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Actually Quite Catchy

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Bart: Na na nah! Na na nah! Na na—
Lisa: Bart!
Bart: Sorry... you gotta admit, it's catchy!
The Simpsons, "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds", Burns' "See My Vest" number

Sometimes, a musical number is simply so catchy that you forget who started it and you just have to hum along or dance to the tune. This trope comes in when a character who shows they like the music, is somebody of whom you wouldn't have expected it.

They might have reasons to dislike the person who started the musical number (this can range from being Sitcom Arch-Nemeses, to being on opposite sides in the battle between good and evil). Sometimes it's the subject of the song, like when a bad guy shows they like a "The Villain Sucks" Song or a ballad singing the praise of the heroes. Maybe they're The Comically Serious and they simply don't do music. And sometimes it can simply be that they think this is not the time or place for a musical number.

This is not an Involuntary Dance. People must be able to stop dancing/singing when they realize what's happening.

If this happens to a group, it will usually be The Ditz or Those Two Guys that exhibit the trope. Expect The Lancer or a Bad Boss to put a quick end to it, possibly with a Death Glare.

Differs from Got Me Doing It in that Got Me Doing It is triggered by a constantly repeated behaviour, while Actually Quite Catchy is a reaction to the music that's being played now, and typically for the first time.

Compare Actually Pretty Funny and The One Thing I Don't Hate About You. See also Attention-Deficit Disciple, who is especially prone to doing this.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Simpsons: In order to infiltrate the Power Plant, which has been taken over by an army of Smithers clones, Mr. Smithers comes up with a plan of leading the men of Springfield in as a conga line, since no Smithers can resist the rhythm of a conga line. And it works.

    Films — Animation 
  • Aladdin: As pictured above, during the "Prince Ali" song, Iago is dancing along until Jafar's Death Glare puts an end to it.
  • Downplayed with Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast: The members of the castle's staff sing "Be Our Guest" to Belle, while Cogsworth tries to stop them, but only because it's against the Beast's orders. Towards the end of the song, Cogsworth starts dancing and joining in the fun.
  • The first music show that the talented animals from Cats Don't Dance improvise entirely from scratch is so good that it even leads Max, the scary, emotionless butler of Dimple to move along with the music while maintaining much of his cold posture.
  • Hoodwinked!: After the villain brags about his evil plan to Red and sings his song "Top of the Woods", it shows Granny, Wolf, and the Woodsman watching the whole thing from outside.
    Granny: We gotta do something.
    Wolf: You're right. The song was catchy, but the choreography was terrible.
  • Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation: At the climax of the DJ battle between Drac and Van Helsing, Johnny selects the Macarena as the "most brain-dominating toe-tappinating song" to counteract Van Helsing's evil Kraken-controlling music. The monsters are at first not impressed. But once they see how the Kraken starts dancing and breaks free from the mind control, they all join the dance.
    Vlad: Oi, that thinks.
    [The Kraken starts to dance]
    Vlad: Hey! Johnny's corny music is defeating the evil music. I kinda like it. [Joins the dance]
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown: A flock of vultures perform a musical number about how they're going to eat the Pack, set to "Food, Glorious Food" from Oliver!. At one point, Sid dances along with the vultures, even continues to sing until Manny tells him to stop.
  • The Jungle Book: Mowgli is initially angry at King Louie after being kidnapped by his monkey minions. When King Louie sings "I Wanna Be Like You", Mowgli starts enjoying the song and eventually is seen dancing with the monkeys. Baloo has a similar reaction when he and Bagheera want to rescue Mowgli from King Louie:
    Baloo: I'll tear him limb from limb, I'll beat him, I'll... I'll... [dancing] ummm, yeah, well, man, what a beat!
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Snips and Snails are dancing along to the "Cafetaria Song" while wearing Wondercolts paraphenalia, to the annoyance of Sunset Shimmer.
  • Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe: During "This Is Our Battle Song", one of Super Super Big Doctor's Mooks, Stapler-Fist, can be seen dancing in the background.
  • Robin Hood (1973): Despite being Prince John's main followers, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff briefly sing the villagers's "The Villain Sucks" Song mocking him, only to be stopped by Prince John when he overhears them. This is also the reason for his Villainous Breakdown.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: During Cartman's song "Kyle's mom is a bitch", Stan starts dancing along with the other students (except Kyle), despite him being Kyle's best friend and generally disliking Cartman.
  • In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, SpongeBob and Patrick have to get into the Thug Tug, where there is a rule that "all bubble-blowing babies will be beaten senseless by every able-bodied patron of the bar". When SpongeBob accidentally violates that rule by blowing soap bubbles, he and Patrick are made to stand in a line with all of the other bar patrons while the "Goofy Goober's" theme song is played in order to identify who the "bubble-blowing baby" was. Fortunately for them, one of the tough bar customers starts singing along to the music, and the others beat him up, giving SpongeBob and Patrick the chance to escape.
  • Strange Magic: During the Spring Ball, when Roland tries to make up to Marianne and does a Riverdance bit, her company nymphs dance along for a moment until she gives them a death glare.
  • Tangled: Subverted with Flynn. He's clearly annoyed when the Thugs sing "I've Got a Dream". He eventually joins in but only because the Thugs threaten him with knives and swords after he tells them he doesn't want to sing.
  • Trolls: World Tour:
    • Happens to Branch twice. The first time, a variant, is when he claims to like "Born to Die". The second time occurs when the Reggaeton Trolls and The K-Pop Gang find him; he listens to both groups' music moments before getting captured.
    • "Just Sing" is an exaggerated example. This trope is the song's overall point, since practically every Troll goes on to join the musical number started by Poppy, regardless of when they do.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Enchanted: After spending most of "That's How You Know" trying to break off Giselle's Crowd Song and lampshading the tropes that come with it, Robert catches himself bobbing along before realizing what he's doing.
  • EuroTrip: The first time Scotty hears the song "Scotty Doesn't Know" (in which the singer goes into great detail about how Fiona cheated on Scotty with him) it was incredibly traumatizing for him. But later in the film, he admits that it's a really catchy tune and starts singing it along with his friends.
  • The Mask. During The Mask's "Cuban Pete" song and dance number, police detective Doyle (who's supposed to be trying to catch The Mask) starts dancing along with the music. His boss Lieutenant Kellaway tells him, "You start dancing, I'll blow your brains out."
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: During the "Knights of the Round Table" bit, a prisoner who's strung up in the dungeon claps along with the rhythm.
  • Step Brothers: When Derek ruined Brennan's talent show number in high school by singing "Brennan Has A Mangina", the parents in the audience started singing along. Even Nancy, Brennan and Derek's mother, joined in for a bit.
  • St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold: Peters starts enjoying the girls' flash-mob and is given an angry look by his boss.
  • Undercover Brother: Mr. Feather is a racist but when hearing African American hip hop, he slowly breaks into a dance, until he slaps himself out of it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Even when Jake is determined to undermine CJ by telling the upper management that CJ lost evidence, he still keeps singing along to CJ's Earworm song.
    Jake: This could be our way back to the day shift. Come on and party tonight Wow! It's actually a really catchy song.
  • Frasier: Niles' wine club's anthem, which is a version of "Rule Britannia" with altered lyrics. When Roz joins the Cranes for Sunday brunch, she curses out Frasier for getting the song stuck in her head.
    Hail Corkmaster, the master of the cork
    He knows which wine goes with fish or pork!
  • Fringe: In "The Boy Must Live," Captain Windmark follows the trail of Donald, a.k.a. September to his apartment. He finds it empty, except for a jazz record playing in the background. As Windmark searches, his lieutenant starts tapping his toes to the beat, without his even realizing it. Windmark's Death Glare brings the tapping to an embarrassed halt.
  • Get Smart: In one episode, the villains play hypnotic music. When the hypnosis is turned off, Agent 99 still dances to it because she likes the song.
  • How I Met Your Mother: In Season 5's "Of Course", Marshall, Ted, and Barney each have a Heel Realization when they discover Robin is still upset about her break up with Barney, who has been hitting on women in front of her at Ted and Marshall's encouragement. To add salt to the wound, Marshall made up an Ear Worm song about how much banging Barney has been doing, which all three sing in front of Robin. When Marshall asks Lily why she let him do that when she knew the truth, Lily admits that the song's kind of catchy. Robin gets to do it back to Barney at the end of the episode when she gets a guy of her own, clearly agreeing that the song is catchy.
    Bang bang bangity bang
    I said a bang bang bangity bang!
  • Mrs. America: Discussed when Eleanor mentions that her Moral Guardians crusade against Hair was always doomed to fail because they did have two very catchy songs.
  • Little Lunch: During the argument in "The Girls Toilets", Melanie yells that "Boom Boom Pop Pop" is the most popular song on the radio. Listening outside, the boys agree, with Battie adding that he had seen Mr. Halotis—the school's middle-aged P.E. teacher—singing and dancing to it.
  • Scrubs: Turk downloads "Bye Bye Bye" as his cell-phone ringtone. Naturally, this results in all the hospital staff dancing around to it when J.D. calls him. Dr. Kelso, who is initially very upset with them all, ends up admitting "This is pretty catchy!"
  • Sesame Street: Bert is Ernie's best friend, but when Ernie sings, Bert often doesn't like the songs due to them getting in the way of what he's doing. He'll often learn to like them halfway through, though and may even dance or join in. This will usually be punctuated with him noting that the song is admittedly "kind of kickin'".
  • Succession: The reactions to Kendall's rap range from horrified, due to Logan's clear anger about it, to bopping along (if somewhat uncomfortably) with the music.

  • Paul McCartney's "We all Stand Together": In the video of the extended version, an Ominous Owl and two black cats are sneaking up to the Frog Chorus. The two cats start meowing along with the rhythm until the owl shushes them.

    Pro Wrestling 

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppet Show: In the UK Spot of the Christopher Reeve episode, several characters, led by Floyd and Janice, mock Sam the Eagle's up-tightness by singing the Bing Crosby hit "Sam's Song". Sam attempts to ignore them while writing a letter to stop all the weirdness, but after they're gone, he actually hums the melody.
  • Sesame Street: Bert is Ernie's best friend, but when Ernie sings, Bert often doesn't like the songs due to them getting in the way of what he's doing. He'll often learn to like them halfway through, though and may even dance or join in. This will usually be punctuated with him noting that the song is admittedly "kind of kickin'".

  • Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein): The stepfamily, of course, hates Cinderella. However, after the ball, she starts singing "Lovely Night", describing her romantic night with the prince. The stepsisters get swept up in the song and even sing with her, only snapping back to normal when their mother yells at them for taking part.
  • The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals: Despite Professor Hidgens chloroforming them, tying them to chairs, and attracting the attention of the Hive, Ted can't help but enjoy his performance of his own work-in-progress musical, Workin' Boys. He even gets genuinely teary-eyed at one point, much to Emma's bewilderment.
  • Hairspray: In the Grand Finale "You Can't Stop the Beat", despite Amber Von Tussle losing the Miss Hairspray crown and Link to Tracy (though Tracy actually turns the former down), and her mother Velma failing to make Amber a star or keep the Corny Collins Show segregated, they end up joining in on the infectious celebration when invited. Note 
    Ensemble: Come on you Von Tussles
    Come and shake your fanny muscles!

    Von Tussles: We can't!
    Ensemble: Yes you can!
    Von Tussles: No, we can't!
    Ensemble: Yes you can!
    Von Tussles: Yes we can!
  • In Jasper in Deadland, Gretchen takes Jasper to every club in Deadland in the hopes of finding his friend Agnes. At first, Jasper focuses on asking around while Gretchen joins in on the festivities, but near the end, they can both be seen rocking out to the music at Osiris' concert.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Ratboy Genius: In the Interlude episode "Dreams Minecraft", after Little King John's Villain Song, Ratboy describes John as "frightening and infuriating, but... full of catchy music."

    Web Videos 
  • In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, Yamcha has a reputation as The Friend Nobody Likes among the Z fighters (though he gets unseated by Vegeta once he arrives). At one point, Yajirobe turns up in a flying car, blasting a song named "Cat Loves Food" in Yamcha's voice, which everyone recognizes, though only Krillin brings it up. Later on, Piccolo is trying to telepathically contact Gohan while being attacked by Dr. Gero, manages to get into Tenshinhan's head, and discovers Tenshinhan is singing it in his head. Tenshinhan is not amused.
  • PhantomStrider: His review for Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue is pretty negative, but he does dance to "Wonderful Ways to Say No".
  • Todd in the Shadows gets extremely frustrated when he can't get "Body Like a Back Road", a song he hates, out of his head, and keeps making Lyric Swaps.
    Todd: Doin' all my taxes... DAMN IT!
  • Twisted Translations: In "Google Translate Sings 'Never Gonna Give You Up' By Rick Astley", Malinda is at first annoyed that she got Rick-Rolled through Google Translate. However, by the end she starts singing along with the song, catching herself for a second, but then shrugging and going over to dance and sing along as the video ends.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog: In the episode, "Sonic's Song", Scratch and Grounder can't help dancing and singing along to the titular song even though they know it's a song about their archenemy. Dr. Robotnik finds out about this and does not take this well, going as far as to create the Music Destroyer robot to rid Mobius of music.
    Scratch: There, I like this song.
    Grounder: Yeah, catchy little number, except it's about Sonic.
    Scratch: So what? It's great!
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In "The Headband", when the Headmaster and his enforcers crash the dance party, at the end of the I Am Spartacus moment, two of the enforcers are moving along with the music.
  • Big Hero 6: The Series, "Big Hero Battle":
    • The boy band 4 2 Sing thinks they can be heroes as well. After a day of them taking credit for Big Hero 6's accomplishments, they hold an impromptu concert during which their Humongous Mecha is hijacked by Steamer. Big Hero 6 uses Mega-Max to fight back. Because 4 2 Sing's mecha has no weapons, Steamer is quite resoundedly beaten and exclaims "I'll have my revenge, boy band! Even if your songs are delightful earworms!".
    • Then in the finale 4 2 Sing gives another concert with Big Hero 6 as their "special guests". Go Go, who had been the most negative about them from the beginning, is tapping along. Fred gleefully points it out, resulting in Go Go threatening to smack him.
  • Bob's Burgers: At the end of the "My Butt Has a Fever" short, Mr. Frond gives the Belcher kids detention for the titular Joke of the Butt-based musical performance. However, Louise catches him humming a few lyrics of their song while supervising detention and calls him out.
  • In The ChubbChubbs!, one of the monsters start to sing "Why can't we be friends" along with Meeper. He stops when the others look at him disapprovingly.
  • DuckTales: In "Sky Pirates... in the Sky!", the Sunchaser is being surrounded and then boarded by a group of pirates that sing a shanty. By the end of the song, Launchpad is standing in ship's hold, applauding and calling for an encore ... instead of piloting the plane.
  • In the Claymation special Follow That Bunny, Gerbert Goblin hums Sebastian's "sprouts and worms" song while he blocks the chimney to the Ruthless Ice Cream factory.
  • Hey Arnold!: In "Ghost Bride", the gang is being stalked by the titular ghost actually Helga in disguise, who is constantly humming the Wedding March. At one point, they think they've escaped her, only to hear someone humming the Wedding March again. Turns out it's Eugene, who admits he found the song catchy. Subverted later after the Ghost Bride’s identity is revealed: they hear someone humming the Wedding March again, but when they look at Eugene, he says that it wasn't him this time, meaning that it's the real Ghost Bride this time. It was Curly.
  • Looney Tunes: In "My Favorite Duck", Porky, who is humming "Moonlight Bay" while setting up camp, finds himself pestered by Daffy, singing "Blues in the Night." After several shenanigans, Porky realizes to his annoyance that he's now singing "Blues in the Night" himself.
  • The Loud House: In "Really Loud Music", when Lily plays a bubblegum popsong and starts to dance to it, most of the family rushes to join in. Then Lucy comes out of her room:
    Lucy: I should hate it ... [cracks a smile] but I don't.
    Lisa: Likewise. Curse this inane yet diabolically catchy tune!
    [Both join the dance]
  • Miraculous Ladybug: in "Simon Says", Nino participates in a challenge-based game-show. Since he's an aspiring DJ, his challenge is to get the mayor of Paris, who in his own words despises dancing, to dance. When after a minute or so, the mayor start to bob along with the beat, the host declares a victory for Nino because "moving your head to the beat counts as dancing."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "The Cutie Map – Part 1", Fluttershy starts bobbing her head along to the welcoming song until Pinkie glares at her.
  • Numberjacks: In the episode "Square Dancing", when the Shape Japer locks some people into an Involuntary Dance, Four starts dancing too, even though he disapproves of the Japer's actions and he doesn't actually get affected until much later in the episode.
  • The Patrick Star Show: In "The Patrick Show Sells Out", Plankton sings a song with Patrick about his restaurant. A cut backstage shows Squidina dancing and clapping along to it. Mr. Krabs gives her a Death Glare, and she stops.
  • Phineas and Ferb: In "Tip of the Day", Candace gets more and more involved with the Aglet-Awareness song. Even though it doesn't matter what they're called.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds". After Mr. Burns sings "See my Vest", Bart is humming the theme until Lisa scolds him.
      Lisa: Bart!
      Bart: Sorry, you gotta admit that it's catchy!
    • In "Lisa The Vegetarian", we see Lisa making a salad for a BBQ party. Homer and Bart start teasing her and singing, "You don't win friends with salad!" and Marge, despite disapproving of their teasing, joins in because she got "caught in the rhythm".
    • In "Dude, Where's My Ranch?", Homer's song "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" soon becomes very popular everywhere, and at some point we see Ned himself singing along to the radio in his car.
    • In "Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes", Homer and Flanders are hunting down criminals. While Homer normally disagrees with pretty much everything about Flanders, he likes the Christian cover of an AC/DC song he sings, and even joins in.
    • In "Bart the Daredevil", Homer spends most of Lisa's recital impatiently waiting for the end so the family can get to a monster truck rally. On the ride after, Homer hums the 1812 Overture (the cool part, with the cannons). "I reached him!" says Lisa, satisfied.
    • In "Cape Feare" Bart stalls Sideshow Bob's latest attempt to kill him by asking Bob to sing the entire score to H.M.S. Pinafore. Bob obliges the request and Bart gets so into the performance he ends up joining in at one point.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man: Spider-Man's enemies Shocker, Ox, and Ricochet are riding an elevator, and Ox starts to hum the show's (and by extension, the titular character's) theme song, prompting the other two to stare at him. "What? It's catchy."
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Bubble Bass's Tab", while refusing to pay his tab, Bubble Bass sings, "Hey, nonny nonny! You look pretty funny! You won't get my money!" While on the way to Bubble Bass's house, SpongeBob is singing it, saying he can't help it because it's catchy.
  • Thomas & Friends - Journey Beyond Sodor: James constantly annoys Thomas by boasting through his "I Am Great!" Song that "Somebody Has To Be The Favourite". To only infuriate him further, despite the song's shamelessly egomaniacal context, its jaunty cheerful tone means pretty much no one else can resist merrily dancing along to it.
  • Total Drama World Tour:
    • After he disqualified himself from the competition because he refused to participate in any further musical numbers in "Walk Like an Egyptian", Duncan is back in the plane, humming "Come Fly With Us". When Chris catches him doing so, he denies it.
    • After being cursed to hurt animals, DJ ends up trying to get eliminated. By "Newf Kids on the Block", he's the last member of his team and plans to get eliminated by refusing to sing during the song, which would get him kicked out instantly. However, Heather is attempting to get him on her side, and tries to make him sing during "Sea Shanty". After spending most of the song in silence, he finally breaks down:
      DJ: [singing] No you can't catch me, with a sea shanty! [speaking] WHAT? Oh no...
  • Wander over Yonder's Musical Episode "My Fair Hatey" ends with the big finale number being interrupted by Lord Dominator shooting at the protagonists and yelling at them to stop singing. The end tag depicts her singing the song throughout the day as she realizes to her exasperation that it's a first-rate Earworm.
    Dominator: Stupid catchy tune!


Video Example(s):


Wendy's Audition Song

Wendy wants to audition for the new "boy band" despite being a girl and her entire song is about her almost about to swear but swapped with a different word until the ending.

How well does it match the trope?

4.8 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / SubvertedRhymeEveryOccasion

Media sources: