(Part five of my exploration of the 25 songs in
25 slightly-more days blogging challenge — a way to bank and pre-schedule a few posts for JALC while I’m off a-travelling.) Day Song 5: A song that is often stuck in your head
Ah yes, the dreaded earworm. The song that infects the aural passages and the bloodstream, often causing physical pain and existential crisis akin to that once faced by Anton Chekhov a long time ago in a future inhabited by Ricardo Montalban:
I have a strangely high tolerance for earworms. For me, they impact the same part of my brain where my affection for guilty pleasures and things delightfully kitschy resides, so even if the pleasure of said ear worm is of a different flavor than, say, my love for the Gayatri Mantra, I do often find a sincere sort of pleasure in hearing the “ear worm song.”
So I was incredibly puzzled as to what song to write about tonight. Old classics from my formative years, like It’s a Small World or Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?
Entries from my young adulthood like Macarena, Mambo No. 5, or Lambada? Why are all of these Latinate one-hit wonders? Only Gaia knows… Also, is there anyone else out there who immediately spotted the Kaoma sample when JLo came out with her Pitbull collab, On the Floor? Just me, then.
Perhaps I should feature recent ear worms that are imprinted on my mind’s eye as much as anywhere else — I think of the Olympic swim team and Call Me Maybe, Lara Spencer dancing Gangnam Style on the set of GMA, or that wacky moment where I was just slightly ahead of the coolness curve when Ylvis’ The Fox went supernova-viral
But ultimately, I cast back into the early 80’s for this ditty from my early teen years: Toto’s Africa.
There’s a few reasons this bubbled to the top of the pile. First, is its innate infectiousness. Second, is the fact that we sang an arrangement of it in high school chorus, meaning I will never ever ever get those “Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo”s out of my head.
Third is the way it has spawned other infectious ditties, such as Straight No Chaser’s arrangement of 12 Days of Christmas:
Fourth and finally, is this brilliant deconstruction of the song, by author Steve Almond:
Rather than expose us to the hard-won truth of individual experience, the song immerses us in the Karo syrup of an entire culture’s mass delusion. It is the love child of imperialism and muzak.
Almond’s spoken essay makes me both hate the song and love it all the more. And hate myself a little for loving it. Which is the quintessential definition of a guilty pleasure, if not of an ear worm.
Image credit: http://mcphee.com/shop/ear-worms-ear-buds.html
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