The global musicto community talks mondegreens
Ever belted out a tune, confident that you knew all the words, only to later realize how hilariously you misheard them? You’re not alone. At least 9 out of 10 people in a UK survey funded by Earex confessed to misinterpreting songs — regularly! And guess what? There’s an actual word for it: mondegreen.
Misheard songs from musicto community members
Alongside giving individual personal accounts of misheard songs below, our musicto community decided to have a little fun with our December monthly playlist. Using Kate Bush’s 1980 release, “The Wedding List” (the meaning of this song is not at all what you think it might be, by the way) we asked our social network to listen to this song once and write down the lyrics exactly as they heard them, and we’re including the top two mondegreens.
Kate Bush – The Wedding List
Misheard lyrics from Nuno:
Though I’ll never goop by the hump top
And I won’t lift it up
Somehow this is it: car lube…
What in the Gwyneth Paltrow is this?
No, I’ll never give u the hunt
And I won’t muck it up
Somehow this is it, I knew
Misheard lyrics from Andrew:
Wine in your belly and one for hoochie
Which clearly should have been…
One in your belly and one for Rudi
Like where the hell did Rudi come from?
The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket
1979. I was 10, not quite old enough to understand what sex was all about but there she was – Chrissie Hynde – gyrating on Top of the Pops and causing weird things to happen to my insides. The song was great but the words confused me. God only knows what Brass in Pocket meant. Did she have a Tuba in there?! But it was the pre-chorus that haunted my dreams:
Gonna use my arms – yes OK, well that makes sense, she’s probably going to have to reach out to give someone a cuddle.
Gonna use my legs – this I found rather confusing, is she going to wrap them around something? It perturbed me.
Gonna use my style – OK yep, style is important, and based on what her hips were doing up there on the TV, I’d say she should definitely use more of that.
Gonna use my sexy – and here’s where my mind got blown, ‘cos you see, I never heard the actual lyric which is Gonna use my sidestep – it wouldn’t have made sense to my 10-year-old brain (not saying that it does much now come to think of it) – but this thing she was going to use – her “Sexy” – what the hell was that?! I’d sing it over and over in my mind until eventually putting it down and deciding that I’d pick it up again after puberty.
Gonna use my fingers – God woman, no, what are you going to do with them?!
Gonna use my, my, my, imagination – and of course, by this time so was I, fueled by lurid images on trashy book covers and whispered secrets that older boys would habitually lie about.
And so as puberty passed and enlightenment arrived, I spent the next 4 decades convinced that Chrissie Hynde had a sexy and – if I was lucky – maybe one day she’d use it on me!
Eiffel 65 – Blue (Da Ba Dee)
I use to think the lyrics to the chorus were a distorted version, possibly of I’m blue if I was green I would die. When really it was as simple as I’m blue da ba de da ba di. Hence the name of the song – haha. I must confess that sometimes I still sing it the wrong way because it’s fun.
The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored
I can’t say I remember exactly when I first heard The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored,” but it was surely at least a few months or years before the Britpop Battle Summer of ’95. As in, before the internet. At the time, [unintelligible mumble] he’s already in me, I wanna be a door must have sounded like a reasonable enough interpretation, maybe another Aldous Huxley reference. Ian Brown does strike like he would have been a Jim Morrison fan. To this day, whenever this track comes on, I’ll sing along for a verse or two, echoing that yearning to be a door.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – Blinded by the Light
I’ve misinterpreted many lyrics in my lifetime. I’m sure that I’ve misheard the lyrics of at least 50 songs in this past year alone. But my mondegreens origin story — the first time I can actually remember misinterpreting lyrics — goes back to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Blinded by the Light”.
The song was all the rage at the start of that school year in 1977. Everyone — and by everyone I mean the boys — was talking about the lyrics. Specifically, they laughed about being wrapped up like a douche which I admittedly misinterpreted too, without having any idea about what that meant, and also something about butt sex and anus curly whirly’s, which I didn’t hear in the song at all.
You can imagine my mother’s surprise when my 11-year-old self arrived home after school inquiring about what “douche” meant and whether the song “Blinded by the Light” was about butt sex. As always, she was frank. She explained douche, corrected my misinterpreted lyrics, and assured that this song was “clearly” about a car.
Years later, my mom recounted her relief that I didn’t ask about anal sex that day, and said that she and my step-father had a good laugh that night when trying to figure out what the hell she’d actually say, should I inquire further. I never did.
T-Pain, Yung Joc – Buy you a Drink (Shawty Snappin’)
This is less embarrassing and more shocking to me as a listener and fan of T-Pain. Recently, the internet told me I was singing one of his most popular songs wrong this entire
This particular song is “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)” by T-Pain (feat. Yung Joc) came out in 2007, and so I have been singing along to it for a long time. During the familiar chorus, I always thought there were no words after he sings, Imma buy you a drink. I thought of it as more of a series of sounds, a collective “oouwee” (pronounced oh…we).
To my surprise, the random noises I was singing along to were actually supposed to be words, and yet I was completely convinced those [random sounds] were the lyrics.
Recently T-pain came forward and numerous videos and articles came to light with
the real lyrics. In the chorus, he sings, Imma buy you a drink followed by actual lyrics, AND THEN imma take you home with me.
The whole time I was belting (ooo we)! I still find myself singing those wrong lyrics out of habit, and then I laugh when I think about it.
Stiff Little Fingers – Alternative Ulster
I don’t know if there was a lyric sheet included with Inflammable Material when it first came out. My copy of the album was a cassette taped off my friend Simon with a handwritten green cardboard inlay made from the cover of an old-school exercise book. And there was nowhere you could look up song lyrics back then.
Jake Burns was not what you’d call a natural singer and there was an awful lot I didn’t understand about the post-punk New Wave classic “Alternative Ulster”. I couldn’t even guess what he was singing between the opening line There’s nothin’ for us in Belfast and the bit that goes Then you walk back to the city. It wasn’t even intelligible enough for me to make a wild guess (for the record, he’s complaining about the lack of music venues in the area at the time, name-checking The Pound and The Trident). Likewise, the lyric I now know to be the RUC dog of repression is barking at your feet was a complete mystery to me.
The line ignore the bores and their laws sounded to me like ignobles divorce. And be an anti-security force sounded like elitite security force. I mean, I knew it wasn’t. “Elitite” isn’t even a word, but that was what I was hearing.
Nevertheless, as a teenager, there was an energy to this band and their lyrics — those I could understand — that chimed with me. I would go as far as to say they changed my life. Because the words Grab it, change it, it’s yours were enough to light a fire under any young person who didn’t want to be controlled by their unimaginative, reactionary elders. Those words serve as a motto for anyone who wants a different life and is prepared to be the agent of change for a better, fairer world, to alter their native land.
Cant’ get enough mondegreens? The websites Kiss This Guy and Am I Right have more than enough to keep you in stitches!
Want more musicto community lists? Check out our previous playlisticles: Censored, 15 Great Songs for your Vampire Ball, 11 Powerful Songs in Flim, and 7 Top Cowbell Songs!