How To Kill An Earworm

10 Sep

Or, "Get A Bigger Earworm."

We’ve all had it happen – one minute, you’re in your car, listening to a groovy tune on the radio, enjoying the kicky beats, humming the melody, signaling your turns 1 to 300 feet in advance – you know, enjoying life. You turn off the car and walk into the store, scarcely noticing that you’re still humming that melody from the radio.

Five minutes later, as you look through various types of oatmeal (“steel cut or classic?” you wonder), you are still humming the tune. “Hmm,” you think, “that is a catchy number.”

In the checkout line, it’s back, this time with some half-mumbled lyrics, an approximation of the words you didn’t understand, perhaps a few times through the first stanza of the chorus.

As you unpack your groceries and re-arrange the fridge to fit the massive quantity of yogurt you inexplicably purchased, you find yourself whistling it again. doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo-dweee…

That evening, in the shower, it comes back. Whistling blends with humming, which blends with the lyrics, mutated into some strange version of their original form. The acoustics in the shower are really nice.

As you fall asleep, you can’t help but get the sense that something is wrong, something has burrowed deep down inside you, that there is an invader in your brain. You hum to yourself as you doze off…

You barely sleep. In the morning, the song is still there. It’s no longer enjoyable; it’s like having hiccups, but less frequent and more melodious. You go to the internet and look up the proper lyrics to the song, but that makes it worse, because you realize that the song was actually not about what you thought it was about, but is actually about death/sexually transmitted disease/life in the South.

By lunchtime on the second day, you are in agony. Any time you look away from your desk, or have to get up to go to the bathroom or the employee lounge, the song returns. It’s bothering the people nearby, and has begun to spread to those around you – roommates, S.O.s, co-workers. You feel as though your brain is not your own, as if it is being held hostage by some alien presence, a mind control ray sent via FM radio.

With constant vigilance, you manage to think of other things, but the slightest lapse in concentration brings about the return of the cursed refrain. Will this madness never end???

Oh, boy. You have an earworm.

It happens all the time, to me, to you, to everyone – folks have studied it, written books and essays about it, but as yet, there is no cure. Well, I’ve got the next best thing. I’ve got the earworm destroyer.

Happy Pants

What have I done.

I should preface this by saying that I’m sharing out of guilt – by writing and then sharing the video of the performance of “Happy Pants,” I have created possibly the single worst earworm of my musical career thus far. “You’ve Changed,” Lindsay’s feature from The Exited Door, is pretty earwormgy (based on highly scientific reports from my friends and roommates), but that song is nothing compared to… The Pants.

Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the melody, or the fact that not only does the melody sequence and repeat itself within the phrase, it also repeats over and over in its entirety (they don’t call it a loop for nothing). It doesn’t matter why, really. All that matters is that I have unleashed great evil upon the world, and so it is my duty to deal with that evil.

So. You know when, in movies, there is a huge, killer robot wrecking shit all over town, so they go out and find a bigger, huger, more-killer-er robot to fight it? Like, when Mothra was terrorizing Tokyo, so they summoned Godzilla to fight her? Or when the velociraptors were about to kill Dr. Grant and the kids, and the Tyrannosaurus swooped in and saved them? Or in that South Park with the Super Best Friends and the giant, killer Abraham Lincoln? Or, when Simon Phoenix was blowing up all the Taco Bells in future LA, so they unfroze Sylvestor Stallone to catch him by …blowing up all the Taco Bells in LA?

That’s what’s required here, too. And I’ve got the ultimate earworm killer, the song that is the badass-est earworm of all, guaranteed to sandblast even the most stubborn of melodies. Ladies and gentlemen, behold your huger robot:

Bam. Problem solved. Of course, you’ve got a new problem… in that you’ve now got Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” stuck in your head, most likely for the better part of a week. But hey, is that really so bad? I mean, come on. It’s Astley, man!


3 Responses to “How To Kill An Earworm”

  1. Amanda September 10, 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    This is…so completely effective. I now cannot even remember Happy %&#!@ Pants. When I try, all I get is the ma-nah-ma-nah song from the Muppets, and then little Rick comes quickly cruising back into my head. Powerful, man.

  2. Abby September 14, 2009 at 4:23 pm #

    A needed addition for this post is Brian, from Family Guy’s version:

  3. Lisanne! June 25, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Oh no, there is one song it will not work on. And I won’t tell you what it is is because it is the most lethal earwig of us. And most of us hate the song!

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