Professors lend an earworm

Biola professors share each of their “earnworms.”


Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Parker Munson, Writer

It always happens when I least expect it — while I’m driving, doing the dishes, taking a shower. My guard is down and I’m vulnerable, and that’s when my earworm strikes: Pete Seeger’s “Little Boxes.” No tune has burrowed its way through my brain more often than this cautionary diddy about suburban sprawl and middle-class monotony. To find out if I was the only one with a musical menace, I emailed inquiries to a few of our very own Biola professors, and here’s what they said:

Aaron Fooks/THE CHIMES

Amy Cannon, adjunct professor of English:

“I don’t have any single personal earworm — though mine tend to follow the trend of a) being the catchy hook or repetitive chorus b) of an extremely popular song c) that I don’t like. Whether it be something all the cute kids are crooning on ‘Adorable YouTube Videos You Just Have To Share’ — I’m looking at you, ‘Frozen’ — or the anthem of the latest Apple commercial, a tenacious few lines of a song can jingle through my synapses when I wake up, when I’m showering, driving, falling asleep at night ad infinitum. The other major requirement for an earworm is that I don’t know the whole song. Something about not knowing anything but a few bars allows them to loop on for eternity. I find that sitting down to listen to the whole of whatever song I’ve been saddled with satisfies my brain’s search for the rest of the melody and helps me successfully extract that pesky earworm.”

Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Stewart Olesen, journalism professor:

“My life basically changed on February 9, 1964 when I watched The Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan. The music of the Fab Four was in my life, and my head, ever since. I formed my first band, The Electric Plague, a year later and I was off and running. I was an FM DJ all through college at the University of Illinois and prided myself on playing progressive rock music … Beatles, Stones, Animals, The Who … on and on. However, for some reason when “Waterloo” by ABBA came out in 1974, I was hooked. It doesn't fit at all, and I am constantly taking heat from friends for liking ABBA music. But my favorite ABBA tune is “SOS.” Even John Lennon called it the "Best pop tune of the ‘70s," and Pete Townshend of The Who was amazed by the guitar licks in the song. It's my ‘earworm’ even today.”

Natalie Lockard/THE CHIMES

David Horner, biblical studies professor:

“Lately the worm is an old John Denver song, ‘I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado.’ I'm from Colorado — a fourth generation native — and wherever else I've lived, within a few years I had moved back there. This is the longest I've been anywhere else. Now a close friend from Colorado is leaving here to head back, and the worm is hard at work. Who do I have in mind? ‘I guess he'd rather be in Colorado / He'd rather spend his time out where the sky looks like a pearl after the rain. … He'd rather play his banjo in the morning when the moon is scarcely gone … humming some old song he wrote of love in Boulder Canyon / I guess he'd rather be in Colorado.’”

Amylia Lewis/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Matthew Weathers, mathematics professor:

“‘The Gummy Bear Song’ is the epitome of pop music, but for kids — it’s actually designed to get stuck in your head. ‘Yes, I'm a Gummy Bear! / Oh, I'm a Yummy, Chummy, Funny, Lucky Gummy Bear.’ The song is actually just the title track of a whole collection of songs based on an animated green gummy bear doing awkward dance moves. It’s been translated into more than a dozen languages. The English version of the video has 400+ million views on YouTube. I like it because of its over-the-top ridiculousness — I can’t quite tell if it’s parody or sincere. Probably a little of both. So if you’re looking for a way to waste some time or avoid homework, type ‘Gummy Bear’ into YouTube and watch some of them.”

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