Serious earworm infection

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I had heard "Let Me Love You" by D J Snake featuring Justin Bieber many times on the radio and was intrigued by several things:

1. Who / what is D J Snake?

2. In what way is the super famous Biebs "featured" on a record by a D J named Snake?  In other words, what was the nature of their collaboration?

3. Above all, who was making that manic, beyond yodeling sound in the background (was it Biebs? D J Snake? somebody else? a machine / instrument?), and how were they making it?

So I went looking for a music video in hopes that I might be enlightened.

Yesterday, by chance, instead of one of the various three and a half minutes or shorter versions, I watched this 9'20" video first:

"LET ME LOVE YOU" – DJ Snake ft Justin Bieber Dance

The combination of repetitive musical phrases and frenetic dance moves caused these words and the associated notes to become lodged in my brain:

Don't you give up, nah-nah-nah / I won't give up, nah-nah-nah / Let me love you / Let me love you….

For the next three hours, though I tried to do some earnest work, I couldn't get that song out of my mind.

Fortunately, I did fall asleep and didn't hear the music in my dreams (I'm one of those people who almost never dream, or perhaps I should say that I'm seldom aware that I dream), but I woke up the next morning and the worm was right there in my ear!

Those who have experienced earworms, especially of banal phrases / tunes will know how annoying, almost maddening, they can be.

When it gets really bad, the only first aid I can use to cope with them is to strive very hard to shift to another musical phrase.  Unfortunately, then I'm usually stuck with a replacement earworm that goes on an endless repeat loop of its own, or the two phrases get jumbled and alternate with each other.  As a last resort, the only solution I know of is to engage in vigorous physical activity (running, basketball, exercise, etc.).  One can only hope that, after the energetic physical activity is over, the earworm will not return.

A couple of earlier posts:

"Earworms and white bears" (9/1/13)

"Musical maggots" (9/5/13)

One commenter informed us that "Absurd Macaronic Earworm" is the name of his band's debut album.  They could only hope that would be true.



24 Comments »

  1. Laura Morland said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 2:35 am

    After reading of your misery, who in their (still) non-infected mind would click on that link?

    But how else to unravel the mystery of the yodeling… unless you reveal it to us?

  2. Rubrick said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 2:58 am

    I always assumed D J Snake was Geoff Pullum's alter ego…

  3. Dick Margulis said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 5:11 am

    Google "earworm cure." Lots of suggestions out there.

  4. AntC said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 6:28 am

    4. Who / what is a Just in Bieber?

    I stopped listening to pop music stations sometime in the '70's. (And I mean 1770's. Never could improve on JSB.)

  5. richardelguru said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 6:50 am

    AntC, but as everyone knows the high point of Western music occurred in the year 1500 (or thereabouts):
    "From then on, though there are minor successes for individual composers, the way for Western music is down-hill, the spark has gone, and there is a feeling, especially among the more gifted composers, that somehow—there is no point. Why else do you think that, once realization of this turning point had sunk in, composers started to have such a hard time of it, always searching for something new and way out, as though vainly and pathetically trying to believe that it had not happened. Things were slower in the sixteenth century so it wasn’t until around the beginning of seventeenth century that the message of the decline of music really sank in, and what do we see?
    Gesualdo going ga-ga!
    John Dowland, writing the most miserable songs in the history of the world – Flow my Tears, Lachrimæ Antiquæ, In Darkness let me Dwell!!
    The invention of opera!—now there's desperation for you.
    They even tried forgeting about Josquin for a time, which is why Bach managed to escape the worst of the depression merely by indulging in (to judge by the number of his offspring) an inordinate sex life, though even he is supposed to have tried to knife a chorister who unadvisedly, though perhaps not inadvertently, walked past him whistling L’homme Armé. But they couldn’t forget, why else did Mozart spend all his time gambling and playing pool; why else did poor old Salieri die of a cold he caught while out one dark midnight pouring poison through a crack in Josquin’s tombstone; and why else in his portraits is Beethoven always looking so mad? Indeed how else can you explain Mahler or why there's HipHop? …"
    –http://howlandbolton.com/essays/read_more.php?sid=267

  6. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 6:55 am

    @Laura Morland

    Your first paragraph gave me a very hearty laugh to start the day.

    As for your second paragraph, I must confess that I still haven't figured out the mystery of the unearthly yodeling. I've listened to several different versions of the song, and in some of the shorter ones, like the one I usually hear on the radio, it sounds like a cross between a human voice and a Middle Eastern musical instrument (perhaps electronic or electronically modulated). The sound is very seductive, very captivating, especially on the first few notes, where it seems to be doing inhuman things with the human throat. By the latter part of the phrase, it seems to become more purely instrumental. It is the first few notes that haunt me.

    Incidentally, I woke up with the very same earworm this morning, so beware listening to "Let Me Love You" by D J Snake featuring Justin Bieber.

    I'm hearing it RIGHT NOW!

  7. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 7:00 am

    @Dick Margulis

    "earworm cure"

    I don't want to read a lot of suggestions. They probably would only contribute to my madness (cf. what richardelguru wrote). I want to know one or two good cures that really work, cures that are proven to be effective in most cases of earworm infection.

  8. Simon Fodden said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 8:02 am

    Because DJ Snake is a French electronic music producer (Wikipedia) one suspects that the yodelling sound is courtesy of a machine.

  9. Ralph Hickok said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 8:18 am

    In my experience, the only way to get rid of an earworm is to replace it with another earworm, which usually leads to an infinite loop.

  10. Nuno said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 8:28 am

    Thank you for the amusing post!

    Perhaps Bieber is featured in the sense that he is singing the chorus. That seems to be a common pattern. I'm sure there are people on Langlog who can provide more expertise though.

  11. Ivan said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 8:55 am

    The Times had a remarkably informative video feature a few years ago in which it showed, step by step, how producers Diplo and Skrillex turned Bieber’s voice into a surreal dolphinlike hook for “Where Are Ü Now” a few years ago. I assume the same sort of thing is at work here.

  12. Bathrobe said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 9:19 am

    I listened to a few Mazzy Star tracks and DJ Snake disappeared completely.

  13. Dagwood said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 9:39 am

    I thought everyone knew that the only cure is to pass one's earworm on to another person. (Which I suspect is Victor Mair's true agenda here.)

  14. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 11:16 am

    @Ivan

    Thank you very much for calling that NYT video to our attention. It was a revelatory experience for me to watch the way Diplo and Skrillex played with Bieber's voice and their computers in very sophisticated ways to produce ethereal sounds that meld man and machine. It seems that D J Snake is another such magician-musician.

  15. Victor Mair said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 11:22 am

    @Bathrobe

    And thank you for the therapeutic Mazzy Star recommendation. It helps.

  16. Ethan said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

    @Antc:
    "Never could improve on JSB". Hence the collaboration to produce Justin [Snake] Bieber.

  17. Jim said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 3:32 pm

    Whenever someone complains of an earworm, I offer a cure, and since either "It's a Small World" or the Brady Bunch theme for them.

    Beware what you complain about…

  18. Mike K said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 5:44 pm

    Tenser said the Tensor, etc.

  19. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 17, 2017 @ 10:15 pm

    Mike K: Doesn't work without the riff.

  20. bratschegirl said,

    July 18, 2017 @ 11:13 am

    @Jim: that's ours too! Small World, that is. Either that, or "This is the song that doesn't end" from the Shari Lewis/Lambchop TV series of yore. But of course they are both so powerful that we dare not actually utter their names, else all is immediately lost, so if any family member mentions having an earworm we just lift an eyebrow and mutter insinuatingly "I could help you with that…"

  21. Lawrence_An said,

    July 19, 2017 @ 4:01 pm

    Last time I was infected with an ear worm was when I listened to Kraftwerk back in last century…

  22. Guy said,

    July 19, 2017 @ 9:58 pm

    Of all the methods I've heard, for me the only reliable one that actually works is to swallow water with your head upside down. Oh wait, that's hiccups. I can't help you.

  23. db48x said,

    July 21, 2017 @ 3:56 am

    Listen to things that contain pleasant earworms instead. A few weeks ago, on a whim, I watched Fiddler on the Roof. I've had one or another of those songs stuck in my head ever since, but this is not a bad thing. Currently playing Miracle of Miracles.

  24. Victor Mair said,

    July 21, 2017 @ 9:20 pm

    "Justin Bieber Banned From China Because of His ‘Bad Behavior’"

    Variety / July 21, 2017

    https://www.yahoo.com/music/justin-bieber-banned-china-because-bad-behavior-094627244.html

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