Earworms and music sales

Not necessarily in that order.

First, a continuation of a post from a bit ago about the death of the music industry.  In the process of a larger discussion of the internet and the economy, this post quotes an expert explaining the way digital culture has rearranged music and commerce:

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.” The improved choice and variety and availability of music must be worth something to us—even if it is not easy to put into numbers. “On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Whole thing here.

Second,  and because “I Hope You Dance” has been stuck in my head on and off since November 2001 (no joke), I give you Jeffrey Goldberg tackling the curse of the earworm:

 I recently woke up with Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” in my head. Fortunately, I was soon able to forget it. Unfortunately, it was replaced by the Human League’s “(Keep Feeling) Fascination.” I asked a memory expert I know, Joshua Foer, the author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, if it is possible to force forgetfulness, particularly of crappy songs. This is his answer: “There’s actually a scientific term for jingles that get lodged in your head: earworms. It’s probably not the case that having ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ bouncing around your skull is keeping you from mastering multivariate calculus, but that doesn’t mean it’s not annoying. (Interestingly, a recent study found that women experience earworms for longer than men, and generally find them more annoying. I don’t know what to make of that.) A study published earlier this year (the researchers gave subjects the ‘Catchy Tunes Questionnaire’) found that the worst way to get rid of earworms is to try to get rid of earworms. The more you think about trying to forget them, the deeper they burrow. This is pretty much true about consciously trying to forget anything. There’s even a name for the phenomenon: ironic processing. The best advice I’ve heard for making earworms go away is to just stop being irritated by them, and come to peace with the fact that you’re humming Britney Spears.”

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Lee Ann Womack to hum.

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  1. Judi wrote:

    FWIW, in this household earworms seem to bother the male gender person more. And for both of us, they often occur after church…something the choir sang or maybe a hymn. It was a lot worse when we sang in a church choir. One tune persisted for almost a week following a particularly rigorous rehearsal. As for the comment about sales of music, there is a lot in common with news. News isn’t going away, but people aren’t buying it in newsprint any more…and ad revenue on the Internet is going to aggregators, i.e middlemen, and not to the creators of the product. Or so I read somewhere on the Internet recently.

  2. SG_Obzerver wrote:

    I’ll trade your Lee Ann Womack singing “I Hope You Dance” for my Miley Cyrus singing “Party In The USA” ANYTIME.

    Oh for the sweet release of death…

  3. cdguy wrote:

    If the revenue of the music business continues to disappear, we will go back to less quality music. It’s the same in all the arts and sciences:

    No money to be made = no time to make art or do science.

  4. topsy wrote:

    Could be worse - I had a guy tell me a few weeks ago he’s been humming to himself “ELVIRA” since the 70’s. - seriously.

  5. swhalen wrote:

    It seems to me that people associate certain tunes/jingles/artists with particular times in their lives. It’s just natural association.

  6. Irishlad wrote:

    #4 Giddy up a Oom Poppa Omm Poppa Mow Mow :)
    I’d hate to get earwormed by what some are calling the “worst song of all time”, the robotic vocals and inane chorus of “tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards” has become a global sensation,catapulting it’s 13 yr old performer,Rebecca Black to instant stardom via YouTube.The song is called “Friday” and details the teen’s excitement at the impending weekend.Obviously she has all the credentials to make a great Sg songwriter ;)

  7. Fleur wrote:

    I’ll take your Miley Cyrus and raise you one “Mama Mia” by ABBA. :)

  8. Carl wrote:

    There an old earworm from a Gaither tape that’s resurrected itself here after years of silence, and all because of this blog.

    The topics about black gospel in Feb & March got me to thinking about how performers, no matter their race or tradition, tailor performance to the kind of gospel music event they’re at, be it southern, black, Gaither, TV preacher or whatever. I wondered what I’d see if I could compare the same performer and song in different settings. I’ve seen Jessy Dixon in several different settings and remembered a Youtube clip of him singing “The Wicked Shall Cease From Troubling” with a choir of black gospel legends. It’s from that recording that I think is still unreleased of a gathering of some the greats of traditional black gospel. It seemed perfect because I could compare it to him soloing on the same song on the Gaither video “All Day Singing at the Dome” with Gaither and Geron Davis leading two big choirs in back.

    I played the tape and remembered too late that the I-IV-V-I “aahwoo – aahwoo” background of the Homecoming choir on the Gaither tape had been an earworm that lasted for months the first time I saw it years ago. One pass through that tape again and it’s back with me. It pops up while I’m driving, or on the bus, doing the wash, and sometimes when I wake up at night. And it’s not just the sound of it. I’ve never been able to interpret the faces of the Homecoming crowd on that song so I discover I’m visualizing their faces in my mind’s eye, still not able to figure out the various states of mind those folks are in while they aahwoo.

    Some gospel music earworms aren’t so bad but this one is like a nighttime mosquito.

  9. Magnolia wrote:

    Well, if you really want to get an earworm, just play this song one time! LOL LOL


    Bobby McFerrin certainly started something with this simple little composition.

  10. Irishlad wrote:

    #9 Without clicking, a pound to a penny it’s “don’t worry be happy” :) :):)

  11. Irishlad wrote:

    Thinking about Tim Duncan’s impending CD and how notoriously difficult it is for a Bass to make a commercially viable product.
    Now i don’t have the sales figures for these recordings,but here is a purely personal list of recordings made by Quartet Bass’ (that i know of)and i’ve compiled them simply under the title; Good,Bad and Indifferent,based on how many times i’ve been prompted to listen to the album.Bad once,Indifferent couple of times,Good many times.
    Ken Turner.Big John Hall.George Younce.Armond Morales.JD Sumner.Keith Plott.Harold Gilley.
    London Parris.Big Chief.
    Gene McDonald.Tim Riley.
    I’ve a feeling Tim’s has his work cut out.

  12. Gerry wrote:

    Isn’t it interesting that an “Earworm” and a song “Hook” are the same thing? And your line feels the “Hit” just before you land the big fish?

  13. quartet-man wrote:

    #10, I never clicked either, but presumed as much. :)

  14. Magnolia wrote:

    #10 and #13 won the grand prize. It was “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. That is one of those songs, kinda like “He Touched Me” or “White Christmas”…….that we all wish we could have written. Bill Gaither and Dottie Rambo were blessed to write songs of this nature, songs that were popular thirty years ago, and songs that will still be popular thirty years later.

    In secular music, you really win the lottery when you can write a song that can be used in a jingle in commercials during the Super Bowl. The royalty checks never stop coming. LOL

  15. Magnolia wrote:

    Okay…..indulge me one more earworm potential, in a very good way. Dan Tyminski has performed a song that will define him forever. Since I love Bluegrass, I obviously love this one!!!

    Okay Irishlad - let’s have a guess before clicking the link! ;-)


  16. quartet-man wrote:

    #15 I’ll take a guess. “Blue Moon of Kentucky”?

  17. irishlad wrote:

    Magonila, I’d ‘indulge’ you anytime,providing you’re female that is.

  18. Find the writer! wrote:

    #4 Irishlad
    Thankfully I’ve been able to avoid the song so far, but to be fair, Rebecca Black did NOT write the song. She was given a few song options, and she felt this choice fit her age more appropriately.

  19. Tim wrote:

    #15 “Man of Constant Sorrow”

  20. Bones wrote:

    Irishlad, Do you come to the NQC?

  21. Irishlad wrote:

    20 Bones,the only thing putting me off this year is the price of flights.The package deal to the Gault is good @ $1550 for 2 ppl,but the flights are costing almost that each…not good value methinks.

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