November 30th, 2013

Wouldn’t any song, played over and over and over…

…become an instrument of torture?

But these are supposedly the Big Five for that purpose:

(1) “I Love You” by Barney the Dinosaur

(2) “Panama” by Van Halen

(3) “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem

(4) “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow

(5) “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen

I’m trying to think what my choices would be, and there’s no question about the leader (dare I say it? The very title runs the risk of inducing the dread earworm): “It’s a Small World After All.”

And for some reason this one, a song I happen to like somewhat, has the same ghastly tendency (listen at your own risk):


57 Responses to “Wouldn’t any song, played over and over and over…”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    Top of the list forever in terms of “No, no, no don’t play it again ever….”

    Wanna Whole Lotta Love
    Wanna Whole Lotta Love
    Wanna Whole Lotta Love
    Wanna Whole Lotta Love

    Especially 2:02 — 2:40

    Hell on heavy rotation.

  2. vanderleun Says:

    On the other hand, the next Republican candidate for President should probably have Whole Lotta Love as his campaign song.

  3. Doom Says:

    I am so rarely attacked by hated songs, or songs that annoy me. I might get a song in my head, associated with a notion, that I simply have to figure the name and singer for it. But none of these annoying types. Oh, I know, some of you are afflicted. My brother, beside getting them stuck in his bean, then had to sing them as well. Now THAT was annoying. He was and remains a terrible singer.

    Then again, what do they say? Something about loving someone is knowing their faults and being able to even enjoy those faults? Oh, some such. My brother still has the same problem he did when we were kids. Hate it as I do, it is now quite endearing.

    Oh, once I figure out the song I can let it go. Though it has, on some very obscure songs, taken a while to locate it… especially before the internet made it relatively easy… One of those songs that haunted me “forever” was Girl from Ipanema, the one done by Astrud Gilberto. I went on to buy one of her “best of” titles and enjoy it a few times a year. White Rabbit, Run Through the Jungle, Paint It Black… tons of songs had to be found, from being heard as a kid but never identified back then. The first one was figuring out the first song I ever remembered hearing on the radio, probably in about 72… Wake Up Little Susie. Oh… and… looking up the lyrics, and with an adult understanding, the songs were… very different from how I understood them then. Even as well… trained… as I had been at such a young age.

  4. vanderleun Says:

    And as all fans of Dave Roth know, the only antidote for Panama is Jump:

    I get up, and nothing gets me down.
    You got it tough. I’ve seen the toughest around.
    And I know, baby, just how you feel.
    You’ve got to roll with the punches to get to what’s real
    Oh can’t you see me standing here,
    I’ve got my back against the record machine
    I ain’t the worst that you’ve seen.
    Oh can’t you see what I mean ?
    Might as well jump. Jump !
    Might as well jump.
    Go ahead, jump. Jump !

  5. Ray Says:

    Back in the last century when I was a college studet I worked one summer as a technician at a radio station that played the top 40 songs. I had to listen to the top forty on the monitor speaker for 8 hours a day. I grew to loath popular music.

  6. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Anything by Barry Manilow, Wayne Newton’s Danke Schoen, Louie, Louie.

  7. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Anything by Yoko Ono.

  8. vanderleun Says:

    Yoko doesn’t do songs, she does screeching.

  9. Steve Says:

    Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” and Starship’s “We Built this City.”

  10. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew
    Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two
    The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
    The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

    Who can take a rainbow, wrap it in a sigh
    Soak it in the sun and make a groovy lemon pie
    The Candy Man, the Candy Man can
    The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

    The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious
    Now you talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes

    Oh, who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream
    Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream
    The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
    The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

    The Candy Man makes everything he bakes satisfying and delicious
    Talk about your childhood wishes, you can even eat the dishes

    Yeah, yeah, yeah
    Who can take tomorrow, dip it in a dream
    Separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream
    The Candy Man, the Candy Man can
    The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
    Yes, the Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good
    a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man
    Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man
    Candy Man, a-Candy Man, a-Candy Man

    Now that the damned song will be playing in my head all day, I have noticed for the first time that it could have been written by an Obama voter, circa 2008.

  11. carl in atlanta Says:

    How about this jingle from Norfolk Southern RR?

    Just thinking about it makes me feel suicidal.

  12. Richard Says:

    In the Billy Wilder movie “One Two Three”, the east Germans torture a guy with Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Polka Dot Bikini

  13. NCC Says:

    Anything involving Lawrence Welk.

  14. Charles Says:

    Anything by Barbra Streisand; I cannnot stand her, her singing, her acting, her politics, and wish she had kept her promise to move to Canada when Bush won re-election.

    Looking at her, and hearing her “sing” makes me want to puke! So, yea, anything by Babs IS torture; and it doesn’t have to be played more than once.

  15. waitforit Says:

    How about that song where the singer keeps repeating “I know, I know, I know, I know . . .” The rest of the song isn’t bad, but I can’t figure out why there’s applause for that stretch of music.

    But for the No. 1 all time please do not repeat, try Kenye West’s shot out shit for brains “masterpiece” with Kardashian. It just a repeat in itself, which isn’t all rap. Rap, hip hop, fecking shite, all it, init?

    Oh, by the way, Kanye considers himself a creative genius. Shit. Ain’t that something. Piece of crap music and he’s a creative genius. I’m laughing because it’s so ludicrous. (What would Jeromie, Romie, Rome think? Are you serious?)

    And was he actually trying to compare himself to Jesus Christ? (Jesus wept, and then the cross spread scenes. Revolting.)

    How did I end up watching it? Good question, because it’s the first hip hop song or video I’ve ever watched. Answer: I happened to come across the headline where Kanye claims to be a creative genius, so I wanted to see what a self-proclaimed genius creates. And then there’s the whole “Kenya claiming Obama is using his cred” thing. The two are the same: both highly deluded about their abilities.

    The better video is with Frano and Rogan spoofing it.

  16. James Says:

    This, this thing that I dare not even speak it’s name:

  17. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    Watching these clips its easy to see why we as a civilization are doomed.

  18. Bilwick Says:

    For me? That creepy ObamaKids chorus (if their group name weren’t actually “Future Eloi of America, it should have been) singing the praises of Dear Leader.

  19. Yancey Ward Says:

    Copacabana can’t possible be worse than Mandy.

  20. Yancey Ward Says:

    For me, I would kill myself on the 3rd hearing of “Oh Sherry”.

  21. mizpants Says:

    Aggghhh, Mrs. Whatsit! Why’d you do that to me? It’s in there now and it’ll stay for hours.
    I’d rather be having periodontal surgery.

  22. Jack Says:
    This one drove me crazy because I love Led Zeppelin but truly despise rap music so it’s almost sacrilege!

  23. Sam L. Says:

    Some say anything by ABBA. Some hate “Smoke On The Water”, but I don’t.

  24. Harry the "Extremist" Says:

    I occasionally have to listen to this while shopping at Safeway. It is the most god-awful self-absorbed mewling I think Ive ever heard:

  25. Roman Says:

    In 1972, Osan AB Korea, had a fund raiser on Armed Forces Radio. One requested song per dollar pledged. One squadron outraised everyone else and nothing but “Rocky Racoon” played for nearly a whole weekend. Hate that song. In those days AFRTS was the only English language station around, so it seemed much worse

  26. FOAF Says:

    “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, worst song ever.

    Other contenders:


    “Seasons in the Sun”

    “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”

    All from the ’70s.

  27. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think loudness and playing it 24 hours so the subject cannot sleep is more of a valid “technique” not choosing song titles.

  28. PA Cat Says:

    I nominate “Yakety Sax,” aka the Benny Hill theme. For your viewing pleasure, an Orange County police car chase set to “Yakety Sax”:

    Another bit of obnoxiousness, the national anthem of narcissists, “I Did It My Way.” In this vid, Ol’ Blue Eyes actually introduces it as “the national anthem”

    An oldie, but one guaranteed to make the parents of baby boomers in the early 1960s swear and cuss:

    Another hit from 1964 that drove my parents up the wall:

  29. FOAF Says:

    Almost forgot “anything by Rita Coolidge”. Coolidge is a pet peeve of mine, having mangled two great soul music classics of the ’60s, Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and the Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do”.

    Contrast Coolidge with Karen Carpenter. The Carpenters were supposed to be “unhip” but Karen sang a beautiful, haunting version of Leon Russell’s “Superstar” that was light-years better than the one by Russell’s GF Coolidge. I remember when it came out thinking “I’m not ‘supposed’ to like the Carpenters but this is really moving”.

  30. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    mizpants, I do apologize. It would have been more thoughtful of me to post a link. If it’s any comfort, it’s been stuck in my head all day too!

  31. PA Cat Says:

    Mrs Whatsit and mizpants– Don’t forget Tim Hawkins’ parody of “Candy Man”:

    Who can take your money? (Who can take your money?)
    With a twinkle in their eye? (With a twinkle in their eye?)
    Take it all away and
    Give it to some other guy

    The Government (the Government)
    The Government can! (The Government can!)

    Who can tax the Sun rise? (Who can watch the Sun rise?)
    Who can tax the trees? (Who can touch the trees?)
    Let you run a business and
    Collect up all the fees


    The Government can ’cause
    They mix it up with lies and
    Make it all taste good! (Make it all taste good!)

    The Government takes
    Everything we make
    To pay for all of their “sollutions”
    Healthcare, Climate Change, Pollution
    (Throw away the Constitution)

    Who can give a bailout? (Who can give a bailout?)
    Tell us to behave? (Tell us to behave?)
    Make the Founding Fathers
    Roll over in their graves . . .

  32. blert Says:

    You’ve opened up a whole can of pernicious ear worms… for shame.

  33. JC Says:

    Waitforit – are you thinking of “Ain’t No Sunshine”?
    Personally, on one extreme is “Where Where Are You Tonight” from HeeHaw, and on the other Eric Satie’s “Vexations”.

  34. PA Cat Says:

    Here’s an earworm just for Vanderleun: Grieg’s “Norwegian Dance No. 2″ performed by a Korean harmonica ensemble. Nothing like a harmonica to turn ‘most any tune into an earworm:

  35. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road

  36. Jay Galt Says:

    I think “It’s a Small World” deserves a lifetime award. Waiting 40 minutes to ride then the ride means you have heard it 20+ times. Then it repeats and repeats in your brain for the rest of the day. I am surprised that there have not been any mass suicides.

  37. PA Cat Says:

    Jay Galt– Would you and Neo like to buy the world a Coke to wash that one down?

    It’s a creepy preview of the Obamacult videos.

  38. Harry the "Extremist" Says:

    Just a heads up for all you liberals out there: When Tammy Wynette sings “May all your Christmas’s be white.”, she’s talking about snow.

  39. FOAF Says:

    Does anyone else remember “They’re Coming to Take Me Away Haha” by Napoleon XIV?

  40. FOAF Says:

    Link to Napoleon XIV for those who have not had this truly “special” experience. Note: the flip side was the same track played backwards.

    Napoleon XIV

  41. delete.the.alternative Says:

    In a gadda da vida

    Yes, I think you’re right, JC.

    and [fart sound] you were gone.

    Anything with two much accordian:

  42. spaz Says:

    You could play this over and over:

  43. zfredz Says:

    Let’s not forget the Pachelbel Canon.

  44. Estoy Listo Says:

    I would think the Woo Hoo song would do it.

    Hotel California would work too.

  45. Artfldgr Says:

    hey ricky your so fine…

    i like candy…

    almost anything sung by William Hung…

  46. Artfldgr Says:

    oh, almost left these two out

    Spike Jones Cocktails for Two

    Leonard Nimoy – The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

  47. Gary Says:


    You’re absolutely right about the awful “ricky, ricky you’re so fine…”

    Never heard that Spike Jones moldy-oldie joke-song. At first listening, it made that mysterious transition in which a joke is so bad it’s actually kinda funny. Not that I want to hear it again.

  48. Sam L. Says:

    I love Spike Jones! Crazy stuff!

  49. Gary Says:

    FOAF wrote:

    Coolidge is a pet peeve of mine…

    Bingo. I was always mystified that such drab, insipid vocals ever got recorded, much less became hits.

    Contrast Coolidge with Karen Carpenter. The Carpenters were supposed to be ‘unhip’ but Karen sang a beautiful, haunting version of Leon Russell’s ‘Superstar’…

    Right again. And f*** the people who think they decide what’s cool and what isn’t.

    Of course the Carpenters put out their share of sappy, “easy-listening” stuff, but IMHO there’s no denying that Karen Carpenter had talent and a really good voice–unlike the bland and boring Coolidge.

  50. waltj Says:

    Well, in the case of our most recent adversaries of the Al-Qaeda persuasion, I think Gregorian chant, J.S. Bach, or G.F. Handel would do nicely. Yes, the music is fabulous, especially in the case of the latter two composers, but the very Christian sentiments expressed therein would be anathema to the Islamic views of our enemies. Hearing “Dona Nobis Pacem” or “Worthy is the Lamb” 50 times per day at 11 on the amp would likely reduce them to drooling idiots (at least those that aren’t already that way). Just a thought.

  51. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

    Some obvious suggestions:

    “Come On Eileen” — Dexy’s Midnight Runners
    “Seasons In The Sun” — Terry Jacks
    “Sara” — Jefferson Starshi*
    “We Sang This Shi**y” — Jefferson Starshi*
    “Oh Sherry” — Steve Perry

    Note the actual thing they have in common:
    crappy pop formula songs. I refer to them as “Repetomusic”. Annoyingly catchy, but absolutely talentless.

    1) Lyrical hook repeated endlessly (“Sara”, for example, contains “Sara” sung soulfully something like 32 times, and “Oh Sherry” contains “Oh Sherry” 13x and “Holds on”, “Hold on”, or “Holding on” 9x, IIRC.)

    2) Dull, uninspired music, usually with a “pop” style musical hook.

    Note that you can rise above this even with “1″ — most Hall And Oates songs exhibit “1″, but the music is more interesting and it’s clear they’re just having fun, not trying to be all serious and emotional.

  52. IGotBupkis, "'Faeces Evenio', Mr. Holder?" Says:

    P.S., a lot of Huey Lewis and the News is like H&O, too. Not particularly inventive lyrics, but they were about FUN, not trying to manipulate the heartstrings… which is one reason for the above being so abysmally wretched — they’re manipulative crap.

  53. Sam L. Says:

    It’s A Small World:

  54. JL Says:

    “I believe the children are our future . . . ”

    That one.

  55. Yackums Says:

    I’ll agree with most of the above, but I take exception to VH’s “Panama”…it’s one of my favorites of theirs, and I could in fact listen to it over and over.

    That and “Everybody Wants Some.”

    Maybe because DLR is so obviously out-of-his-mind either drunk or high on both vocals. :)

  56. Yackums Says:

    Never mind.

    After several days of being blasted by Van Halen, the Clash and The Howard Stern Show at deafening levels, representatives of the Holy See eventually handed over Noriega.

    So the authors of the article just chose that song as an arbitrary archetype. And the damage was done by the deafening levels and the endless repetition, not by the song per se. (More likely the Holy See was offended by Howard Stern!)

  57. Lee Says:

    I vote for “It’s a Small World.” Forty years ago, I was stuck for over an hour in that ride in Disneyland. We sat there, listenting FOR OVER AN HOUR to that song OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. I still hate the song. It’s my “On, Wisconsin” (a reference to “The Mysterious Disappearence of Leon, I Mean Noel,” and amazingly dark children’s book by Ellen Raskin, published in 1971. About the same year I wound up stuck in the ride…)

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