Earworms

Previously I have written about earthworms in relation to yard work and also about “brainworms.” Today the topic is earworms, which have started to take over from “brainworms” while I’m doing yard work. You know what an earworm is, I assume—a song or song snippet you can’t get out of your head. Music while working is not entirely unwelcome: any kind of mental diversion can be helpful. But some songs are better than others. One of the ones that’s been tormenting me lately is “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” which is not too bad, and at least I remember enough of the lyrics to be not entirely frustrated.

I have a pretty good idea where these earworms are coming from. On Sunday nights from 6 to 8, Alabama Public Radio airs a locally produced program called “The Crooners”:

Dale Owen hosts two hours of music from the best vocalists in pop and jazz. You’ll hear time-honored standards and favorites, along with selections from new artists and collections.

While I prefer classical music, I love show tunes and have no particular objection to pop standards and selections from “The Great American Songbook.” What I object to is lounge singers who try to distinguish themselves by applying their own “stylings” to a perfectly good song. These stylings include changes to the tempo, lyrics, and/or melody that distort the song so as to be sometimes almost unrecognizable. And “The Crooners” seems to specialize in singers of this type.

I do not choose to listen to this show. I like to have the radio on when I am working in the kitchen, and when I am fixing supper on Sundays, “The Crooners” is what is on. In theory, I could change the station, but in practice this is not possible. Our ancient kitchen radio has been set on 91.3 for so long that it is stuck there. Apparently the tuning knob has gotten corroded, and any attempt to change the station not only is unsuccessful but also runs the risk of not permitting a return to WHIL. So we just listen to what’s on the air, and if the station is off the air (which is not uncommon after storms), I leave the radio turned off and finish my chores, as quickly as possible, in silence broken only by the clink of dishes and the annoying buzz of the fluorescent fixture over the sink.

The song lyric that was tormenting me today I remembered only as “Something something, baby, baby, oh baby.” I finally decided perhaps it was “You know I love/want you, baby, baby, oh baby.” Even with this addition, however, the refrain rivaled in inanity that of a 1958 pop hit by the Chordettes that I derided in my high school newspaper:

Lollipop lollipop
Oh lolli lolli lolli, lollipop, lollipop
Oh lolli lolli lolli, lollipop, lollipop
Oh lolli lolli lolli, lollipop

When I got home, I started searching for the actual lyrics to the “Oh Baby” song. Not an easy task, as it turns out: last night’s play list for “The Crooners” had not yet been posted, and Wikipedia’s disambiguation page lists 34 possibilities! And it doesn’t actually include the song in question, which turns out to be a rather lovely song called “Superstar,” sung by Karen Carpenter. The refrain is:

Don’t you remember, you told me you loved me, baby?
You said you’d be coming back this way again, baby
Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby
I love you, I really do

So I was pretty far off on that one! In any case, I find that the best defense against earworms is to start mentally writing a blog post. So this is today’s.

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1 Response to Earworms

  1. Klausbernd says:

    Dear Suzanne,
    we listen to the radio as well during cooking and cleaning our kitchen. We listen to Classic FM, a radio station most of our neighbours listen to as well. In a way it’s boring on one hand as they play the same tunes quite often. On the other hand, to can hum them all.
    Thanks for sharing
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

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