Top Ten Earworms: Songs That Get Stuck in Your Head

Updated on January 7, 2015
Earworms: Songs That Get Stuck in Your Head!
Earworms: Songs That Get Stuck in Your Head!

The Worst Earworms Ever

Are you CRAZY? You don't want to visit this page on earworms. It's about all those catchy tunes and songs that get stuck in your head. Once you hear these songs, you'll never be able to unhear them again. Go back or "It's a Small World" will repeat in your brain for the rest of the day—oops, too late!

Okay, now that you've been struck by a vision of cute animatronic figures lurching in synchronized saccharine, there's no help for it. The only way to cure an earworm is to replace it with another earworm, so my list includes videos and/or clips for maximum torture.

Disney's "It's a Small World"

Disney's "It's a Small World" is possibly the most notorious earworm of all. It's a pity, because it's actually a sweet song with a wonderful message.

It just goes to show that earworms usually aren't bad songs; the problem is often that they're very good songs. Speaking of Disney, I also blame them for getting "Yo, Ho (A Pirate's Life for Me)," "Be Our Guest," "He's a Tramp," and worst of all, the cluelessly racist "We Are Siamese" stuck in my head at various times.

P.S. Did you know that during the Christmas season, Disney's "It's a Small World" ride gets decked out in an incredibly tacky array of Christmas lights (complete with Santa hat on the clock), and the soundtrack changes to a manically cheerful rendition of "Jingle Bells"? Somehow, those plastic children manage to turn that song into an earworm, too.

All right, let's do this properly! Hop in the boat and brace yourselves:

It's Contagious, After All

Earworms are contagious. The last time I dared enter "Small World" with a friend, we couldn't stop ourselves from singing while we waited in line:

It's world of germs, it's a world of fleas

it's a world of bugs and infectious disease

There's so much that we share

That it's time we're aware

It's contagious, after all!

(Did I mention my friend is a microbiologist?)

"Who Let the Dogs Out?"—Baha Men

By strange coincidence, I just discovered that our next earworm's creators also recorded a reggae version of "It's a Small World." An improvement, in my opinion.

So here's the Baha Men's famous earworm. I remember when "Who Let the Dogs Out" first broke out in popular music like a rash. It's actually a good (if loud) song, but oh, that chorus will get stuck in your head. Have you ever heard the whole song?

And don't you think the Twilight saga would've been infinitely better if it had included Reggae werewolves like those in the video?

"The Lollipop Guild"—Wizard of Oz

This earworm is the bane of my existence. "The Lollipop Guild" gets stuck in my head for days and won't go away, despite the fact that until recently, I hadn't seen the film in over twenty years! Watching it again seemed to help, oddly enough.

As a matter of fact, there's a lot of tunes in The Wizard of Oz which are catchy, wonderful, and unforgettable: they are part of why this is one of the top-rated films of all time. Unfortunately, some of the best show tunes are also persistent earworms. Other major earworms from the wonderful world of Oz include "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead" and "If I Only Had a Brain."

"Silver Bells" by Bing Crosby

Earworms are subjective: depending on your tastes in music, you could have a very different set of earworms. But I bet there's at least one or two holiday songs that get stuck in your head. For me, it's "Silver Bells." Actually, no, that was my Dad's earworm, and he passed it on to me. Every year, while we're trimming the tree, my father is singing absently, "Silver Bells...dum de dum...Silver Bells...dum de dum..." and then he just repeats it. Over and over. Help!

In fact, I find that many holiday songs get stuck in my head. Other earworms for me are "Adeste Fideles" (O Come All Ye Faithful) thanks to memorizing it in Latin at a young age, "Jingle Bell Rock," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," "O Holy Night," and of course, "Jingle Bells."

"Caramelldansen" by Caramella Girls

The original version is in Swedish, from Caramella Girls' album Supergott. That song is okay, but when the group released a speeded-up version on iTunes, an Internet meme was born.

For a couple of years there, everybody from Darth Vader to random anime characters showed up in one spoof video or another doing this dance. I've even seen live action Stormtroopers doing it.

Danny Elfman—"This Is Halloween"

I suppose as catchy as many Christmas songs are, it's only fitting that Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas produced several earworms. Thankfully, I've finally stopped being afflicted by "Oogie Boogie's Song," but "This Is Halloween" still pops into my head whenever I see the shameless conflation of Christmas and Hallowe'en merchandising in the stores (as early as September, nowadays).

Danny Elfman hasn't gotten me in a long time, but the "Alice" reprise at the end of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (which I love—did I mention I have odd tastes?) is another one I can't shake for days.

"The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" by Leonard Nimoy

Many of the songs featured on this page are earworms because they are such good, catchy songs. This would be the exception.

Shortly after the web began, Leonard Nimoy was horrified to discover he had failed to destroy all evidence of this music video. He got the website shut down, but it was too late. The cat was out of the bag and the video started popping up everywhere.

I think he's resigned to his fate now.

Sorry, Mr. Spock. With all due respect, it is a national treasure (or horror) which we should not sweep under the rug.

"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"—Mary Poppins

Disney + Julie Andrews + Dick Van Dyke = major earworm.

Mary Poppins is another of those early films that makes most modern CGI look boring and artificial: it's eye-catching with its bits of stop-motion, hand-drawn animation, and other creative ways of presenting some pretty crazy stuff!

The songs for this iconic film were written by the Sherman Brothers, by the way. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" is almost as catchy.

The Llama Song—'90s Viral Video by AlbinoBlackSheep

In the late '90s, when modems first began reaching speeds necessary to view videos without waiting an hour, web humor reached a curiously Monty Python state of exaltation where anything was funny, if repeated often enough. Flash was the vector of the disease.

Notable examples included Pavarotti's Elephants (which has to be one of the oldest surviving pages on the web) and, of course, Badger Badger Badger and its spoof, Potter Potter Potter.

Most of these songs lost something in the jump to YouTube, where the song only repeats once. It's like hearing one verse of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." Nonetheless, "The Llama Song" is worth honoring as the best of the bunch. In '08, it spawned an inevitable Obama Parody which commenters have blamed for winning him the election.

"Time Warp"—The Rocky Horror Picture Show

In some ways, the entire Rocky Horror Picture Show is an earworm, or perhaps a mindworm. You will certainly never forget it, if you've ever seen—er—experienced it with audience participation.

I think "Sweet Transvestite" might also qualify as an earworm for some people. But mostly just that famous line: "Antici...."

Fan Spoof: Star Trek Does the Time Warp Again

Psy's "Gangnam Style"—We Have a Winner!

Since I first published this article, many people have nominated or voted on the worst earworms of all time. However, as you know (unless you've been living under a rock), the summer of 2012 unleashed the best earworm ever made: Korean pop star Psy's magnificently over-the-top "Gangnam Style."

(Do you know the hidden message in this crazy song?)

I would also like to recommend Ra-On's awesome blues cover of "Gangnam Style."

Poll: Are You a Victim of Earworms?

How often do you get earworms?

See results

Which of these is the top (or worst) earworm?

See results

Nominate Earworms I've Missed—I Know There Are a Lot More Out There...

My list suffers from a lack of contemporary music: I don't find most modern stuff very catchy, or else my tastes in music are so obscure that if I mentioned Dar William's "The Babysitter's Here," few of you would recognize it (although it's adorable and you should hear it once).

So please, fill in the gaps. What are some recent notable earworms? Or even golden oldies that I've missed?

Also, please share this horrifying page with your friends! They should lose productivity, too.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Ellen Brundige

    Guestbook—Sing Out!

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    • profile image

      Marzipancuttles 4 weeks ago

      Mr Sandman by The Chordettes hands down, I hate that song so much but it's permanently stuck in my head.

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      John 11 months ago

      What about Electric Avenue by Eddie Grant?

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      Tim 15 months ago

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      Heather 17 months ago

      Happy is the worst.

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      Mike 19 months ago

      How About Ride - twenty one pilots?, that is a catchy song

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      recluse 2 years ago

      One Night In Bangkok by Murray Head, that one lasted for around 36 hours, I only managed to drive it out with Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.

      Also Hotel California by the Eagles. Had that for 24 hours once, thought I would go mad!

    • profile image

      Laura 2 years ago

      76 trombones

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      Mark 2 years ago

      My daughter reminded me of this from the movie Madagascar 3

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      Mark 2 years ago

      An oldie but goodie :-) love the rock and roll version further on the track .

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      KSL 2 years ago

      Hamster Dance

      deedeedee da dooo doooo de da de de doooooooo

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      Anonymous 2 years ago

      Wichita Lineman

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      angelar 3 years ago

      I forget the actual titles of these songs, "if you've got pina coladas...", baby got back, and all the things she said by tatu

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      PaulW 3 years ago

      "Back to back, belly to belly, I don't give a damn cause I'm stone dead already!"

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      Goddessofmusic 3 years ago

      This Is the Song That Never Ends - number one of all time! NO! DON'T!!!!

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      pamela 3 years ago

      Tom Jones "It's Not Unusual"..... i can suffer for months with this and it's triggered by people saying it in their normal speech.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 3 years ago from California

      AIIIGH STAR TREKKIN great song, terrible earworm. You must be my age to remember that horror. ;)

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      Barbie 3 years ago

      For sure it's SURFIN' BIRD by The Trashmen....Bird is the Word!!!!!

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      Dan 3 years ago

      "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay.

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      Teri 3 years ago

      For me its got to be "bird, bird, bird is the word"

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      Lai-Lai 3 years ago

      1)2001: A Space Odyssey Theme song, playing over a line from Troll 3: "They're eating her. & then they're going to eat me! Ohhhh myyyy gooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!"

      2)Star Trekkin.

      3)Phil Collins & Genesis. Those tend to last the whole damn week.

      4)The Final Countdown.

    • profile image

      MS CE 3 years ago

      The Griswold's Christmas Vacation..Mele Kalikimaka (is the island say Merry Christmas to you!)

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      Joe 3 years ago

      Here's one my friend tortured me with. Q: what is that meatloaf won't do for love in the song I'll do anything for love, but I won't do that. By the time you find the answer (hint answer at the end of the song) you won't be able to get rid of the ear worm. You're welcome.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 3 years ago from California

      Oh dear. Yes, it was past time for somebody to Rick Roll this page. ;)

    • profile image

      rae-rae 3 years ago

      how 'bout this one?

      or uh...cotton eyed joe?

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      uplifter 3 years ago

      What about "Fish Heads" fish heads, roly poly fish heads from the Dr. Demento show or later versions?

    • Pace21 LM profile image

      Pace21 LM 3 years ago

      Slow country songs are the worst. I'm currently repeating,"little baby ducks,old pickup trucks..." in my head.

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      gabegallant 3 years ago

      Um..The Sanford & Son Theme Song. That shot will get stuck in your head for ages.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      Think Sesame Street and the ma-nam-a-nah song. That has been going through my head for many years.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I enjoyed this lens, some of those songs get stuck in your head

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      Here's my number, so Call Me Maybe....aaarrrrggghhh!!!!

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      deftoy 4 years ago

      Every Day Is Halloween by Ministry. Ooh Ooh Boppy Bop Bop. Ooh Ooh Boppy Bob Bop.

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 4 years ago

      Okay you are mean...I now have that stupid song in my head and it's almost bedtime...

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Oh, come on! You have this list of songs, both yours and those others have nominated, but you don't have the one that can truly challenge "It's A Small World" as the worst of all time?

      Have you never seen a version of "Annie?"

      Yep. Sing it with me, everyone!

      "Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow, you're only a day away!"

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      Kenster999 4 years ago

      That damn "circus clown" song! It's actually called "Entrance of the Gladiators". This site won't let me post a link to YouTube for some reason, but if you search Google for that song name, the first result will take you there (although the video is incorrectly labelled "Entry of the Gladiators"). The part starting at about 14 seconds in is (for no good reason) often the default song I have playing in the back of my mind. Out!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      "Mickey" by Toni Basil; "Cars That Go Boom" by L'Trimm, "Aah Shuu Dekei Oo" by Huun Huur Tu, "Summertime" by the Jamies, "Book of Love" by the Monotones, "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians, "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen. Just a start...

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Anything by the Carpenters

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love another one bites the dust!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      We'll Have FUn, FUn, FUn..... til...

      "D E S P E R A D O...."

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Pina Colda song's been stuck in my head for three days now and I'm really tired of it!

    • HardyGirl profile image

      HardyGirl 5 years ago

      This lens is crazy! And so much fun, I'll have to share. It's only polite to spread earworms, right?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Listen to "The Song That Never Ends" by Shari Lewis a couple times. Probably easily available on Youtube.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Agadoo, still, I'm told, a favourite of boozed-up Spanish-package-holidaying Brits.

    • LaughingLady LM profile image

      Helen Phillips Cockrell 5 years ago from Virginia

      I just LOVE this lens! I've visited before, but am now back for the "My favorite Lens of 2012" quest! I've also enjoyed many of your other lenses, including several of your tutorial ones since I'm new to Squidoo. Thanks so much for giving back so much!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Porky Pig doing Blue Christmas

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Grizzly Bear by the Youngbloods

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      "My Sharona"

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 5 years ago from California

      @anonymous: Oh, thank you! It goes right along with the ending credits song of Blackadder I, currently stuck in my head:

      "Always look on the bright side of life... His horse is blacker than a vole..."

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      "Always look on the bright side of life!"

      There. You have it too.

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 5 years ago from California

      @anonymous: Oh goodness, yes. I need to update this page. I had that thing running through my head for most of last week.

      Although I'm not sure it's a proper earworm if you never get tired of the SHEER AWESOMENESS. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      No contest - MUST be Gangnum Style, by Psy. One heard, never forgotten.

    • TamaraG LM profile image

      TamaraG LM 5 years ago

      Love this Lens! How about "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins

    • GeekGirl1 profile image

      GeekGirl1 5 years ago

      This is so true. Now, I am humming "It's a small world".

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 6 years ago

      Great topic! The original James Bond 007 theme is my #1 earworm. The theme to Mission Impossible is the 2nd one. My husband likes to taunt me with these from time to time and it drives me crazy because I can't them out of my head!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas has a terrible tendency to earworm it's way into my ears. It's the holiday season once again so there it is busily spinning it's merry little tune in my mind lol. Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas season.

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 6 years ago

      great lens! how about mmm bop by the hansons!

    • Rhidawn profile image

      Rhidawn 6 years ago

      How about "The Song that Never Ends" from Lamb Chop...LoL great lens

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      dannystaple 6 years ago

      How about "There's no Limits", or "My way". Blessed - because this was sooo much fun!

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      One of the worst is 'Found a Peanut.' Next in line, in my opinion, is '100 Bottles of Whatever on the Wall.' Argh! Now, I've gone and done it!

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 6 years ago

      The theme song to Wii resort sword fight. Probably from playing Wii resort sword fight for like 26 hours straight. Make. It. Stop.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Loco Loco Jump Jump Jump

      Jump Jump Jump like a kangaroo listen to the sound of the dicker do jump jump let's do ti again we go to the land of the boomerang "bng bang bang boomerang bang bang

    • FrankChapman LM profile image

      FrankChapman LM 6 years ago

      Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A My oh my, what a wonderful day, I know the entire song and sing it all the time. Drives me and any one around me nuts.

    • Not-Pop profile image

      Not-Pop 7 years ago

      The Badger Badger Badger meme is a horrible earworm as well, and This Is the Song that Never Ends, particularly when Lambchop is involved. Great lens!

    • tiff0315 profile image

      tiff0315 7 years ago

      All I have to do is read the title and it's in my head! Argh!

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      As a composer and arranger I am afflicted by earworms most days. These earworms might prove useful for dislodging some of the annoyiong regulars that keep me from concentratin by day and sleeping by night! Fun lens, blessed in passing :)

    • profile image

      legofun 7 years ago

      The Chicken Dance is a definite earworm!

    • TopMovieSoundtr profile image

      TopMovieSoundtr 7 years ago

      I shouldn't have even started reading this page because now a bunch of these songs are stuck in my head. Have you heard the Rockapella version of "It's a Small World"? It's featured in the Gnomeo and Juliet movie. You hear it once and you think charming. Then on the 2nd or 3rd listen, it's enough. Also, there's a catchy dance song playing here in Europe called "Barbara Streisand" that should make it's way to the U.S. by summer.