A song on a workplace radio or public overhead speaker is playing; you love that song. Then someone starts singing to it.

How dare they!

It’s one thing when people sing or hum in public – and there’s no playing song they’re singing or humming to. It’s just them.

This can be mighty annoying to some individuals.

But something needs to be said about the singing and humming that mirrors a song that’s simultaneously being played on a radio (such as at the workplace) or overhead speaker (such as at a gym or store).

This behavior is a whole new animal, because it disrupts another person’s listening pleasure to the playing song.

Nearby people may be big fans of that particular song or artist – whether it be the Beatles, the Police, Rod Stewart, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion or Madonna.

The moment you begin singing, humming or whistling to “Hey Jude” or “Cherish,” you interfere with someone else’s desire to listen to the original recording.

And that’s okay with these “singers” because they don’t care that they’re disrupting someone else’s listening pleasure!

Perhaps they believe their voice is better than the original artist’s. But usually it isn’t. Most can’t carry a tune to save their lives.

I’ve heard disastrous attempts by very off-key people with their simultaneous covers.

And that’s what’s really odd, because these sing-a-longers rarely have any vocal talent. Usually they sound awful.

I sound awful, too, but then again, I never sing to songs in public that others want to hear (or in private, for that matter).

One might argue that vocal skills don’t matter because the person doing the “cover” is covering out of joy, rather than to impress people with their voice.

But what about the hijacked joy of others nearby who want to listen to the song?!

If you can sing circles around Madonna or Justin Bieber, that doesn’t matter. The sound that fans fell in love with was what Madonna’s voice does for “Oh Father” or what Phil Collins’ voice does for “Another Day in Paradise.” Or Ariana Grande or any Joe Recording Artist.

Even if you sound like Barbra Streisand or Pavarotti, THAT’S NOT RELEVANT.

If You Love the Song, Shut up and Listen

The argument is that the singer, hummer or whistler loves the tune so much that they can’t help but sing along to it.

Well heck, if you love the tune – the recording artist’s vocals, the beat, the arrangement, what-have-you – then why can’t you derive joy by keeping silent while listening?

That way, you get to hear the music that lifts your soul. How can you have this experience if you’re singing (or humming or whistling) to it?

There is just no logic to this.

There are songs I really love, and am so enraptured by them that I must stop what I’m doing to just listen and dream.

I’ve even delayed doing a set of weightlifting just to hear the entirety of a song on the gym’s overhead speaker without the distraction of exercising.

It’s inconceivable to me that I could ever enjoy that song if I sung along to it.

Even if I had Judy Garland’s or Julie Andrews’ voice, this wouldn’t matter, because it’d be masking my ability to hear the song.

Obviously, people who sing to playing songs enjoy this. But why can’t they limit this habit to when nobody else is around who might want to LISTEN to that song?!

The Workplace Radio

One time a song that I really loved came on the radio at a place I used to work. I was looking forward to the next four minutes of bliss, when a coworker began singing along.

I was infuriated. I could barely hear the song. I blurted, “Excuse me but I’d like to listen to the song, thank you.”

He stopped and apologized.

Okay, I was a bit gruff, but it seems to me that no matter how sweetly you could ever ask such a person to be quiet during the song, he or she would be offended.

Had I walked over to him with a smile and gently said, “Can you please not sing along so I could hear this song?” he’d still feel slighted. There’s no way around this.

Why do people sing to playing songs?

This behavior isn’t the same as singing (or humming or whistling) in public to NO music. However, the “Why” is perhaps the same for many men and women.

“We’re Filled with Music”

So is anyone who wants to listen to the piece. If you’re a nonsmoker, would you want a smoker blowing smoke in your face? What if the smoker said, “I’m filled with smoke; I can’t help the habit”?

Come on, if you’re filled with music, then be quiet and listen to it and respect others’ desire to listen as well.

“It’s Our Coping Mechanism”

This excuse came from the same person who said, “We’re filled with music.”

Coping with what? Being filled with music?

“I Have ADHD”

What about other people with attention deficit disorder? Don’t you think that your singing along to a playing song impedes their ability to concentrate on the music?


Hearing a lousy singer in person is a lot worse than hearing a mediocre recording artist being assisted by Auto-Tune.

Shut up so other people in the room can enjoy the song!

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



Top image: Shutterstock/Elnur