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With Lyrics
The opposite of Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics - an instrumental tune never intended to have lyrics is given some, often for humorous or ironic effect.

Gaining popularity on the Internet (e.g. Brentalfloss of Screwattack with Nintendo game themes, and That Guy with the Glasses doing it to 1980s cartoon themes), but the practice has been around for a while - e.g. The Two Ronnies once did it with a big-band performance of In The Mood.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Cantonese Hong Kong dub of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind added lyrics to the ending theme. With a male chorus. It actually sounded really cool. The rearrangments and the lyrics made it a National Anthem kind of song, if you know what the chrous translates into:
    With you we prospect
    and new paths we'll pave
    May it shine, this new light and spirit
    together we create the glorious and resounding!
  • Spirited Away also has an image album which adds lyrics to several of the tracks from the soundtrack, most of them surprisingly depressing.
  • The theme song to The End Of Evangelion, Thanatos (If I Can't Be Yours), is a musical theme from the series with lyrics. (Note that the music doesn't live up to the title Thanatos, but the lyrics might.)

    Film 
  • Charlie Chaplin added lyrics to his theme for A Countess from Hong Kong to make the Petula Clark hit "This Is Your Song."
    • Also, "Smile" (a standard popularized by Nat King Cole) was adapted from an instrumental theme from Chaplin's Modern Times.
      • It's also been covered by Michael Jackson as well.
  • The film My Fellow Americans has both the rival ex-presidents admitting to coming up with their own lyrics for 'Hail To The Chief'.
    • Kevin Kline in Dave also has fun with 'Hail to the Chief' while showering: "Hail to the Chief, he's the one we all say hail to..."
  • This very NSFW song, set to to the main theme from Jurassic Park.
  • When Marvin Hamlisch adapted Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" for the movie The Sting, either he or his lyricist added lyrics. "Now the curtain is going up / The entertainer is taking a bow"
  • A version of the old Superman films theme tune was once recorded by an artist named Enrique in France with added lyrics. The song was later resung by an artist named Noam.
  • Ennio Morricone and Hayley Westenra's Paradiso consists largely of this.
  • In the commentary track for UHF, "Weird Al" Yankovic sings along with the Orion Pictures Vanity Plate: "Orion... Orion... is bankrupt... now!"
  • The Lord of the Rings movies have a few examples. In the end credits to Fellowship, after Enya's "May It Be" there's a version of the Shire theme "A Hobbit's Understanding" set to English lyrics (see here). The refrain to "Into the West", the end credits song to Return, has the tune to the Gray Havens theme. If Elvish lyrics also count, there are quite a few, but one of the best has to be the Fellowship theme as heard at the start of the Battle of the Black Gate.
  • One year before it was done in The Star Wars Holiday Special,(see below) French singer René Joly added lyrics to the Star Wars theme, in a Softer And Slower Cover.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On his blog, Lawrence Miles, fandom personality and writer of Doctor Who Television Tie In Novels, has a sidebar giving lyrics to some instrumental themes from the show:
    The Words to Well-Known Doctor Who Themes: Although the location-footage music in "City of Death" is instrumental, everyone who hears it instinctively knows that the words are, "Running through Paris, we're running through Paris, we're running through Paris, we're running through France"...
  • For a non-comedic example, the last season of Roseanne added lyrics to what had been an entirely instrumental tune for all past seasons.
  • The theme tune to The X-Files was a victim. Allegedly the words go: "The X-Files is a show ... with music by Mark Snow..." Whistle it, and be doomed to forever have it in your head.
  • Similarly, this clip from the Stargate SG-1 DVD commentary track includes tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
    Stargate — it's a crazy trip.
    You can go quite far,
    And you don't need a car
    Or even a ship.
  • In This Island Earth, an incidental tune plays as the flying saucer's viewscreen returns to normal view. When featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie:
    Nor-mal view, nor-mal VIEW, nor-mal VIEW, nor-mal VIEWWWWWW!
  • The theme from Star Trek: The Original Series has lyrics, which have never been used. This was not for humorous effect, but because of the way royalties for songs work in Hollywood. Roddenberry discovered that if a song had lyrics, the lyricist got royalties every time the song was used, even if the lyrics weren't. So, he whipped up some silly romantic lyrics for the theme, made them official, and received a little extra money for every airing of the original series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the movies, and... yeah. This understandably pissed off composer Alexander Courage and caused him to leave the series.
    • Roddenberry didn't discover this, Hanna-Barbera did.
  • In The Young and the Restless, a version of the theme song with lyrics is sung by Gina.
  • For some reason, the French version of the opening theme for The A-Team has lyrics, whereas the original was instrumental only (save for the opening narration). The lyrics did work though - even though they're definitely eighties.
  • In a Taxi episode, Reverend Jim is set up on a date with Marcia Wallace of The Bob Newhart Show, and regales her with the lyrics he's composed for the show's theme: "Here comes Bob and Carol/His wife, Emily, really likes him/He has five people in his group..."
    • Nick at Nite used to do this in promos, for Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie too, though in at least one of those cases there actually were unused lyrics for the song..
    • GSN also ran commercials adding lyrics to the themes from Match Game, Family Feud, and The Newlywed Game. The Feud commercial was actually based on lyrics that a contestant sang to Richard Dawson once.
  • The sitcom Buffalo Bill featured Dabney Coleman as the titular Bill, who hosts a morning TV talk show. In one episode, he decided to "spice up" the show by adding his own lyrics to the theme song:
    Talking,
    The people 'round here do some talking;
    Turn on your T.V. set,
    Turn on your T.V. and see!
  • A Saturday Night Live sketch had Bill Murray as Lounge Lizard Nick Winters singing the main theme of Star Wars:
    "Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars..."
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special had Carrie Fisher sing the Life Day song to the tune of the Star Wars theme...
  • In one of the Academy Awards, Will Ferrell and Jack Black added lyrics to the song played when a speech gets overtly long.
  • Eddie, from the late 90's sitcom Malcolm & Eddie, came up with a get rich quick scheme that involved invoking this trope. One theme he added lyrics to was the Sanford and Son theme.
  • "Live show, it's a 30 Rock live show. It's 30 Rock live!"
    • And for the west coast: "Let's talk about sushi. Portland, Vegas, Glendale, this is 30 Rock!"
    • Weird Al added lyrics in the end credits of the episode "Kidnapped by Danger":
      Now you can go vent your rage
      On your Twitter and Facebook page
  • Some fans of Game of Thrones have come to associate these lyrics to the incredibly catchy theme song:
    Hey, it's
    Time to watch, Game
    Game of Throoooones...
  • According to Joss Whedon on one DVD commentary track, the theme song to Angel goes "Angel iiis a vampire/Who fiiights criiime with hiiis friends..."
  • A sketch in Harry Hill's TV Burp has Harry declare to the audience he's discovered the words to the Emmerdale theme tune, which involves the characters singing the names of different sauces.
    • A non-comedic example: Eino Grön, a Finnish singer, once put the theme to words under the name of "Kotona Taas" (Finnish for "Home Again").
  • Irish singer DANA once sang a version of the theme to Brookside with lyrics. The name of the song is unknown and it was never released.
  • In 1999, MAD ran an article titled "11 Ways Jeopardy! Contestants Can Really Piss Off Alex Trebek". Number 11 was "Sing along to the "Jeopardy!" Thinking Music".
    Contestant: This is Final Je'par-dy,
    Having trouble WITH this cat-e-gory!
    To-day's champ—it won't be me!
    Don't know Greek myth-o-lo-gy!
    Hope my friends don't watch the show,
    Or they'll see there's NUH-thing that I know and
    I'll look like a total heel.
    Wish instead I'd gone...on...Wheel! DUM DUM!
  • Blake's 7 had lyrics to its iconic theme tune written for the revamped credits for the fourth and final season, to be sung by Stephen Pacey. As you can see, they suffered from a pretty serious case of Lyrical Dissonance given the increasingly bleak and cynical tone of the show and the idea was dropped. If any test recordings were ever made, they appear not to have survived.
  • Manhattan Transfer did this with the Twilight Zone theme.
  • Lyrics were written for the theme from Mission: Impossible but were never used, though they occasionally turn up on sheet music.
  • For some reason, American and UK series imported to Japan often have a song added to the opening credits in lieu of the original composition. In many cases, such as with Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, the song itself is new, but in the case of Thunderbirds, a recurring piece of incidental music from the series, the "Century 21 March" was performed with sung Japanese lyrics.

    Music 
  • Allan Sherman's classical music parodies, including his best-known work, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (to Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours").
  • The Megas is a band devoted to this; particularly the classic Mega Man 2 games. Their album "Get Equipped" covers all the songs from Mega Man 2, and they are working on some songs from number 3. Oh, and both the lyrics and music are actually very good.
    • The series itself did this in the third Mega Man Star Force game, where the theme song, Shooting Star, was given lyrics that were sung during one of Sonia's concerts. Sadly, it only showed up in text form and wasn't actually sung...
  • The Adventures of Duane & BrandO is in the same vein as The Megas, though with more of a focus on the protagonists than the villains. They are most well-known for their youtube videos for such games as Final Fantasy and Mega Man 2 (over a million hits for FF!). They're damned good.
    • As an example, The Amazing Brand O sets lyrics to the Song Of Storms; one of the most iconic instrumentals from Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time:
    First some wind, then some rain
    Then a fuckin' hurricane!
    We're all gonna die! Time to say goodbye!
    Holy crap! What the shit?!
    I am twelve and what is this?!
    We're all gonna die tonight!
  • In Flanders and Swann's "Ill Wind," the singer laments the theft of his French horn to the tune of a Mozart French horn concerto.
  • This is, more or less, the entirety of the genre of vocalese. Manhattan Transfer's version of "Birdland" (an instrumental composition by the jazz fusion band Weather Report) is a good example.
  • Barbershop example: the Gas House Gang ('93 world champs) did this by putting a plot summary of Mozart's The Magic Flute to the much-more-well-known tune of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
    Ju-urassic Park, Ju-urassic Park,
    where the dinosaurs are free-ee
  • Hoagy Carmichael originally wrote "Stardust" as an instrumental—and a ragtime piano solo, at that—and the lyrics were added later by Mitchell Parish. Nowadays, the words and music are generally regarded as having always been together.
  • Pianist Floyd Cramer wrote "Last Date" as an instrumental. In 1960, Skeeter Davis and Boudleaux Bryant wrote lyrics, and Skeeter recorded the lyrical version as "My Last Date with You". Later on, Conway Twitty wrote his own lyrics as "Lost Her Love on Our Last Date", which was later Covered Up by Emmylou Harris as "Lost His Love on Our Last Date".
  • ES Posthumus's first album was fully instrumental. Their second album included lyrics in a Latin derivative.
  • Stevie Wonder wrote "The Tears of a Clown" as an instrumental but couldn't come up with any lyrics. Smokey Robinson thought it sounded like a circus, and obliged.
  • It's more rap than singing, but Sweetbox's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" was Bach's Air on the G String turned into R&B.
  • Sheldon Harnick, Broadway lyricist best known for Fiddler on the Roof, was commissioned to write lyrics to Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" in the late '50s, but his lyrics(known as "The Man with the Sign") were all but forgotten. The theme of his lyrics, that the freedom to express unpopular points of view is important to a Democratic society, may have been too controversial for the era of Joe McCarthey. His lyrics tell about a lone protester carrying a sign, and how the singer, while vehemently disagreeing with the protester's views, supports his right to protest, since it means he is free. You can read (most of) the lyrics here.
    "But the man with the sign's a friend of mine
    All alone in his proud endeavor
    And as long as I fight for this man's right
    That's the glory of the stars and stripes forever.
    Yes, the man with the sign's a friend of mine
    All alone in his proud endeavor.
    For the sign says to me, "This man is free!"
    That's the story of the Stars and Stripes Forever."
    • Of course, the Stars and Stripes Forever has a much better known set of "with lyrics" attached to it. "Be kind to your web-footed friends, for a duck maybe somebody's muh-ther..."
  • Singer Helmut Lotti has written lyrics to several classical music pieces.
  • Duke Ellington: It's reported that the Signature Song "Take the 'A' Train" was originally written with lyrics, but the earliest recordings of the song were completely instrumental and the lyrics were apparently lost or discarded. The Delta Rhythm Boys ended up recording a version of the song with their own lyrics. Independently, the 17-year-old Joya Sherrill also came up with lyrics for the song; when she sang them for Duke, he was so impressed that he hired her as a vocalist and adopted those lyrics.
  • Orbital: The Box EP ended with a vocal version of the title track, with Grant Fulton and Alison Goldfrapp singing.
  • "A Lover's Concerto", which is sung to the tune of "Minuet in G" by Christian Petzold.
  • Bob Keeshan, AKA Captain Kangaroo, narrated a children's record of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite". Lyrics telling the story are given to each piece. For example, the famous "March" comes on when the toys (mostly stuffed animals) come to life; it begins with: "Dogs followed by cats and kangaroos/all marching along in step by twos..."
  • The Brian Setzer's Orchestra's "One More Night With You" provided lyrics for a swing arrangement of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King".
  • The Beastie Boys' joke song "The Biz Vs. The Nuge" samples the first half-minute of Ted Nugent's "Homeward Bound", with Biz Markie singing along to the guitar riff.
  • A common treatment to previously instrumental trance anthems, such as Darude's "Out of Control(Back For More)"(featuring Tammy Marie), Tiesto's "(Sub)Urban Train"(featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw), Rank 1's "Breathing(Airwave 2003)" and "It's Up to You(Symsonic)"(both featuring Shanokee), and Armin van Buuren's "Shivers" (featuring Susanna, originally "Birth of an Angel").
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra frequently does this. Notable example, "Christmas Canon", based on Pachabel's "Canon in D".
  • Straight No Chaser's "Christmas Can-Can", to the tune of The Galop from "Orpheus in the Underworld" features these lyrics:
    "Come, let's all do the Christmas Can Can,
    If you can't, can't dance then that's okay.
    (Not gonna do the kickline)
    All you need are a tree, some lights,
    About a thousand presents, wrap them up and pray for snow.
    HO!"
    • Ditto for "Kick the Can" by Bus Stop and "Can Can World" by Makkeroni.
  • TV's Kyle wrote lyrics for the music from Super Mario Bros. 2, found here.
  • Ferry Corsten produced a lyrical version of his previous single "Punk" titled "Junk", with rapper Guru. "Galaxia", an early production by him under the alias Moonman (later remade under his own name), also had a vocal version.
  • Energy 52's "Cafe del Mar", their sole song of note, was lyricized by Fragma as "Man in the Moon".
  • Calexico, at some of their live shows, would take their instrumental "Frontera" and perform it with the lyrics from their song "Trigger".
  • Tori Amos released Night of Hunters in 2011, putting lyrics to some classic pieces, along with new arrangements and some of her own additions.
  • Jazmine Sullivan's "Dream Big" is basically just her singing over Daft Punk's "Veridis Quo".
  • Decoded Feedback's "Soultaker" was originally released as an instrumental on the Deluxe Edition of Aftermath, then rereleased on Diskonnekt with lyrics performed by Claus Larsen.
  • Here are some lyrics for music from Double Dragon by Bonecage.
  • Pop-punk group Supernova sort of did this with their cover of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind theme - the "lyrics" are the title of the movie repeated over and over.
  • Solarstone's "The Last Defeat, Part 2" is a lyrical version of "Part 1" from the previous album.
  • Coldplay's "Life In Technicolor II" adds lyrics to the original, instrumental "Life In Technicolor".
  • The Crystal Method's song, "Vapor Trail" was given some vocals and a guitar riff by Ozzy Osbourne and DMX for, "Ain't Nowhere To Run".
  • WFMU DJ William Berger added lyrics to the instrumental Joy Division B-Side "Incubation", affectionately parodying the band's melodramatic streak by doing an Ian Curtis impression while singing about chickens hatching in an incubator.
  • In 1990, The Pixies released an instrumental called "Velvety Instrumental Version" as a B-Side to the single "Dig For Fire". Twelve years later, Frank Black revived the song with his then-current band The Catholics and added new lyrics, calling it simply "Velvety".
  • Futurecop!'s "Starworshipper" was instrumental when it was first released on the album The Movie, but later rereleased as a vocal single featuring Diana Gen and Starrset.
  • Stunt's "Raindrops" and Starstylerz' "Keep on Moving" are lyricized versions of Sash!'s "Encore Une Fois" and "Ecuador", respectively.
  • Jamiroquai's "Slipin' And Slidin'" is an instrumental that was the B Side to Cosmic Girl. On the Travelling Without Moving tour, however, it was performed live with lyrics. Apparently Jay Kay always wanted to put lyrics on it but had not come up with them when the studio recording was made. In reverse, the demo of the song Music Of The Mind had lyrics but the final version didn't.
  • REM's B-Side "Organ Song" was originally a vocal song called Here I Go Again (a demo leaked years ago).
  • Simple Minds' B-Side "Soundtrack For Every Heaven" was supposed to have a vocal track, but the band lost and forgot about the vocal version. Originally, the band said that they never recorded any lyrics for it. However, when searching through old master tapes, two vocal versions of the song emerged, both titled "In Every Heaven". One of these appeared on the DVD-A of New Gold Dream, and the other on the version of New Gold Dream in the X5 box set. The band also recorded a modern, 8 minute version, that was at one point intended for their Celebrate compilation.
    • Also, their song "Somebody Up There Likes You", was originally intended to have vocals, but none were ever recorded as Jim Kerr thought it was perfect as an instrumental. However, years later a vocal version was attempted for a radio session, titled "Easy". This arrangement of the song was quickly forgotten about and never returned to.
      • Simple Minds did a vocal version of Planet Funk's Where Is The Max, titled One Step Closer, on their album Cry. On the inverse, the same album featured The Floating World, which was an instrumental remix that sampled the previous album's Homosapien and featured no input from the band at all.
  • Experience of Music's "After Spring" got this treatment as "We Won't Stop"(featuring Lightwarrior).
  • While it was originally written for them in the early 80s, due to it going unreleased until finally leaking out on YouTube in 2009, the Jetzons' "Hard Times" ended up more or less becoming "Ice Cap Zone With Lyrics".

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