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Weekend Earworms: Terrifying Childhood Memories

An estimated 98% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times that we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things ever.

We here at Nerdist are dead-set on bringing you those types of songs, if only for the weekend. We’ll be scouring the internet for the best earworms we can shove into your meaty brains!

Woah! It’s Halloween! My column won’t fall on a major holiday again until New Years Eve 2016 and since the life of a freelancer is an unsure one, who knows if Weekend Earworms will still be around. I sure hope it will be but if not, let’s just say a New Year’s article would be considerably Prince-heavy.

With all the Nerdoween content that we’ve had on the site and the two previous weeks of Halloween-inspired earworms, it may seem like I’ve timed things wrong and gave you the spooky stuff too soon. Well, I didn’t. In fact, I’ve sort of been dreading this article because the songs in it legitimately scare me.

Real “horror” movies never did much to scare me when I was younger, which I suppose is relatively lucky, but there were some things that struck me right in the ol “pee pants” nerve. I’ve never fully understood the majority of what scared me as a child until I was an adult but – near as I can tell with the following videos as evidence – it has a bit to do with solitude and a whole lot to do with terrifying puppets. Let’s get the first one out of the way and we’ll move onto the scary, scary, evil, don’t-let-them-touch-me, awful puppets.

The Cat Came Back

If memory serves, this Canadian cartoon by Cordell Barker used to air on Nickelodeon as filler between programs and it scared the shit out of me. It occurs to me now that other than it dealing with a vindictive and seemingly magical cat, it’s frightening because the main character is – save for a strange amount of women tied to the train tracks – completely alone in the world. It’s deeply unsettling to me that the world the man lives in has his house and pretty much nothing else. Surem, he’s got pictures of his mom, there’s some sort of infrastructure with roads and railways (He probably put those ladies there), but the universe we’re given is an immensely empty and extremely lonely one. Plus the guy in “The Cat Came Back” nearly drops an F-Bomb and straight up dies at the end just before killing the cat with his lifeless corpse. For anyone interested in Barker’s other work, be sure to check out the cartoon about evil alien babies that implies sex and ends with a shot from inside a uterus full of more alien babies. You know, typical kids cartoon stuff.

Moving on to my true nemesis, I feel I must first say that I’ve always loved The Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock. Most puppet-related things are amazing, but growing up in Rhode Island, I had the distinct displeasure of witnessing the performances of Nazo Puppets:

As an adult, I can watch that and marvel at the creativity and talent involved in creating the interesting costumes of Big Nazo. As a child, there weren’t enough OshKosh B’Gosh in the world to fill with urine.

Big Nazo would perform at fairs, parades, and all manner of public events around New England and as the youngest of four, I really had no choice in the matter if I wanted to immediately leave an area in which they happened to show up. I’m older now and have mostly worked past the terror I felt for Nazo and things like it but uneasiness still finds me with similar things. Oh, say, when the horrifying puppets of Genesis make a music video.

Land of Confusion

The song? Fantastic! The video? Gigantic bag of nope. It doesn’t help that this was so similar to the Nazo stuff and I thought I wasn’t even safe in my own home.

Now some may argue that these two things weren’t necessarily made for children, and those people would be right. However, the next video was absolutely something made with the intention of entertaining children and if we’re all honest with ourselves, it did not deliver on that intention.

The Fireys – Chilly Down

Before the internet destroys me for criticizing such a good movie, let me say that I absolutely love Labyrinth and The Fireys are one of the best parts of the film. Having said that, it doesn’t change the fact that this scene – and the movie in its entirety – is one hundred percent unadulterated nightmare fuel that is certainly not for children. We like to claim that it’s a kids movie only because we have no other way of coping with being subjected to the horror of Hoggle taking a piss, that goddamned hand chute, and far too much of the pronounced codpiece of Bowie’s contact-juggling creep, King Jareth. Not to mention there are theories about the film being an allegory for personal sexual discovery, but that’s for you to Google.

As a brave grown-up nerd that doesn’t cry at scary puppet things anymore, I can take a step back and appreciate the technical green screening and the creature design behind the Fireys’ scene, but it still kinda gives me the “willies” (or the “williams” if you want to be proper). Anyone that says they truly loved this scene as a kid is the same kind of person that would claim “tattoos don’t hurt” (have I used that comparison before? I probably have). If their movement isn’t enough to creep anyone out, the joyful dismemberment of each other certainly is. And oh boy, the taking out of one’s own eyeballs? Let’s not even talk about the taking out of one’s own eyeballs.

So – if analyzed – I think my major fears in life involve being all alone after being dismembered by nightmare puppets. I’m clearly not over these songs as I thought I was, so while I go cry myself to sleep work out these issues like an adult, I’ll leave you with some shared horror, because there’s strength in numbers. To celebrate Nerdoween, a bunch of folks shared their fears on yesterday’s Nerdist News.

What song’s from your childhood scare you to this day? Let me know in the comments below!

Images: National Film Board of Canada/Sony Pictures Entertainment/Atlantic Records

Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)

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