Earworms

If you’ve never heard the term “earworm”, chances are still high that you’ve encountered an earworm.

The word earworm comes from the Germans, who have a good sense of the difference between pleasant music and noise. Just listen to Einsturzende Neubauten if you don’t believe me. Alright I’m joking, but the Germans do have that national treasure Nena, and of course a friendly band known as the Scorpions. None of these three show up with songs on the list of the world’s worst earworms. Even though Einsturzende Neubauten doesn’t have the most radio-playable music you’ve ever heard, they don’t have anything that stays in your head unwanted either.

One of the qualifications of an earworm is that it refuses to leave your head. You’ve heard the song once, maybe twice, and it keeps replaying through your memory like some kind of cursed echo. Even worse, it’s a personal cursed echo. No one else can hear it. Only you.

Another attribute of an earworm is that it’s unwanted. There are songs in the universe, in the world, and especially in your memory, for which you have no hate-filled aversion. You don’t want to build a time machine, travel back in time, and convince the parents of the songwriter to get an abortion. Why? Because those other songs have pleasant, endearing qualities. In fact, they have quality. You’ll know it when you hear it. Lyrics and melody send you soaring with a pleasant song—they may even set your imagination roaming, inventing, adventuring. With an earworm though, the lyrics probably make you cringe. You certainly don’t want to repeat them, and yet, because of the musical accompaniment, you do repeat them, seemingly endlessly.

Some of you readers, while reading about earworms, possibly thought of a couple of songs you would rather avoid. If you heard these songs playing anywhere, you would remove yourself.

Here, be warned, is a list of songs known widely as the most insidious earworms:

  1. Sweet Child of Mine—Guns and Roses
  2. Ice Ice Baby—Vanilla Ice
  3. Achy Breaky Heart—Billy Ray Cyrus
  4. Barbie Girl—Aqua
  5. Who Let The Dogs Out—Baha Men
  6. Baby—Justin Bieber
  7. Miracles—Insane Clown Posse
  8. Big Yellow Taxi—Counting Crows, Joni Mitchell
  9. Bennie and the Jets—Elton John
  10. Blinded by the Light—Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
  11. Lose Yourself—Eminem
  12. Just Can’t Get Enough—Depeche Mode
  13. Stop!—Erasure
  14. We Built This City—Starship
  15. Low—Flo Rida

Now, if only there was a song proven to cleanse the brain of any earworm, whoever wrote that song would be Doctor, Hero, and Artist of the Century.

Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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