Friday, July 24, 2009

Anatomy of an Earworm

No, no, no - this isn't going to be a squicky post!

It's about those songs or - more accurately, song fragments - that get stuck in your head and won't let go.

Everyone gets them from time to time, some people are more prone to them than others. Some songs are more likely to stick than others. Once they're stuck, there doesn't seem to be a lot you can do to unstick them. Which wouldn't be so bad if it was a song (or song fragment) that you liked. Quite often it is not. Quite often a fragment will stick and you don't even KNOW the rest of the song. I think these frustrate me, personally, the most.

I like to share when I get a particularly persistent earworm. I'll sing it out loud over and over. This brings a lot of joy to everyone around me, because I have quite a lovely voice and that loveliness is much magnified when I sing the same line over and over again in as many different keys as I can find (or come close to). People always say things like, "Oh, for the love of all that's holy, please, please stop." I know that this is because everyone has their own personal threshold for loveliness. I exceed that on occassion, I guess. It's a gift. And a curse.

For weeks - WEEKS I tells ya! - whenever my brain had a quiet moment, I subconsciously filled it with M-E-T-H-O-D-O-F-L-O-V-E. (Oh, you're welcome! No problem at all!) And that is very typical of an earworm for me. A pop song that I maybe didn't love, but was certainly aware of (MMMbop, anyone?) that just sneaks in there and makes itself at home. I've read that commercial jingles provide earworm fodder for a lot of people and - while I imagine that's quite annoying - I think it means the advertisers have done their job very well (Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar).

For the last three days, though, the earworm that's been accompanying me is one I'm in no hurry to rid myself of. I've been hearing Billy Joel's 'Vienna' , particularly (but not limited to) the line, " you know that when the truth is told that you can get what you want or you can just get old." My usual response to an earworm is annoyance that ranges from mild to crazy-making. My response to this one has been that perhaps it's telling me something. It is such a beautiful song - click the link if you're unfamiliar - with such a beautiful sentiment. I think maybe there's something in there I need to hear right now. Perhaps when I successfully noodle it out I'll conquer the earworm.

I'm not going to rush.

The first line of the song is "slow down, you crazy child".

I hear ya, Billy.

22 comments:

Housewife Savant said...

Nothing beats hair band videos on You Tube, unless it's free music on playlist, or getting the gift of iTunes.

I'm highly susceptible to earworms.

I ask my Dolls, "What's worse than having a song stuck in your head? Answer; having a song THAT YOU DON'T KNOW stuck in your head."

I don't know MMMbop (or don't remember it), but thanks anyway Tam.
I got Unskinny Bop instead.

Thanks for that.

Sandy said...

OH, thanks, now I've got the Kit Kat jingle floating around...I am so susceptible to jingles.

mzbehavin said...

"Ooooo, Eeeee, OOOOO. AA AA, AA AA, Ting, Tang, Walla, Walla, Bing Bang, Ooooo, Eeeee, Ooooo, Aa Aa, ting, Tang, Walla, Walla, bing bang.....

I told the witch doctor I was in love with you".......

okay, so I'm old.....

Gibby said...

Oh, I always have earworms, sometimes more than one. Right now it's...I kissed a girl and I liked it, the taste of her cherry chapstick...

Which I sometimes sing out loud. In front of my 5-year-old. Who gratefully, doesn't get it yet.

Pam said...

I'm not a huge Billy Joel fan, but Vienna is one song of his that I really do like. Not a bad earworm to have. Good luck with analyzing and applying the lyrics in your own life. I hear you! I thought a lot about this topic while on vacation and I'm trying to apply simplicity and slowing down to my own life as well. Funny how we're both struggling with the same issue. I bet we're not alone.

Alex the Girl said...

Unfortunately, your title stuck the word "tapeworms" in my head which reminded me of a time in the classroom when I had my students practice their research skills by looking up tapeworms on the internet. Yes, it has nothing to do with your earworms, sort of, but it's your fault I have the images of these things swimming around in my head.

Oh mylanta, earworms are the worse when they are songs that you wouldn't be caught dead listening to...like...I don't know..."What are you gunna do with all that junk...all that junk inside your trunk...my hump..my hump....my lovely lady hump...

Fortunately, my earworms of late have been from Yo Gabba Gabba.

mzbehavin said...

I'm back.... just long enough to tell you I left you something on my blog.... Have a good day!

{Katie Lane} said...

That song is in "13 going on 30" one of my favorite movies :)

Badass Geek said...

So long as I don't have Lady Gaga stuck in my head, I consider myself safe.

ModernMom said...

LOL So true..songs do get so stuck in my head!

Thought I would drop by b/c I saw your comment over on another post and think you enjoy new visiotrs almost as much as I do!
Love your blog:)

carma said...

METHODOFLOVE rocks!!! I would consider that one to be a good ear worm, along with Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Melissa B. said...

Hmmmmmmmmmm...Hanson? NOT! But I have been known for incessantly singing/humming/whistling "Life in the Fast Lane" and...get this..."Ease on Down the Road." OK, I know. Ick. "The Wiz," with MJ and Diana Ross. I couldn't tell you why.

Unknown Mami said...

You and I should start a singing group. The loveliness of my singing brings people to tears. I've been in plays where there is singing and I've been asked to lip sync because my singing throws everyone off. I can read between the lines I know that means no one wants to compete with my pipes.

We are blessed my friend.

Let me know what lessons you learn from the worm. Ha! I rhyme.

SparkleFarkle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SparkleFarkle said...

Thanks for reminding me that Billy Joel CAN sing. He grew into such a self-absorbed, arrogant, contemtuous knob in recent years (Too harsh? I seem to have mispalced my copy of The Golden Rule, huh? LOL!), that I'd forgotten what a musical genius he is. Thanks for the refresher course!

As for me, among my usual earworms are Harry Nillson's "[Put the] Lime In the Coconut" and "Elvira." (Oakridge Boys? I'm not sure.) On that note: Giddy Up Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow MOW!

MiMi said...

Oh geez. I have earworms all the time.
I get this song from Payless, a commercial back in the late 80's I think....Merry Christmas...From Pa-aayless, Merry Chriiiistmasss.
Oy.

MiMi said...

I just read Alex's comment and I can't stop laughing at my hump, my hump... lol

FranticMommy said...

I've had Jesus Christ Superstar stuck in my head all day. Not sure why either. I don'tm even like the dang song.

the girl with the pink teacup said...

GAAAAH! Reading this post, then everyone's comments, has resulted in about 10 different earworms lodging themselves firmly in my head all at once! But I am so happy I read it anyway - 'earworm' is my new favourite word :) Not sure that 'Vienna' is the kind of song I want stuck in my brain just before I want to go off to sleep (it's midnight here - eep!), but at least I might get to have interesting, if weird, dreams with a Billy Joel soundtrack.

You are seriously one of the best bloggers out there, lady. Never stop. Please?

AB HOME Interiors said...

I agree. I hate getting an earworm. I do have to admit, I hesitated to read this post. Concerned, scared and freaked out I expected the worst. I just read a post the other day about a girl who laid down in her employers van and a beetle crawled in her ear! EWW!

Yaya said...

I always have some song or another in my head! The worst is when I find myself humming one of the cartoon show theme songs that the kids I nanny for watch.

Vivienne said...

I don't know that one. Hmm. Thanks to H Savant for even typing the Unskinny Bop song and landing it in my sight line.
Damnit.