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EARWORM: The Introduction

March 8, 2023

Hello readers! Welcome to the very first edition of EARWORM, a column in which I will be (almost) exclusively breaking down the songs that are stuck in my head each week. I came up with the idea for this theme based solely on my month-long fixation with Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, and while I have moved on from that moment in time, it is important to note because I have taken a very sharp pivot this week. To qualify as an earworm, a song must scratch a specific itch in my brain that is very difficult to articulate. For the purposes of this column, I will do my best to identify exactly what it is about each song that makes it so appealing to me. My earworms are songs that I will request be played at the function, in the car, or maybe even at TDR. I have yet to download the app that allows you to queue songs there, but I am considering it. These songs are blasting in my headphones, in the shower, and throughout the day on my Bluetooth speaker. They are almost always at the top of my Scrobbles. I will demand aux privileges to play these songs, and my friends will almost certainly groan and say, “again? really?”

I’m sure you are all wondering which songs I am about to reveal as my earworms of the week, considering I just led you on for quite some time. So, without further ado, I present to you: Steamboat by Adrienne Lenker and A&W by Lana Del Rey. 

Steamboat, the fifth track on Adrienne Lenker’s 2014 album “Hours Were the Birds,” is a melancholic ode to dependency. Through her combination of strumming and fingerpicking, both played on an acoustic guitar, Lenker aligns the tempo of the song with the lyrics. The Big Thief member is a lyrical genius: lines like, “I wish I was more than my skin and my bones” and “I was born by a body, I’ll die by one too” are a gut-punch to the listener. Lenker portrays a deep insecurity about the attachment we have to the ones we love, as well as the desire to be more than we already are. A deeply, painfully relatable song, Steamboat is the most streamed song on the album. I am most drawn to Lenker’s artful composition of the song. The guitar juxtaposes the lyrics perfectly. While the instrumental almost sounds optimistic, the lyrics are definitely not. Steamboat is one of Lenker’s best solo songs, and it is definitely worth checking out. 

Lana Del Rey’s newest single, A&W, revives an older era of Lana that fans have been begging for since the release of Norman Fucking Rockwell. Following the departure from her traditional style that was Blue Banisters (which we do not speak of), A&W is a welcome revival of the Lana we know and love. She combines acoustics that are reminiscent of Normal Fucking Rockwell with the spoken word of her debut album, Born to Die. It is broken up into parts I and II; the first part is more melodic, while the second is an experimental spoken word with elements of an electronic production style that is relatively new for Del Rey. I am particularly drawn to the second part of the song, where she repeats the words “Jimmy only love me when he wanna get high” over a hip-hop style beat. She layers the lyrics in post-production, which makes the second part of the song very danceable and upbeat. While part I is mellow and reflective, part II is assertive. A&W is Lana Del Rey at its very core; it combines all of the stylistic elements we have come to expect from a Lana Del Rey song. 

I have created a very special Spotify playlist just for you. It is a compilation of every EARWORM song, so if any of these songs intrigue you, make sure to add it to your library. I will be updating it every week! If you’re doubting the hype I give to these songs, see for yourself. They bang. 

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