"Rubber Duckie" by Jeff Moss Best Lyric: "Rubber duckie, joy of joys, when I squeeze you, you make noise."
Not long after Sesame Street premiered in November 1969, staff writer Jeff Moss had a eureka moment. While soaking in his bathtub, Moss hit upon the idea for "Rubber Duckie", Ernie's ode to his favorite toy. The song quickly became a bathtime anthem and flew to No. 16 on the Billboard pop charts. As Sesame Street spread to more than 140 countries, the fame of "Rubber Duckie" grew with it. In 1996, Sesamstrausse's "Quietscheentchen" ("Squeaky Little Duck") invaded Germany, where a techno remix caught the nation by storm and helped sell 1.8 million copies worldwide. "Rubber Duckie" also popularized the toys, which are now raced in derbies and regattas around the world, and are even used by oceanographers to track sea currents.
Earworm Index: **** On a Loop
"Put Down the Duckie" by Norman Stiles & Christopher Cerf Best Lyric: "What good are flying fingers if they're wrapped around a duck?"
Ernie's "Rubber Duckie" paved the way for another Sesame Street hit in 1986 with "Put Down the Duckie". The bluesy number taught kids to do one thing at a time, or as Hoots the Owl put it, "You've got to put down the duckie if you wanna play the saxophone." After the song was released, so many stars wanted to lend their voices to it that Sesame Street decided to produce two celebrity versions of the tune. Participants included John Candy, Pee Wee Herman, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Jeremy Irons, Pete Seeger, Rhea Perlman, Danny DeVito, and many more.
Earworm Index: ***** Stuck for Days
"Disco Duck" by Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots Best Lyric: "There's no stoppin' a duck and his beat."
Back in 1976, Rick Dees was just another morning DJ living in a rundown Memphis apartment. But one afternoon, while perched high on a chair trying to avoid a mouse, inspiration hit. In no time, Dees had written the dance classic "Disco Duck", about a guy at a party who's overcome by the urge to flap his arms and quack on the dance floor. Although it took three months to convince anyone to play the song, it eventually sold more than four million copies and reached No. 1 on the pop chart. People all across the country were shaking their tail feathers. Well, except in Memphis, where rival DJs refused to play Rick's song. Even Dees was forbidden from spinning it on his show because station managers claimed it would be a conflict of interest. Apparently, he wasn't even allowed to talk about the song, because when he did, he promptly lost his job. But his career wasn't derailed for long. By 1982, Rick Dees had become Southern California's most popular morning DJ.
Earworm Index: *** Catchy
"The Ugly Duckling" by Sergei Prokofiev Best Lyric: "Everyone wished him to be eaten by the cat."
Sergei Prokofiev's opus "The Ugly Duckling" was pawned amid the tumult of youthful romance. In 1914, the 23-year-old Russian composer promised his lover and librettist, Nina Meshcherskaya, a song that represented their relationship. When he suggested basing it on Hans Christian Andersen's story of an awkward duckling, she thought he was joking. But there were many similarities between Prokofiev and an ugly duck, including his gangly figure, protuberate lips, and downy hair. Eventually she gave in and wrote the words, while he penned the music. Although the song was a hit, their love affair had no such fairy-tale ending. Soon after the piece debuted, Prokofiev and Meshcherskaya broke up under pressure from her parents.
Earworm Index: * Forgettable
The article above, written by Megan Wilde, appeared in the Nov - Dec 2009 issue of mental_floss magazine. It is reprinted here with permission. Don't forget to feed your brain by subscribing to the magazine and visiting mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog today!