Incessant Music Madness
Sometimes, someone is singing or playing a musical instrument or a drum — not to be malicious or anything — and he just WILL. NOT. SHUT. UP, until it finally makes another character yell for him to stop or just start screaming insanely, or lash out in some way. It doesn't necessarily have to be bad music (though it often is), it's just that it's incessant (or sometimes just in a style the hearer just can't stand to hear) and goes beyond the hearer's point of enduring, and to him it becomes like Nails on a Blackboard and he just wants it to end. The "madness" is usually figurative and temporary, but can occasionally be literal and permanent. Related to Big "Shut Up!", which is often the outcome. Also related to Dreadful Musician. Can be related to It Won't Turn Off. Could be a case of The Thing That Would Not Leave if this happens inside a person's house. Compare Brown Note, which is a related trope. (The difference? This trope is when the music is not harmful itself but irritates you to madness; Brown Note is when the music is inherently harmful.) Also compare Loud of War, which is this trope done maliciously. Also compare Hell Is That Noise. Not to be confused with Ear Worm, although it could be caused by one. Make it so only one character (or a few) can hear the music, and it becomes a form of Terrible Ticking.
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- In the Cheetos commercial "Piano", a girl and Chester the Cheetos cheetah are repeatedly playing just the beginning of the tune "Chopsticks" over and over. Finally, a guy in the foreground has had enough and says, "Don't you two know anything else?" The girl and Chester look annoyed, then start playing it again — one octave higher.
Anime And Manga
- In Darker Than Black, Hei's downstairs neighbors practice for their band into the wee hours of nonstop. Averted, in that this never bothered him, either due to his zen-like calm, or the fact that he's generally never home. Un-averted, when he has Kenji Sakurai as a guest, and he complains about the noise.
- This is how Welcome to the N.H.K. starts.
- Cacofonix, the Bard from Astérix qualifies, so much so that this talent is often weaponized.
- The Donald comic Drie Konigen has Donald chased by a The March of the Three Kings, wherever he goes.
- A National Lampoon comic strip had a guy with a downstairs neighbor who had the worst taste in music, who left for a couple of weeks with his phonograph playing Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" - the record started skipping, repeating "owe my soul to" over and over. Nobody could get in and shut it off, and eventually the guy ended up on the street, blank-eyed and chanting "Owe my soul to Tennessee Ernie...Owe my soul to Tennessee Ernie..."
- Brave Sir Robin's Minstrels in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Though that probably has more to do with the lyrics than the quality of their singing).
- Animal House. During a scene at the toga party, Stephen Bishop is playing a guitar and singing when Bluto happens by. After listening to the singing for a while, Bluto takes the guitar away from the guy, smashes it to pieces against a wall and then utters a halfhearted sorry.
- It's A Wonderful Life: When George returns home after discovering that Billy misplaced the deposit money, he begins to mentally unravel while Janie can be heard practicing Hark the Herald Angels Sing on the piano. Eventually, he snaps and shouts, "Haven't you learned that silly tune yet? You've been playing it over and over! Now stop it! Stop it!!"
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: the director is arguing with Roger after he blows his lines when he finally shouts, "Can we lose the playback please!?"
- Cheech And Chong's Next Movie features a stoned Chong pretending to be Jimi Hendrix...with his guitar hooked to a big amplifier. The entire neighborhood quickly knows he's playing, and even Cheech has trouble getting inside to stop him; the sound blasts keep slamming the front door in Cheech's face.
- The villain in The Driller Killer was driven homicidally insane partly due to his wannabe rock star neighbors never shutting up.
- In the Australian indie film Samson and Delilah, the main character's brother is in a band. As they are living on an Aboriginal compound in the middle of the bush, they pretty much don't do anything but play music all day, right outside Samson's bedroom, and throughout the movie every time we hear them play it is the exact same song. Mid-way through the movie, Samson gets so sick of listening to it that he attacks them, smashing their instruments.
- In The Smurfs, Patrick Winslow is driven crazy by the Smurfs constantly singing their theme tune.
- In Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, some of the kids have run off. The other kids are showing Max which direction they went, and are chanting a lament in the background. Eventually, Max yells, "Stop the noise, STOP THE NOISE!"
- In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Prince John calls for the knights to stop Robin and his men. About 50 men in suits of armor start marching into the room from all sides, the clanging of their armor getting louder and louder and louder. After several minutes of this, Prince John, who has taken refuge under a table and is holding his ears, says, "I hope this is worth THE NOISE!!!"
- In Rocket Man, the hero and his rival for the astronaut position are both placed in isolation chambers for psychological testing. However, the two chambers aren't isolated enough, so the test subjects can hear each other. The hero passes the time by singing "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" for several hours, pushing the other guy to the brink.
- This short film gives a whole new meaning to "organ grinder". You'll never hear Ah! Le Petit Vin Blanc the same again.
- In Ghost, Sam convinces Oda Mae to help him after serenading her all night with an enthusiastic rendition of "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am". (Molly claims this is also how he convinced her to go out with him.)
- In the Apocalypse film series movie Revelation, the song "Amazing Grace" that is sung by the Haters being incinerated becomes a choir song and is made to look as if the two One Nation Earth converts Willy Spino and Cindy Bolton are getting sick of hearing it.
- In the Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers, Chico plays the song "Sugar Time" on his piano, but gets stuck and keeps playing the same section over and over.
Chico: I can't think of the finish.Groucho: That's funny, I can't think of anything else!
- In Fred Claus, the elf DJ won't stop taking requests to play "Here Comes Santa Claus", so Fred shoves him into a cabinet so he can play something else.
- The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe is a concert violinist marked as a spy. After a female spy seduces him, he confesses to her that he's not just a violinist. She leans in with interest (as do the other spies listening in on a monitor) and he admits he also composes. He excitedly gets up to play a bit of his opera for her - it may be of some interest to academic musicians, but to these folks (and us) it's loud, screechy, toneless noise. The spies listening in shut off the sound; she has to shout for him to stop.
- Cool Runnings: within moments of one of their number starting to sing in order to raise donations, he is given money to stop.
- A tourist visiting deepest Africa becomes ever more maddened by the incessant sound of native drums, about which the natives will only ever say, "Very bad when drumming stops!" About to completely lose it, he finally forces one of them to tell him what happens when the drumming stops. The native replies: "Bass solo."
- Not playing an instrument exactly, but in Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult, one of the main characters is a scientist who studies, well, whale songs. For a while he plays recordings of them at home all the time, until he catches his wife attacking the stereo with a knife because she can't stand to listen to them anymore.
- "Hail Carpathia" becomes musical torture for Chloe Williams when she is held in custody by the Global Community in the Left Behind book Armageddon. She counters this somewhat by singing "Fail Carpathia".
Live Action TV
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Qpid", Q turned the bridge crew into Robin Hood and his merry men. Geordie became the Alan a-Dale analog, and kept plucking annoyingly at a lute. Finally Worf had had enough, walked up, snatched the lute and smashed it against a tree (in an homage to the Animal House example above).
- In the episode "The Survivors", the only apparent survivors of a massacre on Rana IV are an old man & his wife. Little does the Enterprise crew know that the old man is actually a nigh-omnipotent being with a terrible secret. He implants the melody of his wife's music box into Counselor Troi's mind in order to distract her from delving further into his emotions.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Cheese Shop sketch. When John Cleese's character enters, there are some guys playing Greek music and dancing. After several minutes of the annoying music in the background, he turns around and yells, "Will you shut that bloody dancing up!" and they stop playing.
- Mind you, he started out insisting that he "liked a nice tune", and this is after several minutes trying to guess what kind of cheese the shop has (none) displaying saint-like patience all the while. Real Crowning Moment of Funny material.
- Also happens in the Spam sketch.
- One CSI case involved a garotted musician. Turned out he was killed by an angry neighbour who couldn't stand the noise.
- This is also the plot of the Bones episode "The Wannabe in the Weeds".
- Not music, but still "incessant noise", a CSI: Miami episode involves, among other murders, that of a handyman which had been electrocuted to death. Turned out that the handyman's work (to renovate a kitchen) had been going on for several months and a neighbor was sick of it enough (because it didn't let her sleep) to drive her to murder.
- In the Mash episode "The Smell of Music", Winchester's French horn aggravates BJ and Hawkeye such that they refuse to bathe until he gives it up.
- Norton often did this in The Honeymooners, prompting Ralph to finally yell at him to stop.
- In season 7 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sammy sings in the shower as Larry's trying to sleep, prompting an extremely agitated outburst. 'SHUT THE FUCK UP!'
- "The Song That Never Ends" from Lamb Chop's Play-Along drives Shari Lewis mad.
- In the BBC comedy show, Not the Nine O'Clock News, Gryff-Rhys Jones played a colonial planter, driven to drink by the noise of the jungle, who staggers drunkenly onto the verandah and demands, "Will you shut up! Will this damn noise never end!" The camera pans back, revealing that what we have taken to be the chittering of night insect noise is really 30 or 40 natives, each of whom is playing with a Rubik's Cube...
- In Modern Family, Jay gives Gloria a karaoke machine, and she keeps singing off key, to Jay's dismay. He keeps trying to break it to her gently, but in the end it's Manny who snaps and yells at her to stop. In The Stinger, Jay tries out the karaoke machine, but Manny pulls the plug and warns Jay, "This won't be the last plug I pull".
- As one of the final challenges in the second season of The Mole, the players had to spend the whole night in different hotel rooms suited to their own fears/annoyances. One player was stuck in a room where "Tiny Bubbles" played the entire time. Sometimes half speed, sometimes double speed, sometimes backwards...
- In an episode of Undeclared, a girl played "How Bizarre" by OMC on a portable stereo non-stop for several hours.
- In Weeds, Nancy sang "Polly Wolly Doodle" ad nauseam while banging on a pot (no pun intended - probably) when Silas refused to leave his room after breaking up with his girlfriend.
- In one episode of I Love Lucy, Little Ricky takes a liking to the drums. His father is thrilled at first, but Little Ricky won't. Stop. Playing. And. Creating. A. Rhythm. That. They. Find. Themselves. Doing. Everything. To.
- In The Golden Girls, the ladies get back from a long car trip to Atlanta (they live in Miami.) Rose walks in the door singing "Three bottles of beer on the wall..." She gets down to two, then quits and says she going to bed. Dorothy jumps on her about this, "You get all the way to 'two bottles of beer,' then you quit?" Rose cheerfully says, "Drives you nuts, doesn't it?"
- In Scrubs, JD imagines Colin Hay of the band Men at Work singing his song "Overkill" on the sidewalk, while playing a guitar. He starts to follow JD, still singing, showing up in increasingly improbable places, like an elevator and taking the place of a corpse at the morgue. At last Dr. Cox tries to talk to JD while this is going on, loses his temper, and smashes Colin's guitar.
Colin Hay:...I have other songs, you know.
- In a famous (or perhaps infamous) episode of The Gong Show, every single act that came out on stage sang Morris Albert's "Feelings". The judges began fighting over who could gong the act first.
- Maw Maw from Raising Hope will incessantly play "The Chinese Torture Song" (Chopsticks) whenever she gets near a piano.
- On The Big Bang Theory, one night at three in the morning, Sheldon decides to play the bongos, waking Leonard and Penny up. He even turns some of their dialogue into rhythmic chants to go along with his drumming.
Sheldon: Leonard sleeps, while I play bongos!Leonard: No, no he doesn't.Sheldon: Leonard no sleep, while I play bongos!
- While Jim is working in Stamford on The Office (US), he and Karen get into a war of this. She creaks her chair back and forth, then he starts to sing "Lovefool." Andy joins in.
Andy:(singing) Love me, love me. Say that you love me. (speaking) Whatever happened to those guys?
- Arrested Development has Michael Bluth informing his family that the tune will change once he is in charge of the family company to a rising dramatic drumbeat, before he suddenly turns around to tell his brother who is playing a Native American drum to stop.
Michael: Buster! You can't do that on the balcony, buddy?!
Buster: ...Mom says it's too windy.
- In Doctor Steel's music video for his song, "Back and Forth", there's a little kid at the beginning playing an annoying plastic trumpet, while his brother covers his ears. At the end of the video the brother suddenly gets in his face and shouts, "STOP!"
- The children's song "I Know a Song that Gets on Everybody's Nerves".
- Similarly "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," because you know there's light at the end of the tunnel, but it's so far away.
- The music video for Billy Idol's "Cradle of Love." The guy is so desperate to stop the girl's efforts to seduce him that at one point he runs over to the stereo - which is actually playing the song - and tries to turn it off, but even pulling the plug doesn't work. By the end of the scene he's reduced to a sobbing, quivering wreck.
- From Tom Lehrer's "In Old Mexico":
The mariachis would serenadeAnd they would not shut up 'til they were paid.
- The Phone Guy in Five Nights at Freddy's suggests that having to play the same idiotic songs for over twenty years might be why the animatronics are so erratic.
- In Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell, Vlad the Impaler's punishment before Gat and Kinzie show up to rescue him is to sit on the floor of a daycare (the signage labels it as "Tenth Circle Peniitentiary") while the children's song "The Wheels on the Bus" plays repeatedly. If you go in there as Gat he will complain that they only used the "short" version of the song, to Vlad's horror. When you do the missions where you have to rescue your allies, Vlad will once again be singing "The Wheels on the Bus" until the player rescues him. He also complains of the song in one of his collectible audio logs.
- The first boss of Epic Mickey, the Clock Tower, is driven to madness by having to constantly listen to "It's A Small World". Fittingly enough, the boss theme is a warped and demented version of that very song. Interestingly, a rumor once circulated that a Disney employee committed suicide because "It's A Small World" continuously playing drove him nuts, this rumor may be the basis for the battle.
- In The Order of the Stick, Elan often drives his teammates to this.
- S.S.D.D has a strip with a Maytec security officer making a log entry about an increasing number of incidents where base personnel suddenly went berserk and attacked others or Maytec property, while Christmas muzak is playing in the background. Then...
- During ProtonJon's Let's Play of Super Kaizo World, he hears the "Time's Running Out" alarm so many times after reloading save states at the very beginning of the level that he eventually pleads for it to stop. He later adds, "I'm not sleeping tonight, guys. This is my nightmare sound."
- In "The Tiki Room", The League of S.T.E.A.M. deals with a tiki idol that emits a drumming sound and Will. Not. Shut. Up. Fortunately no-one actually goes mad, but it does make it difficult to conduct an interrogation.
- This hilarious animation from stickdeath.com called Becoming Unglued.
- Ask That Guy with the Glasses gives us "The Most Annoying Song In The World".
- The Bugs Bunny cartoon "Long-Haired Hare" begins with Bugs playing various instruments (a banjo, a harp and a tuba) and singing while an opera singer is trying to rehearse, leading the opera singer to smash Bugs' instruments and beat him up.
- SpongeBob SquarePants, episode "Jellyfish Jam". SpongeBob and a jellyfish keep Squidward up all night playing loud music. When more jellyfish show up and play the music even louder, Squidward has had enough and counterattacks by playing his clarinet. This angers the jellyfish, and when SpongeBob's pleas to stop result in Squidward playing even louder, the jellyfish goes over to Squidward's and stings him.
- In early seasons of The Simpsons, one of Homer's catch phrases was "Will you cut out that infernal racket?!" directed at Lisa rehearsing her sax. In the episode where he thinks he's dying from having poisonous sushi, he goes to her room as she's playing. "Hi, Dad. Want me to cut out this infernal racket?"
- In an episode of The Flintstones, Fred and Wilma find the perfect maid/cook, and everybody's happy—except that Fred keeps singing (badly) an inane song he made up. The hired help finally quits.
Fred: Oh, Lola Brigada/Your food I dig-ada!
- On Arthur, Arthur's little sister, DW, likes the song "Crazy Bus", which drives Arthur crazy. Everyone else his age enjoys it too, but not as incessantly as DW.
- Histeria had a Civil War skit accompanied by violin music - eventually the soldier started complaining about the music and wound up eating his own head so he wouldn't have to hear it (Played for Laughs).
- On Invader Zim, as Zim flies to Earth, GIR decides to sing the "Doom Song" on the way... for six months straight. Zim is just about to lose it when they finally arrive.
- In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode, "Multiple Meats", Shake splits Meatwad into several dozen pieces - each of which survives and becomes a mini-Meatwad. Frylock gets them to sing "Three Million Bottles of Beer on the Wall" (and then leaves), driving Shake insane and causing him to cut his (non-existent) ears off and eventually commit suicide.
- "Goodness Makes The Badness Go Away" in The Smurfs Christmas Special. It really does a number on the mysterious stranger who was holding two children and Gargamel hostage while he was trying to open his Hellgate.
- The Goof Troop episode "Dr. Horatio's Magic Orchestra" features Pete winning a set of sentient instruments at an auction. They constantly play "When the Saints Go Marching In." Pete is less upset by how incessant the song is, and more because that specific one reminds him of one time in a school band where he ruined a concert during the song. It causes him to give the instruments to Goofy and Max (which doesn't actually stop him from hearing it), threaten to seriously injure PJ when he (innocently) decides to whistle along, and finally tries to destroy the instruments or abandon them in the middle of nowhere. The other characters, however, help him get past his hatred of the song.
- Tiny Toon Adventures:
- In the short, "My Brilliant Revenge" from the episode, "Fox Trot", Plucky is practicing his bagpipes for the Acme All-Bagpipe band outside Hamton's house. Hamton is trying to watch his favorite show, Swine Search, and can't hear it over Plucky's bagpipes. At first, he politely asks Plucky to stop, but Plucky ignores him and continues practicing. When Hamton misses the entire show, he destroys Plucky's bagpipes in a fit of rage. At the end of the cartoon, it is revealed that Hamton taped the show...and that he somehow missed Plucky's final musical attack: a tape recording of bagpipes cranked Up to Eleven (Plucky ends up setting it off himself).
- The short, "Ruffled Ruffee" from the episode, "Music Day" begins with Buster playing his electric guitar and inadvertently interrupting a children's concert hosted by the Raffi Expy Ruffee, who yells at him to be quiet and tosses his electric guitar and speakers into his burrow in response.
- In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Road Rash", Rocko is gradually driven up the wall by Heffer's idea of road-trip music: a tape of bagpipe versions of disco's greatest hits. It gets to the point where he snaps and trashes their motorcycle trying to get the tape out of the stereo.
- Bagpipes, for many. (They were used by armies for just that reason, another example of this trope being weaponized.)
- Yodeling, for many. (Also weaponized in Mars Attacks!, but for the Martians it was more of a Brown Note.)
- The Most Unwanted Song combines elements that were revealed in a survey to be the least desirable elements in a song. Answers included extremely high or low voices, child singers, lyrics about cowboys, lyrics about holidays and commercial jingle lyrics; the song therefore includes a soprano rapping about cowboys and children singing holiday-themed jingles advertising Wal-Mart. Extreme length was another turnoff, so it ended up being 22 minutes long.
- There have been several instances where radio stations have a "stop the music" donation for charity, where they'll play a song that is considered annoying on repeat until their goal has been met. (The most common example is MMMBop by Hanson.
- Anyone that's ever known an elementary schooler probably knows this one: "I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves, everybody's nerves, everybody's nerves! I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves and this is how it goes: I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves, everybody's nerves, everybody's nerves! I know a song that gets on everybody's nerves and this is how it goes: I know a song..." 'Repeat until someone smacks you upside the head, or your mom yells at you to stop.
- There was a story in the news about a boy who was abducted and sang a song on repeat for 3 hours until the kidnapper gave up and threw him out of the car.
- People with neighbors who like to play music very loudly in the middle of the night are all-too-familiar with this trope.