John Ostrander: Going Out of My Head (Over You)

Elmer-Fuddby John Ostrander

I’m a child of pop culture.

Nowhere is that more obvious to me in the earworms that I get. Earworms are a song or piece of a song that gets stuck in your head and seems to be on an endless replay cycle. I don’t know about you but I get them a lot. A lot. I wish I could say they were songs that I like but often they’re songs I’m pretty “meh” about and sometimes even hate.

They’re almost always pop songs – nothing classical although I am a fan of classical music. Not of all classical music, but of some. The only opera I really like, for example, is Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten. The closest I get to classical earworms are the orchestral movie soundtracks – I like soundtracks quite a bit. For example, the Star Wars Theme is likely to pop up in rotation pretty often, but that’s okay by me.

Others, not so much.

Sometimes an earworm is triggered by songs I hear on the radio or that’s playing in the muzac at the store but just as often they just come into my head for no damn good reason whatsoever. They come in and take up residence and unless I can find another tune to drown them out, I can’t get rid of them. The problem with fighting an earworm with another earworm is that you can get stuck with the second one.

Here’s some that have bedeviled me lately. If you don’t want them stuck in your head,SPOILER ALERT: bail out now.

Today I’ve had “Have You Ever Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton John. I always been so-so about Ms Newton-John and this particular song is not the one I find most endurable in her repertoire but there it is in my head.

Recently, I’ve been inflicted with Abba’s “Waterloo.” I’m not and never have been a big fan of Abba. I don’t hate them; they just never did much for me. I don’t even know the lyrics to the song. “Waterloo! something something something something. Waterloo! Some something something forevermore.” That’s all I got – over and over again. Gaaaah!

That’s another thing about the earworms. I may only know a portion of the lyrics or discover that I have them wrong but there is no autocorrect in my head. If you’ve read this column before, you may not be surprised to learn that.

I’ve also had the opening theme to The Daily Show running through my brain at times. The Jon Stewart version, not Trevor Noah. I like Noah just fine and always watch the show but it’s Stewart’s version my brain coughs up.

A good song that has gotten in my cranial sound loop is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Sometimes it’s that iconic opening that has inspired a thousand lesser rock anthems and sometimes it’s the chorus. One problem, however, is that I’ve never been able to understand what Bruce is singing, at least with this song. To me, it sounds like “Baaarm inna Hew Hess Hay! I was baaarm inna Hew Hess Hay! Ima rap scraggle flaggart inna Hew Hess Hay now!” I’m reasonably certain those aren’t the actual lyrics, but that’s what they sound like to me.

I can sometimes chase that earworm by singing the song in my Elmer Fudd voice. I’m reasonably certain that those who have heard me do Elmer Fudd can hear me doing that at this moment. (I’m looking at you, Tim Brown.) In fact, almost any of the earworms can be banished by singing them in my Elmer Fudd voice. Elmer is sort on an earworm exterminator.

“Baaaawm inna Hew Hess Hay! Heh-heh-heh-heh!”

Like I said, I’m a child of pop culture.


John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix.