Medical Mysteries of Music

The 20 WORST Earworm Songs. (WARNING: Think Before You Click!)

I will not be responsible for what will go through your head if you continue to read this post. But if you’re (a) curious; or (b) a sucker for punishment, push on.

Researchers at the University of St. Andrews have come up with a Top 20 of songs that are most likely to be caught on an infinite loop in your brain. As earworms go, these are potentially the worst. (Note that this is a British study, so your level of neurological craziness may vary.) (Via The Mirror)

  1. We Will Rock You – Queen
  2. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  3. We are the Champions – Queen
  4. I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – Proclaimers
  5. YMCA – Village People
  6. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  7. Final Count Down – Europe
  8. Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi
  9. Jingle Bells
  10. Who Let the Dogs Out? – Baha Men
  11. Gangnam Style – Psy
  12. Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
  13. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  14. Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson
  15. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  16. Beat It – Michael Jackson
  17. Ruby – Kaiser Chiefs
  18. The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror show
  19. About the Bass – Meghan Trainer
  20. Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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13 thoughts on “The 20 WORST Earworm Songs. (WARNING: Think Before You Click!)

  • Many of these songs are played at hockey games. They drive me crazy. Please Alan, do something about it!

    Reply
  • Wow. How did Zorba The Greek or Tijuana Taxi by Herb Alpert not make it on the list?

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  • The chorus of Baby You’re Out of Time, by the Rolling Stones. Devastating earworm.

    Reply
  • “Its a small world” (disney) and the Muppets song “manamana” is much worse than the ones you have listed.

    Reply
  • Roxanne, The Police. Must get rid of it, that’s why I’m here- to find a replacement! 😂

    Reply
  • I’m sorry, you left out the #1 earworm in the history of recorded music.
    Funkytown – Lipps Inc.

    Reply
  • I’ve had Hey, Why Don’t You Play, Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song stuck in my head for three weeks. I would gladly trade it in for any of the songs on this list.

    Reply
  • It’s a Small World has always been the ultimate Ear Worm for me. I first heard it at the New York Worlds Fair in 1964, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since. Been trying to get it out of my mind for close to 60 years…

    Reply
  • If you remember Hey, why don’t you etc., then you probably remember Oliver singing Good morning star shine. This was so bad, and has stuck in my head for so long that I’m pretty sure that I’d be in my rights to find and murder dear old Oliver if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s already dead. My I’ll dig him up and murder him again. Shib shab shooby, dooby dab dooby indeed. Another good one is Shake yer bootie by KC and the sunshine band but he can’t really be blamed because of all the cocaine. Shake, shake, shake.

    Reply
  • Well I will admit there are some catchy tunes on here this list and I think many will agree any ear worm list is not complete unless the true #1 ear worm is on it. Sesame Streets “the 12 song” is by far the worst ear worm in history. I challenge anyone to listen to it & not get is wormed into your head. I can’t currently recall the musician’s name & please forgive me for not looking it up as I am not purposely going to google it to find out as it will inevitably lead to music videos of said song. I do know it’s only a quick google search away for any who wish to know who wrote & performed it.

    Reply
  • Nah, you missed Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks

    Reply

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