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The Yellow Rake Will Save Your Life. The Yellow Rake Will Kill You.

The Earworm Artist

The Earworm Artist

“Here’s the thing about ‘80s hits,” she opines. “They’re effective on the older people you work with, but if you have any millennials at your workplace, they’ll just stare at you blankly.”

Carol harbors a lot of effective means to get really crappy songs stuck in the heads of her coworkers. I find it fascinating, because I generally only engage in this activity by happenstance. But she’s very conscious of her efforts, and I can see why. She approaches the placement of the earworm the way a painter approaches the canvass — with precision, confidence, and care. And she applies the brush-strokes of her craft with skill. She’s trying her best to impart some of this knowledge on me, and I’m trying my best to absorb the information.

“That’s a shame,” I say, “because I know a lot of really catchy songs from the ‘80s.”

“I feel your pain,” she says. “But only disseminating ‘80s songs can get you in a bind. You may think Starship’s ‘We Built this City’ is a sure thing, and it does work on the older folks. But that song has two things going against it: one, it’s notorious as an earworm so it’s pretty well-worn territory, and you don’t want to be cliche in this racket. And two, no one under 30 is really familiar with it.” I nod as she continues. “A good song from the ‘80s is Gloria Estefan’s ‘Conga.’ Everyone gets a kick out of that one — even the younger ones who probably aren’t familiar with it. They love hearing the lyrics and the phrasing of the vocals all the same.”

“I can see that,” I say. “Da na na na na na baby, do that conga. How’s that go?”

She sings it and I make a mental note to introduce all my coworkers to this particular earworm on Monday. Professionally speaking, I finally have something to look forward to.

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