The Worst Earworm Ever Is…

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bill-swift - November 8, 2014

Wannabe by The Spice Girls. Is It really a surprise? I remember back in the 90's when this song was on permanent rotation everywhere that I literally wanted to drill a hole in my head like the ancients so that the evil spirit of that song could escape. The tune about guys having to like a girl's friends or whatever was measured along with several others by some sciency guys at the University of Amsterdam. The experiment was simple. Testees were asked to push a button once they recognized a song. People across all demographics recognized Wannabe almost instantly even though the song is almost 20 years old. The sciency guys explain,

"You may only hear something a couple of times yet 10 years later you immediately realize that you have heard it before. Yet other songs, even if you have heard them a lot, do not have this effect."

I guess there is something intrinsic to the type of song that becomes an earworm. They aren't necessarily bad songs like Wannabe. There are songs by the Beatles I've had stuck in my head for days, (Octopus' Garden). It's not really a surprise that Wannabe came out on top. Everything about the Spice Girls, including their songs, were produced for maximum commercial possibilities. Girl Powa!

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