Zoe Fennessy, who suffers from a rare condition called musicogenic epilepsy, doesn't particularly dislike Ne-Yo's music, it's just that whenever she hears it, she freezes up and begins vomiting uncontrollably. In June, the 26-year-old had brain surgery in an attempt to ease her symptoms, but it didn't work.
For fear of hearing a Ne-Yo song—any song, apparently—and being sent into a seizure, Fennessy listens to her own music in earbuds any time she goes shopping, and hasn't gone to work for six months, the Daily Mail reports. She began having non-music-related seizures in 2006, and the triggering began in 2011 after the release of Pitbull's Ne-Yo-featuring "Give Me Everything," a number-one single in the UK, where Fennessy lives. Since then, other Ne-Yo tracks—the Mail mentions the Calvin Harris collaboration "Let's Go" and Ne-Yo's feature on Calvin Maynard's "Turn Around"—have also triggered episodes.
Fennessy isn't the first to have seizures seemingly caused by a particular artist: In 2008, a New Jersey woman named Stacey Gale had brain surgery to correct the epilepsy that flared up whenever she heard the music of Sean Paul—her favorite singer. (Gale's procedure was apparently successful.)
There's a cruelty in the fact that each woman's epilepsy was triggered by a massively popular musician—life would be much easier for Fennessy if some obscure jazz artist set her off—and it's possible that the popularity itself has something to do with the triggering: according to a review of the literature regarding musicogenic epilepsy, "an important role is attributed to the emotional aspect of music." In other words, it isn't simply about a particular set of frequencies.
There's also something undeniably comical about the condition, which Fennessy freely acknowledges: "People might think it is funny - and I can laugh at it myself - but it has taken over my life. It's ruined my life."
She described a recent vacation to Majorca to the Mail:
She said a recent holiday to Majorca - just after the singer released his song Play Hard with David Guetta - was a 'nightmare' with the song playing in every bar.
'I have had to go up to DJs in places and say 'look can you not play Ne-Yo' and they just look at me like I'm an alien,' said Zoe.
'[Doctors] are saying it could possibly be something in the tone of his voice, something like that, but it doesn't happen when I hear Usher, or people like him who have a very similar sound. It is only him, only Ne-Yo.'
'Our holiday this year to Majorca was a nightmare. Honestly it was like being at a Ne-Yo concert - the song was everywhere.
'I had to stay in the hotel room for most of the holiday because it got so bad.'
Doctors removed the majority of Fennessy's left temporal lobe, which relieved some epilepsy symptoms, but she still has a seizure every time she hears Ne-Yo. "I'm still left with the singer Ne-Yo causing my seizures," she told the Mail. "And I will be forever."
[Image via AP]