Music History

Published on May 3rd, 2018 | by Alan Cross

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Because everyone likes to make fun of people who mishear lyrics…

[Another list from contributor Thomas Dennett. – AC]

Lyrics. They can be a beautifully written narrative or a mess of nonsensical jargon. But sometimes, the words just don’t come across as they were meant to. These are called mondegreens; what we hear makes sense in our head but are in fact completely different from what was actually said. Here are 5 songs with some hilariously misheard lyrics.

1) Chicks, Cars and The Third World War – Colin James

Women, fast things and explosions sound like rock and roll to me. However, Colin James’s pronunciation of this iconic line is a little bit off, and for most of my life I was convinced he was singing ‘Sixty cars and the third blew up’. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals were impressive. A line of 60 muscle cars driving down the highway, when the one second from the front spontaneously combusts. Unfortunately, none of the cars blew up in the actual chorus.

 

2) The Old Master Painter – Dick Haymes

A cute little song from the 50’s about a widely loved painter and his works of art. Unfortunately, the diction was just slightly off, which results in a rather inappropriate, albeit hilarious, interpretation of the song. Instead of me repeating it here, it’s best you listen to the pronunciation of ‘master painter’ in the song and laugh at how a single misspoken word gives the song a whole other, dirty meaning. Hint: The first name of the artist is rather fitting.

 

3) Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

I grew up listening to my parent’s favourite classic rock and my dad is a big CCR fan. This is a great tune from the 1969 album Green River, but every time it comes on I can’t help but singing the misheard lyrics during the chorus. “Don’t go ‘round tonight, it’s bound to take your life. There’s a bathroom on the right.” As a kid, I sat there thinking, my god what kind of terribly unkempt public restroom is this that it can take a life?! I was almost relieved when I was told the real lyrics, as the thought of losing my life in the bathroom was one I just couldn’t bear.

4) The Sinner – Memphis Mayfire

“The Sinner” is off of American metalcore band Memphis Mayfire’s 2011 album, The Hollow. Music with screaming in it can be hard to understand at times. Screaming is not a style of communication that has a big emphasis on diction, but it really should for instances such as this. The music video has a dark feel to it, which is immediately dissipated at around 3:15 in the song when lead vocalist Matty Mullins tries to scream ‘”ake all my guilt, take all my pride.” Instead, he manages to blurt out the two lines in a way that they seem to say “Tickle my goat, tickle my bum,” which isn’t very hardcore.

5) Chasing Pavement – Adele

Even artists as popular as Adele, with the voice of an angel, can’t always pronounce words properly. The song “Chasing Pavements: from the 2008 album 19 is a mellow love ballad where she really shows off the range of her vocals. Unfortunately, the main word in the song, pavements, is slightly mispronounced so it sounds like Adele is singing “Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing penguins?” I say that if you really want something, never give up. Chase those penguins, Adele.

 




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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