“Call Me Maybe”: Why Is It So Addictive?

Don’t be embarrassed. We’ve all blasted it in our cars or turned it up on our iPods (and then turned it down because people were staring at us). The Harvard baseball team got down with the tune when they made a spoof music video that garnered over 13 million views, causing other groups like this college softball team to spoof the spoof. One video mixologist even edited together Barack Obama speeches so that it actually sounds like the POTUS is singing the lyrics. Why is Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” so addictive? Science may help explain it. According to The Body Odd on MSNBC.com, Jepsen’s catchy hit is an “earworm”: a piece of music that gets stuck in your brain and is impossible to shake. Musical memories last because we connect them to moods, times and places. Are women more susceptible to earworms? One researcher, Lassi A. Liikkanen, who recently published two papers about earworms in the journals Psychology of Music and Musicae Scientiae, thinks so, because women are supposedly more attuned to their mental lives and connect songs with powerful moments more often. I’m skeptical of that, though—all these mock videos are made by just as many men as women. Meaning no one is immune to the “Call Me Maybe” spell.

Photograph by Brendan from Vancouver , Canada (Carly Rae Jepsen) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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