Whether it’s because they’re objectively bad or because you never want to be caught absentmindedly singing them to yourself, there are definitely some songs that you just don’t want to get stuck in your head. I have the terrible habit of having the most unfortunate melodies stuck in my head at the most inopportune moments: right before a midterm or final, just before I head to bed, in the middle of a conversation, in that moment right after the professor has called on me but I haven’t started to speak yet… These are the songs that fragment themselves into little pieces of a chorus or verse and run tiny laps in your mind until you just start to tear your hair out in frustration.
This list is composed of songs that have proved particularly troublesome for me in the past few months. I’m sure there are plenty others that could be here, so feel free to post your choices in the comments!
With Arms Wide Open, Creed
Once this song’s stuck, it’s hard to shake. It could be Scott Stapp’s gravelly “man voice,” or the hackneyed string arrangement, or maybe the Tolkien-esque music video. Whatever the cause, the guitar solo and the chorus immediately after it were stuck in my head for a good portion of this past April. This is not a song you want anyone else to know you’ve ever heard before. Nickelback’s Photograph comes in a close second. I never have been able to figure out what the hell is on Joey’s head…
Baby, Justin Bieber
I’ll be the first to admit that if Justin Bieber were not Justin Bieber, I would probably like this song. The song’s chorus is catchy, Ludacris does a great verse, and the instrumental track balances perfectly with the vocals. But the catch is that it is Justin Bieber, and he recorded these songs about true love at the age of 14 or 15. I can’t take it seriously. Neither should any 14 year-old girl.
My Humps, Black Eyed Peas
Best I Ever Had, Drake
I love Drake, I really do. But did he have to go and make his catchiest song have one of the least socially acceptable choruses ever? You can’t go singing this to yourself just anywhere.
Tik Tok, Ke$ha
Ke$ha’s rise to fame on this single is qualitatively the worst development in pop music in recent memory. You’ll probably never meet a person who likes this song, and yet everyone knows the opening lines. Everyone. Her voice is irritating, her style is uncreative, but that chorus is unnervingly catchy. I just really hope that P Diddy never wakes up feeling like Ke$ha, or else his next album will be made up of electro-pop dance music with autotuned singsong vocals about partying and being generally useless. Oh wait… that’s exactly what Last Train to Paris is going to be. For shame, Diddy. For shame.
Imma Be, Black Eyed Peas
Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be. Imma be be be be Imma Imma be... in primal scream therapy if I have to listen to this ever again.
Ignition Remix, R. Kelly
Part of this track's catchiness comes courtesy of Dave Chappelle’s side-splittingly funny spoof. I can't divorce that video from the real thing. Both Ignition and its parody are so smooth and, in completely different ways, hilarious. Possibly the most laughable line: “So gimme that toot-toot, lemme give you that beep-beep.” Simply enchanting. Makes me want to give someone that toot-toot. Look what you’ve done to me, R. Kelly.
Drop It Like It’s Hot, Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell
Snoop Dogg talks like a preteen girl here, raising the terminal inflection of that chorus loop so it sounds like a question every time. Drop it like it’s hot? Drop it like it’s hot? Drop it like it’s hot? No, I will not drop it like it’s hot, Snoop. Now stop asking. Go back to your wife and kids and contemplate the innumerable contradictions between your music and home life. Or, if that's too weighty, just think of another small country to rent.
Life’s a Bitch, Nas
This is the best track off Illmatic, Nas’s groundbreaking debut album. Which should mean that I’d be happy to get this stuck in my head… But it’s just so depressing. Having the line “life’s a bitch and then you die” on constant mental replay while doing those ACCT 101 practice exams in a secluded Van Pelt study carrel can sink you into a nihilistic funk pretty quickly. What other hip-hop songs can inspire such existential angst?
Stanky Legg, GS Boyz
Look up the definition of “stanky legg” on urbandictionary. If the name of the song and the appearance of the dance weren’t already repulsive enough, that will ruin any positive or even humorous associations you had with that song. Just make it stop! Please!