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Toni Basil, Oingo Boingo, Pet Shop Boys: Name the top earworms of the '80s



Toni Basil Oh Mickey, you're so fine, you so fine that I want to pull a fork out the drawer and stab my eardrum repeatedly until this damn song leaves my head! Toni Basil, you owe me for one emergency visit to the otologist. Report to the Spears Lair immediately ... and bring the cheerleader costume with you.

Those dreaded earworms of the '80s. Songs we loved that just won't leave our craniums once we start humming them. You know, it turns out there are actual scientific reasons behind this phenomenon.

The Baltimore Sun has a killer article that explains it all: "We learn by repetition, so music is full of recurring rhythms, lyrics and motifs," the writer says. "And that's why, when we hear a few bars of a familiar song, we mentally lunge in to fill the gap - whether we want to or not."

The article quotes experts, scientists, neurologists, but I still find it hard to understand why I can't stop singing "Su-su-su-superstar" every time Falco's Rock Me Amadeus (great song, no matter what you say) comes on the radio. 

So here's our task this lovely Monday morning (here in Florida anyway, where the weather is warm, and so it the comradeship): Name the top 10 earworms of the '80s. We'll use your suggestions for a reader-generated podcast. One that you won't want to hear, but biologically you will be forced to. Sorry.

Here are five that would make my personal list.

MONSTER OF LOVE (Sparks): It plays a pivotal role in my personal fave '80s flick Valley Girl. But I dare you to not sing along after hearing it just once. [PG-13 video here.]

WEST END GIRLS (Pet Shop Boys): Not even CLOSE to be the best song by Britain's top-selling duo of all time. And not the biggest earmworm by PSB. I'd pick Go West for that honor, but it was released in 1992. Still, I can't stop saying (not singing) "West End Girls" in that wonderfully nasally Neil Tennant voice at least a half times a day. [Original video]

ONE OF OUR SUBMARINES (Thomas Dolby): "Bye, bye empire. Bye, bye." I love Dolby the way other folks here love Devo. And this is easily one of my top 3 songs by Dolby. And once I figured out the lyrics (about Thomas' uncle, actually, who was lost in a sub accident), it achieved earworm status. [Video]

GREY MATTER (Oingo Boingo): Not as much of a threat to appear on the radio, but it's sprinkled throughout my iPod. I miss Danny Elfman and the boys. Always the best beats and lyrics. "They say you're stupid, that you're too young to vote, that you'll swallow anything that they shove down your throat." [Live performance]

FUNKY COLD MEDINA (Tone Loc): It barely sneaks into the '80s, having been released in 1989. "And it goes a little something like this. Hit it." [Video]

Okay. Name your faves, and then hold on loosely for an upcoming podcast. (No fair using .38 Special!)

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:53pm]


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