Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Worms Crawl In

You might be relieved to know...I am not going to shower you with righteous indignation this morning but  I have  made a pop-cultural observation. There is some new lunacy appearing on the horizon.

I was talking to my walking partner a couple of days ago and she was telling me about a trend that is popping up around the Dallas area.  People are dressing up like animals as a social meetup kind of thing. She said that some of the people at her work were talking about it and they can hardly wait to leave work so they can run home and  get their costumes on. (fun?)

As luck would have it, the very next day, I was having coffee here in Kansas City at my local Panera Bread Company, and low and behold the guy in front of me has a sheep "hoodie" on.  I am calling it a hoodie because I haven't a clue as to what else to call it.  The lamb's wool (hopefully faux) hood came over the guys head and shoulders and had ears. This isn't to be confused with those cute little hats like Crabby Pants wears.  This is more like a guy wearing a dead ewe on his head.  It times like this I need Google glasses because I, frankly, don't have the lady balls to pull out my Iphone and take a picture.  To appreciate it you would of had to of seen it. What made this even more fun was the fact my 76 year old coffee buddy said "Oh, look it's one of those people that dress like animals." See, even my older lady friends are more in the "know" than I am.

In order not to be totally devoid of  knowing about any current (albeit bizarre and useless), trends, I do a  little searching on Google and come up somewhat empty handed.  There are numerous articles about a  subculture called  Furry fandom where people dress up as  and anthropomorphize animals, but that has been around since 1980.  So why now...why am I hearing about this twice within a couple of days?  Well, maybe it's because:

A.  I've been living  under a rock.
B.  I am the least trendy person on the planet.
C.  I couldn't give a rat's patoot about dressing up as an animal.
D.  The human race's collective IQ is dropping faster than a rock pushed over by a Boy Scout Leader...oops that's a whole other post.


E. A very odd song from Norway is stuck in everyone's brain and  is causing some rather bizarre behavior.

BUT before I meander back to the idiotic song that may or may not be prompting people to look like this guy at the mall, let's talk a bit about earworms.

Thought Number One:  Haven't We Been Here Before?

 According to Wikipedia
An earworm is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing. Phrases used to describe an earworm include musical imagery repetition, involuntary musical imagery, and stuck song syndrome.The word earworm is a calque from the German Ohrwurm

Every so often some music becomes the "song you just can't get out of your head".  This isn't news. What is interesting is that there have been a few recent studies about WHY music lends itself to get stuck in our brain and who is more susceptible to having tunes repeat over and over in our brains.

James Kellaris, a marketing professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration, has done research on earworms  and he's found that as many as 99 percent of us have fallen prey to them at one time or another Kellaris says women and people who are neurotic, tired or stressed are most prone to earworm attacks. (EXCUSE ME??? Did he just insinuate that women are neurotic?  Or am I just being neurotic?)

Researchers also aren't sure why some songs are more likely to get stuck in our heads than others, but everyone has their own tunes that drive them crazy. Often the songs have a simple, upbeat melody; catchy, repetitive lyrics; and a surprise such as an extra beat or unusual rhythm -- the same factors that made the songs or jingles popular in the first place (like the Chili's, "I want my baby back baby back baby back ribs" jingle, which made Kellaris' list of the most insidiously "stuck" songs).

There are a number of lists that have picked out what songs are the most likely to cause earworms.  Just a few of those that appeared on some of the lists:
  • YMCA, (Village People) 
  • Who Let the Dogs Out, (Baha Men),
  • We Will Rock You (Queen)
  • It's a Small World After All (Sherman Bros./Disney Studios)
  • Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepson)

Thought Number Two:  The Quickest Way to Commercial Success is to Create an Earworm

Crabby Pants does love to be in the spotlight...even if it's with a psycho.
Remember last year, when the most annoying "earworm" worthy song exploded in the U.S.?
Park Jaesang, a rather unorthodox South Korean that is considered more of a comedian in his own country, brought to us a catchy little number called Gangnam Style.  Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho) had limited success in South Korea as by Korean standards,  is considered  too old at 34 to be a commercial success, plus  he had been busted for marijuana and had avoided serving in his  country's mandatory military service. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned.

Never fear...if all else fails..take it to America. 

Park might of missed the money train in Korea but he managed to catch it in America when You Tube started running  Gangnam Style   which has earned a whopping  1,799,129,117  hits since it's release.  Along with it's Internet success came a lot of exposure and a lot of record sales.  Not bad considering the fact that no one has a clue what the song is about.

But it seems that a lot of Americans couldn't get enough of Psy. The American rapper T-Pain was retweeted 2,400 times when he wrote "Words cannot even describe how amazing this video is.

Which brings me to the "whole animal costume" thing.  The latest version of a earworm taking hold and not letting go is the newest import from Norway What Does the Fox Say.  

The brothers Vegard and Bård Ylvisåker, members of the Norwegian comedy group Ylvis, produced the song and music video "The Fox" to promote the upcoming third season of their television talk show Tonight with YLVIS on TVNorge.  It was meant as a comedic gag.  I guess the joke is on them that Americans will latch onto anything.


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Cheryl P. said...

That was very wise of you not to listen. Maybe you are immune to earworms. Perhaps, you unknowingly inoculated yourself against attacks of catchy repetitive music. Maybe there are degrees of neurosis and you aren't neurotic enough to make the cut. Guess, you will have to up your game a bit.

Call me an optimist (in this one instance) but I am certain you are indeed a human. I probably need to have some assurances, though, that you don't go walking around with bizarre animal remnants on your head.

Cheryl P. said...

As far as assurance, you my blogger friend I would trust anything you say so I don't need picture proof. But you are right in the fact, if I had a picture I would feel the need to photoshop a costume on you and send it back you you do therefore proving that you might participate in this Furry fandom behavior.

Yes, that Crabby Pants is very prone to try most things so I am never terrible shocked by her behavior.

BTW, if down the road, you do decide to take up wearing the carcasses of animals, tell your lads to contact me. Crabby Pants and I will come post-haste to do an intervention,

Cheryl P. said...

Babs, I totally agree with you as I find the "What does the fox say way more annoying than memorable. But the Psy thing does have a certain staying quality about it.

Cheryl P. said...

What??? Tell me you have NO problems. Surely there are no messy situations in the Chatterbox household.

lisleman said...

I love "What Does The Fox Say" song. Now if it is repeated too many times in a short period it gets annoying. It's a fun song. Much more more fun than Gangnam Style. I thought the macarena was much better than gangnam style.

My wife's relatives from Oregon say it's common to see many people dressed in animal costumes out there.

I know I shared my story of "What Does The Fox Say" in some comment section weeks ago but guessing it was not here, so I'll repeat it.

I saw it on another blog and thought my almost 2 yr granddaughter would enjoy it. She knows many animal sounds. I sent it to my daughter and told her to show it to her. So she shows it to her and tells her that it's from Papa. I guess she thought that meant Papa would be in it (she has seen videos/video chats with me). She kept questioning "papa?" as the various characters came on the screen. Finally she see the old guy reading the book to the kids and says, "there he is!".

Cheryl P. said...

Funny that you mention that. The sheep boy was at Panera's to meet up with goth girl OH and they were into lots of PDA. Again, I wish I owned some Google glasses. It was a freak show and I had a front row seat.

Cheryl P. said...

I can see where the little kids would like the fox song. I love your story about your granddaughter thinking you were in it. The guy reading in the video can make some really odd sounds, so your little g-girl must think you are talented. Thank God she didn't think you were the elephant that went toot.

Overall, I think the Gangnam Style sound is more prone to stick in one's mind because it's catchy but I am not a fan at all because Psy annoys the living crud out of me.

I am not surprised about the animal costumes in Oregon as areas like Portland seem to be a bit edgier than the Midwest. My friend that said she is seeing this in Texas lives near the University of North TX in Denton which also, has that eclectic, think outside the box, vibe.

lisleman said...

Thanks for the elephant comment.
I believe this subculture is called cosplay and it's big in Japan. I think they are more don't-box-me-in than thinking-outside-the-box.

Nicky said...

People dressing up like animals. And we're the evolved species, right? Sigh.
I guess I shouldn't judge, seeing as I'm just a woman and most probably neurotic, tired and stressed. Although as neurotic, tired and stressed as I am, I'm not wearing a dead animal on my head. So there's that.

Wolf said...

Hi Cheryl,
That has to be one of the most annoying songs ever. I barely made it through the first verse, although Trina is still playing it all the way through... again. Earworm huh?
I haven't seen anyone dressing up like animals, but I really haven't been out that much either and probibaly would have passed it off as an early Halloween thing, not a trend. People do silly things!

Trina said...

HAHAHAHA Thank you Cheryl! I'm going to be annoying Wolf with that song frequently :)
You are not under a rock alone, dressing like an animal is a trend right now? I'm really happy we live in a small town right now, that's just goofy.
Thanks for the laugh!

Jo-Anne said...

I have not heard "What Does The Fox Say" but then I rarely listen to the radio now days,or maybe I am getting older/boring..............no I will never be boring..........lol

I do not get dressing up like an animal but I do think it might be funny to see a person dressed as a sheep get attacked by a wolf and not a person in a wolf suit but a real live wolf, yes I know I have a warped sense of humour at times.....

Cheryl P. said...

What? You don't put on sheep's clothing before you go out? Good to know. Yeah, I would be curious as to how Kallaris did this study. How does one measure the subjects level of neurosis, stress, and fatigue. I may be neurotic but I guess I am a skeptic as well. I don't usually have tunes that stick in my head and that would be the same head that doesn't have an animal sitting on it.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, I agree. I can see where really young kids might like the odd sounds like "hatee, hatee, hatee how" but really what adult song contains talking to a horse using mmm ---ooo--rrr--sss--eee as part of it's lyrics???

My walking partner told me she was going to ask one of her co-workers that is involved in this "why" they do it and where this trend came from. I just think it's an odd hobby. I was thinking the same thing about who would know the difference this close to Halloween if the person is into this type of dressing or if it's just a Halloween costume. Guess, we'll know if they are still dressed like a cow, duck or sheep at Thanksgiving dinner.

Trina, is evil...hahahaha

Cheryl P. said...

You are so evil, Trina. (laughing of course). Paybacks are hell so you better be careful.

I suspect this trend is confined to urban areas that have some eclectic and arty communities. Austin, Portland, Seattle, Boise etc. There might be some here as the guy I saw but I don't think it will be rampant.

Still...very odd I think.

Cheryl P. said...

Just like all You Tube videos that get a lot of attention it will filter in to social media for awhile then disappear. I did notice that it's up to 160 MILLION hits today. For now it's getting a lot of attention.

Cheryl P. said...

I have my walking partner talking to one of the girls that is involved in this. The group is strictly animal costumes and they act out the parts of how the animals act. At some point, I will get the scoop of what this is about.

ChickenConsigliere said...

My kids were playing this for me in the car a couple weeks ago. I didn't have the video to go with it but I have to say, I was puzzled. Everyone knows foxes say, "What you lookin' at?" duh.

oldereyes said...

I was just at the park today dressed as a squirrel. I didn't meet any women but I did meet three female squirrels. None of them were my type.

That may be the worst song I've ever heard. Elephants go Toot? Fish go Blub? Perhaps my attempts to produce a viral post have been misdirected ... I've always tried to get my animal sounds right. And show a trace of human intelligence. Go figure.

Cheryl P. said...

I would think the fox would have a lot to say to a chicken (with none of them working out well for the chicken)
What did your kids think of the song? It seems to make more sense that it would appeal to kids but I am sure they aren't the demographic that has it going viral on You Tube. There is just so much going on in the word that escapes me.

Cheryl P. said...

There just has to be a joke in there somewhere with the word NUTS involved but I seemingly can't come up with one.
I agree with you about it being the worst song EVER. It had already lost me at the elephant goes toot but by the time it got to the fish goes blub, I was "WTF is wrong with people?"
I am pretty sure if a person was inclined to want a video to go viral it has to be really stupid or contain a cat. You might want to work with your cat, as I don't see you being stupid.

Dexter Klemperer said...

So maybe I'm in the minority but I thought that video was pretty hilarious and I kind of want to watch the YLVIS show now. However, that does not make it right that people dress up as animals in public. Say, does anyone remember the theme song from "Quincy"? You're welcome.

meleahrebeccah said...

"What made this even more fun was the fact my 76 year old coffee buddy said "Oh, look it's one of those people that dress like animals." See, even my older lady friends are more in the "know" than I am."

And clearly, she's more in the know than I am too - because I never heard of this either!

OMG! I AM DYING! Just last week, my 17 year old son, forced me to watch the video "What Does The Fox Say?" - and even though it did NOT get stuck in my head, earworm style, I laughed my ASS OFF watching the video & listening to the lyrics. And now I am on a quest to find out what sound [if any] a fox actually makes!!

Cheryl P. said...

No, I would say you are in the majority....more than 160 million people have been listening to it on You Tube. I did watch the interview of these guys and their show is Norway's equivalent to Saturday Night Live. . The video was a spoof so it was supposed to be funny. I wonder how many people are just thinking it's cool and not picking up on the fact it's a comedy skit.
I had to Google the theme from Quincy. I didn't remember it. I don't tend to have music stick in my brain....which is surprising as I am neurotic, tired and stressed. So much for Professor Kellaris' theory.

Cheryl P. said...

I think that we might notice it now that is has been brought to our attention. My walking partner was going to ask one of the people that does this about the "why, what, where" of it all.
I agree that it is so stupid it becomes funny. I did like the last few seconds of the video where the fox talks and he doesn't sound at all like a person would imagine a fox to sound like. See...I am clearly nuts. Who would have a preconcieved notion as to what a fox sounds like except for me?

meleahrebeccah said...


oldereyes said...

Uhhh, I'd had a few drinks when I responded last night which may explain my stream of semi-consciousness reply.

Agent 54 said...

What a great video. Now I know what that is. Fox TV says my Boston Red Sox are leading the Cardinals 5-0 in game one of the World Series.

Oh yeah, I vote D

I wrote an earworm in my Halloween treat post "Snyderman" http://agent54nsa.blogspot.com/2013/10/snyderman-halloween-tale.html

Try to resist it if you dare. Hoo, hoo, haa haa, hoo, hoo

Riot Kitty said...

I've never met anyone who actually admitted to being a furry. EEEEWWWW. Or, ewe.

abeerfortheshower said...

Am I the only one that doesn't find "What does the Fox say?" to be all that funny or all that much of an earworm? People are like, oh my god, this is so funny! And catchy! And I try to watch it, and all I can think is... yeah, this is just kind of stupid. And 'x' out.

Also, "women and people who are neurotic, tired or stressed are most prone to earworm attacks." Let's see, I'm prone to earworm attacks. I'm not a woman, so... hey, screw you guys.

Cheryl P. said...

Congrats Tim on the win but as a Cardinal fan I am a bit sad. As an ex-St. Louisan, I have to root for the (once was my) home team.
I agree with D as well..good choice.
That Snyderman (Spiderman) parody is a riot. Very funny!!!

Cheryl P. said...

Thankfully, no one admitted it to you. You (or ewe) would then be forced to lose all respect for them. The only good thing about people joining into such a stupid hobby is the fact they get to hide behind a mask.

Cheryl P. said...

No you are not alone, That is my take on it too. The only sort of catchy line is the "what did the fox say" and nothing is memorable about that song. It not as funny as it is moronic. Big difference. Watching something stupid isn't necessarily funny.
I am (sometimes) a tired, stressed and neurotic woman and I am NOT prone to earworms. While I suspect this is because I don't give a crud and move on to the next thought, (OK it may or may not be ADD) but a concur with your point..screw those guys.

ChickenConsigliere said...

Foxes talk big. They are not as smart as everyone thinks. My 18-year old shared it. He thought it was stupid and genius. I watched the video. Have to admit I liked it. I'm sophomoric that way.

Cheryl P. said...

So your son is the kind of person that looks at things from all angles, I appreciate that in a person. He is so right. I totally see both side of the coin on this. Genius move on Ylvis' part but the song itself is juvenile but that seems to work as 170 million people are watching it.

Robyn Engel said...

I saw the fox one on someone else's blog. I think it's cute and funny, actually. Kids are into it. As far as Gangnam style, It's catchy and loud, but so strange. My 6 year old nephew was singing and dancing it to me. I watched the video, and I still don't get it.


Cheryl P. said...

I think that its appeal would be to the kids because of the odd "sounds" the animals make. I can see where a 6 year old would be amused, but I don't think that's the demographic that is fueling the You Tube hits. I don't get it either.

Cheryl P. said...

When I reread your comment...the video you don't get is the Gangnam Style one. I think I get that one more because its kind of catchy and the dance is funny. But Psy, the singer is more that a little strange. A LOT strange, in fact.

lisleman said...

Did you see this on SNL last night - this parody of the "gag" song is better than the original song.

snl - what does my girl say?


Cheryl P. said...

That is a riot!!! Way funnier than the original. I can always count on you to find great You Tube stuff!!