Well never mind – there’ll be another one along in a minute. For at the moment, we seem bizarrely bombarded by earworms on radio and TV, in newspapers, indeed out of the very ether… not to mention the man at the Co-op checkout yesterday:
"What’s that you’re humming?" said he.
"Hmm?" I rejoined appropriately but embarrassedly – people could hear me?!
Such is the puzzle of ‘earworms’. When I first heard it, this ugly word instantly conjured up an image from an ancient Star Trek episode, an image so terrifying and so utterly repellent that I shrink from linking it.
(On vid anyway). But in the interests of space travel…
this is a Picture of the worm en route to Checkov’s ear, from where it will tunnel at leisure into his brain. (see The Wrath of Khan episode for gruesome details).
Anyway, the ‘earworm’ of today is a ludicrous term for a snatch of tune you just can’t get out of your head, so you evilly pass it on virus-like to anyone in your vicinity. As demonstrated perfectly by Daphne in the ‘High Crane Drifter’ episode of Frasier… (apologies for dreadful quality).
In fact, I can't make the flaming thing work. So - just imagine Daphne gratuitously drubbing out a tuneless "Flesh is Burning NaNaNaNaNaNa", followed (Later That Afternoon), by everyone in the appartment mindlessly moaning the same tunelessness as they go about their everday stuff...
But Why the sudden earworm obsession? Surely this earth-shattering phenomenon is not new…
Hasn’t everyone been humming Bernard Cribbins’ Hole in the Ground since first it was dug?… or The splendid Kinks' Thank You for the Days... and my personal constant, Lee Marvin’s merry rendering of I Was Born under a Wandering Star...
All unforgettable and tenacious snippets of joy.
(Though perhaps not for those on the receiving end). George insists my own musical scraps could do without the excess bars of doodlydiddly: "…Little old lady got mutilated late last night//Werewolves of London again..." '(Diddelly diddelly again)'.
(sadly-departed Warren Zevon’s fabulous Werewolves of London).
Simple pleasure… but we’re now being told there is More to earworms than meets the… more than one could have imagined; that they might have a ‘Role to play’! Psychologists and musical experts have been requesting earworm submissions... TV programmes have delved into the ‘function’ of earworms!
Must they have a Function? – they just Are, aren’t they? Like our cats… (incontinent little tinkers).
You can actually buy earworms on the Net – something to do with Language-Learning, I think – and that reminds one of a Very famous Babelfish:-
How jolly useful that would be if you stuck it in your ear!
Which takes us back to poor old Checkov, and shows that there are many ways to consider the earworm...
In conclusion, perhaps if one Took This Seriously and studied in depth the astonishing Mass of available info, one might learn something to one's advantage…
And certainly to the advantage of all those within earshot