The Random Yak

All Earworms Are Not Created Equal

Filed under: Word Yaks — Random Yak @ 11:07 am on October 16, 2009

Everyone has experienced an earworm.

You know what I mean, even if you’ve never heard the term: a song or phrase (or jingle…) which, once heard, insists upon hanging around and repeating itself ad infinitum, like Aunt Ellie  after too many cups of egg-nog and a reminder that someone hasn’t heard the really cool thing her 21 cats do on Christmas Eve … at least, not since the last time she told us … five minutes ago.

A song so merciless in its repetition that you’d beg for someone to start the Shari-Lewis-and-Lambchop videos.  Even the one with The Song That Never Ends.  (And yes, I know I’ll have to answer for that link some day.  It was still worth it.)

But, as Yak the Younger pointed out Monday morning, all earworms are not created equal.

Your standard, run-of-the-mill earworm (see “Lambchop’s Play Along“) takes hold of the brain, holds it hostage for an hour or two – a day at most – and then gradually fades away, leaving only a case of the shakes and a potential (but probably unsuccessful) defense for the assault and battery you intend to commit against the next person or thing you catch singing it.

And then there’s the other kind.

Earworms so perfidious, so persistent, and so mind-numbingly repetitive as to flaunt all attempts to detach them.  Earworms that take hold of your mind like a starving rottweiler with a filet mignon and hang on like a spandex-wearing teenage groupie at a Duran Duran concert.

Yak the Younger calls them “Weapons-Grade Earworms.”

He has a very good point.  And not just one.  He also suggests we cease treating terrorists to the humane treatment currently offered at Chez Interrogation and secretly replace their auditory coffee with Earworm Crystals.  He recommends we begin with “I Love You, You Love Me” (aka “the Barney Song”), and anything ever published by The Wiggles. (And lest you think the list stops there…those are tear gas canisters compared with some of the fifteen-megaton atomic wonders I could list.  In recognition of the 8th Amendment, I’m letting you off with a warning shot.)

Personally, I think the idea has merit, provided we can find a way around the Geneva Convention.  Because after 14 years in the parenting trenches, I’m almost certain most of these things qualify as torture.




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