Infectious Tunes on the Attack with Sideways' Earworms Mobile Phone App
CLEVELAND, Dec. 1, 2010 -- Earworms are songs that get stuck in your head and refuse to leave, playing over and over again in an endless loop. It's also the name of a new iTunes app from Sideways that lets users infect friends and enemies with those same songs.
Earworms gives users a choice of 20 unfortunately unforgettable song samples such as "Safety Dance," "Whip It" and "Poker Face." The user emails a selected earworm to a friend (or enemy), knowing that the tune is then implanted in an unsuspecting brain. Earworms' victims can retaliate by buying the app and returning fire with their own earworm.
Earworms is available for free today and will cost 99 cents going forward. If the 20 songs included aren't enough, for 99 cents, users can add a Can of Holiday Earworms, including such classics as "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" and "Feliz Navidad." Other topical and seasonal cans will be available.
Earworms takes advantage of a psychological phenomenon also known as musical memes, tune wedgies and humsickness. Studies at the University of Cincinnati show that while almost everyone has experienced earworms, some are more susceptible than others. For example, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder are particularly troubled by earworms and women get stuck in the musical loop longer than men.
So what makes some songs earworms? James Kellaris, a marketing professor at the University of Cincinnati known as "Dr. Earworm" for his research on the subject, says earworms have one or more of three qualities: repetitiveness, simplicity and incongruity – a rhythmic variation to which the brain keeps returning like it's trying to scratch an itch.
The antidote? Some say it's listening to the whole song; others swear by replacing it with another song. For others, there is no cure – only time.
"We believe the best cure for an earworm is giving one to someone else," said Charles Stack, CEO and co-founder of Sideways.
The Earworms app for the iPhone and Touch is available at in the iTunes App Store at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/earworms/id396108489?mt=8.
Sideways transforms print into immersive experiences on digital tablets and mobile devices. Leveraging unique multi-media capabilities, Sideways goes beyond ebook functionality, changing storytelling and the way we consume books and magazines. Developing original content with forward-thinking publishers and authors, the company's publishing platform augments text with rich media, adds multiple levels of reference, and enhances reading with mobile features and social media. Sideways takes advantage of interactivity to enrich both the solitary and social experience of reading – from fiction and non-fiction to "how to" and guides. Additionally, Sideways is the creator of Author App, a mobile application for authors designed to build their brands, engage their fans and expand their presence. Based in Cleveland, Sideways was founded in 2010 by Charles Stack and Eliza Wing. Stack started the first online bookstore in 1992 – Books.com – which was acquired by Barnes and Noble. Wing was formerly the CEO of Cleveland.com and editor at Rolling Stone, Books.com, and New York Woman. For more information, visit www.sideways.com.