25 Of Cinema's Catchiest Earworms

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According to The Lego Movie's super-catchy theme tune, 'Everything Is Awesome!!!'. In fact: "Everything is awesome / Everything is cool when you're part of a team / Everything is awesome, when we're living our dream / Everything is better when we stick together / Side by side, you and I gonna win forever, let's party forever / We're the same, I'm like you, you're like me, we're all working in harmony." And because these words will remains in our heads for the rest of time, here are 24 other examples of cinematic earworms that will never, ever go away. Enjoy!

From: Team America: World Police (2004)

Team America: World Police has six very addictive tunes – see also: I’m So Ronery, Freedom Isn’t Free, We’re Going To Need A Montage, Pearl Harbor Sucks And I Miss You and Everyone Has Aids – but the jewel in Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s plastic puppet crown is undoubtedly America (Fuck Yeah). So catchy that all you need to hear is the word “America” to set it off inside your noggin. We once tried to bet on whether the entire staff of the Pentagon goes around humming this all day, but no bookmaker on Earth would take the wager.

From: The Beverly Hills Cop Trilogy (1984-1994)

If you ever plan to put a banana up a car’s tailpipe, do yourself a favour and make sure you’re listening to this synthesised masterpiece as you do so. Created by Harold Faltermeyer, the man who also gave us the Top Gun Anthem, Axel F was made using a Roland Jupiter-8, a Moog modular synthesizer 15, a Roland JX-3P, a Yamaha DX7 and a LinnDrum – not a Fischer Price keyboard as some detractors would lead you to believe. Then again, perhaps they first heard it in its Crazy Frog incarnation, which sound like someone’s dropped several bleep censors down a well and chucked in a few dying whales after them. Whatever you do, do not listen to Crazy Frog’s Axel F – even if it does have 35 million hits on YouTube...

From: Labyrinth (1986)

So hard to get out of your head, so easy to get wrong; the key lyrics to Jareth’s Magic Dance are these: “You remind me of the babe / What babe? / The babe with the power / What power? The power of voodoo / Who do? / You do / Do what? / Remind me of the babe”. Whilst it circles around the plughole of your psyche for the next eight decades, feel free to pop a crystal ball down your leggings, mime snorting something up your schnozz and pretend to toss a baby babe in the air with no discernable care for where it lands. Goblin kings: a health and safety nightmare.

From: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Perhaps the most two-faced creations in all of cinema, the moss-haired, sunbed-addicted Oompa Loompas spend all of their days working at a chocolate factory, only to sing about the perils of over-indulging on sweets. Fortunately, this hypocrisy doesn’t occur to most kiddly-winks, who remain content to gargle gobstoppers and sprint around the living room screaming “Doompadee doo! doompadee doo! doompadee doo!” before passing out onto a pile of Haribo wrappers. Like Crazy Frog’s reinterpretation of Alex F, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s 2005 take pales in comparison to the Wilder adaptation, if only because it’s performed by multiple CGI Deep Roys and not by real Oompa Loompas (as in the 1971 version, and we won’t hear otherwise). And if you’re a glutton for punishment (and Slurm), wrap your ears round Futurama’s take – but watch out for the Grunka Lunka darmed guards…

From: Monty Python's Life Of Brian (1979)

The comedy lover’s funeral song of choice, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life manages to wiggle its way into your frontal cortex for three reasons: a) it contains whistling b) its title is also a phrase you’d say on a regular basis c) Eric Idle has some sort of supernatural gift for crafting absurdly catchy tunes. Every Sperm Is Sacred, The Penis Song (Not The Noel Coward Song), Knights Of The Round Table, I Like Chinese, It’s Christmas In Heaven, The Lumberjack Song, The Galaxy Song, Brave, Brave Sir Robin, Bruces' Philosophers Song… the list goes on. Even the horrifically puerile ones (Sit On My Face, Never Be Rude To An Arab, I Bet You They Won't Play This Song On The Radio) have this magical ability, though unlike ‘ALOTBSOL’ (as no one calls it), you won’t want to be heard humming them as you walk down the high street. Interestingly, this is also notable as the only earworm on this list to be played both at Graham Chapman’s funeral and the Olympic Closing Ceremony.

From: Mary Poppins (1964)

Though Dick Van Dyke is up there with Don Cheadle, Kevin Costner and Madonna in Empire’s Worst British Accents In Cinema hall of shame, his rendition of The Sherman Brothers’ ode to chimney sweeps won Mary Poppins the 1965 Academy Award for Best Original Song, meaning that his Cocker-nee accent was considered good enough to be worthy of an Oscar. In other words, you’re bleedin’ right there’s no justice, me ol’ mucker/china/mate/chum. The only conceivable reason behind The Academy’s choice is that this song had been stuck in their heads for so long that they thought awarding the people behind it an Academy Award would help get push it out of their minds.

P.S. Get yourself a pencil and write “–2 –2 X =” on a piece of paper to hear a slither of graphite performing its own version of Chim Chim Cher-ee.

From: The Karate Kid (1984)

As Joe Esposito points out in the lyrics to ‘You’re The Best’, “History repeats itself” – and so will this song, inside your head, over and over and over. The weird thing about that particular turn of phrase is that it’s played during Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) first visit to the All-Valley Karate Championships, so history can’t really repeat itself at all. The reason for that is simple: the song wasn’t written for The Karate Kid, it was written for Rocky III. Turned down by Sly and co., it was offered to Flashdance before they in turn gave it the thumbs down. In stepped Karate Kid director John G. Avildsen (who also helmed the original Rocky), who loved the song so much he stuck it in his championship montage anyway.

From: The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)

Known by schoolboys all over the world as the Hitler Has Only Got One Ball song, The Colonel Bogey March was written by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts in 1914 before going on to appear in the likes of The Parent Trap, Short Circuit, The Breakfast Club and Spaceballs. Despite its popularity amongst Hollywood’s music supervisors, its most famous cinematic appearance remains David Lean’s The Bridge On The River Kwai, which even had an orchestral counter-march written to complement it, namely The River Kwai March. Interestingly, many cinemagoers have tried to write their own counter-march at home, mostly revolving around the lyrics “Get it, get it out of my head”.

From: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

John Williams, as Steven Spielberg has (probably) never said, writes some seriously catchy choons. But where Jaws, Superman, The Star Wars Theme and The Raiders March are all epic pieces of music, their catchiness cannot compare to the simple jazz stylings of Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes. All Bith from the planet Clak'dor VII (played by Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, Jon Berg, Laine Liska, Doug Bestwick and Tom St Amand), they call what we call 'The Cantina Band Song' 'Mad About Me', though if you knew that without looking it up, you’re a seriously nerdy Lucas aficionado. Being full of seriously nerdy Lucas aficionados, the internet has gone ahead and created a YouTube video that just shows Figrin and co. jazzing out on their respective Kloo horns/Bandfills/Fanfars/Monni Box/Doremian Beshniquels for 10 whole hours. Thanks internet!

From: Madagascar (2005)

Reel 2 Real’s I Like To Move It originally came out in in 1994 before advertisers refitted it for Chewits ("I like to chew it, chew it!") and Durex condoms ("I like to do it, do it!"). 2005 was the song’s year of years, however, with Sacha Baron Cohen’s royal lemur taking the tune and turning it into a phenomenon. Realising they were onto a good thing, DreamWorks had will.i.am sing another cover version for Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008 – complete with a worryingly booty-filled music video – and in 2012 the franchise’s signature tune joined forces with Chris Rock’s ‘Afro Circus’ to become what may well be the catchiest thing ever made by man.

From: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Getting the now super strong and super buff Steve Rogers into his infamous duds was always going to be a tricky proposition. Thanks to the songwriting talents of David Zippel (lyrics) and Alan Menken (music), as well as some nifty montagery, director Joe Johnston somehow pulls it off, with the joyfully patriotic tongue twister – “Who’ll hang a noose on the goose-stepping goons from Berlin?” – booming around cinemas with such bombastic delight the audience can quickly get over the fact that their hero is now dressed as a human flag. Now who fancies buying some war bonds?

From: The beginning of all 20th Century Fox films (1935 to now)

Head of Twentieth Century-Fox's music department in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, Alfred Newman created the 20th Century Fox Fanfare back in 1933. Since then, it’s been adapted for laughs on numerous occasions: it’s been turned into a rap in White Men Can’t Jump, stopped abruptly in Alien3 and even had Ralph Wiggum sing along to it in The Simpsons Movie. The ultimate insult, however, came in 2011, when a tone-deaf recorder player did his own version of the fanfare and the internet promptly erupted into gales of laughter. What’s more, somehow the “flute” cover is catchier than the original – and that’s pretty damn catchy. Ladies, gentlemen, 20th Century Fox fans… kiss your ability to discern different notes from each other goodbye.

From: The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Though the lyrics are only 25 words long – “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig / Does whatever a Spider-Pig does / Can he swing from a web? / No, he can't, he's a pig / Look out, he is a Spider-Pig!” – the 14th track of The Simpsons Movie: The Music soundtrack album has 12 – count ‘em – lyricists credited, including James L. Brooks and Matt Groening. Hans Zimmer originally put together a choral version of the porcine piss-take as a joke before producers insisted it featured in the actual film. It went on to enjoy a small blast of radio play after it hit number 23 in the UK Singles Chart and drove several thousand listeners up the wall (where they probably left muddy footprints).

From: The Producers (1968 / 2005)

Mel Brooks originally wanted The Producers to be called Springtime For Hitler after the musical (and song) contained within it, but, in a moment of beautiful irony, the film’s producer at Embassy Pictures did not let him. It was a sound decision for a number of reasons. Traditionally, movies with the word ‘Hitler’ in the title don’t do that well, and it also kept the soon-to-be-infamous song and dance number under wraps before gasping cinemagoers got to see it for themselves. As for the 2005 remake… well, the Nazi pigeon was out of the bag by then.

From: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

In 1999, ‘Blame Canada’ was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song, but lost out to, um, Phil Collins’ ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’. You remember it... Tarzan? The Disney Tarzan? Starring Tony Goldwyn? Suit yourself. In a slick move from the Oscars organisers, when Robin Williams belted out ‘Blame Canada’ on stage as part of the obligatory nominees’ performance, they insisted he say the word “fuck” away from the camera, covered up by his backing singers all gasping. You can blame the absence of all f-bombs in the ceremony on the Federal Communications Commission.

See also: ‘Uncle Fucka’.

From: Cool Runnings (1994)

‘Jamaican Bobsledding Chant’, as it’s officially known, was actually written by Yum Brenner himself, Malik Yoba, but was performed on the movie’s official soundtrack by short-lived ‘90s girl group Worl-A-Girl. In the film, it’s originally improvised by Sanka (Doug E. Doug) and the team before coming back, fully formed, just before the cool runners go on their last, fateful run. Cap it off with the immortal mantra of “Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it’s bobsled time” and Hans Zimmer’s genuinely moving ‘Countrylypso’ and it’s all too much to take. “GO JAMAICA!”

From: Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004)

There are so many great things about this scene. It’s has Brick’s “I love lamp” moment that now crinkly emblazons so many overwashed knock-off Anchorman T-shirts, Ron’s “VERONICA CORNINGSTONE AND I HAD SEX AND NOW WE ARE IN LOVE” passion wail and Champ’s pitch-perfect firework impression. It also has a perfectly-timed, expertly-harmonised rendition of The Starland Vocal Band’s ‘Afternoon Delight’, and thanks to this piece of inspired insanity, director Adam McKay and the cast got together to make an official music video for their version. It starts with Ron in a jacuzzi saying, “If you don’t think this is the best song ever... I will fight you,” and only gets better from there.

From: Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003)

In 1968, a British psychological thriller by the name of Twisted Nerve was released in cinemas, and with it, a theme that will haunt you to the very end of time. Written by Bernard Herrmann, the menacing tune didn’t receive much attention until Quentin Tarantino had eye-patched assassin Elle Driver whistle it on her way to (attempt to) kill The Bride in her hospital bed. It also features in American Horror Story, but that doesn’t feature Uma Thurman slicing people up with a huge sword, so it’s not quite as important.

From: Robin Hood (1973)

Not only did Roger Miller provide the voice of mandolin-strumming cockerel Alan-a-Dale for Disney’s tale of Nottingham’s vulpine Hoodlum, but he also provided the songs too. Well, ‘Not In Nottingham’, ‘Oo De Lally’ and ‘Whistle-Stop’, anyway. We’ve provided the four and a half hour long version of ‘Whistle-Stop’ here, but if that leaves you jonesing for more anthropomorphised animal Robin Hoodery, have a listen to ‘Oo De Lally’ in 16 different languages and try to pick your favourite.

From: The Great Escape (1963)

Over the years, the likes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Get Smart, Red Dwarf, Reservoir Dogs, Charlie’s Angels and many, many others have referenced The Great Escape, and every time they do, Elmer Bernstein's theme for The Great Escape trickles out the back of your brain and onto your lips, much to the chagrin of anyone who is near you. Getting the drums right is the hardest part, of course.

From: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

‘The Mickey Mouse March’ – or, rather, ‘(The) Mickey Mouse (Club) March’ – goes like this: “Who’s the leader of the Club that’s made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y--M-O-U-S-E!” It was first heard by audience’s ears in October 1955, when The Mickey Mouse Club first aired on the ABC network in the U.S., infecting the youth of the time with a tune that will never, ever go away (much like Earthworm Jim’s theme, as it happens). It got a new lease of life thanks to Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, when American troops sing it out, loud and proud, at the Battle of Hue. Uncle Walt – who was not asked for official approval – must have been chuffed to bits.

From: Rocky III (1982)

Sylvester Stallone wanted Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ for Rocky III. Unfortunately for The Italian Stallion’s real-life incarnation, Brian May and the boys declined his kind offer, and he had to make do with Survivor’s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’. His second choice – written at Sly’s request – went on to sell nine million copies to date, and inspire a pretty terrible Gary Busey movie called, yes, Eye Of The Tiger, which came out four years later.

From: Beetlejuice (1988)

A Jamaican mento folk song, ‘Day O’ is considered an example of early reggae music, but was originally a traditional work song for dockers lifting bananas on and off boats. Chances are, you’ll know it from its use in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, but it’s been well-known since it was first released in 1958. In its time, it’s been performed by Harry Bellafonte (the artist who made it popular) on The Muppet Show in 1978 and butchered with a dancehall remix by Shaggy in 1995. It also inspired Lil Wayne’s ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’, but the less said about that, the better.

From: The Lego Movie (2014)

Tegan and Sara (and The Lonely Island crew) might be the face of the song, but you’d have to blame three kinda-sorta unknowns – Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew and Lisa Harriton – for coming up with it. Perhaps you should also point a finger (or just a curved plastic hand claw) at its producer, Mark Mothersbaugh. Find them all on Twitter, then shower them with praise, before setting up a Lego shrine in a feeble hope that the catchier than catchy chorus will, one day, leave you in peace. N.B. It won’t.

British cinema advertising company Pearl & Dean had its iconic theme – officially called ‘Asteroid’ – sampled in 1996 by a short-lived band called Goldbug at the beginning of their cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’. It’s both not as good as the original ‘Whole Lotta Love’ or the original ‘Asteroid’, but it’s a curious footnote in UK cinema history, and you needed to know that fact. Or, on second thought, perhaps you didn’t. Ah well.