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Definition – “Song Rape”

song rape (song raped, song raping, song rapist) — the act of singing or playing a catchy and/or annoying song with the intent of getting it stuck in someone else’s head. Can also be applied to the unintentional sticking of a song into someone’s head if pleasure is taken by the person originally playing or singing the song.

The concept of song raping originated a few years ago when I was in the great Philadelphia area working on a friend’s film over a long weekend. We, the crew, were all cozied up close to each other in a house for five days straight and every time I saw the first camera assistant Mike I would sing the opening doobie doobie doo doo doo whoa ohs from Annie Lennox’s supremely song-rapetastic “No More ‘I Love You’s”. In case you don’t remember the song, here’s a reference:

Edit: Apparently Sony BMG is no fun and disabled embedding of their videos on Youtube, so here’s one that works.

After a few days of this, he began to sing to himself when marking focus or cleaning the lenses or whatever he was doing. When he noticed that he was singing the song he would curse me for implanting the song in his head, like Quaid’s memories in Total Recall or that orange glowing ball he pulls out of his nose in the same film. Here is a mildly pertinent image.


Once the entire crew started singing the song, I knew I was on to something. This phenomenon needed a name. My older brother, Mike, had been using the term “brain rape” for some time and I thought it was a pretty good concept and something I was well acquainted with, even if I had not known it had a name.

brain rape — the act of deliberately describing something so horrible that someone is incapable of not visualizing it, thereby inducing cringing and disgust.

From there it is obvious where the term “song rape” derives its name. The neologism (can I call it that?) both builds on the established greatness of “brain rape” and takes it in an entirely new direction. It provides a name for something that everyone has experienced, yet no one really has a name for. As an added bonus, the word “rape” really draws people’s attention.

Since I began spreading the Gospel of Song Rape, there have been occasions when I have heard it referred to as an “ear worm” which is a horrible term. The song isn’t in your ear; it’s in your head. And what does a worm have to do with it? And how am I to know that an “ear worm” has anything to do with the song repeating in my head ad nauseam? And the word “rape” really goes a long way in conveying the forceful nature of the song implantation. Therefore, “ear worm” sucks; “song rape” rules. This isn’t Wrath of Khan, people.

And, as an act of benevolence from your Space Pope, to show that I am not free of the ill effects of song raping, here are 3 songs I’ve song raped myself with in the last 48 hours.

I know. Two of those three are Wham! songs. I’m sorry. Sometimes you just can’t help it. I defy you not to get “Careless Whisper” stuck in your head.

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