I frequently have earworms stuck in my head, short pieces of music that I've listened to before that won't go away. In 2021, I decided to keep track of every earworm I wake up to each morning.

Image by user Darekm135, taken from Wikimedia Commons

I frequently wake up with earworms every morning and was always amused at what my inner radio decided to play in the morning. After hearing about Dr. Zalka's project where she kept track of the her morning earworms, I decided to embark on a similar project myself. Throughout 2021, I wrote down the first earworm I encountered as I was waking up. For the purposes of this project, other earworms encountered during the day were discarded.

Out of the 365 days in 2021, only 9 days did not contain earworms. This meant that the vast majority of the time (97.5%, to be exact), I woke up with a song stuck in my head. Of the times where I didn't wake up with an earworm, I normally either didn't sleep very well the previous night or did not get a full night's sleep.

The vast majority of the earworms (297 out of 356) contained lyrics in English, while 39 of the earworms contained no lyrics at all. The rest of the earworms featured a variety of different languages, in order of frequency: Spanish (5), Maltese (3), Finnish (3), Turkish (2), Swedish (2), Gibberish (or not really a language at all) (2), Old Norse (1), Italian (1), and Hebrew (1).

In total, 23 different subgenres of music were represented. The top 5 represented music genres were power metal (63, 17.7%), rock (54, 15.2%), pop (29, 8%), electronic (17, 4.8%), and video game music (14, 3.9%). Other interesting genres that showed up included jazz, folk, soul, ska, reggae, makkjetta , ambient, drone metal, guajira , nursery rhyme, and funk.

188 different artists were responsible for 2021's earworms, with the top 5 artists being Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica, Canadian electrofunk band Chromeo, American rock band Toto, British heavy metal band Rainbow, and Canadian progressive heavy metal band Devin Townsend Project.

8 songs from the Eurovision Song Contest also made an appearance as earworms in 2021. Iceland's 2020 entry Think About Things by Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið appeared 4 times, while Finland's 2006 entry Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi appeared twice. The final two songs were both Maltese entries; the 1992 entry Little Child by Mary Spiteri, and the 1998 entry The One That I Love by Chiara.

Some of the earworms came from video game, film, or TV soundtracks (not all of which I've actually played or watched!).

Finally, here are the 5 songs that appeared the most times!

  • Italian eurodance track The Rhythm of the Night, by Corona
  • Iceland's 2020 Eurovision entry Think About Things by Daði Freyr og Gagnamagnið
  • Finnish power metal track Storm the Armada by Sonata Arctica
  • Danish progressive metal track Not My Kind by Royal Hunt
  • French electronic track Flying Totems, by Jean-Michel Jarre

It's been really interesting keeping track of my morning earworms, and I'm very much looking forward to repeating this project in 2022!

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