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I want to scream until blood gushes from my eye sockets.

In the movie STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan (which we saw at a Prince Edward Island Drive-In theatre in 1982), there is an earworm scene.

As part of his plot, the villain Khan (Ricardo Montalban… good to the last drop) introduces us to his household pet: a loathsome, slug-like creature called a Ceti Eel.

You see, their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion… Later, as they grow, follows madness and death…”

I don’t remember a thing about the movie other than this repulsive scream scene that sticks in my head like a Chinese finger trap.

I suppose you could say it’s become a visual eyeworm about an earworm.

The good news is that I don’t usually scream (there is one exception, the cliffhanger will be resolved below) when I’m infected with a musical earworm.

Most earworms – those snippets of music that refuse to go home when they’re told –  are a trivial annoyance, although there are occasions when they can be a pleasurable repetition inside our heads.

I’ll admit I cringe and throw up a little in my mouth when I’m contaminated by incessant YMCA or Chicken Dance song scraps, unless … I’m thoroughly ensconced in a Molson or Smirnoff haze. Then it’s Dance Fever! You too?

Earworms come in lots of flavours.

Commercial jingles are the bane of the earworm world.

Successful jingle writers know they can plant their flag at the pinnacle when the ditty they penned is hummed by millions of office and factory workers for many years afterwards…

  • “I am stuck on …”
  • “I wish I were an …”
  • “Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun …”
  • “Meow, meow, meow, meow …”
  • “Plop plop, fizz fizz …”
  • “Like a good neighbour …”
  • “I’d like to buy the world a …”

Notice how I didn’t complete the jingles as a test to see if you could figure out the product being advertised? Pass or Fail?

Yes, most of these are oldies, but knowing that they’re from decades past and I’m still consciously aware of them tells me just how juicy the jingles are.

The earworms I love are catchy songs like Tommy Tutone’s 867-5309, whistling Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Pharrell Williams’ Happy, The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles.(who doesn’t love the word Havering?).

I don’t even mind Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, that Psy guy’s Gangnam Style or Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah-ah

They’re all fun and bring a smile to my face.

 

Happy2

I chuckle out loud when I get the anti-vegan Arrogant Worm song, Carrot Juice is Murder jammed in my head….  Carrot Juice constitutes murder (and that’s a real crime)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves (let my vegetables grow)…

But understand that not all earworms are fun and games.

Earworms that aren’t joyous or cute but make the tenderness of melancholy so very sweet are the violin theme from Schindler’s List and the sad saxophone strains from the movie, Summer of ’42. They impart a late night ache inside me that inexplicably soothes.

My all-time favourite?

I carry a soft space of wonder for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody . The opening harmony lines :

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality

… gets caught in the sugary spiderwebs inside my head.

I’m in a universe of awe when I contemplate how the song – a modern symphony, with so many intricate movements – was ever constructed by Freddie Mercury.

Bohemian

OK, finally… worst of the worst earworms. Scream worthy! Ceti Eel screamworthy?

Drum roll please …..

Boney M. Anything by Boney M.

Top of the exasperation list? Mary’s Boy Child, Rasputin and Rivers of Babylon.

Even writing the names of these songs and I’m holding back a torrent of stomach contents. And of course, now I have this electronic buzz reverberating through my skull… NOOOOoooooooooo……

Hark now hear the angels sing, a king was born today
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day …

Earworm … BAD

Earworm … GOOD

In the end, isn’t any earworm playing through your head better than a disgruntled voice telling you at 2 am how you could have handled such and such a situation better? Or, what you should have said as a smart retort to a nasty comment directed your way?

Of course. And much much better than a Ceti Eel earworm slipping slyly into your ear canal.

I’d even take Boney M over that.

(Care to share your favs or detests?… I’m all ears…)

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