Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A shameless appeal...

This is a re-posting of something that was published as part of the A-Z.... but I make no apologies for that..... In fact, I need your help: I'm looking for votes for the Earworm of the Year 2006.

The nuts and bolts of it are that I require you to send your 5 nominations for Earworm of the Year 2006 to the email address in my profile. They can be anything you like: a song, a ringtone, a jingle, an advert... anything. I just need you to think what's been dominating your Internal Jukebox this year, jot them down in an email (ideally with your thoughts on each one) and then send them to me.


At some point towards the end of the year, I will take all of these nominations, chuck in the various songs that have appeared in the "Earworm of the Week" feature that appears every Friday on my blog, and then come up with the definitive list for 2006. Check out last year's poll to see what I'm talking about....

But what's an earworm?

Well that's an excellent question....


O is for… ohrwurm (Swiss Toni)

Have you ever had a tune that seems to be locked on a permanent loop in your brain? A melody so nagging that you catch yourself humming it over and over again? It could be the last song you heard in the car; it could be the theme to a TV programme; it could be the soundtrack to a computer game; it could be a mobile phone ringtone; it could be a jingle from the radio (and ‘Celebrity Tarzan’ is particularly guilty of this). In short, it could be anything.

If you have experienced this – and I’m sure that you must have – then you will already be familiar with the phenomenon. What you might not know is that this concept has a name: “Ohrwurm”. It’s a German word that literally translates into English as “earworm”, and refers to a song or tune that becomes lodged in one’s head. According to scientists, an earworm is a tune that creates a cognitive itch in the brain that can only be scratched through repetition. Professor James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration (and, I kid you not, an earworm researcher) reckons that between 97-99% of the population are susceptible to earworms, that women are more susceptible than men, and that musicians are more susceptible than non-musicians.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that I get earworms all time, and that they are highly infectious. Earworms are transmitted from person to person like wildfire – if you hear someone singing a song, the chances are that you will catch yourself singing the same song within minutes. I get hours of entertainment out of this at work: the guy who sits next to me is extremely earworm-sensitive, and all I have to do is to think of as ridiculous a song as I can, start to hum it, and usually he will have picked it up before I’ve got to the chorus. He’ll catch himself singing ‘Tragedy’ by the Bee Gees (or something), look confused and then start cursing me. Sadly he is now all too aware of the fact that this is a game that works both ways – I caught myself singing ‘Shaddapayaface’ this morning.

I suppose it could have been worse. My own personal earworm low point was when I was walking back to my halls of residence as a student and realised I was cheerfully singing ‘Heal The World’ by Michael Jackson. Loudly. This was followed by the realisation that I had been singing the same song all day. I was mortified. It was all I could do not to turn myself around and try to find everyone I had met during the course of the day to try to explain to them that it was just an earworm and that I wasn’t a fan….

So what are the world’s most earworm-y songs then? Well, everybody will be different, but here are the five songs that I catch myself singing most often (well, today anyway):

5. ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’ – Iron Maiden
4. ‘Rehab’ – Amy Winehouse
3. ‘I Will Kill Again’ – Jarvis
2. The theme from ‘Um Bongo’
1. Anything. Absolutely bloody anything. That's what makes them both such a blessing and such a curse.

Still. It keeps life interesting, and is certainly better than silence.

What’s in your head?


Votes please, and apologies for being quite so brazen about it.


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