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The Anatomy of an Annoying Song
March 14, 2012 12:14 PM   Subscribe


 
For me, at least, the primary source of incredible irritation is that the song is usually sung by the tiny shrill voices of children, which has about as much appeal to me as a symphony performed entirely by dental drills.
posted by elizardbits at 12:21 PM on March 14, 2012 [28 favorites]


Oh, that's easy: I hate the sound of children singing.
posted by troika at 12:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


My personal theory is the following:
1) It's too repetitive. There's simplicity of construction, then there's repetition for repetition's sake.
2) The sentiments are nice, but the music isn't structured to lend any soul to them.
3) It's so easy to sing poorly. Some songs just lend themselves to a wooden interpretation, and IASWAA is one of them.
4) a corollary to 3 - most people associate this song with a creepy and dated animatronic display at Disney.

Combine those four and you get an almost lethal earworm.
posted by LN at 12:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


4) a corollary to 3 - most people associate this song with a creepy and dated animatronic display at Disney.

For me, personally, this point is key. The IASWAA "ride" is creepy as hell. It's also hilariously offensive.
posted by asnider at 12:25 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I mentioned this in the Sherman obit thread, but it's funny:

A lighting designer friend recently worked on a week-long series of dog-and-pony shows for Disney Cruises, to celebrate the launch of a new ship. It took only about two days before he started contacting all of us begging for help getting "It's A Small World" out of his head.

FYI - the song "Low Rider" is the universal solvent for shit stuck in your head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


"Children's choirs were on the "hated" list, along with bagpipes, accordions, banjos, synthesizers, harps, and organs."

And not coincidentally, the critical band (the region in which frequencies are dissonant) is wider at higher frequencies. This means that an x% error in pitch in a lower range can be consonant, but x% at a higher pitch will be dissonant. So a children's choir needs to be much more skilled than an adult choir to avoid dissonance, if we want to avoid dissonance.

Also, this is a pretty good list of the commonly used high pitched instruments where the very high harmonics are typically audible. As harmonics go higher from their fundamental, the ratios become smaller and smaller, and thus more and more likely to overlap in a critical band. This is especially true with chords, where harmonics of one pitch conflict with harmonics from another, but with some instruments (bagpipe or banjo for example) there are harmonics that are viscerally dissonant with one another in a single note.
posted by idiopath at 12:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [20 favorites]


My niece Peaches was given a toy Chinese junk that played "It's a Small World" when she was four. My poor sister-in-law classed this gift in the same category as the musical instrument kit that was given my nephew at the same age and that assembled into a variety of "instruments" each of which made a sound harder to bear than the last.
posted by orange swan at 12:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


James J. Kellaris, a marketing professor at the University of Cincinnati, has done extensive research on what makes certain songs get stuck in the head. His theory is that music can create a "cognitive itch—the mental equivalent of an itchy back,"

See, there's a reason non-doctors shouldn't give medical advice. There's also a reason marketing professors shouldn't try to be musicologists. Cognitive itch? Really? That clears it up.

I think one thing we've all learned is that there is no definitive heuristic for what makes a song catchy, annoying - hell, even sad, melancholy, happy, triumphant.

Lots of repetitive music is fantastic - take Steve Reich, or Laurie Anderson (maybe those aren't your bag either, but surely there are pop examples galore). It isn't merely that.

One thing I did like about the article is the recognition that a lot of this comes down to extra-musical things, which is really the heart of the matter. Culture, politics, time - all of these shape how we think about, enjoy or disdain a piece of music. This song sucks because of memories people associate with it, because of the children singing it kinda key wonky, and a million other reasons.

And someone out, somewhere, there loves the song.

Not all earworms are annoying, of course. Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," for example, is a catchy song that people can't seem to get enough of. "Who Let The Dogs Out" by the Baha Men, on the other hand, is also quite catchy, but clearly listeners have had enough.

Can't get enough of it...yet.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


What?! Says who?! I love "It's A Small World After All"! It was one of my favorite songs as a kid.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


The IASWAA "ride" is creepy as hell. It's also hilariously offensive.

But man oh man is it the most magical thing in the world to really young kids. The look on my five year old's face when we through it was pure bliss. As soon as it ended he wanted to ride it again.

I think the song, and the ride, are only for the really young.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 12:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hate the sound of children singing.

But also, it's a pretty popular ride for some reason. My sister made us go on it, even though the line was almost two hours long. Then she objected to going on the Star Tours ride w me :\.
posted by Garm at 12:29 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


...a symphony performed entirely by dental drills.

Don't you be dragging Einstürzende Neubauten into this.
posted by griphus at 12:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [29 favorites]


I think the hate is more cultural than anything to do with the song itself. Yes it's earwormy and trite, but it's not THAT irritating. It's simply a very well known song that exists in our collective first-world concsious and because it's just bad enough it's an easy target for joining in a little communal bitching.

There are worse songs, we just don't all know them as well as this one. Let's cut it some slack!
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


You can cover the planet in everclear
or completely wipe out the biosphere
or it's really not that far
you could just blow the star
it's a small world after all.


There. That'll protect you from Disney's Valley of the Dolls.
posted by eriko at 12:32 PM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm right there with you, mags. The issue of mid-century American stereotypes of other cultures aside, "It's A Small World" is such a pure, hopeful song and such a beautifully-designed ride that I don't know how anybody with even the tiniest scrap of childlike joy in their heart could ever hate it.

(Although I was afraid to go on the ride as a child because I had the Disney storybook-record of the ride and there was a SNAKE in it.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:33 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


That ride would be so much better if they handed people .22 caliber pistols at the loading dock.

Oh wait, they totally stole that idea already.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:33 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Children's choirs were on the "hated" list, along with bagpipes, accordions, banjos, synthesizers, harps, and organs."

But the rest of those things are awesome! Except banjos.
posted by malocchio at 12:34 PM on March 14, 2012


Anyway, now we have an alternative to waterboarding.
posted by desjardins at 12:36 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, I finally have the "Lite Brite" commercial jingle from the 70s out of my skull after two days...but I'm not sure this is better.
posted by JoanArkham at 12:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd like to know if people who have never been to Disneyland/World find this song annoying?

That is because for me, it is not intrinsically an annoying song, but, man, having to stand in line for the ride for an hour, hearing this already repetitive song on a constant loop is what has made this song as welcome to me as the sound of a dentist drill.
posted by vacapinta at 12:37 PM on March 14, 2012


"It's a Small World (After All)"—which, in fact, has been covered by the Baha Men—falls into the annoying species of earworm.

I will not click on that link. I will not click on that link. I will not click on that link. I will not click on that link. I will not . . .

Oh dear god. That's what a Rick Santorum inaugural gala would sound like, isn't it? Like the part of it where they're trying to show they have a loose and breezy side? Just that, looping and looping until it creates a sonic vortex of negative libido so powerful that no one ever has sex again.

Rick Santorum's first act as president will be to forcibly sterilize the planet by Baha Men. You heard it here first.
posted by gompa at 12:38 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Children's choirs were on the "hated" list, along with bagpipes, accordions, banjos, synthesizers, harps, and organs."

But the rest of those things are awesome! Except banjos.


Now see, I like banjos, bagpipes, and harps. Synthesizers can be OK if used properly. Accordions, I have a hard time rationalizing, and I had a bad experience with a church organ that sounded like a giant farting, so I can't listen to one without laughing anymore.

Children's choirs only work if YOUR child is in them. Then you cry, which is apparently the goal of most grade-school music teachers anyway.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyway, now we have an alternative to waterboarding.

Some how I cant see an military enquiry into smallworlding being taken seriously.
posted by mattoxic at 12:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not all earworms are annoying, of course. Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," for example, is a catchy song that people can't seem to get enough of.

I got enough of it the first time I heard it. Even more so with "Someone Like You."
posted by blucevalo at 12:41 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


FYI - the song "Low Rider" is the universal solvent for shit stuck in your head.

It does a pretty good job of clearing out other songs, but I would argue that the bassline to "Low Rider" is more like the Ice-9 of getting a musical phrase stuck into your head. Once it's in my head, it tends to take over, even to the point where I'll hear it while listening to other songs.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:41 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


All my friends...
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Q: In a March Madness-type single elimination bracket of most maddening earworms ever, who would win - "It's a Small World" or "We Built This City" by Starship?
posted by gompa at 12:43 PM on March 14, 2012


A coworker of mine was visiting Disneyland as a teenager, and got stuck on It's A Small World. For about an hour and a half. At the part where some animals were barking out the theme. They didn't turn the music off, probably to keep that Disney magic going.

It was made clear to me that no further questions about the ordeal were welcomed.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:44 PM on March 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


I wonder if William Shatner has ever done a beat-poet recital of IASWA with a cello and bongo accompaniment? And if not, why not?
posted by yoink at 12:48 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Shameless self links of my hell on Small World.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:50 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember seeing it at Disneyland shortly after the song became popular (around 1966 or 67) when I was 6 or 7 years old. It was hands down the most abominable ride of my whole Disney experience (and I got stuck in the Alice and Wonderland ride for a half hour). I still get queasy when I hear that song.
posted by jabo at 12:56 PM on March 14, 2012


Oh, yeah, unless you've ridden it, you haven't experienced the true horror. The song is just the start.
posted by eriko at 12:57 PM on March 14, 2012


Synthesizers are hated? What.
"Literally any sound imaginable to the human ear can be produced on a sufficiently complex synthesizer. You can also sample any sound you desire and then play it on a synth. You know that, right?"
"Yep. I hate that. I hate all sound."
posted by naju at 12:57 PM on March 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


I love Disney and I insist on going on IASW because it's never crowded and it's nice and cool in there. The way to counteract the music is to belt out:

Duff beer for me
Duff beer for you
You have a Duff
I'll have one too!

Even better if you can get that family from Britain to join in.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:58 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


I suppose it was inevitable that the Atlantic article's claims were bolstered by the hard-to-please YouTube electorate, but how else can we judge taste these days? And I suppose it's common sense, but YE GODS beware most of the links in the article (Bing Crosby, Baha Men, et.al.).

"Small World" is indeed aurally dangerous, but it sure beats Duff Gardens.
posted by obscurator at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow Ruthless Bunny, how synchronous!
posted by obscurator at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Indeed. Really, really not a fan of that ride. The incessant song, with the overlapping languages sung by children through the mouths of creepy-as-fuck racial charicatures, and the color-temperature and power of the lighting is exactly wrong (I know I'm mostly alone in caring about that sort of thing, but it matters very much to me, and the lighting at IASWAA is devastatingly, perfectly wrong. Just awful.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The song is great, the ride is great, yall are dicks.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


What, people have a hate-on for It's A Small World? It's like, aren't there more important things in the world to hate?

Totalitarian dictators? Terrorism? American foreign policy? Objectivists? Microsoft Windows? The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act? Intellectual property law generally? Internet censorship? The Koch brothers? Tea Party puppet masters? Citizens United? Fred Phelps? Brain dead action movies and the Hollywood system that spawns them? Call of Duty games? John Madden games? Electronic Arts generally? Disproportionately-compensated sports stars? Law enforcement overreach? Encroaching restrictions in civil rights? Authoritarian persecution of protest? Federal coordination of attacks against protesters? SOPA and the legislative mindset that gave it birth? The tremendous, corrosive influence of lobbyists on political processes? Rush Limbaugh? Fox News? BP? Goldman Sachs? Dow Chemical? SPACOM? To bring it full circle, the huge and multifarious Disney corporation?
posted by JHarris at 1:01 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The article mentions the experience of waiting in line and hearing it over...and over...and over...which, yes, is one of the contributors to finding the song unbearably annoying.

Re: Low Rider - a college friend alleged that every person has their own "brain cleaning" song, which when sung through once will clear out any earworm without getting stuck itself. His was the Brady Bunch theme song.

And now I have Small World, Low Rider, and the Duff Gardens song ALL stuck in my head simultaneously. Dammit.

posted by epersonae at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


My sister, her husband and their 2 year-old daughter got stuck in the "Small World" ride for 20 minutes during their last visit to Disneyland. It was not the highlight of the trip.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: "... he disclosed that the original version of the song was meant to be more of a slow moving ballad to world unity – not the peppy ditty we’ve all come to know. He then went on to play the song as envisioned and I have to admit, slowed way down, it does take on a whole new meaning."

http://www.career.arizona.edu/Blog/default.aspx?pid=201
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, JHarris. It's a horrible song that gets stuck in people's heads like a deadly virus which has somehow attained evil sentience. The hate doesn't take active effort or anything.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2012


Sorry. Link
posted by Senor Cardgage at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2012


(Please don't take the exclusion of anything from my list as saying you shouldn't hate it. I didn't want to spend that long on it. Already I've thought to add Zynga and social gaming to the pile.)
posted by JHarris at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2012


You forgot Battletoads.
posted by griphus at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2012


Yes, JHarris. It's a horrible song that gets stuck in people's heads like a deadly virus which has somehow attained evil sentience.

Well fortunately I have a cure for it. Help yourselves to a big heaping plateful of THIS.
posted by JHarris at 1:05 PM on March 14, 2012


Take a little trip...take a little trip....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:08 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's amazing how long jingles can stick with you. In 19-freaking-88 my family waited in line for about an hour to see panda bears* at the Calgary Zoo, and there was this faux-Asian tune that played in an endless loop the entire time that I and both of my siblings still remember.

* something I would advise against; pandas are cute and all, but they don't do anything
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:10 PM on March 14, 2012


FYI - the song "Low Rider" is the universal solvent for shit stuck in your head.

Joe Walsh - Life's Been Good to Me can destroy any tune in your head. (Brady Bunch and The Flintstones are good too.)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:11 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I think this version really captures the intended spirit.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:12 PM on March 14, 2012


Being handed 3 baseballs at the start would make that ride far more thrilling.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


Years ago I was going through some boxes in the basement; I had been storing some stuff there for an ex of mine who had moved to halifax, and needed to finally clear them out because I was moving. I came across a small notebook of his, so I flipped through it to see if it was full and should be sent to him or thrown out. My eyes fell on a page that was full of my own handwriting. I figure, it's not snooping if I wrote it, right? so I read it. It's a full set of alternate lyrics for it's a small world, but they are absolutuely filthy. totally dirty and depraved! Apparently this was a romantic gesture on my part? No idea why I wrote it, but it was awesome! I sent him the notebook along with the rest of his stuff, but I sorta regret that I didn't make a copy of that first.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:15 PM on March 14, 2012


I cannot stand high pitched tunes, to the point where I've wished physical harm on people who whistle in public places. I have actually asked people on public transportation to stop. In a cruel twist, I'm practically deaf when it comes to lower frequencies, but I can hear higher pitches just fine.
posted by desjardins at 1:20 PM on March 14, 2012


I haven't thought of that song in decades. Thanks. Thanks.

Thanks.

....please, shoot me....
posted by mule98J at 1:30 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel a mefi music challenge coming on.
posted by unSane at 1:32 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


For me, the Brain-Cleanser song is the aptly named "Rock 'n' Roll Pest Control" by the Young Fresh Fellows. It gets in, cleans out the earworm, gets out. It's awesome.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:36 PM on March 14, 2012


[reads JHarris's list] Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Ch--waitaminute. There's a lot of brain-dead Hollywood action flicks I'd rather watch than listen to It's a Small World.

Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check. Check.
posted by straight at 1:40 PM on March 14, 2012


I hate the song not because of the shrillness or melody, but because it is a small, and sadly limited world, after all.
posted by benzenedream at 1:42 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


The world's not that small, some of us have never heard of this song.
posted by Jehan at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2012


huh. I hadn't realized so many people found it so irritating. I loved it as a kid, and I guess I didn't hear it as much as those of you who hate it did? Nor did I hear children's choirs singing it. Not that good children's choirs annoy me.
posted by bardophile at 1:45 PM on March 14, 2012


I'd never heard that song before. I never want to hear it again.
posted by Decani at 1:53 PM on March 14, 2012


At this point I think people only go on it as a kind of masochistic one upmanship - you have to see it! It's horrible! - kinda thing.
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2012


What, people have a hate-on for It's A Small World? It's like, aren't there more important things in the world to hate?

No doubt, but you're reckoning without the old "my hangnail is more troublesome than an earthquake in China" scale of relevance. Personal versus distant. See, unlike everything else in your list, That Song will not just leave my skull if I think about something else. It just keeps going and going and going, like a leaky faucet.

I mean to say, Davy Jones is dead what, a week now? And I still have Daydream Believer going through my head. In bad harmony with Small World.
posted by IndigoJones at 2:03 PM on March 14, 2012


West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playgrounds was where I spent most of my days...
posted by joannemerriam at 2:09 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Children's choirs were on the "hated" list, along with bagpipes, accordions, banjos, synthesizers, harps, and organs."

And you can hear them all (plus an operatic soprano rapping about cowboys) in The Most Unwanted Song (previously on Metafilter).
posted by solarion at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


There was an excellent "earworm removal tool" on the Internet some time ago. It would serve you a cheesy midi version of another earworm to replace the one in your head. Sadly I cannot find it now.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:35 PM on March 14, 2012


In Southern California it is (or was) considered a psychedelic rite of passage among the foolishly young to take on the It's a Small World ride (not to mention Disneyland itself) while entirely out of your gourd on something, well, psychedelic. Ideally while peaking.

I very strongly, emphatically do not recommend this activity. At all. It will hurt and possibly permanently damage even the most seasoned psychonaut. I've seen cases where several hours or even days later the subject was found quietly keening the melody and/or lyrics with an odd tilt to their head, rocking slightly and with a fairly terrifying half-rictus of a pained smile on their face.

La la laa la la la la la la laaa...
posted by loquacious at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


With all of the hubbub about waterboarding, I really don't understand why the US military hasn't--for the sake of national security--wholesale copied the It's a Small World ride in Guantanamo, except with special seats prisoners are strapped into. I don't think it would take many hours for your average terrorist to crack in such an environment.

On second thought, that might be too much in the way of cruel and unusual punishment.
posted by cleancut at 2:51 PM on March 14, 2012


FYI - the song "Low Rider" is the universal solvent for shit stuck in your head.

See also: The Indiana Jones theme song.
posted by sonika at 3:01 PM on March 14, 2012


With all of the hubbub about waterboarding, I really don't understand why the US military hasn't--for the sake of national security--wholesale copied the It's a Small World ride in Guantanamo,

I've read a few articles (as in, more than one, less than many) which allege that the US military has used the Barney Song as an actual honest to Dog torture method.

Which, to be fair, they shouldn't be allowed to use earplugs that they too might experience the pain.
posted by sonika at 3:07 PM on March 14, 2012


We had the Disney read along book as a kid and it was one of my favorites. I've never had a problem being irritated by the song. (I've also never been on the ride though. Maybe if I ever get to go on it I will grow to hate it).
posted by HMSSM at 3:28 PM on March 14, 2012


Came to post the Most Unwanted Song, solarion beat me to it.

Anytime anybody says it's ______ time, my SO and I will shrilly sing "Do all your shopping... AT WAL-MART!"
posted by buriednexttoyou at 3:32 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]



With all of the hubbub about waterboarding, I really don't understand why the US military hasn't--for the sake of national security--wholesale copied the It's a Small World ride in Guantanamo,

I've read a few articles (as in, more than one, less than many) which allege that the US military has used the Barney Song as an actual honest to Dog torture method.


They have used lots of songs for intimidation, not necessarily torture, purposes. Lots of metal and the like, if I recall correctly.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:41 PM on March 14, 2012


Has anyone been on the original Small World boat ride? The whole point was that the song kept repeating, as the boats cruised by a whole bunch of separate villages, each playing their own native instruments, in a native style. It was the first use of a multi-channel immersive soundscape. You heard each ensemble coming and going, and the puppets were synchronized, just barely, to the different tracks played through different speakers.

I don't know if it's still tucked away at the back of Disneyland, where it was moved after the World's Fair debut. It will be my first destination should I return there, and not just because it has the shortest line.

Funny story, though: One time I was on that ride, and a Japanese tourist stood up to record it with his video camera, which had a bright floodlight. All of the machines of the installation were revealed in their tattered and shambolic glory.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:47 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I enjoy this song, but only because it provides me immense pleasure whenever I stop playing it. So, right now? After pausing that YouTube? Right now, pure bliss. Just incredible. Like jumping out of a sauna and into an ice bath. Starting to get a little chilly though, let me hit play. . .
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:48 PM on March 14, 2012


I was told at a very young age by my parents that the song was awful (grew up in a rural area of the states). I have since met several people who actually liked the song and had a strong affinity for the song and the ride, interestingly enough they were all first generation immigrants (Pakistan, India, Laos). Not sure what to make of it.
posted by proneSMK at 4:26 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


i work with a lead person, sort of like a straw boss, who was singing this in his rather gruff voice all damned day long today on the factory floor

no one has told him not to sing it - he's a redneck vietnam vet who rides a harley

we do occasionally howl like wolves when he sings, though

he also has been known to sing "tracy" by the cufflinks
posted by pyramid termite at 4:33 PM on March 14, 2012


> FYI - the song "Low Rider" is the universal solvent for shit stuck in your head.

This topic never fails to interest me. The go-to tune I was always recommended was Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by Warren Zevon. It works and it is not a catchy tune so it does not work by replacing one earworm with another.

I think it does a stack overflow on your brain. He refrains with "Roland the Thompson Gunner" for three choruses and then in the fourth chorus he squishes "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" with 9 syllables into where you were expecting to hear 7 and it is a very small shock treatment to that part of the human hearing apparatus where we process by recognizing familiar patterns with no effort. Grateful Dead The Eleven does similar (X 100) with some weird 7/11 beat wind down or something; I forget exactly how it works but it does.
posted by bukvich at 4:44 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner! I haven't heard that in years! And you're right, bukvich, it works!

In Ireland and Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley...
posted by bakerina at 5:36 PM on March 14, 2012


Anytime anybody says it's ______ time, my SO and I will shrilly sing "Do all your shopping... AT WAL-MART!"

YOM KIPPUR, YOM KIPPUR, SELF REFLECTION AND ATONEMENT
posted by en forme de poire at 5:54 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have long thought that it should be illegal to even mention "It's a Small World" because of its incredibly maddening earworminess. The only other song that even approaches this level for me is "Banana Phone."

I'm sorry.
posted by jocelmeow at 6:16 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


btw, I think it's gotta be partly that the song is just so predictable that your brain does it automatically without even trying. I, V, V, I, I, IV, V, I: it's authentic cadences over and over, forever and ever, amen. Perhaps literally the most obvious chord progression in the world. You would never see Reich or Glass use chords like that, not that they always even use any chord progressions at all. And as other people pointed out, the progression is also the same in the verse and the chorus, making it seem totally interminable.

If you had something interesting in the melody, or the words, maybe it would be salvagable. But then there are those insipid sequences in both the verse and the chorus. They both essentially have one musical and lyrical phrase repeated three out of four times and then something different at the end -- predictable as all hell. Put it all together and you have something truly stab-making.
posted by en forme de poire at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


What, people have a hate-on for It's A Small World? It's like, aren't there more important things in the world to hate?

My hatred for IASW is but a grain of sand upon the vast and limitless desert of my loathing.
posted by elizardbits at 6:38 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


omg i am such a pretentious wanker
posted by elizardbits at 6:38 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


en forme de poire: to really be a cadence, it must indicate an ending or pause

and furthermore:
it's a small world

in summary:
it's a small world

p.s.:
it's a small world

and finally:
it's a small world

etc. etc. etc.

...



it's a small small world
posted by idiopath at 7:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


idiopath, don't the cadences conclude each of the two phrases? (like, "I-V? V-I! I-IV? V-I!!")
posted by en forme de poire at 7:40 PM on March 14, 2012


And I still have Daydream Believer going through my head.

And that is why Davy Jones will never truly die.
posted by JHarris at 7:57 PM on March 14, 2012


yeah, I was just riffing a bit to make a joke

so to speak
posted by idiopath at 7:58 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just read the 'more inside' out loud, and unwittingly re (re-re-re-re-re) infected my fiancé with the earworm he got reading it first thing this morning.

If I had only known!

I would have waited until he had it coming.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:04 PM on March 14, 2012


Take joke seriously, defend angrily!
posted by en forme de poire at 8:05 PM on March 14, 2012


Ok, I finally have the "Lite Brite" commercial jingle from the 70s out of my skull after two days...but I'm not sure this is better.

So it’s not just me. It’s 30 something years later and it still pops in my head all the time. But the songs that stick in my head don’t always seem to be the same as other people’s. There’s nothing in this discussion that would be on my list, except IASW, Lite Brite, and for some reason I’m a Little Teapot.
posted by bongo_x at 9:07 PM on March 14, 2012


To clarify, those qualify great songs, not irritating.
posted by bongo_x at 9:08 PM on March 14, 2012


yoink: "beat-poet recital of IASWA with a cello and bongo"

I am thinking you mean bass?

the primary members of the violin (aka fiddle) family:
violin
viola
violoncello, aka cello
double bass, aka bass
posted by idiopath at 9:40 PM on March 14, 2012


How

about


THE ANNOYING SONG?


I've hated this damned ride ever since my parents made me watch The Tommyknockers the night before going on it. Which one's going to come alive first?
posted by Existential Dread at 9:46 PM on March 14, 2012


I like the song, and I hope the need to cover it shows up as a music challenge one of these months.
posted by davejay at 9:52 PM on March 14, 2012


You know, I know the song's an irritating earworm and designed to be so, and were I a ride designer I would think twice about repeating the same thing over and over again a billion times. And yes, it's a cheesy ride with 60's stereotypes of foreign countries, and a few years ago they started inserting movie characters in there. (Though as far as I'm concerned, that's more of a scavenger hunt thing and kinda fun to look for.) But I still like it.

Why? Because I was born the world's biggest scaredy-cat and I hated going to Disneyland as a kid. I would throw screaming shit fits in the parking lot because my parents always insisted on going on Pirates and the Haunted Mansion and I was crazy terrified of (a) the water dips on Pirates, which I thought were Splash Mountain huge, and (b) going backwards in the doom buggies. My parents were all, "Great, we have the only kid who doesn't want to go to Disneyland." But by god, I wasn't scared of It's A Small World! So I have fond memories of a total lack of fear there. Plus I think Mary Blair's artwork is crazy adorable. So hey, there's something. And also, by god, do they bling it up at Christmas.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:06 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


omg i am such a pretentious wanker

No, that was good.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:13 PM on March 14, 2012


bagpipes, accordions, banjos, synthesizers, harps, and organs

Bagpipes are fine as long as they're played tunefully, synthesizers can sound like anything, so it's not fair to blame the instrument. I like accordions, banjos, and organs (especially the tasty ones, but I digress). Harps and children's choirs can be cloying. I

t's A Small World is cloying and predictable and too banal to hear a hundred times while waiting for the goddamn ride.
posted by desuetude at 11:13 PM on March 14, 2012


Ok, I finally have the "Lite Brite" commercial jingle from the 70s out of my skull after two days...but I'm not sure this is better.

Oscar Meyer has a way
With B O L O G N A.
posted by eriko at 3:19 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ahem. I'll just leave this here.
posted by quincunx at 3:39 AM on March 15, 2012


eriko - wow, excellent memory.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:08 AM on March 15, 2012


For me it's more about the forced feel-good message it portrays which doesn't mesh well with my cranky jaded adult attitude on life. Watching all the wars, crimes against humanity, and general atrocities happening on this little planet gave new meaning to the phrase "it's a small world" a long time ago. So hearing it sung in a cheerful carefree melody merely incites more irritation that it's not representative of what's really out there. That being said, I'm off now to scornfully enjoy some Lucky Charms...
posted by samsara at 5:38 AM on March 15, 2012


quincunx NOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo

And now the Butthole Surfers' entry to the ouevre - Annoying Song
posted by obscurator at 7:08 AM on March 15, 2012


I'm not gonna defend the song, but I'm totally defending the ride. Like jenfullmoon above, it was one of the few rides at Disneyland when I was, like, 5, that didn't scare me. That and Peter Pan's Flight. (After I freaked out over the water dips in Pirates of the Carribbean, they wouldn't even TAKE me on "Snow White's Adventures" because it was marked "scary" on the list of attractions.)

I had some book, I forget if it was about Disneyland as a whole, or just about Small World, but I remember being absolutely mesmerized by an old photograph of a scale model of the Small World ride as they were preparing it for the World's Fair. I think it was a desire to have a model like that to play with that got me into Legos. I started making Lego theme parks in my room.

I loved then, and do still, the cartoony stylized design of the Small World ride, as different countries, architectures, and costumes go by. It's like being inside a Vincente Minelli musical. And, stereotypes or no, I think the message that kids are kids no matter what they look like or dress like or what language they speak.. is still important and valid.
posted by dnash at 7:38 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's like, aren't there more important things in the world to hate? ... Electronic Arts generally?

I'm old and nerdy enough that I still think of the now-ancient Starflight game for PC-DOS whenever I see a reference to Electronic Arts, and feel vaguely puzzled by all the super-hyped sports game connections.
posted by aught at 8:08 AM on March 15, 2012


Goddammit...now I have the lyrics to "It's a Small World" stuck in my head TO THE TUNE OF "LOW RIDER" (and now also to the Indiana Jones theme music...it's a small world!...after all...It's a SMALL WORLD! After a-ha-haaaalll)...I hate you people.
posted by biscotti at 8:39 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the same reason carnivals don't sell much cotten-candy to adults.
posted by Twang at 9:47 AM on March 15, 2012


Every time there's one of these Metafilter threads about how a particular song (or version of a song) is soooo annoying, I invariably like the song. Another example is Dancing in the Street. I'm more annoyed by these threads that presuppose everyone has the same musical tastes.
posted by John Cohen at 12:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was crazy terrified of (a) the water dips on Pirates, which I thought were Splash Mountain huge, and (b) going backwards in the doom buggies

Are you me? I was TERRIFIED of the Haunted Mansion in particular when I was a child, and we went to Disneyland every year, so it was this hidden source of existential dread buried in the otherwise much-loved Disneyland experience. I remember being super-duper-thrilled the year that it was closed for repairs. Alas, it turned out to be the last year we went before Dad died, and he LOVED the Haunted Mansion. :(

When I was a teenager, though, I loved Pirates & Haunted Mansion, thought Small World was the Lamest. Thing. Ever. So there's that.
posted by epersonae at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


What?! Says who?! I love "It's A Small World After All"! It was one of my favorite songs as a kid.

God bless your parents, since I assume you sung it all the time. Did they make you live in the garage?
posted by small_ruminant at 11:47 PM on March 15, 2012


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