Reluctant Townie: How to get 'Happy' song out of your head

Reluctant Townie: How to get 'Happy' song out of your head

If you are one of the few people remaining on planet Earth who have managed to avoid hearing the song "Happy" by Pharrell in its entirety — congratulations, you will probably also survive the next bubonic plague. One day, you will inherit the Earth and all of its old iPhones — enjoy it, you weird, old hermit without a Facebook.

I was once like you, unaffected by Pharrell's latest catchy hook (he who was responsible, in part, for both "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines" last year) — until it slowly started to creep into my life.

First, in small, irregular doses whenever I got into the car after my wife had driven it, and found the radio tuned to a Top 40 station. Then, in regular and increasingly sustained doses during segments of "Good Morning America" — which features its anchors dancing to "Happy" every morning, ad infinitum — the program clearly having blown its music budget on clearing rights for this particular song.

By now, of course, "Happy" is a full-blown epidemic worthy of nuking a small town over (if only we thought that would help). This summer, you will not be able to finger-paint at a day camp, eat some 'za at a Chuck E. Cheese's or cannonball at an outdoor water park without being assaulted by this audial contagion.

After months and months of enduring its daily attempts to lodge itself in my brain, I recently listened to the entire song by accident — from start to finish — while stuck in traffic.

Within 24 hours, I found myself humming the melody in the shower, on the bus, in deep, REM sleep. I could not escape it. I had become one of the infected. ("Because I'm HAPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" No, I'm not.)

Scientists have assigned an appropriately squirmy name for the songs that get stuck in your brain on permanent repeat — they call them "earworms."

And they have also discovered a way to defeat them.

Scientists at Western Washington University conducted research on the subject and found that solving anagrams (rearranging the letters in a given word to spell another word or phrase) is a dynamite way to trick your brain into forgetting the chorus from that Ke$ha and Pitbull song you hate.

However, not all of us are word nerds with the mental capacity to rearrange letters in our brains, or maybe the mere solving of anagrams is not enough to stem the tide of Pharrell's repeated declarations of jubilation in your mind.

The following are some alternative ways to combat musical earworms:

— DROP A PIANO ON YOUR HEAD. Sometimes a solution to a problem is so obvious that it fails to present itself. Dropping a piano on your head is a trusted and effective way to dislodge an unwanted chorus from your subconscious. Simply find a baby grand piano, hoist it into the air with a thin and fraying piece of rope and then stand underneath and wait for gravity to do its thing.

— DROP AN ANVIL ON YOUR HEAD. If you find that a piano does not do the trick, perhaps an anvil will. I have no idea where one could locate a proper head-dropping anvil outside of an Acme crate in the Looney Tunes universe, but let the Internet be your guide.

— SCHEDULE A ROOT CANAL. Whether or not you are in need of a root canal, schedule one with your dentist at the first sign of earworm trouble. The mixture of intense pain and general anesthesia should provide temporary solace from the music plaguing your mind. If that doesn't work, the scheduled narcotics they provide you with for recovery should help ease your suffering.

— LOBOTOMY. It might be hard to find a board-certified surgeon who will perform this archaic procedure on you, much less one that exists inside of your provider network — but keep at it because the results could really pay off. With a lobotomy, surgeons disconnect the prefrontal cortex from the rest of your brain. The effects range from irreversible brain damage and uncontrollable drooling to a profound sense of detachment from the material world around you. If you are unable to find a professional to perform this procedure, there is a plethora of DIY walk-throughs online.

— DISPLACE YOUR CURRENT EARWORM WITH A LESSER EARWORM EVIL. So "Happy" has completely worn down your survival instincts, and you're ready to throw in the towel? All hope is not lost. Sometimes the only way to fight fire is with fire. There are many other earworms out there you could infect yourself with, and even though it doesn't cure the disease, it manages the symptoms. Take it from a guy who has had the chorus from Michael McDonald's "Sweet Freedom" stuck in his head since the summer of 1986 — sometimes you just need to pick your poison and chug it.

Ryan Jackson also highly suggests looking into Calloway's "I Want To be Rich," and he can be reached at

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Topics (2):Music, People