Recently I was listening to the radio and the host used some expression (that now evades me) to explain that the song 7 Years by Lukas Graham quickly becomes uninteresting to listeners after a few plays - in other words the first few times you hear the song it is interesting but after that it becomes less interesting, compared to some songs that the user enjoys listening to over and over again.

I seem to recall that he used the word burn .e.g. the song's 'burn rate' however googling that only brings up references to a companies burn rate (the rate that it looses money), but not a song's.

So my question is just that, what is the term for this?

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    I don't have the time to fully cite my answer (sorry about that), but how about flash in the pan for a song that is briefly popular?
    – cole
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 5:55
  • 1
    The term is "pop song". ;-) Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 14:50
  • @Cole - Actually, "flash in the pan" refers to a firearm that doesn't work right.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 17:27
  • @HotLicks I'd believe it; I've only heard the phrase used idiomatically myself.
    – cole
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 17:56
  • @Cole - With an old flint-lock pan you'd load the powder and a bullet into the barrel, then put another dash of powder in the "pan" near the hammer. The flint on the hammer would strike a spark as the hammer moved forward and that would ignite the powder in the pan, which in turn would ignite the powder in the barrel through a small hole. If the powder in the pan ignited without the flame being conducted through to the main charge in the barrel you had a "flash in the pan".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 20:18

7 Answers 7


I think your best bet is to say that the song has been overplayed on the radio (or in other words, an overplayed song). While I don't consider Urban Dictionary to be a reputable source when it comes to definitions, the one they have posted certainly fits the use of the term:

used to describe a hit song that is played on the radio (in stores, on the internet, on iTunes, at parties, etc.) numerous times to the point of annoyance

  • Yeah, that's pretty good, but it doesn't quite capture Opie's request for a term describing a song which seems "overplayed" when you've only heard it 3 times.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 1:43

I think the term used was probably burnout. This is one of the things measured in radio "callout" surveys of listeners (all bolding added):

Another type of data often obtained during callout is a fatigue or burnout measurement. Listeners are asked, "are you tied of hearing this song in the radio?" (The Concise Encyclopedia of American Radio, edited by Christopher H. Sterling, Cary O'Dell, 2010.)

If the host was talking more about why some songs lose their zest more quickly than others, he might have been talking about something like this:

Add all the scores together [rhythm, Melody, etc.] and you get a complexity score. Divide the score by the number of times the song will be exposed to it's target audience and you get the sing's burnout index for that audience on your station. The higher the score, the longer the song should take to burn out. (David MacFarland, Future Radio Programming Strategies: Cultivating Listenership in the Digital Age, 2013.)

For the question specifically in your title, a song that people get tired of quickly could be said to have a high/low/fast (depending on usage) burnout score (or rate).

  • 1
    It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all, It's a small, small world.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 2:41
  • +1 This is what I thought from the start, but could not find a suitable source to back it up. Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 2:57
  • +1 but if The higher the score, the longer the song should take to burn out. doesn't that mean the song has a longer shelf life? It is more complex than a song with a low burnout score. In other words, the shallower and simple the song the song, the sooner it burns and ends up as smoke. Your last paragraph seems to contradict the citation. I'm just asking if you could solve my puzzlement. Thank you.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 8:02
  • @Mari-LouA Yes, you're right about the "index" in the second reference. I think that this might depend on the particular application of the term (who's doing the polling, and how) but I'm not an industry inside so if someone else has a definitive answer if love to know.
    – 1006a
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 13:12

Not specific for songs, but we can say that such melodies are passing fancies: they quickly become uninteresting because of repetition. Trite songs.

  • a passing fancy is something that captures one's interest or enthusiasm for only a brief period of time.

  • trite - (adj.) not evoking interest because of overuse or repetition

e.g. The lyrics on the second album are much better than the trite songs of the artist's early work. -------- GYV


A couple of words that would fit this situation are saturation and satiation.

saturation (n.):


5 : the supplying of a market with as much of a product as it will absorb


satiate (v.):

1. to supply with anything to excess, so as to disgust or weary; surfeit.


Hackneyed is another word for such a song. Among several references.

hackneyed in American English (ˈhækˌnid  ; hakˈnēdˌ) adjective

made trite by overuse

SIMILAR WORDS: trite Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


  • 2
    We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Please explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 7:25
  • Nice job with the edits to make this an acceptable answer!
    – Skooba
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 12:20

"Played Out" or "Long Played Out" More urban sounding than the word you are trying to remember, but I took a shot.

  • This would benefit from a source or citation and more explanation. Please take a moment to see the help center and tour the site.
    – livresque
    Commented Jul 3, 2022 at 19:03


Dictionary.com says that this is "a tune or part of a song that repeats in one’s mind"; and this is often used in a context where the song is considered highly annoying. You can easily get tired of something annoying.

Or, there is the word "passé" which Dictionary.com says means "no longer fashionable"; this can also refer to songs, and unfashionable songs soon grow tiresome.

Hope I could help you there!!!!!

  • 2
    But "earworm" is for a song that "gets stuck in your head". Somewhat different from the case where the radio station plays Okie from Muskogee every five minutes.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 1:20
  • 1
    I suggest you split this into two answers - I'd upvote passé.
    – Criggie
    Commented Mar 28, 2017 at 5:32

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