Migraine in Music
Posted by Dr Marcus—July 17th, 2012

A fascinating study was just published in the summer issue of the journal Headache, focusing on how migraine is portrayed in popular music. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona searched two independent online music sites for English-language songs that included the word “migraine” in the title. They identified 134 songs that could be analyzed. In most cases (89 percent), the recording artists were male. Half of the songs were classified as pop/rock, with twenty-one percent as electronica and ten percent as hip hop/rap. Songs that included lyrics provided the following themes:

  • Half of the song with lyrics referred to hopelessness, despair, or severe pain
  • One in three songs made references to killing or death
  • Eleven percent referred to bombs or explosions
  • Although nineteen percent of songs referred to migraine medication, only eleven percent described successful treatment or hope

The authors of this study were struck with how commonly migraine was a subject of popular music. They were also surprised that men rather than women dominated the artists singing about migraine, especially as many used first-person lyrics, where the singer is describing his own migraines. The authors, however, were most disturbed to identify migraine as being portrayed in intractable, negative, often violent terms.

After hearing about this study, I have three questions for those of you who have migraines or live with someone with migraines:

  • Have you heard songs about migraines?
  • Have the lyrics from these songs rung true with you and your migraine experience?
  • What do you think of the authors’ conclusion that music should better reflect the treatable nature of migraine?
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