This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Hear Your Favorite Song From Middle School

Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

After 35 seconds: Tears well in your eyes as you wonder what your life might be like today had you not dumped Cory over his insistence that a puka shell necklace was appropriate for a winter formal.

You’re washing dishes or sorting laundry or grocery shopping, half-listening to a random Pandora station when it happens: Your favorite song from 7th grade starts playing. As those familiar notes from Wilson Phillips or Britney Spears or Boyz II Men drift into your ears, they set off a complex chain reaction of physiological responses within your body, mind, and spirit. It’s instant, involuntary, and intense. Here is a minute-by-minute breakdown of the process, which I documented while jamming out to the Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playin’ Games With My Heart” the other day.

Within the first 3 seconds of hearing the song: Your brain instantly recognizes the melody and recalls all the lyrics, forgetting extraneous facts like your boyfriend’s birthday and the capital of Delaware in the process.

After 5 seconds: As the music builds in intensity, your hand involuntarily clamps around whatever you’re holding in order to use it as a microphone. Booty-shaking commences.

After 10 seconds: All other important bodily processes are temporarily put on hold to divert all energy to your brain’s nostalgia cortex, which is releasing memories and emotions at lightning speed. Remember when you cried in the bathroom while listening to this? Remember when you sang it at that slumber party with those mean girls who drew a dick on your face when you fell asleep? Remember when you wrote to the lead singer and asked them to marry you? Of course you do!

After 15 seconds: Your latent teenage hormones spike, re-igniting an obsession with frosted lip gloss and sparking a severe cystic acne breakout on your chin that will last for the next two weeks.

After 30 seconds: The catchy bridge starts and your heart rates increases. You are now reliving your first relationship (and subsequent breakup) at warp speed.

After 35 seconds: Tears well in your eyes as you wonder what your life might be like today had you not dumped Cory over his insistence that a puka shell necklace was appropriate for a winter formal.

By the first note of the first chorus: You’ve forgotten about Cory as all of your energy is now being poured into nailing every single note of this chorus. Your vocal chords contract to accommodate the range that came so naturally to you at age 13. Sweat droplets appear around your hairline from exertion and anxiety: Will you hit the big note?

After the first chorus: If you hit the big note, your body releases a hit of dopamine that mimics the high of a large bump of cocaine. If your voice cracked or you run out of breath, the opposite happens: Dopamine levels plummet and send you into a depression.

At 1 minute 15 seconds: Your booty shaking has reached a level not sustainable for your stiff, non-13-year-old muscles. You pull something in your groin and have to sit down.

1 minute 30 seconds: The seated position (plus an instrumental break) soothes your sore muscles and gives you more time to think about your puka shell-loving ex-boyfriend Cory. What is he doing right now? You take out your cell phone to look him up on Facebook.

At the 2-minute mark: The final big chorus is about to drop but you’re too immersed in Facebook stalking to notice. This guy in an orange hard hat with a private profile? Is that him? Did he always have dimples? Oh my God, is this guy wearing a puka shell necklace? IS CORY STILL WEARING THAT FUCKING PUKA SHELL NECKLACE?

2 minutes 10 seconds: Your breathing and heart rate level out as you forgive yourself for dumping Cory.

2 minutes 15 seconds: Your brain frantically registers the beginning of the final chorus just in time for you to jump up and belt it out, exacerbating your groin injury but giving you a deep level of satisfaction that outweighs the pain.

1 minute after the song: Your heart rate and dopamine levels experience a dramatic drop as you mentally count how many years it’s been since you first heard that song and start to ponder your mortality.

5 minutes after the song: You hear the opening beat of the No Doubt song you used to listen to after fighting with your mom and you start the whole process all over again.


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