|annoyed by ancient Britney Spears tune|
The phrase in the header, "Imp of the Perverse", is the title of an Edgar Allen Poe short story about a man driven mad (hey, it's Poe) by torturous "ringing...in the memory" of "an ordinary song, or unimpressive snatches from an opera". He rightfully notes it's not much better if it's a good high-brow song-- but let's face it, it rarely is. My last two earworms were bad hits of Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton John. Hated them then, hate them still. But it's not much better when it's Jimmy Cliff or Madame Butterfly.
|ready to dive in with some old janet jackson|
Stressful as the worms are, their role isn't completely parasitic. They are giving the auditory cortex the equivalent of hand-wringing or pacing when the rest of the brain is overloaded.
They're benign in their usual short-lived state, although clinical anecdotes present cases where sufferers had the same tune for years at a time. For most of us, it's a few minutes, maybe off and on over a few hours. It rarely lasts past the natural break of sleep.
Remedies abound, but no sure cures. Here's some to try from the HowStuffWorks site:
1) Sing a different song (Girl From Impawhatever is famous for this) or play a tune on an instrument.
2) Do something entirely different and physical-- work out.
3) Sing the earworm song ALL THE WAY through (past the snippet that's looping).
4) Visualize the earworm, embodying the song, crawling out of your ear. Then visualize going all Darth Vadar on it.
5) Insert it in another ear. Do not expect them to love you for it. This trope appears in several science fiction stories as a gift that keeps on giving.
For more on this little life annoyance, read this article by Bill White or listen to this episode of the always fascinating Radio Lab podcast: http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2008/jun/17/earworms/