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Why do certain songs lodge themselves in our brain and refuse to budge? Tom Service unearths the musical secrets behind earworms with guest Jarvis Cocker.

Remember the last tune you had stuck in your head? It's probably back there now... sorry about that... Whether it's Ravel's Bolero or Lady Gaga's Bad Romance we've all had them. But why and how can certain songs or pieces lodge themselves in our musical memory and refuse to budge.

In a special edition live from the Reading Rooms of Wellcome Collection, Tom Service is joined by singer and broadcaster Jarvis Cocker to unearth the maddening musical secrets behind earworms as they pick some of their 'favourites', try to create an earworm out of the most unlikely music possible, and hear from music psychologist Kelly Jakubowski on the science behind it all.

Part of Why Music? The Key to Memory, a weekend of live events, concerts and discussions exploring the implications of music's unique capacity to be remembered, produced by Radio 3 in partnership with Wellcome Collection.

Available now

29 minutes

Last on

Sun 15 Oct 2017 17:00

Music Played

  • Giuseppe Verdi

    Rigoletto - Act 3; La Donna e mobile [Duke's song]

    Performer: Münchner Rundfunkorchester. Performer: Marcello Viotti.
    • Decca.
    • 421 318-2.
  • Dexys Midnight Runners

    Come On Eileen

    • Too-Rye-Ay.
    • Mercury.
    • 514839-2.
  • John Williams

    Raiders of the Lost Ark March

    Performer: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
    • Silva America.
    • 1235.
  • ABBA

    Mamma Mia

    • ABBA Gold.
    • Polydor.
    • Polar517 007-2.
  • Edward Elgar

    Pomp and circumstance marches (Op.39), no.1 in D major;

    Orchestra: BBC Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Andrew Davis.
    • Teldec.
    • 903173278-2.
  • Kylie Minogue

    Can't Get You Out Of My Head

    • Fever.
    • Parlophone.
    • 7243 535804 2 1.
  • John Kander

    New York, New York

    Performer: Frank Sinatra.
    • Trilogy: Past Present Future.
    • Universal.
    • 0602527280905.
  • Piero Umiliani

    Mahna Mahna

    Performer: The Muppets.
    • The Muppet Show.
    • Pye Records.
    • NSPH19.
  • Rihanna

    Umbrella (feat. JAY-Z)

    • Good Girl Gone Bad.
    • Def Jam.
    • 1735109.
  • The Rembrandts

    I'll Be There For You

    • L.P..
    • East West Records America.
    • 7559-61752-2.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Ah! Vous Dirais-Je Maman K265 (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

    Performer: The Swingle Singers.
    • Swinging Mozart.
    • Philips.
    • SBL 7656.
  • The Knack

    My Sharona

    • Get The Knack.
    • Capitol Records.
    • CDP7918482.
  • Glenn Miller

    In the Mood

    Performer: Glenn Miller Big Band.
    • MUS.
    • 10007-2.
  • Kool & The Gang

    Let's Go Dancing

    • Mercury.
    • PHCA-2007.
  • Rondò Veneziano

    La Serenissima

    • La Serenissima.
    • Baby.
    • 590 027-2.
  • Franz Schubert

    Piano Trio In E-Flat, Op. 100 (Second Movement)

    • Original Barry Lyndon Soundtrack.
    • Warner Bros. Records.
    • K56189.
  • Jimmy Van Heusen

    Love and Marriage

    Performer: Frank Sinatra.
    • This Is Sinatra!.
    • Capitol Records.
    • 4 96989 2.
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen

    Klavierstucke III

    Performer: Aloys Kontarsky.
    • Sony.
    • S2K 53346.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Fur Elise

    Performer: Ronald Brautigam.
    • Etcetera.
    • KTC 1018.
  • The Pointer Sisters

    Pinball Number Count

    • Cookie Monster & The Girls.
    • Ninja Tune.
    • ZEN 12143.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Le Nozze di Figaro... (K.492), Act 1, no.9; Non piu andrai [aria]

    Performer: Bryn Terfel. Performer: Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Performer: Charles Mackerras.
    • Le Nozze di Figaro.
    • DG.
    • 4775886.

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