Sunday, November 08, 2009



A subject for posting, guaranteed to prompt accusations that, "he must have a lot of time on his hands"

Why do we sing in the shower?

Well, not everyone sings in the shower, agreed, but I've used "we" to include you with me if you do.

Quite a lot of the reasons\theories I list below are intended to be considered as coming from the subconscious, so I'm not accusing you of being one type of person or another, or of doing something for a specific reason, but I hope it might make you ponder the motives behind some of your more banal actions, just purely as a fun\interesting exercise.

  1. Quite often, people will sing or whistle whilst performing mundane tasks, either as a way of demonstrating the ease (or pride) with which they are performing the task, or simply that their brain is showing that they have extra bandwidth to do a job and sing\whistle at the same time. "Check me out, I'm washing my armpits and singing, Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John at the same time. Who says men can't multi-task?"
  2. One sometimes has music playing in one's head shortly after waking and so this continues into the ablutions (nb, it may just be me that has an iPod on continuous shuffle in my head, from waking to sleeping)
  3. There's the classic explanation people give of 'good acoustics' in the shower or bathroom. This isn't really clarified though, because I for one certainly don't walk into a shower exclaiming, "oh, the acoustics in here are marvellous! la la la laaaa, do re mi fah so la ti dohhhh!!". I would agree however that the background noise of a shower (water falling, pump pumping) might mask any imperfections one's own singing voice might have, which in turn would embolden one to risk belting out a few verses of Girls Aloud.
  4. Following on from the perceived better acoustics in the shower, the falling water etc would also act as a slight sound barrier to protect one from any listening family or friends in the vicinity who one may not wish to be privy to, or irritated by, your crooning.
  5. Falling water, the eurhythmics of it, as with falling rain, changes the human mood. Think of how a rainstorm in a movie is used to note a transition in the narrative from one mood to another. Rainy Sunday afternoons are perceived to be the nadir of English boredom, but only in the hands of the boring. Given as an opportunity to stay in with close friends and family, they can become cosy and relaxing times. The stress and complication of a thousand and one possibilities of what to do and where to go are taken out of one's hands and the relief that one feels is seldom spoken of, but gratefully received. The micro-rainstorm of a shower brings about the same emotions that one feels next to a waterfall, a babbling brook or the spray of a breaking wave at the seaside. Maybe the singing comes from that mild euphoria. It might explain why one doesn't sing in the bath so much; that placid block of water intended for wallowing in.
  6. I don't intend you accept all (or any) of the above possibilities all at one time. One explanation may be appropriate for one person, two more for the next. Or maybe it's none of the above, and instead just this one explanation that fits you: that, whilst naked and exposed in a shower with limited visibility and hearing (two essential senses for the survival of the human from unknown, hostile forces), you are nervous. But, whilst one is (ridiculously) nervous in this state, a hangover from the times when humans were once prey (although not in the same era that they owned a Mira power-shower), one is also self-consciously aware that it's not good form to show any kind of fear. And so one sings, nonchalantly. Out of tune. And whilst forgetting most of the words.
  7. And lastly, people sing in the shower because there is a kind of social meme that is propagated from comedians to pub-goers to work colleagues to family that poses the question, "Why do people sing in the shower?". It's a semi-rhetorical question, in that no-one really wants an answer (although certain types, ahem, sometimes spend far too long attempting to supply one) and is intended just to point the thing out. The result being that, if you didn't sing in the shower prior to hearing this question, you most probably will be more inclined to after hearing it.
Dr Brockles signing off.

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