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Dear Sallie: Stuck-On-Repeat

All your life’s questions answered by Sallie, The Saint’s delightfully mysterious Agony Aunt. Submit your questions anonymously to Sallie on our Instagram or our website!

Dear Sallie,

I love singing, but I’m rubbish with lyrics — every so often I’ll sing one line of a song all day, or even all week—and my friends are getting annoyed. How do I stop???



Dear Stuck-On-Repeat,

I’m afraid you’ve been cursed: by TikTok, most likely. With the advent of soundbite culture, musicians and entertainers alike now actively seek to transform their songs into tenacious earworms, all the better to snag listeners with. Olivia Rodrigo herself became a pop sensation overnight by perfecting this particular technique. Back in 2021, she released her debut album’s iconic ‘Driver’s License’ on Tiktok first, where it dominated the platform for weeks. Olivia Rodrigo came, she saw, she conquered (our ears).

Other musicians saw her enviable success and followed suit. These days, you can hardly spend two seconds on TikTok without being inundated with catchy soundbites, carefully crafted by artists to hook you into their music. If the artist happens to be particularly successful in their advertising, this will soon be followed by a plethora of parodies, which will of course make the earworm that much harder to get rid of. This is a devious, effective formula: tried and tested. Of course you fell for it. Millions of other people did too. There are entire armies of “material gowrls” who do not feel “happy and healthy” because they can’t get something out of their heads – just like you!

But it would seem, my dear Stuck-On-Repeat, that you are particularly susceptible to this disease, being rubbish with lyrics. From personal experience, this is something that goes away only with constant practice. So here’s my advice for you: listen to the same song all day. Yes, you heard me. Listen to the song until you want to jab pencils in your ears, and make sure to sing along to it every single time. I find lyric videos particularly useful for this sort of nonsense, at least you can be entertained by the pretty graphics while you put yourself through song lyric bootcamp. After about twenty thousand repeats of a song, your obsession with it will either be killed stone dead, or you’ll be able to sing the entire song to your long-suffering friends. And if they ask you to put a sock in it, tell them to take it up with me: your anonymous psychiatrist.

As you might have noticed, this arduous course of treatment will have to be repeated for every new earworm that you find yourself infected with. You’ll have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps in this case, since I certainly have no control over your brain. Unfortunate but true, I’m afraid. But if this still doesn’t work (and you’re still acting unnervingly like a parrot), I have some bad news for your friends: they’ll just have to learn to live with it. It’s not like they’ve never been annoying themselves.

So next time you feel like bursting into (one line of a) song, call your friends out on their hypocrisy, and get them to join in. As the famous saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Feel free to quote me on that.

All my love,


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