Earworms. They happen to everyone. You get a song stuck in your head for days. You try listening to other catchy songs to get that first song out of your head. You try meditation, mediCAtion, even exorcism, and the darn thing still won’t go away. There are songs that are like viruses. They get stuck in your head, you sing a few bars, and they get stuck in someone else’s head. They yell at you for getting that song stuck in their head. Here is a list of the top 10 worst songs to have stuck in your head, and a suggestion of an even catchier song to get it out. You may not like the even catchier song. In fact, you may hate it even worse. Sorry about that.
10. “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – The Proclaimers
This song, made popular by the Johnny Depp film Benny and Joon, was a radio staple for the entire year of 199something. The band? Twins named Craig and Charlie Reid and I never personally heard any song of theirs other than this one. But, this one was stuck in my head for about four years, so I think I’ve heard plenty of The Proclaimers. Research shows that these guys released 8 studio albums, the last one in 2009, and they have toured with VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders. Go figure.
the fix: “My Sharona” – The Knack
This little ditty first appeared on Get the Knack, The Knack’s first studio album. It was an instant success in 1979, and “My Sharona” was the number one song of 1979. They had some other songs. So I’ve heard.
9. “Horse with No Name” – America
This was the band America’s biggest hit, released in 1972, and it has plagued the countryside ever since. Hands down, for me, it is the biggest earworm ever. America had other hits, like “Sister Golden Hair” and “You Can Do Magic,” but none are as infectious and disturbing as “A Horse With No Name, ” which features such clever lyrics as “there were plants and birds and rocks and things.” Help me.
the fix: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – The Tokens. Hey, it will replace ANYTHING stuck in your head.
Seriously. This one will out stick any song on this list. Originally recorded by Solomon Linda and The Evening Birds (1939), and subsequently covered by The Weavers, Yma Sumac, Jimmy Dorsey, The Kingston Trio, and Miriam Makeba, it was made a number one hit in 1961 by The Tokens, a Brooklyn-based doo-wop group who originally formed in a high school.
8. “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” – Rupert Holmes
According to reputable sources, Rupert Holmes had a hit other than this song. I went to look it up (it’s called “Him”) and darn if I’d never heard it before. As we can tell by the storyline to the song featured “Escape…etc,” Holmes had a penchant for storytelling, since this song tells the tale of a man who was “tired of his lady” and put out a personal ad. He answered one that said the things he wanted to read, and it turned out to be his “own lovely lady.” Sorry to spoil it for you. Anywhoo, Holmes went on to write plays and novels.
the fix: “I Can’t Go For That” – Hall & Oates
I can’t say anything bad about this song. No can do.
7. “Downtown” – Petula Clark
I might be biased, because I hate this song with a burning passion. Maybe it gets stuck in your head and you like it. Good for you. When I hear it, I want to throw melons at passersby. Yes, that’s my own personal expression of rage. Melon hurling. You deal with your anger your own way, I’ll deal with mine in my own way. This awful song was number one in the US in early 1965, and Dolly Parton and Emma Bunton, as well as Marianne Faithful, Frank Sinatra, The B-52’s, The Osmons (Lord help us), and Alvin and the Chipmunks all covered it. More people, too, I just can’t bring myself to list them. Though I am a little curious about the Nivek Ogre Rx version…hm.
the fix: “Brand New Key” – Melanie
Number one in December of 1971, this is just annoying enough to cover the Petula Clark song, without being as annoying as the Petula Clark song.
6. “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You” – The Miami Sound Machine
There. It’s stuck in your head, isn’t it? The rhythm got you, alright. Released in 1987, it didn’t get popular until was issued a third time. Payback’s a you-know-what.
the fix: “Conga” The Miami Sound Machine.
JUST KIDDING! There IS no fix! This is NO BETTER to have stuck in your head than the last song! But, the video is hilarious, so enjoy. And enjoy the next six months of “Shake your body baby do that Conga.” I know I will.
5. “Tom’s Diner” – Suzanne Vega
For a song about a cup of coffee, it sure is catchy. The original was a Capella, but the remixed version, seen and heard above, is much, much catchier.
the fix: “Luka” – Suzanne Vega
A much more depressing song about an abused child, it still gets stuck in your head big time. Released as a single in 1987, the song has appeared on the Simposons, and the lead guitar player for Blue Oyster Cult wrote a parody called “My Name Is Loofa.” Respectful, Buck Dharma.
4.”Barbie Girl” – Aqua
This is what VH1 calls an “awesomely bad” song. Not only is it bad, it also got the band sued by Mattel because they made Barbie into a “sex object.” As if Barbie’s dimensions alone prevented her from that. The song was a parody, however, so Mattel lost and eventually used the song in their advertising. Ah, the nineties.
the fix: “I’m Too Sexy” – Right Said Fred
Five years before “Barbie Girl” took the world by storm, Right Said Fred released “I’m Too Sexy.” That was in 1991 or so. It reached number one in the US, despite America’s offense at the duo making fun of the American modeling culture. For me, it’s preferable to having Aqua stuck in my head. For you, well, you might be really hating me right now.
3. “My Humps” – Black Eyed Peas
My favorite thing about this song is that Alanis Morissette parodied it. Here. The original, featuring Fergie talking about her “lovely lady humps,” hurts my soul. But man, is it catchy.
the fix: “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga
This song peaked at #2 in the US in November of 2009, and is said to be one of Lady Gaga’s very best songs. If you are a fan of The Gaga, you might agree. If you are not, you might prefer to listen to “My Humps” on repeat. Good on you. Rolling Stone ranked this song at number nine on the list of “25 Best Songs of 2009” and I tend to agree.
2. “Achy Breaky Heart” – Billy Ray Cyrus
Yes children. Before there was a Miley Cyrus there was a Billy Ray Cyrus, and he was a country singer. This song was HUGE in 1992ish, and was the first Country single to go platinum since 1983, with Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers “Islands in the Stream.” Bet that’s stuck in your head now too, isn’t it? Luckily, there is a country song to remedy this achy breaky earworm.
the fix: “Elvira” – The Oak Ridge Boys
Released in 1981 on The Oak Ridge Boy’s Fancy Free album, this song was a number 1 country hit and it will get stuck in your head quick.
1. “Who Let The Dogs Out” – Baha Men
This wasn’t even an ORIGINAL song by Baha Men. It was written and recorded by Anslem Douglas, and this hairdresser from London heard it and taped it, and played to a guy named Jonathan who recorded it and released it under the name Fat Jakk and His Pack of Pets. Then that Jonathan guy’s friend Steve Greenburg heard it, and had this group, Baha Men, that was from the Bahamas, cover it and all of the sudden it was EVERYWHERE.
the fix: “It’s Tricky” – Run D.M.C.
That’s better, isn’t it? don’t you feel a little less lame? Plus, Penn and Teller in the video! Fun factoid, an earlier song on this list is related to this song. The Knack sued Run D.M.C. for sampling “My Sharona” without permission. Of course, they didn’t sue until 2006, which I think is pretty lame. Run D.M.C. didn’t OVERTLY…well, either way. It’s a great song from the golden age of rap music (1987 falls into the “golden age”).
Can you think of better songs for this list? Do you have an earworm plaguing you today? Tell us about it!