"I mean, what the crap was [Homestar] even saying there? 'Everybody, now bleed a beetle'? No! Ewww. 'Everybody, law deed will be dull'? Uhhhh, no kidding. 'Everybody, something the feed mill'?"
Mondegreens are the phenomenon of mishearing lines, normally song lyrics, but poetry is also a frequent victim. Sometimes it's lack of correct enunciation, sometimes it's the speed or pitch that a lyric is delivered at, but often, a song lyric or recited poem will become famous not for what it says, but for what it sounds like it says to the uncareful ear.
Sometimes caused by bad diction
, or bizarre lyrics
For a more in-depth look at the history of mondegreens and how they're used in various media, please see the Analysis Page.
See also Lady Mondegreen
, which is about something similar happening with character names in other works. Contrast Malaproper
which is a character who mixes up words on a regular basis, and Beam Me Up, Scotty!
which is for when the misheard line becomes more famous than the original. A Gag Sub
for a music video will probably be filled with mondegreens (and mostly works best if original and sub language are different
...unless the language is homophone-rich).
Note: Examples below should be In-Universe, or ones referenced in other works ONLY.
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- An ad for Cingular used this: two men are walking down the street and mangling the chorus of "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash. One sings it as "lock the cashbox", only to be briefly stunned when his friend sings it as "stop the catbox". He then agrees with that interpretation.
- A commercial for T-Mobile plays with this trope: A guy sings along with Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me", and mondegreens it into "Pour some shook-up ramen." His girlfriend is, of course, incredulous, and uses her T-Mobile cell phone to call the public library to get the librarian to look up the correct lyrics.
- One ad for Comcast's "On Demand" service, has a man mangling the lyrics to "Born to be Wild" in the shower — and having Mr. T burst through his wall and reprimand him. No, seriously.
- This Volkswagen Passat commercial has several people mishearing a line from "Rocket Man".
- Maxell tapes did a series of ads focusing on this. This advert mishears Desmond Dekker's "Israelites". And this one mishears The Skid's "Into The Valley".
- A GEICO commercial has Maxwell the pig listening to a rave on his smartphone and singing to the beat as "boots and pants and boots and pants...", getting strange looks from the people around him.
Anime and Manga
- In Yotsuba&!, this tends to happen anytime Yotsuba sings.
- "You fill out my census" ("You fill up my senses" from "Annie's Song" by John Denver). This common misheard version was naturally seized on by the Capitol Steps for one of their political song parodies.
- John Denver's lyrics were skewered by Monty Python's Eric Idle on "John Denver being strangled" ("You came on my pillow...HYUUUNG!) — and yes, Denver sued.
- There's also a comedian who bemoans his parents' inability to remember song lyrics, the trump being that his father sings one of Elton John's song as "Don't let your son go down on me".
- In his stage act, comedian Michael Winslow used to do a version of "Purple Haze", changing the lyric to "'Scuse me while I kiss this fly", followed by screeches of "Help me! Help me!"
- Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" is easily misheard as Secret Asian Man, and has been parodied as such at least twice, by the Capitol Steps as well as Da Vinci's Notebook.
- The Vacant Lot comedy troupe has a skit dedicated to mondegreens in Bruce Springsteen's Blinded By The Light: "ripped up douches"; "loofah sponges" and the "foreman of the night;" and one that's completely incomprehensible.
- Springsteen's "Blinded By The Light" was made fun of by comedian Louis C.K.:
You know that song "Blinded by the Light"? Whenever it said 'revved up like a deuce' I always thought it said 'your mother's cunt smells like oranges'. Strange how that works...
- Penn Jillette even joked about Paul McCartney's poor grammar in "Live and Let Die" in front of a UK audience in Penn & Teller: Fool Us.
- In Ellen Degeneres's stand-up days, she discussed this.
"Does he have it?" Is that what they're singing? "Does he have it?" Then you think to yourself "Why have I been singing 'Monkey hatchet?'" How many people have heard me sing "Monkey hatchet?" Then there are some songs that you don't even bother learning the words, because you assume that no one knows the words. That Aretha Franklin song "Respect," that's been around a long time, and we always get to that part where "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, (beat
) coch-C-T HO!"
- In one issue of the Green Arrow story arc "Quiver," we learn that Stephanie Brown originally mistook Ra's al Ghul's name as "Rasta Guy."
- "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly" was perpetually mondegreened in Walt Kelly's comic strip Pogo as "Deck Us All with Boston Charlie".
- CalvinAndHobbes has Calvin intentionally mondegreening the pledge of allegiance as "I pledge allegiance to Queen Fragg, and her mighty state of hysteria..."
- Peanuts once subverted this trope: a story arc has Sally preparing for a Christmas pageant in which "I come out and say, 'Hark!', then Harold Angel starts to sing." Everyone assumes that she's simply confused by the name of the song...until a kid named Harold Angel actually shows up.
- Sally was known for these kinds of blunders. In another Christmas strip, she recites: "The stockings were hung by the chimney with care/In hopes that Jack Nicklaus soon would be there."
- A Bloom County strip had Opus the penguin mangling The Star-Spangled Banner when he finds himself unable to remember the lyrics ("Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light / what so proudly we snailed, at, um, the starlight's last cleaning...").
- In the comic strip Wild Life, Carson the Muskrat thinks the lyrics to his favorite U2 song are "I still haven't found Walter's cookie jar" (I still haven't found what I'm looking for)
Films — Animated
- In The Flight of Dragons, the closed captioning for the official VHS releases frequently substitute the word "horn" for the actual word "hoard".
- Winnie the Pooh 2011: Pooh and his friends thought that Christopher Robin was kidnapped by a monster known as the Backson because Pooh actually mistranslated Christopher's message "I'll be back soon."
- Not the first time it's happened. In a much older cartoon, Pooh and friends journeyed to rescue Christopher Robin from the terrible land of Skull. Actually he'd just gone to school.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: "Frollo's nose is long, and he wears a truss."note
- In Flushed Away, Roddy protests to the thugs looking for Rita that he's just an innocent bystander. They now think that Roddy's name is Millicent Bystander.
- The Christmas short Olive the Other Reindeer has this set off the plot. Upon hearing on the radio that one of Santa's reindeer is injured and that they'll be counting on "all of the other reindeer," Olive decides that Santa did not say this, but the title, and that she is not a dog at all, and that she is in fact, a reindeer. So she goes to the north pole to prove it. A bus driver later tells Olive that he used to think the pledge of Allegence was about him, Richard Stands. As in, "And to the Republic, for Richard Stands." There is also a character named "Round John Virgin" a common Mondegreen for the words "Round yon virgin" in Silent Night.
- Near the end of Cars 2, Mater, Finn McMissile, and Holly Shiftwell are all captured by the Lemons and are trapped inside a giant clock tower in London, England. As the Lemons proceed to drop Mater into the clock's gears to shed him alive, the tow truck immediately yells, "Dad gum!", and as a result he accidentally deploys his weapons Finn and Holly gave him and blasting away the ropes suspending them over the clock gears, therefore freeing himself and allowing them.
- The DVD of Yellow Submarine has a blatant subtitling error in the "Sea of Science" segment; the chorus is subtitled "It's only a normal song". Whoever did the subtitles, the significance of the accompanying track being called "Only a Northern Song" evidently escaped them. (This problem is bypassed on the Blu-Ray, by the songs not being subtitled.)
- At the end of Despicable Me 2, the minions cover "I Swear" by John Michael Montgomery, All-4-One and many others. Being the minions, they mondegreen the entire song; most noticeably, they sing the line "And I swear" as "Underwear".
Films — Live-Action
- In Animal Crackers, Groucho asks Chico to play a song about Montreal: "I'm a dreamer, Montreal." This is a mangled reference to the De Sylva, Brown & Henderson song "Aren't We All?"
- In the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight, Samuel L. Jackson misquotes England Dan and John Ford Coley's "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" when he sings, "I'm not talking 'bout the linen," and Geena Davis corrects him that the song is actually saying, "I'm not talking about moving in."
- Role Models referenced "I want to Rock and Roll" with, "I like to rock and roll part of every day. I can only rock and roll from three to five."
- When Scott was reading Twas the Night Before Christmas to his son in The Santa Clause, his son mistakes "arose such a clatter" for "a Rose Suchak ladder". This turns out to be justified.
- In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian and his mother are listening to Jesus' Sermon of the Mount from way in the back row, prompting Brian's mother to ask, "Did he say, 'Blessed are the Cheesemakers'?" ("Well obviously it's not meant to taken literally, it refers to any manufacturer of dairy products.")
- In the romantic-comedy I Give It A Year, the main couple Nat and Josh argue over misheard song lyrics. Nat thinks the lyrics from "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" go "I travelled the world in generic jeans" instead of "I travelled the world and the seven seas", much to Josh's chagrin. She also thinks the line from "We Built This City" goes "we built this city on the wrong damn road". Josh also brings up the lyrics from "Tiny Dancer", which Nat thinks goes "hold me close and tie me down sir".
- In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, when Logan addresses the very overweight Fred J. Dukes as "bub", Fred gets mad because he mishears it as "Blob". (Fred J. Dukes would actually become the mutant known as the Blob).
- In Skyfall, Bond introduces M and Kincade to each other. Later Kincade calls her by the name "Emma", presumably thinking he had heard an abbreviation of the name rather than a code letter.
- In Muppets Most Wanted, Constantine sings the verse "The lovers, the dreamers, and me" of "The Rainbow Connection" as "The lovers, the dreamers, and cheese".
- In Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig is listening to Tommy's version of "The Origin of Love." Instead of "Osiris" he says "The sirens" on the recording (for which he claims writing credit). He tries to talk his way out by saying there were two versions of the lyrics and she says "There's one version and you fucked it up!"
- In Angels in the Outfield, some of the baseball players think that the first line of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is "Jose, can you see," prompting one of them to comment, "Wow. It's about a Spanish guy!"
- "Blowin' in the Wind": In Salman Rushdie's novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet, a character has the magical ability to hear in his mind songs that will become hits three years into the future. But sometimes the lyrics come out garbled. When he heard Bob Dylan's aforementioned song, he thought the chorus went "The ganja my friend is growing in the tin..."
- In Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs Dave Barry has an entire section on mondegreens. Ironically, it's in a different section that he awards the "Certificate of Redundancy Certificate" to Paul McCartney and Wings for the line (from "Live and Let Die"), "But if this ever-changing world in which we live in..." not knowing that the actual line goes, "But if this ever-changing world in which we're livin'..."
- The children's novel In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson has the protagonist mangling the Pledge of Allegiance on her first day of school in the US:
Shirley: I pledge a lesson to the frog of the United States of America. And to the wee puppet, for witches' hands, one Asian, in the vestibule, with little tea and just rice for all.
- The Lois Lowry novel All About Sam renders the Pledge of Allegiance as the Pled Jelly-Juntz. Justified as the protagonist is four years old.
- In the novel The Prisoner of Pineapple Place, set in an invisible alley of invisible residents, the protagonist believes the words of the Pledge are "One nation, invisible, with liberty and justice for all". The story suggests this might be an intentional Mondegreen on the teacher's part, given the residents' own invisibility.
- There's a running joke in Good Omens about how all cassette tapes left in cars will eventually metamorphose into tapes of "The Greatest Hits of Queen". Crowley listens to the song "Radio Ga Ga", hearing the lyrics "All we need is Radio Ga Ga". It's actually "All we hear is Radio Ga Ga."
- Another time, he wonders who Moey and Chandon are. note
- "Olive, the other reindeer ..." (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: "...All of the Other Reindeer..."). Inevitably, a book called Olive the Other Reindeer was published in 1997, and was turned into a Christmas Special in 2003 by Matt Groening of The Simpsons fame.
- One of Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby books had the titular protagonist thinking that the lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner began "Oh say can you see, by the dawnzer's lee light" and becoming convinced that "dawnzer" must be another word for "lamp."
- John T. Sladek's novel The Müller-Fokker Effect (really!) has the following version of The Star-Spangled Banner:
Ofay can you pee
By the dong's surly blight
What you probably inhaled
At the toilet's last cleaning.
- An in-universe mondegreen names the book Snot Stew: it comes from the kitten protagonists mishearing the human children arguing: "Is not!" "Is too!" becomes "S'not!" "S'tew!"
- A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt (a memoir of growing up in Ireland and moving to America) uses a mondegreen from the prayer "Hail Mary" - "blessed art thou amongst women".
- The novelization of Revenge of the Sith has this dialogue between Gunray and Anakin:
Gunray: Palpatine promised to leave us in peace!
Lord Vader: The transmission was garbled. He promised to leave you in pieces.
- In Warrior Cats Crookedstar's Promise, barn cat Fleck thinks that the moonstone (a place where warriors communicate with their ancestors) is the foodstone. Prompts the hilarious line "Is there a foodstone as well as a moonstone?"
- The title The Catcher in the Rye comes from an in-universe Mondegreen, Holden mishears the song "Comin' Thru the Rye" and adopts this mistaken phrase as his future purpose in life, forming a mental image of himself catching kids who are running around in a rye field (which is inexplicably placed on "some crazy cliff,") which to him is symbolic of protecting them from adult themes, especially sex. The song is actually, very ironically, about two lovers meeting to have sex in a rye field.
- Several books by Gavin Edwards (before the Internet made reading and sharing mondegreens easy), in the 1990's are collections of these sent in by readers: 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy, He's Got The Whole World in his Pants, When a Man Loves a Walnut, and Deck the Halls with Buddy Holly.
- The Isaac Asimov short story "Battle-hymn", one of his Feghoots, builds up to the punchline that the title of the French National Anthem is pronounced "Mars Say Yes".
- In Doom: Endgame, Fly and Arlene are being connected to the Newbie computer simulation, and he sees Arlene mouth a message to him: "Patrick". Fly has absolutely no idea what she's trying to convey with that message or how it could help them, all that comes to mind is the story of Saint Patrick who converted the Irish. Once in the computer, he decides to trust Arlene and attempts to convert the monsters. He succeeds and rallies a growing army of the enemy, awed by his Reality Warper powers. Once they regroup in the computer, Fly learns that she said "battery", as in "Cut the Juice".
- In Noel Streatfeild's 'The Whicharts', the children's name comes from a mondegreen of the Lord's Prayer - Our Father, Whichart in Heaven. Since they are illegitimate, they assume this means their father's name is Whichart, and take it as their own.
- Penny of Edenborn claims her name is from a Lung Butter lyric "play Penelope", actually "play the melody" according to another character. It's unclear whether she reached this on her own or if her mother misinformed her.
- In Seeker, first book of the Noble Warriors trilogy, someone delivers a partial warning "Whatever you do, don't" but the remaining words become mangled by distance into "enemy orb ladder" - the full message being "Whatever you do, don't empty your bladder!"
- Colene, the main character of the Mode series by Piers Anthony, when she was as a child, heard the song lyric "Mares eat oats" as "Maresy Doats" and named her toy stuffed horse after the misheard lyric. (Incidentally, the song "Mairzy Doats" was deliberately written so as to inspire this exact mishearing - see its entry below, under Music.)
Live Action TV
- Inverted with the credits song for WKRP in Cincinnati. For years fans of the show have attempted to translate what the garbled lyrics are...finally decades later, the producers admitted there ARE no lyrics. The musician sang gibberish as a placeholder and was going to put in real lyrics later; the producers liked the gibberish version so much though that they told him not to bother and used it.
- The line Soy un perdedor from "Loser" by Beck was called out in a VH1 special on the best songs of the 90s, where various musicians and critics sang what they thought Beck was saying instead of the Spanish line.
- "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly" was mondegreened in the television series V by Willie as thus:
Willie: Deck the halls with lousy folly/Fa la la la la, la la la la/Tis the evening scruffy molly/Fa la la la la, la la la la/Don't we know how gay a carol/Fa la la, la la la, la la la/Holy moly Yule Tide carol/Fa la la la la, la la..
- A butchering of "Hold me closer, tiny dancer" by Elton John is referenced in an episode of Friends, wherein Phoebe is convinced that "Hold me close, young Tony Danza" is the actual line.
- Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down" is referenced in VH-1's "I Love The 70s Volume 2." The made up word, groose is often mistaken for Bruce.
"I just want to know who Bruce is."
- The Clutch song The Regulator has the lyric "I see a lantern burning" misheard by fans as "I see Atlanta burning." So did the producers of The Walking Dead, who used the song in an episode.
- Greg from Dharma and Greg had a habit of this. "I want to Rock and Roll all night... And part of every day!" Dharma tries to correct him ("...Party every day"), and he drunkenly replies, "If you party every day, how can you get enough rest to Rock and Roll the next night?"
- Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit from Nevermind. When MTV aired the music video, they subtitled lyrics into the video. (Unfortunately, even MTV got the lyrics wrong. It's no wonder why "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody pokes fun at the fact the lyrics are nigh-impossible to understand.)
- Intentionally done for the song "Kinda Lingers" on Not the Nine O'Clock News.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000:
- They had fun with Pod People "Idiot control! Bees on pot! Burning rubber tires!" The funny thing is some of the ridiculous lines Joel and the bots sang are the real lines. Also, one must remember this is a dub of a Spanish movie so it's bound to have major issues.
- Another poor dubbing gave us "Roji-Panty Complex" from Invasion of the Neptune Men. It's actually "Rojium-Tanium." It was ridiculous enough that it turned into the subject of a host segment in which Tom Servo contracted Roji-Panty Complex and Mike had to take care of him by administering panties every hour.
- Ken Lee ("Can't live [without you]", Without You). Made famous by this clip from the Bulgarian version of Pop Idol.
- Six Feet Under - In-Universe pop-star Celeste's song Set My Loving Free is sung by Keith as Shave My Legs For Free.
- In Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Greg Proops confuses the title of Sir Mix-a-lot's "Baby got back" with "Ladies got back".
- In the TV show Wings one episode's subplot revolved around Antonio becoming a busker in the airport, singing a song he learned back in Italy (his introduction to English): "My Goat Knows the Bowling Score, Hallelujah." After everyone gets sick of him singing the same line over and over they suggest he go on to the next verse, which he does: "Sid's new hair is in the mail, Hallelujah." (That is, "Michael, row the boat ashore" and "Sister, help to trim the sail", respectively.)
- The Australian TV show Comedy Inc. has fun with this trope in their stop-motion vignette series Ernest the Engine and Others where the character Stevie the Steam Train tends to "stutter badly at the most inappropriate of times", such as when he sings the song "Country Roads".
- The main character of Victorious mistook the ''The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme song lyric "shooting some b-ball outside the school" as "chewing some meatballs outside the school."
- In Small Steps, Armpit mishears the words "I'm but" as "Armpit".
- A game on Never Mind the Buzzcocks called "Indecipherable Lyrics" is based on the teams trying to deliberately come up with entire verses' worth of mondegreens for particularly mumbled songs. See also Something Something Leonard Bernstein and Perishing Alt Rock Voice (the latter a common cause of Mondegreens.
- One of Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night Hashtags" routines had examples sent in by fans via Twitter.
- In an episode of Just Shoot Me!, Nina and Elliot get into an argument about whether the lyrics of their favourite blues song are "Stone for my pillow" (because the singer is sleeping in the street) or "Slow, foamy killer" (referring to malt liquor). Finch later tries to convince them that is "Stone cold armadillo", but he's just messing with them.
- This, apparently, is what led to the Clairvoyant's Übermensch ideas in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
You remember that speech you used to give us, Nick? About how one man can accomplish anything once he realizes he can become something bigger? Well, now I am. Fury:
. A part
of something bigger. The Clairvoyant: Is that how it went? Coulson:
Not a great listener. Fury:
If you tell me this whole HYDRA
path thing you took is because you misheard my damn "One Man" speech— The Clairvoyant: I am the key to the future of the universe. I'm the origin of all things
] You got it, right? Coulson:
- One affiliate airing Star Trek: The Next Generation had somehow captioned "All hands on deck for saucer separation" as "All hands on deck for happy birthday" in one of the episodes.
- On an episode of Match Game, a contestant in the Bonus Round invoked this when given the phrase "Cuckoo ____". Asked to fill in the blank, she replied with "Cuckoo, friend, and Ollie", a mangling of the classic puppet show ''Kukla, Fran, and Ollie".
- Every single episode of Hey Vern, It's Ernest had a sketch where Ernest went to his barber and asked him to give him a haircut that made him look like a Wall Street tycoon. The barber always mishears the instruction as something that rhymed which was thematically related to what the episode was about ("I thought you said The Man in the Moon" or "I thought you said a wind-blown sand dune" or something).
- There was an article in a 1980s Readers Digest in which the author recounted how, as a child, she thought that the first line went of The Star-Spangled Banner, "O say can you see, by the daunserly light" and kept "daunserly" as her secret, magical word. She was eventually corrected on this by her family when she decided that it couldn't hurt to share that magical word with her sister who, of course, initially had no idea what she was referring to.
- This 1997 article in Billboard magazine discusses several mondegreens that Country Music radio program directors have heard from callers. Among them:
- David Lee Murphy's "Dust on the Bottle" being misheard as "Dust on the Bible"
- Ty England's "Should've Asked Her Faster" being misheard as "Should've Slapped the Bastard"
- The line "Let's all go down to Dumas Walker" from The Kentucky Headhunters' "Dumas Walker" being misheard as "…go down to do Miss Walker"
- Billy Ray Cyrus' "Some Gave All" being misheard as "Some Gay Ball"
- "She's my little blue scoop, picks up all of my rocks" ("She's my little Deuce coupe/You don't know what I've got", The Beach Boys, "Little Deuce Coupe"). Filk artist Tom Smith includes this in "Smurfin' Safari", a medley of Smurf-themed Beach Boys parodies.
- "Caroline, No" was originally written by Tony Asher as "Carol, I know." Brian Wilson misunderstood the lyric, and after discussing it they decided that "Caroline, No" fit the melancholy tone of the song better.
- Joan Baez's cover of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band has a number of Mondegreens, as she learned the song by listening to the recording repeatedly rather than through a lyrics sheet. Notable ones are singing "So much cavalry" instead of "Stonewall's cavalry," and "I took a train to Richmond that fell" in place of "by May the tenth, Richmond had fell." Reactions are mixed as to whether this ruins the song or not.
- Actually, it is "Stoneman's cavalry", referring to Union general George Stoneman. The words constitute another mondegreen: they are often heard either "Stonewall's cavalry" (Confederate general Thomas Stonewall Jackson) or "Sherman's cavalry" (Union general William Sherman). George Stoneman was Sherman's subordinate and had been Stonewall's roommate at West Point.
- The Bangles included a cover of "Sweet and Tender Romance" on their 2011 album Sweetheart of the Sun. Despite having found no official lyrics. Susanna Hoffs remarked, "We listened to the McKinley Sisters' recording over and over again, and could decode most of the words, but in the end we guessed a bit! What you hear on the record is actually our "scratch" vocals, and in fact Vicki and I are singing different words!"
- "Slow Uncle Walter/The fire engine guy" ("Smoke on the water/A fire in the sky", Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple). The Barenaked Ladies pay homage to this Mondegreen in their song "The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel":
Rubberneck traffic and passers-by/ And Slow Motion Walter the fire engine guy / Stand around with their mouths open wide...
- Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down", is frequently mondegreened as "Don't bring me down, Bruce!" The actual lyric is "Don't bring me down, groose", which is a made-up word. ELO realized so many people were hearing this that they actually started singing it live.
- As mentioned in the Friends example, "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John has the line "Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer", which gets frequently mondegreened as "Hold me closer, Tony Danza."
- She's got electric boobs, a monkey suit, you know adabadabadaba da heeee, ohhhh...B-B-B-BENNIE AND THE JETS!!!
- And don't get us started on "Rocket Man", as mentioned in the Advertising section. It's the last line of the chorus, which is really "Rocket man! Burnin' out his fuse up here alone." You could get 100 people, and they'd take 100 different guesses as to what the line says.
- Cover artists are divided as to whether the line in Elvis's Peace in the Valley is "the Lamb is the Light" or "the lamp is alight."
- Doug Ingle's slurred and/or drunk/stoned mispronunciation of "In The Garden of Eden" has likewise become the official title of the famous Iron Butterfly song, "Ina-Gadda-Da-Vida".
- "Hey Sandy" by Polaris was the theme tune to The adventures of Pete and Pete, with a famously unintelligible lyric which the band swore they would never reveal. The lyrics have been guessed as everything from "Can you settle to shoot me" to "can you see the shroom babe" and no one is any the wiser.
- One of the more famous mondegreens is "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" ("'Scuse me while I kiss the sky", Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze). Hendrix, aware of the mondegreen, was actually known to pause at this point in the song and either point to or kiss one of his male band members during concerts. In at least a few live recordings, he very clearly says "kiss this guy" or "kiss that guy".
- Splender's song "I Think God Can Explain" was originally "I Think I Can Explain." But the lyrics and titled were changed due to a mishearing, and the band preferred the version that was ultimately released.
- "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes has the line "And the feeling coming from my bones...", but it sounds exactly like "And the feeling coming from my balls..."
- The title itself is based off a non-musical mondegreen. Jack White stated that as a boy, he thought Salvation Army was Seven-Nation Army and for some reason, he decided to call the song that.
- Kings of Leon has an intentional aversion/backstory example in Sex on Fire, one of their biggest hits. The Word Salad Lyrics originally featured "Set Us On Fire" as the chorus, but everybody would Mondegreen it as "Sex on Fire". According to The Other Wiki, one of the sound mixers came in and said, "Sex on fire, huh?" It became a running joke, and eventually the group not only changed the lyrics, but made it the album title track.
- The Peter, Paul, and Mary song "Leaving on a Jet Plane" inspired the Pinkard and Bowden parody "Libyan on a Jet Plane".
- "Wrapped up like a douche, another rubber in the night" ("Revved up like a deuce" (coupe) in the Manfred Mann's Earth Band version of Bruce Springsteen's Blinded By The Light)
- From That Other Wiki, Mairzy Doats is built of intentionally inverting this trope. For those not willing to go to the link here are the actual lyrics on the sheet:
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, woooden shoo?
(Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy
A kid'll eat ivy, too, wouldn't you?)
- The first time Stevie Nicks met Tom Petty's wife Jane, Jane said that she and Tom met "at the age of seventeen." However, her thick Southern accent made it sound like "Edge of Seventeen." Nicks liked the sound of it, and wrote a song around it.
- Folk singer John Prine, in a live version of his song "That's the Way that the World Goes 'Round," mentions a fan who told him she liked the lyrics "It's a happy enchilada, and you think you're gonna drown." Actual lyric: "It's a half an inch of water, and you think you're gonna drown." Rather than correcting the fan, he told her he was glad she liked the words.
- Pink Martini actually recorded a Mondegreen not realizing it was the wrong lyric. In "Amado Mio," a cover of another song, China Forbes sings "I want you ever, I love my darling, wanting to hold you and hold you tight" - and only later did the band realize that the words are "My one endeavor, my love, my darling."
- They Might Be Giants' John Linnell wrote a song called Olive, The Other Reindeer, named after a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer mondegreen of "...All of the Other Reindeer..."
- Australian punk legends Radio Birdman took their name from a misheard lyric in The Stooges' "1970" from Fun House - Radio burnin up above...
- "Weird Al" Yankovic got the idea for "Like a Surgeon" from Madonna Mondegreening her own song "Like a Virgin" while talking to a friend.
- The song "Pontoon" by Little Big Town came about as the result of a mondegreen. Co-writers Luke Laird and Natalie Hemby wrote a song for Miranda Lambert called "Fine Tune"; a publisher later inquired about the song, but thought that it was called "Pontoon". After Hemby corrected him, the two thought that they actually should try writing a song called "Pontoon".
- It's common that fans of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Bad Moon Rising" will mondegreen the line "there's a bad moon on the rise" as "there's a bathroom on the right". John Fogerty has even used the mondegreen version of the line in live performances, because let's face it: knowing where the nearest bathroom is as the world come to an end is his biggest priority.
- "GOPHER TUNA! BRING MORE TUNA! Statue of big dog with fleas!"
- Electric Six's biggest hit "Gay Bar" was reportedly inspired by mishearing the lyrics to DEVO's "Girl U Want" when the speakers were too loud. Somehow, "She's just the girl, the girl you want" because "She's just the girl in a gay bar". So then they decided to write a song that was actually about a gay bar.
- The chorus from the Linkin Park song When They Come for Me was usually misheard by fans as "Try the Ketchup, motherfucker!" Achieved Memetic Mutation with a community t-shirt with Mike Shinoda in a butler outfit carrying a bottle of ketchup on a silver platter.
- The main theme of Super Smash Brothers Brawl is constantly a victim of this. The words aren't even in English, so fans have fun interpreting English lyrics.
I'll be the Marth, e.g. a noob!
So this is Yoshi's B!
The monkey wants to hug him!
Call me mama!
So it wasn't me!
And I flee a tsunami!
- Disturbed's "A Welcome Burden"...and then the Pokemons taste my misery."
- Imagine Dragons songs sometimes fall victim to this, to the extent where Dan Reynolds has to Tweet fans the correct lyrics. For at least one tune ("Destination"), he admitted considering officially changing the lyrics to match the misheard version ("I think a little 'bout a lot/I reach a verdict" —> "I think a little 'bout a lot/I'm introverted").
- A (possibly apocryphal) story about The Beatles meeting Bob Dylan was that Bob introduced them to marijuana after mistaking the "I can't hide" line in the bridge to "I Want To Hold Your Hand" for "I get high".
- In the Beatles' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, the line "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes" is frequently misheard as "The girl with colitis goes by."
- The Gratuitous French in "Michelle" has been heard as "Sunday monkey no play piano song, play piano song."
- Tones On Tail: The remix of "There's Only One" is titled "Now We Lustre" after a mondegreen of the song's title when it's reversed.
- Weezer's Live EP The Lion And The Witch was recorded when bassist Scott Shriner had been in the band for less than a year, and it includes him memorably flubbing the lyrics in his backing vocals for the bridge of "Holiday": "We will write a postcard to our friends and family and free-base" instead of "We will write a postcard to our friends and family in free verse". The rest of the band give him some good-natured ribbing for this in the ensuing stage banter.
- "I've got a... BAT CAVE! I'm tuning it up!" ("I've got a bad case of turning it up" - Thousand Foot Krutch, "Fire It Up")
- Guided By Voices' "The Best Of Jill Hives" came about because Bob Pollard thought he heard that phrase being uttered on a TV he had on in the background, then thought it would be a good song title. Odds are he was actually hearing a promo for Days of Our Lives.
- The common mondegreen "I'm a little man, and I'm also evil, also into cats" ("I'm a leading man, and the lies I weave are oh so intricate") from "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race" by Fall Out Boy has been acknowledged by the band a few times.
- Aerosmith's "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" was born from one of these, much like "Sex on Fire" above. The line (and song name) was supposed to be "Cruisin' for a Lady".
- Same with "DARE" by Gorillaz. It was supposed to be "It's there", but Shaun Ryder's slurred vocal style made it constantly sound like "dare", so they decided to make that the name of the song.
- A meme was started over listeners mistaking the line in Taylor Swift's 2014 "Blank Space" single of "Got a long list of ex-lovers" with "Got along with Starbucks lovers". A popular YouTube video was made based on the mondegreen.
- "THIS IS SANDPIT TURTLE!!!" (THIS IS SEMPITERNAL!!!) from "Shadow Moses" by Bring Me The Horizon.
- When Kidz Bop released their version of "All About That Bass", for some reason they decided that the word "booty" needed to be censored in the line "I'm bringin' booty back". The line they decide to use is "I'm bringin' it all back". However, due to the awkward way the line is altered, it sounds like they're saying "I'm bringin' ANAL back".
- According to fans of St Mirren Football Club in Paisley, Scotland, "Hyacinth House" by The Doors contains the line "The Paisley Lions disdain". The Paisley Lions were a Speedway team that shared St Mirren's stadium (Love Street. the title of another song by The Doors) for a while in the 1960s. The official version of the line is "to please the lions this day".
- George Carlin pulls this in a spoof of a commercial:
Dad: Marge, I dunno what it is, what I mean to say that I don't know what it is. But I just can't get close enough to make a sale. Do you think I could have (forcefully) BAD BREATH??
Marge: (coughs) It's possible, dad. You wilt the dandruff! You should try Listerine.
Dad: Mr. Clean?
- In a theatrical parody called Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer about a crossdressing/gay reindeer, the Snowman-narrator sings a song about a woman named "Sylvia Gould" until the Lumberjack corrects him that it's supposed to be "Silver and Gold."
- The version of "Purple Haze" in Guitar Hero World Tour is a live recording and includes the line "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" modified to "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" - while he points to a man!
- The song "Second Heaven" in beatmania IIDX contains the line "Somebody scream!" twice, which the fandom misheard as "San-bai ice cream!" ("3-scoop ice cream!") This has since turned into an Ascended Meme; Ryu☆ made a mention of it in the artist's comments when the song appeared in Popn Music. Additionally, Sound Voltex Booth also has a remix of the song, the cover art of which depicts a character holding a 3-scoop ice cream cone.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Doctor Misar thanks a Jedi Player Character by trying to quote the Jedi Catch Phrase ("May the Force be with you"), which he has misheard as "May the floor be with you."
- The announcer in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is known for her questionable pronunciation of "The wheel of fate is turning." This was acknowledged in Skullgirls where the announcer will occasionally start a match with "Gorilla fate is yearning."
- The official strategy guide for Kingdom Hearts says that you'll hear Sephiroth say, "Sin Harvest" before unleashing his ultimate attack. The actual line is "Descend, Heartless Angel," but it's so fast you can miss the "Angel" part entirely.
- In Cracked's article "5 Reasons New Year's Ruins Everything Great About Drinking", number 2 is "The Music", because nobody really knows the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne":
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never yab to bye, adaaa dada banana boat, and auld lang synnne.
- In the Rifftrax for New Moon, the commentators joke that one of the songs on the soundtrack seems to say "Armed with your staring fly." The song is Roslyn by bon Iver and St. Vincent and the real words are "Aren't we just terrified?"
- This little bit from Snopes on an old Disney picture/audio book certainly counts.
- The Archive of Misheard Lyrics, whose website URL comes from a mondegreen of Hendrix "Purple Haze", is possibly the biggest archive of mondegreens in existence.
- The Similou's All This Love inspired a mini fad on YTMND about the famous communist hero, Rainbow Stalin.
- Many YouTube videos give you the option to turn on closed captions. On videos where the maker provided the captions, there's no issue. However, the rest of these videos use a speech-to-text program to automatically transcribe the captions, leading to such moments as "Hey, I've been trying to reach you for the past hour. What've you been doing?" being intepreted (or misheard by the program) as "Anytime we put that style what you've been doing?"
- Rammstein writes C# code.
- "Hold me closer, Tony Danza," a butchering of "Hold me closer, tiny dancer" by Elton John, became an ascended meme featuring guess who? The Danza.
- Many YouTube videos parody the first section of Carmina Burana, called Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, based on Mondegreens. Can be found here and here
- BELLS FROGS BING CHERRIES JINGLE BELLS MAGIC CHEESE ("One-Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII)
- Introducing: Seleno Gomez and his hit single Laviu, laca no son!
- Green Day's "Know Your Enemy" has an AMV dedicated to the Mondegreen of "Do you know your anime?"
- The John Desire cover of Hot Limit by T.M. Revolution has a ton of these, in no small part thanks to the fact that it was originally a Japanese song that was translated into English and sung by an Italian band. The Animutation We Drink Ritalin has a collection of Mondegreens from the song. To compare, these are supposed to be the actual lyrics.
- Lordi — "Biomechanic Man"
- "Bill Oddie, Bill Oddie, put your hands all over my body" ("Erotic, Erotic, Put your hands all over my body") in Madonna's Erotic.
- Rhettand Link have a series of videos where they intentionally do this with youtubes caption feature called caption fail
- O-Zone's Dragostea din Tei has been intentionally 'misinterpreted' in other languages, the Japanese version even includes Shout Outs to One Piece, Street Fighter, and Sazae-san.
- "O Fortuna" Godspeed.
- "Elephants, Yeah!" ("E di pensier," "La donna é mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto, as sung by Luciano Pavarotti)
- That Dude in the Suede chose Return of the Phantom Stranger as the theme song for his Fandom Stranger series because of this trope.
- Rum Stein by Rammstein.
- ''SHREDDED WHEEEEAAAATTTT!'' The real lyrics are...well...pretty disgusting. However, the mondegreen actually fits the vocals better. It's basically incoherent vocal noises, anyway.
- "Marmoset there'd be days like this..." (actually "Mama said there'd be days like this," by the Shirelles)
- BOAT! RUDDER! STRANGE! MOUNTAIN! STOMP! UKRAINE! THIS! LIME!! From the infamous "Interpretation of Trivium". Trivium have mentioned people turning up to their concerts with T-shirts with these "lyrics" written on, even though it was written by someone who hates Trivium as a form of trolling.
- One Buffalax on YouTube subtitled the Indian song Tunak Tunak Tun with English words that sounded like the original Punjabi lyrics. The results are hysterical. "In your yard I am teh Ferengi man, very odd and chunky!"
- In a similar vein to the Hungarian mondegreening of Nightwish's "Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan" (see above), someone posted the (also Finnish) Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus song "Lintu" with misheard lyrics, which has gems like "kurváim úszkálnak" ("my bitches are swimming") and "Jaj lányom, szülj te buktát!" ("Oh, my daughter, give birth to a sweetroll!")
- God of War brings us Hold! Devil's! Pot of tea! Hold, devil's, pot of tea! Hold! Devil's! Pot of tea! Hold, devil's, pot of tea Mulan!
- Yumi Kawamura and her Engrishy songs for Persona 3 and Persona 4 are full of this. Here's just one example.
- In an episode of Red vs. Blue, an exhausted and desperate Donut tries to deliver the important and cryptic message "It's under the sand" to Caboose, but because Donut is on the verge of passing out, his words come out as "It's under....thessssssand". Caboose hears it as "It's under this, and...", and Hilarity Ensues.
- Moskau! Moskau! Moskau! Billy is a handyman! Porcelain is the surest plan. Hohohohoho...hey! Moskau! Moskau! Dinah Steeler is too loose. Castro it's the time to lose. Hohohohoho! - Also brought to you by Buffalax.
- Andrew Mathas purposely mondegreens songs to make humorous videos.
- And then there's this little gem "Songs Of Praise with subtitles".
- This YouTube Poop mondegreens a line from Toy Story. (In case you're wondering, they're actually saying "gangway", as in "clear the way" or more bluntly "get out of the way".)
- Here we find out that the Gamecube Wavebird controller has "fudge brownies" inside.
- Sheamus will rip off your head and fuck your girlfriend.
- Slowbeef of Retsupurae once made a video called "A Public Service Announcement to all Lets Players" wherein he attempted to read American Gods by Neil Gaiman whilst ZoopSoul LPed I Wanna Be the Guy. Everytime ZoopSoul dies, Slowbeef interrupts himself and says "Please Stop Lets Playing I Wanna Be The Guy." At one point he gets to the part where Shadow "was (secondly) going to towel himself off" and ZoopSoul ends up dying at that moment. It is commonly misheard as "Second he was going to tell himself, Please Stop Lets Playing I Wanna Be The Guy." In reality it's, "Second he was going to towel himself - Please Stop Lets Playing I Wanna Be The Guy."
- "Old Long Johnson" the cat. "Oh, Don Piano. Why do I despise you all the live long day?"
- The German YouTuber Coldmirror has produced quite a lot of videos mongegreening songs.
- In Naruto The Abridged Comedy Fandub Spoof Series Show, when Iruka announces the team line-ups in the style of the One Piece theme song, because he likes One Piece, he sings it as "Dreamin'! Don't give it up, Naruto! Dreamin'! Don't give it up, Sakura! Dreamin'! Don't give it up, Sasuke! Dreamin'! Don't give it up, that guy!" The actual lyrics to "Pirate Rap" by Russell Velasquez are "Dream it!", not "Dreamin'!" Again, it's unclear whether this was actually LittleKuriboh's mistake or just Iruka's.
- In the K-pop episode of YouTubers React, Anthony and Ian of Smosh misheard the main line of the Girls' Generation song as "I got a boy on my chin". The real line is part English and part Korean, and translates to "I got a boy, a handsome one". With them being Smosh, this quickly went viral.
- The Animutation trilogy, Colin Mochrie Vs Jesus H Christ, provides misheard English sing-along lyrics for its three non-English songs. They get more plot-important as the videos progress. The first video, "French Erotic Film", only has a reference to "an old blue Scot called Dill" to connect to Colin becoming a Scotsman. "Plan 9 from Underpants" has mondegreens with references to Colin and Andrew Kepple (the creator of the trilogy). By "Conquest of Animutopia", plot-important mondegreens are the norm and ones that sound like non-sequiturs happen less than half the time.
May Colin be defeated,
may Colin leave, or are
we wrong, Canadian leader?
- Mentioned in one segment of The Fingertips Project (a music video for "Fingertips" by They Might Be Giants done by members of the Animutation community); during the segment for "I Don't Understand You", mondegreens from "The Bonny Earl O' Murray" (the Trope Namer for "mondegreen") and "Advance Australia Far" appear.
- Many Animutations tend to run on mondegreens to fuel it's weird and trippy imagery. See page for examples.
- The Spiritual Successor to Animutations, Buffalaxes (named for said youtuber who did the Moskau and Tunak Tunak Tun videos above), also runs on this, albeit usually without the trippy imagery. Unlike animutations, buffalaxes usually shun trippy imagery for the original music video. It's humor comes from the over-the-top offensive and expletive-laden mondegreens. Simply put, while the goal of an animutation artist is to make surreal imagery to go with a mondegreen of the song, the goal of a buffalaxer is to mondegreen the song with lyrics that are as offensive as possible. For example, Chinese Jingle Bells.
- CDZA did a whole video devoted to this phenomenon.
- In his review of Richie Rich, The Nostalgia Critic tries to figure out what Dr. Keanbeane says at one point ("My inventions!").
- In the review of Doug's 1st Movie, characters keep mentioning an In-Universe amusement park called "Funkytown," but he insists they're saying "Fuckytown."
"Stop saying "Fuckytown!" It's a G-rated flick! Learn to pronounce your n's!"
- Even the subtitles are uncertain what the one-lined end credits to Aqua Teen Hunger Force say. Sometimes it's "Dancing is Forbidden" (this is what it's supposed to be - the sole lyric is sampled from Master Shake saying this line in the first episode), other times it is "Dance Finger Puppets". Sometimes it's even "Danzig is morbidity".
- Family Guy:
- The version of "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly" on the first Christmas episode ("A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas"), the lyric was sung by Cleveland and Quagmire as "Deck the balls on Uncle Charlie..." (in syndication, the line is partially muted, so all Cleveland and Quagmire say is "...on Uncle Charlie...")
- "f'in cry" (Stewie's line in the theme song, "Laugh and cry"). A clearer version was used in the third season due to censor complaints, but the clearer version has since been dropped ever since the show came back from cancellation.
- Peter sometimes does this. For example, he once mispronounced Pewterschmidt as "Pieceofschmidt", Valerie Bertinelli as "Valerie Bertandernie" and Mr. Gutentag as (among many others) "Mr. Googlesearch".
- Angelica once mondegreened the entire song, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" on an episode of Rugrats, something like this: "My country tears of thee, sweet land of lizardy, of thee I see. Land that my father buyed, land of my chill and pie, From every mountain slide, let freedom ring." She also did something similar with "America the Beautiful" on another episode, which started out "O beautiful, for spaceship eyes..." Later substituting "America, America..." with (what else?) "Angelica, Angelica" And in case that wasn't sufficiently self-centered: "...from me to shining me!"
- Histeria did a number on the Pledge of Allegiance, with Loud Kiddington messing up every line. It included the "Richard Stands" mistake and ended, "One naked, undergarments, invisible man, with Liberace and puffed rice for all!"
- The Simpsons has a couple of subtitling mishaps and some straight mondegreens:
- In Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, when Jimmy Jones is naming some of Ben's aliens, he incorrectly identifies Jetray as "Jeffrey". Ben corrects him.
- Total Drama Island:
- In the premiere episode, Chris tells the contestants during the orientation that they will be using a communal washroom. In the original, un-bowdlerized version, Lindsay misunderstands this as “Communion washroom” and objects on the grounds that “I’m not Catholic.”
- The most prominent expression of Lindsay’s Dumb Blonde stereotype is that she routinely butchers people’s names in a mondegreen style. She normally gets either the first consonant sound or the first vowel sound right, and the Lindsay-fied name usually has the right number of syllables; but beyond that, all bets are off.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Applebuck Season", Applejack whips up some particularly nasty muffins (Even Pinkie Pie gets sick from them) because she is so tired she mishears the ingredients.
- InSpongebob Squarepants Mr. Krabs tries to ask Mrs. Puff on a date only to become unbearably nervous and start speaking gibberish. In an effort to help, SpongeBob tries to translate his gibberish and comes up with several horrifying answers before finally getting it right. The answers include "He says he'd like to hit you with a rake." and "try and guess your weight!"
- In Animaniacs, Yakko, Wakko and Dot aggravate Ludwig von Beethoven by constantly mistaking the word "Pianist" for..... some other mondegreen that could arguably be heard in lieu. It doesn't help that Beethoven keeps screaming. "No, No, No! I'M A PIANIST!!! A PIANIST!!" It happens again with the Big Bad in Wakko's Wish, where they "mistake" the name Salazar for "Salad Bar".
- In "Gravity Falls, Once Stan has all 3 journals he is heard saying "finally I/we have them all." The I/we is purposely at a lower volume than the rest of the sentences to keep viewers questioning.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Cry Freedom Fighters!", Plastic Man rallies the oppressed inhabitants of Qward with a mangled version of "Yankee Doodle".
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "Meet The Beat-Alls" consists mostly of jokes centered around Beatles references. One of them is the line "Someday monkey won't play piano song, play piano song", which is how a line in the song "Michelle" which is sung in French ("Sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, Tres bien ensemble") sounds to many English speakers.
- The Madeline episode Madeline on the Orient Express has it's plot resulting from this- The chef on the train mistook a customer's request for a snack as snake and thus kidnapped the pet snake of another passenger to cook. This issue was hinted when Madeline asked for an ice cream cone and got a nice green bone instead.