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-Short Attention Span Theater-
No cure for "earworms"--songs stuck in your head
2003-10-20
Edited for brevity.
Unexpected and insidious, the earworm slinks its way into the brain and refuses to leave. Symptoms vary, although high levels of annoyance and frustration are common. There are numerous potential treatments, but no cure. "Earworm" is the term coined by University of Cincinnati marketing professor James Kellaris for the usually unwelcome songs that get stuck in people’s heads. Since beginning his research in 2000, Kellaris has heard from people all over the world requesting help, sharing anecdotes and offering solutions. "I quickly learned that virtually everybody experiences earworms at one time or another," he said. "I think because it’s experienced privately and not often a topic of conversation, maybe people really long for some social comparison. They want to know if other people experience what they experience." Kellaris, whose most pervasive personal earworm (Byzantine chants) likely has something to do with his wife’s job as a church choir director, has been interested in the topic of earworms for decades. As a musician who now studies how marketers reach the public, he began wondering how widespread stuck songs really are, and began doing small surveys in 2000. Last year, he surveyed about 500 students, faculty and staff on campus asking about the type, frequency and duration of earworms, and possible causes and cures. Among the songs respondents picked as most likely to become stuck were: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," the Chili’s restaurant "baby back ribs" jingle and "Who Let the Dogs Out."
But the choice that topped the so-called "playlist from hell" was "Other," meaning the majority of those surveyed chose a unique song of their own as the most probable earworm. That led Kellaris to conclude that stuck songs are highly idiosyncratic.
Normally, this is way too OT even for me, but if you read Lileks daily (like I do), you may have that damn circus song stuck in your head today (like I do)! Argh! The bells! The bells!
Posted by:Dar

#9  I have a nasty tinnitus problem - ~65dB at 6000 Hertz - and outside noises, especially high-pitched ones, drive me nuts. I think my mind is building its own defenses against this - I "convert" outside noise into music. One of the most prominent ones is "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", but there are others that are worse - songs like "Itsy-Bitsy, Teeney-Weeney, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", a couple of Gregorian Chants the choir group I used to sing with learned, "Baby Elephant Walk", and some of the hit tunes from the late 1950's and early 1960's, such as "Heartbreak Hotel", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", and "TeenAngel". Sometimes I get two going at once, and it's enough to drive me crazy - if I weren't there already...
Posted by: Old Patriot   2003-10-20 5:49:47 PM  

#8  The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
the worms play pinochle on your snout...
Posted by: mojo   2003-10-20 5:14:47 PM  

#7  Fish heads, fish heads/Rolly-polly fish heads/Fish heads, fish heads/Eat them up, yum.

I think that song was designed to be an earworm.
Posted by: Pete Stanley   2003-10-20 4:07:31 PM  

#6  Badgerbadgerbadgerbadger…
Posted by: Atrus   2003-10-20 3:38:10 PM  

#5  It's a small world, afterall.
Posted by: Highlander   2003-10-20 2:48:14 PM  

#4  Oh, man! "Bertha Butt Boogie" by the Jimmy Castor Bunch!
Posted by: tu3031   2003-10-20 2:43:52 PM  

#3  I remember talking to a former boss of mine one morning. He told me he was doing treadmill to ABBA's Dancing Queen. It took me a week to erase the image of this less than manly guy prancing on a treadmill to an old disco track. Lileks has it easy in comparison.
Posted by: Raj   2003-10-20 2:24:41 PM  

#2  The one that gets me is Roy Orbeson's 'Only Balogny'. "Dum dum dum dumdie do wah, whoa yea yea yea'ah...It's only balogny."
Posted by: Lucky   2003-10-20 2:06:16 PM  

#1  I know it's going to be a bad day when Leslie Gore wonders in.
Posted by: Shipman   2003-10-20 1:56:34 PM  

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