Earworm – I’ll confess. I had to look that one up in the dictionary. And boy did it make me laugh. That catchy piece of music that keeps repeating in my head. My lifeline. My constant companion.
But I take offense to the term. Calling it a worm makes it sound like something dirty, unwanted, intrusive. It’s not. I love my earworms. Sure I could do with some better musicality, but I’d rather have ad-jingles playing in my head than negative thoughts. If I left it to my subconscious, I would be living in a very dark place indeed. Instead I’m constantly jiving in a disco.
I am a disco dancer, jindagi mera gaana…*
Creating the perfect earworm is serious business. Every body in the music and advertising industry knows that. Tunes are created to be catchy. The early worm… the worm with the best bite… the worm with the best life… It’s a damn science. Technicians and data analysts make their living studying it.
As an only child, like any normal only child, I developed the habit of talking to myself, and singing to myself. If I knew the lyrics, I sang it, if I didn’t, I concocted it. Thus the seeds of a future writer were sown.
Only one problem. I would pick up a few lines of the song and repeat it over and over. Suffice to say that I very lovingly and painstakingly cultivated my worm farm. In India we play a game called Antakshari. Each contestant sings the first verse of a song that begins with the consonant on which the previous contestant’s song selection ended. I ace it.
Surprisingly some people, chiefly my son, don’t share my affection for my earworms. If I sing out, Hello, Is it me your looking for?, he finds it corny. I just called to say I love you, is creepy coming from a mother to a son apparently. What corrupted times we live in! We live in a really warm city. Feeling hot hot hot is my go-to jingle. “Please don’t start that again,” he grumbles. So I try reverse auditory melodic unstickification. Basically force myself to forget my song by consciously replacing it with another.
My earworms are at peak performance when I’m cooking or driving. The 45 minute drive to drop my son off is just a canvas begging to be splashed with colour. “You don’t have to vocalise everything that’s in your head,” he tells me. But I’m smart. “Well if you keep would talk to me then I won’t have to sing,” I try to manipulate. He’s smarter. He bought himself noise cancelling headphones. Sometimes he uses it to listen to music. Sometimes he uses it to keep out the music.
But like any true artist, I don’t let the critics get to me.
I just can’t refuse it
Like the way you do this
Keep on rockin’ to it
Please don’t stop the, please don’t stop the
Please don’t stop the music
In response to the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt – earworm.
*zindagi mera gaana = Life is my song (lyrics from a better forgotten old hindi song