I haven’t heard from Carol in 100 years, but when she called me today, the only thing she said was “What are you going to do?” to make me laugh so hard, I spit my coffee out.

That’s what friends are for. All the time in the world can pass, but you pick up right where you left off. In this case, her call put me back to a New York City newsroom where every time this one copy editor walked past my desk, he’d sing, “What are you going to do when they come for you?” and then whisper… and sometimes laugh… when he said, “Ghostbusters!”

“Is he ok?” I remember asking her my second week, meaning is he, you know, normal? Seriously, how can someone sing the same thing over and over and over again and still hold down a decent job?

Come to find out, he’s still working there.

Back then, we went to the newspaper library (called a morgue) to research his possible mental condition, but found nothing on the fascinating subject of what makes someone get a song stuck in their head.

Only now, presto, it took an entire nanosecond for us to hit up Google to instantly learn that the condition is called “earworm,” or if you want to get scientific, you can call it involuntary musical imagery (INMI).

Behold, a team of researchers recently concluded that the size and shape of your brain can cause the condition. The bigger the right medial temporal lobe, the more earworms. It also said, surprise surprise, that people with nervous energy are more prone to the condition.

This called for a drive by of his desk to see if she could get a good look at his head.

Was there still a disgusting, gross sprinkling of dandruff on his chair and half-eaten liverwurst sandwiches rotting on top of his desk?

Carol didn’t know. She hadn’t walked back there in years.

“Come on!” I begged her through fits of laughter. The time was now to get a good look at Danny Boy’s head.

“Maybe his temples are weirdly indented or something?” I said, trying to entice her.

“I’m a little scared,” she admitted.

“Oh puhleeze. This is our opportunity. It’s now or never.”

I could hear her hesitation, but knew exactly how to get her.

“OK, if you do it, I’ll treat to chicken fried steak at Pies-n-Thighs.”

“You will?” she said weakly.

I could hear her thinking… weighing…pondering.

“Ok, I’m going in.”

She came back to the phone a good seven minutes later.

“What took you so long?”

Turns out, she ran downstairs to the candy counter to get gum instead.

“You mean you didn’t go by his desk?”

Somehow on the way there, she said she got the song stuck in her head too. But then she remembered that chewing gum can help disrupt voluntary memory recollection. Three pieces of Wrigley’s later, it worked.

So next time you can’t get “Hello From the Outside” or “Shake Your Booty” out of your head, don’t ponder the shape of your brain, just grab a stick, or three, of gum!

Survey Says?

822 VOTES for the top six most stuck songs:

Photo credit: Masterfile.com 

 

4 Comments

  1. I recall from the part of my brain not yet devoured by earworms, we keep repeating a song in our head to preserve the pleasant feeling given by the song. This however, does not account for “It’s a Small World” sticking it to your head.

  2. Wendy says:

    I used to get Lion King and Barney songs stuck in my head when the kids were little and would watch that stuff over and over again!

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