“Over and over and over and over, like a monkey with a miniature cymbal.” So go the lyrics to Hot Chip’s unsurprisingly titled song, ‘Over and Over.’
This song is just one of many that keeps playing, indeed ‘over and over’, on my internal jukebox. This, The Village People’s Macho Man, the theme to I Dream of Jeannie, the Quality Street tune and, more recently, Pearl and Dean’s orchestra cinema epic, Asteroid. Whether this has anything to do with the humming and whistling company I keep, I don’t know, but the fact is that some tunes stay with me for longer than I’d like. Much longer.
I quick scoot around on Google gives one possible explanation – itchy brains. Yes, apparently researchers have argued that catchy songs “work by causing a ‘brain itch’ which can only be scratched by repeating the tune.” However, that doesn’t explain how it only takes one thoughtless person’s godforsaken whistle to start a Mexican wave of a ‘brain itch’ across a room. Yet having said that, any talk of nits or fleas often gets people scratching, so the principle is there.
Nonetheless, an irritating itch needs dealing with. You don’t prolong the discomfort by tickling it with a feather, do you? And have you ever tried itching your leg through jeans? The experience is unsatisfying at best. This is why the offending tune needs to be eliminated directly at the source. I don’t mean ripping your head open and physically scratching your brain (although I’m fairly sure that would put an end to the problem in more ways than one), but by simply getting rid of the offending hummer/whistler. Whether this be through polite and courteous conversation, or by more direct means (see above). Extreme, perhaps, but I’m sure that I’m not alone here when I say that somebody subjected to a continual and prolonged physic stream of Macho Man will not be in the most rational frame of mind. You have been warned.