October Earworms

headphones next to album sleeves

When I wrote my first Earworms post back in August, it was a one-off. A curiosity. Nothing more. Seems like my brain had other plans though. Something in the examination of the near constant music I hear in my head, the whats and the whys hooked me. So I continue to pay attention, scribble them down and ponder.

Indulgent? Perhaps. Fascinating for no one other than me? Maybe. Am I going to carry on. You bet.

The songs I list here. These are the ones that stick. The loiterers. The ones that won’t let me go. That sometimes speak to the very core of me. Not the ones that flit in and out of my head like a constantly re-tuning radio.

They often seem to reflect my mood. Frequently low, melancholic with a side order of angst. Occasional bursts of enjoyment, love at the brilliance of life. Sometimes simply songs that say ‘hey-I-am-going-to hang-around-and-bug-the-hell-out-of-you-just-for-the-fun-of-it’.

Alongside the ever present thrum of Tom Hickox, the sounds in my head and occasionally (unfortunately for those present to hear) sung out loud last month included:

Kids by MGMT – I adore this song. I hear it, I smile…even when it is on repeat in my head. Which happens surprisingly often. For some reason this time, I found myself hooked by the lyrics ‘Decisions are made and not bought. But I thought this wouldn’t hurt a lot. I guess not’. Why I have no idea.

Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap – It kinda reminds me of me right now. Moving between long, slow, low moments and bursts of energy where everything feels alive. A recurrent earworm that dips in and out of me. That reminds me not to ‘stop till it’s over’.

Low by Cracker – a real blast from the past this one. Heard on 6 Music (best radio station ever!) and then in my head for the next week. From back in 1993, it bought memories from my misspent youth. Of dancing on sticky club floors, of feeling like I could do anything. Could be anyone. Of life before so much went wrong.

Shout Out to My Ex by Little Mix – rare example of a earworm that I don’t actually like. Annoyingly it is one of those songs I simply have to hear or see its name for it to be rampaging with glee around my head. If I hear it, it sticks. I couldn’t even look it up to link to it for the fear of what it would do to me. Every year Strictly Come Dancing dumps unwanted tunes in my head – why oh why did it have to do this to me though?

One thing I did notice from my taking stock of my earworms is the influence my recent rash of binge watching has had. Soundtracks have literally become my soundtrack.

I missed the little gem of zombie awesomeness that is In the Flesh when it was first shown on BBC 3. I discovered it whilst on a trail of seeing what Emmett Scanlan has been in (my current method of choosing what to watch. Follow the trail of an actor like I am walking the yellow brick road). Anyway I digress. The music of Keaton Henson lays amongst and between the episodes. His work is not for the happy amongst us. It is raw and melancholic, full of sadness and uncertainty. Much like me. My head flicks through his songs with relative frequency and is haunted by 3 in particular – You, Flesh and Bones and Charon (*trigger warning – song and video deal with suicide*).

My biggest binge watch has left me with some serious earworms and a desire to feel the beat of heavy bass in my bones again. I loved the UK version of Queer as Folk and gave into my curiosity as to whether the US would simply be a poor imitation that I wouldn’t want to watch. I was wrong. I love it. And I love the music. I had forgotten how alive ‘thumpa-thumpa’ music makes me feel, the deep urge it provokes to move my limbs.

I couldn’t decide whether to share the songs or the clips for the earworms from this show. I went with clips in the end as it is the show versions I hear in my head. Be aware that the show was a LGBT adult drama and you *may* not want to watch them at work …

You Look So Fine by Garbage – a brief yet intense earworm. A brief yet intense (and ever so slightly filthy) clip.

High School Confidential by Carole Pope – a poptastic tune, saucy lyrics and a scene involving a young man dancing and eventually stripping to his pants. Makes me smile, want to dance (though thankfully not to strip) and probably one of the most persistent earworms I have had for some time. Odd.

Absurd by Fluke – definitely the most filthy of the clips, this song though is awesome and its beats pulse through my head frequently. Turns out I have owned the album it is on for years yet never remember hearing it before. Foolish!

Earworms = mood at the moment. The lively ones that make me want to pull some shapes appear when I am not deeply low. Keaton is there the rest of the time. The likes of Little Mix…well I have no explanation for them. Much like my moods…

This will (hopefully) be the last post on this blog as my new blog is nearly up (exciting! and running. Fingers crossed we are nearly good to go.

 

Photo by Mark Solarski on Unsplash

 

 

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September Earworms

blue headphones on grassWriting this little post about earworms made me think about the songs that burrow into my head. Why they get there. What they give me. So in my head popped the idea of making a regular note of them. To share with you what tunes have enveloped me, burrowed into my bones and got me tapping my toes.

So I’m gonna try doing a ‘here’s my monthly earworms’ type of thing.

Until I or you get bored.

‘Back to December’ by Taylor Swift – remains my go to sleep song. I often read late into the night at the moment unable to consider sleeping until weariness sluggishly moves through me. Even then on turning out the light, my mind clicks into overdrive and sleep starts to flee. This song stops that virtually every single time.

‘Dancing with Myself’ by Billy Idol – an 80’s classic (in my oh so humble opinion) that nudged its way into my head after seeing it mentioned in a fanfiction I was reading. It set my toes a tapping for a few days and continues to have a little blast from time to time.

‘I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You‘ by Black Kids – No reason behind this one I think other than it is one of favourite tunes to have a little groove to and puts a happy little smile on my face. I heard it on my Ipod. It stayed in my head.

‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri –  Another one of those heard-it-on-something-and-now-it won’t-leave-me-alone type of songs. Pops in and out of my head a little. Don’t think it will be a stayer.

‘There Was a Man of Double Deed’ – another example of the odd earworms my mind seems to delight in. I binge watched every single episode of The Fall recently leaving me with hearing Paul Spector reciting this poem in my head over and over again. Odd, disturbing, delivered with evil intent. It echoes round my head from time to time seeming to ground me in a way I cannot explain.

Tom Hickox – still remains wound into the fibres of my body. His music and voice often accompanies me on my walks. So I hear his stuff pretty often in my head. It can be any one of his songs though my utter favourite ‘Out of the Warzone’ is a frequent visitor as is the heartbreakingly tender ‘Let Me Be Your Lover’. My continuing obsession with his music has probably left less time for my more random earworms this month.

So that was September’s hits –  wonder what October will bring (gods! how are we in October already…)

 

Earworms

blue headphones on grass

Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head on repeat for hours or even days? I do. Constantly. One song always replaced by another. Sometimes only briefly. Others stay with me for weeks. My head is rarely quiet between the blasts of music and the billions* of thoughts constantly racing around. *this number may be a slight exaggeration*

Sometimes the songs in my head carry no meaning for me, are just sound beating away. Sometimes they express something that I am struggling with, feelings I have. Sometimes a tune I simply love with every fibre in my being. The tunes I hear with a mental finger on the repeat button can be anything. Television shows from my childhood (yep Littlest Hobo and Funhouse I’m looking at you), catchy pop songs, slow and sad songs, tunes that fit my mood or contrast wildly, literally anything. A particular favourite thing for my head to do is provide me with bizarre remixes of random tunes such as the Croatian entry for Eurovision this year (if you don’t know it, google it – it’s the one with the man singing with himself) remixed with ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. I mean what is my head trying to do to me with that one?!

The clever people are not really sure why we get earworms (also known by the more boring scientific term ‘Involuntary Musical Imagery). They know that songs which niggle their way into our heads are usually ones we have heard either recently, repeatedly or have memory associations with them. They know certain patterns in music are more likely to worm their way in. They know that earworms are more common in musicians and last longer in women. But they don’t quite know why.

Earworms are also more common in people who suffer from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and OCD or by tired, stressed people. This makes sense I suppose as they are thought to be similar to involuntary intrusive obsessive thoughts. And it makes sense why I get so many. To some people, earworms are at worst a mild irritation, easily forgotten. For some, they can cause serious problems. For me, they fall in between. Sometimes they are funny, a little musical accompaniment to my daily life. Sometimes they crowd my brain, stopping me from focusing on anything. From thinking. Sometimes this is not a bad thing. It quietens down those billions* of thoughts that rattle around in my head. I often get to sleep by reciting my current/favourite earworm in my head in a weird this-shouldn’t-work-but-it-does way.

This last month or so has been tough and if I am honest, pretty bleak at times. The music has been ever present, always there, demanding and yet comforting. There have been many songs that have come and gone. Yet some have demanded my attention over and over again until I know the songs inside and out. These have been the soundtrack to this episode, have both driven me mad and supported me with their incessant presence.

Beautiful Mess‘ by Kristian Kostov – runner up at Eurovision this year (yes okay I am a Eurovision fan…don’t judge me). This has haunted me for months now.  A song that speaks to me of finding a way out of overwhelming darkness, of working out what matters to you and fighting for that against everything working to keep you down. There is a darkness yet there is also hope. The lyrics ‘water so deep, how do we breathe, how do we climb’ get-me- every-single-time.

‘I Can’t Stop This Feeling I Got’ by Razorlight – heard it on the Hollyoaks Pride ‘boxset’ and that guitar sound at the beginning just got me.  It’s that simple really.

‘Back to December’ by Taylor Swift – not my usual cup of tea in the slightest, this song is currently my choice of getting to sleep song. No idea with this one why, it is just there in my head day after day.

‘The Night We Met’ by Lord Huron – my current main earworm. Haunting, sad, beautiful, full of sadness and heaviness. The female voices at the beginning, the lyrics, the singer’s voice and the little guitar twangs…quite simply I love this track.

Tom Hickox – an odd one this as it’s not really a song I hear. Since seeing him at Womad, I have been left with a feeling of his voice, the emotions in his songs in my head. As I say, odd.

I have learnt that the standard advice for getting rid of ear worms – distractions or engaging with the songs – doesn’t work with me. They are part of me, they are simply there. Sometimes you just have to go with the soundtrack to your life.

*This post was bought to you with the accompaniment of ‘The Night We Met’ by Lord Huron*

You Are Not Alone

 


Day Twelve: Critique a Piece of Work


“Hold on, Hold On.

Everybody hurts.

You are not alone”

~ REM Everybody Hurts


Another day I initially felt very tempted to skip, another day I found myself thinking this isn’t my thing, what on earth would I write about?  Then something came to me, something very personal.  It is not really a critique or a review, more an expression of what one song means to me and how it will play for me at the end of my days.

When I tell people that I want this song played at my funeral, at the start when everyone walks in, the reaction is usually always the same.  It is always something along the lines of ‘wow you really want people to cry, don’t you?’ and accompanied by a look that suggests I am being mean, that I am a bad person for wanting to do that to people.  It is a song with a reputation for being bleak, a depressing song about hurt and loneliness, a ‘tear-jerker’.  And to be fair, once upon the time I thought so too.

As a teenager, my brother introduced me to a new world of music, quite different to the boy bands my friends were listening to.  This was how REM came into my life.  I loved REM then and still do, they seem to get how odd, screwed up and yet awesome this life can be.  They say to me that it is okay to be different, quirky and expressive.

‘Everybody Hurts’ was released shortly before I split up with my long-term boyfriend and temporarily moved back into my old bedroom at my parent’s house.  I was devastated.  My world and security had broken down and I was lost.  This song spoke to me of my grief, encouraged my sorrow and let me dwell again and again on how my life had gone so badly wrong.  To me it was indeed a song filled with hurt and sadness.

For years though this song has become a positive message to me especially when life has seemed more than bleak.  It is a song of hope, of finding a way through difficult and painful times, of not being alone.  There is acceptance that life comes with suffering, that everybody hurts and cries.  Yet we survive.  It is to me the perfect song to be played at a funeral, at a time when grief can seem too much to bear.

It is a song that has held me through many difficult times, it is sometimes the very thing that has stopped me feeling so alone and empty when depression has struck or when I have come face to face with grief.  Everybody does hurt, I hurt and it is this song that has helped me to hang on through some of the worst parts of my life.  Thank you REM for giving me this song, my world would have been a tougher place without it.