Playlist: Earworms

Senior Producer Andre Lira explores the concept of Earworms, and why certain sounds burrow their way into our brains

June 2022

What is an Earworm?

Have you ever found yourself humming the melody of a song over and over again? More than 100 years ago, Germans coined the term Ohrwurm — aka "earworm" — to describe the experience of a song stuck in the brain. While these infectious loops can sometimes be more annoying than welcomed, it's undeniable that some music has a sticking power in the brain, and psychologists have tried to discover the magic formula for what makes a song get stuck in your head, with major developments in the field being made in the past 10 years. At the end of the day, some combination of melodic structure, rhythmic patterns, lyrics, and repetition can all work to make a song catchy.

Earworms in Sonic Branding

Within sonic branding, it's a major win if you can develop an audio logo or mnemonic that has this quality - brand recall increases dramatically, and that jingle or melody will remind consumers of that brand for years. Think State Farm, McDonalds, or Folgers.

Listen's Senior Producer Andre Lira put together a Spotify playlist of songs that have had this effect on him. Click through to explore 10 tracks across the genre spectrum that exemplify this unique psychological phenomena.

Memorable brands begin here.