeks, Nicole founded a travel and food magazine, savor+roam. You can follow Nicole on Instagram (@nicoletommasulo or @savor_roam) for more.