Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Opinion

January 4, 2013

On earworms

“Moonstruck,” the Cher/Nic Cage movie, came out in 1987 and since then the song “Amore,” has played in my head with frightening regularity.

If I’m working, driving, or walking the dogs, the music will start playing quietly just behind my right ear and then before I know it I’m whistling aloud.

I have no idea what my co-workers think about this. It drives me bananas.

One term for these songs is “earworms,” but I’ve heard other, less complimentary terms, also. Christmas is awful for these songs. “Silver Bells,” and “White Christmas” and “Santa’s Coming to Town,” are those kinds of songs. I’m convinced the reason people hate the commercialism of Christmas has as much to do with the sheer pervasiveness of canned Christmas music as with the tackiness of tinsel and dogs dressed as “Santa Claws.”

Recently a researcher looked into the phenomenon and declared that I’m normal. OK, not me, per se, since I’m pretty sure that my attempts at faking normalcy aren’t fooling anyone, but that thing where songs in your head play over and over? That’s normal.

Ira Hyman, a professor at Western Washington University, studied “earworms,” and other intrusive thoughts and published his findings in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. I must have missed that issue, but fortunately it was also on NBCnews.com, which simplified it enough for me to understand even with a ‘50s crooner singing about “pizza pies,” in my head.

Unfortunately, it’s not the ground-breaking stuff that’s going to win anyone a Nobel. For example, Hyman concluded that earworms are songs that we already like, or that are popular. Also, earworms don’t go away, they just lay dormant waiting for a trigger to set them off again. For me, that could be a glimpse of Cher, Nic Cage, Olympia Dukakis, the New York skyline, the opera, the sound of Dean Martin’s voice, or being awake.

Hyman also says they occur when the brain is either not busy at all or very busy, like a hyperactive child that waits until Mom is either trying to relax or do her taxes to smear Crisco on the dog. I can confirm this. In my case, I hear “Amore,” when I’m bored or happily engrossed in a project. However, if I’m really stressed, Dean-O and the entire zombie Rat Pack could show up to serenade me and I’d only growl at them.

To make earworms go away, Hyman says to distract your brain with a book, video game, sports or listen to a different song.

I don’t advise certain Cher films.

           —————

Janet Jacobs is City Editor of the Daily Sun. Her column appears on Saturdays. She may be reached via email at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “soundoff” to this article? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Old, new, borrowed, blue

       Dissection of notes found in the pocket of an old suit isn’t easy. Maybe they were scrawled during the lull in a wedding ceremony, or to jog my memory of a joke for later use.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg Spam french fries

    I saw a relatively disturbing video and article on Yahoo which touted making Spam French fires to go alongside your big old ground chuck burger. I just can’t imagine a basket full of these deep-fried cholesterol-loaded sticks, but there they were, bigger than Texas.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Janet Jacobs Dumb and dumber in the blotter

    When it comes to dumb criminals, nothing beats the would-be gang of car burglars who tried to break into a car in Tampa, Florida, this past week.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Belcher, Bob.jpg ‘Change’ — old "buzz word" shows up in our town

    If you pay much attention when you’re driving around town lately (and I really hope that you do — pay attention, that is) you can’t help but admit we’ve seen some “change” as of late. And, contrary to the political connotations that word will forever carry with it now, that “change” we’re seeing is good.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Tinsley Germany present and past

    Last Sunday evening my wife and I stood on the balcony of our apartment in Nuremberg and watched as fireworks lit up the sky.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr Don Newbury 2014.jpg Where strawberries are king

    In 1949, when Stilwell, Oklahoma’s “Strawberry Festival” was just one year old, crooners were applauded when they cut loose with Dear Hearts and Gentle People.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick Platt 2014.jpg My TV is held hostage

    Give me back my TV! The Sunday sports fare today is just pitiful as far as I am concerned. Over the past weeks, my normal sports programs has been rudely preempted by endless hours of Wimbledon tennis, the Tour de France, assorted motor sports, and the nauseating mega-million signing sagas of LeBron James and Carmello Anthony

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Janet Jacobs Thoughts from abroad

    So, with the generosity of Mastercard and warm encouragement of my friends who went with me, I went to Italy on vacation. Not Italy, Texas, the one in Europe.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • deannakirk.jpg For a community that’s hurting

    I think all would agree that our community is hurting right now.
    It seems like some weeks, our quota of tragedy and loss just goes through the roof. This is one of those weeks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Tinsley An inspiring life

    Last week, while Americans prepared their fireworks for the fourth of July, Louis Zamparini quietly slipped the bonds of this earth at the age of 97.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo