What’s happening at the Library: One-hit wonders

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, September 26, 2023

By James Gardner

Clark County Public Library

My wife and I have been married for several years, and we’ve exchanged many things over the years, from presents to proclamations of love. One thing we have unintentionally exchanged over the years is earworms, those catchy songs that lodge in one’s brain until it runs through it constantly. The term earworm implies something parasitic, and at times, an earworm can be viral, spreading from one person to the next with the hum of a chorus. For my wife and I, it was more like a tennis match. I would hum something, whether a song, jingle, or opening theme, to a TV show and then she’d later hum a musical ouroboros. The only way to break the infinite loop is to find another song or jingle to take its place.

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Although this scenario is hyperbole, it reflects music’s power to lodge itself in the brain, leading to metaphors such as “splinter” or even “virus” to describe this phenomenon. Still, an earworm doesn’t have to be something terrible, something to consider as National One-Hit Wonder Day (Sept. 25) is upon us.

Indeed, the one-hit wonder and the earworm exist as a symbiotic relationship (it’s starting to feel weird using all these biological metaphors and descriptors). One-hit wonders are usually so catchy songs that they become ingrained in the culture’s collective consciousness until oversaturation eventually occurs. The song gets played on the radio and in commercials ad nauseam until people don’t want to listen to it anymore, burning itself out like a fever (I’m not sure I can stop using the biological metaphors).

But what if one-hit wonders or earworms aren’t intrinsically bad? Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5” might have nearly broken up Stephen King’s marriage to his wife Tabitha, but there wasn’t precisely intent there. And all songs can connect us through memories. Maybe a couple first laughed together by trying to dance the Macarena, or a mother loudly sang along with their children to Baja Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?” The term “one-hit wonder” implies a low-quality song, but a song, like any form of art, is subjective. If singing Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s “Come On Eileen” makes you feel good, you shouldn’t be ashamed. You can come to the library to catch your next earworm. Our library has an extensive CD collection, plus music on Hoopla, to give you your next earworm or a song that will become your favorite. In our passing of earworms, my wife and I have shared many one-hit wonders, and I hope to share many more with her. I hope she’s more forgiving than Tabitha King.

• On Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 2 p.m., the Kentucky Picture Show presents a 1954 thriller from famed director Alfred Hitchcock. Jimmy Stewart stars as a photographer in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbors from his Greenwich Village courtyard apartment window. He soon becomes convinced one of these neighbors has committed murder, despite the skepticism of his girlfriend. Popcorn and snacks will be provided.

• On Saturday, Sept. 30, at 4 p.m., discover more about music as guitarist Joey Leone will present The History of Rock and Roll. Joey Leone has been playing music for over 40 years and has performed, toured and recorded with artists as diverse as Etta James, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and Chubby Checker. He brings this experience as he takes us through the early years of rock and roll, looking specifically at artists like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. Space is limited, so please register to attend by calling the library at (859) 744-5661 or using Evanced.