Earworm (n.)

An earworm is:

  • A song, or part thereof, that becomes stuck in one’s head — often inextricably and inexplicably going around and around and around and around and around…
  • Etymologically, a calque (ie: borrowed and phoenetically adapted into a similar-sounding English word) from the German word Ohrwurm, of the same meaning.
  • Called chiclete de ouvido in Portuguese: literally chewing gum of the ear.
  • Also known as: Phonological Loop, Last Song Syndrome, Repetuneitis, Aneurythm &c.
  • Usually carries negative connotations — as with advertising jingles and repulsive 1980s soft-rock intros (follow that link at your own peril). But in the right context, earworms can be a good thing. In exciting times, an internal loop of Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries creates just the right sense of dramatic ambience. The riff from Rage Against The Machine’s Wake Up is great for angry stomping in the city. And The Puppy Song (from You’ve Got Mail) burbles with overtones of an impending Springtime long weekend…At the moment, I’ve got the entire Darjeeling Limited soundtrack burrowing deep into my aural canals, and I love it.
    The Darjeeling Limited Soundtrack

If your earworm curiosity is particularly voracious, read Can’t get it out of my head, Vadim Prokhorov’s epic earworm article from The Guardian (June 2006):

“Earworms seem to be an interaction between properties of music (catchy songs are simple and repetitive), characteristics of individuals (levels of neuroticism) and properties of the context or situation (first thing in the morning, last thing at night or when people are under stress),” says Kellaris, whose study, Dissecting Earworms: Further Evidence on the ‘Song-Stuck-in-Your-Head’ Phenomenon, found that at one time or another nearly 99% of people have had earworms.

All Proof (v.) audio posts are archived under ‘Earworms’.

First published at tumblr Proof (v.)


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