The Worst Earworms of All Time

Chili’s Baby Back Ribs jingle.  That, according to a study, is the most vicious, most pernicious, most unbeatable earworm of all time.  Now, this is an old study, from over a decade ago.  Maybe there are newer earworms, or songs that just won’t get out of your head, but for now, we have to assume that Chili’s is still number one.  Well, actually, Chili’s is number two.  There is no number one.  Or rather, everyone has their own number one.  Everyone’s number one earworm is different, apparently, and supposedly, according to this article, musicians have it worse off than “normal” people.  Uh oh.

So that got me to thinking.  I am a musician.  And I always have some song or another stuck in my head.  But what are the worst ones?  What are the songs that, over the years, repeatedly worm their way into my brain and then lodge there for multiple eternities?  So I came up with a list.  Here are, in a completely unscientific list, the five songs that continually plague me.

#1 – The Andy Griffith Show Theme Song

This one gets me all the time.  I have not seen this show or heard this song in decades, and yet I am apt to find myself whistling it at any given moment, and at least once a month for the past 30 or so years.

#2 – Mmmbop, by Hanson

Why is this so catchy?  Any time I try to scat or improve some do-wop I inevitably come back around to the Mmmbop chorus and end up just singing that instead.  And then I keep singing it.  Forever.

#3 – Istanbul (Not Constantinople), by They Might Be Giants

This is more of an honorary spot at #3 for my very first recurring earworm.  I still enjoy the song, but it doesn’t get stuck in my head quite like it used to.  But from middle school on, for many years, I could always rely on this song to get stuck if ever I heard it played, hummed, or mentioned.

#4 – The William Tell Overture

Oh, now it’s stuck in your head too?  Sorry.  I blame Bugs Bunny for this.

#5 – F*ck You, By Cee Lo Green

No, I do not sing the clean version.  I sing the dirty version.  Hey small, children, do not watch this video!  It is inappropriate!  In fact, I am going to go back and replace that version with the muppet chicken version.  There.  That’s better.  Except for the fact that it is stuck in my head again.  *sigh*

So there they are.  My top 5 earworms.  Although many of the top songs on that other, more scientific list are also frequent visitors to my brain.  The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Whoomp! There It Is, and the theme song from Mission Impossible are all pretty high on my list too.  But what about you?  Since everyone’s top earworm is supposedly different, I would love to know what song haunts you the most.  Can you immediately name it?  Or do you have to think about it for a minute?  What is the one song that keeps coming back, over and over and over again?  Leave me a comment!  And ask your friends too!  Let’s compile a list of the world’s worst earworms, and I’ll post them all here later!

Please follow and like us:



Posted in Earworms, List, Music, Tenor Tuesday.


  1. Ashokan Farewell from Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War is one that returns constantly. ( and apparently I whistle it when it does which just spreads the earworm like crazy. Nessun Dorma (but as an earworm it only plays as I heard it sung once by a dreadful tenor who sounded like Dudley Dooright of the Mounties) and “Mickey” (Oh Mickey you’re so fine…)

  2. Pingback: The Last Word on Earworms | Tenor Dad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *