The Kingsmen's lead singer Jack Ely begins the third verse of "Louie, Louie" a measure early, which the drummer tries to cover up. The track was really meant to be a demo; hence the roughness of the recording. They had no idea that that version of it would be the one commercially released.
The pseudo-German "Gunten glieben glauten globen" at the beginning of Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages" was producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange doing a variation of the standard "One, two, three, four" cue out of boredom. The band thought it was hilarious.
The track "Alice Practice" on the debut album was just ia vocal demo featuring a load of distorted semi-incomprehensible roaring by singer Alice Glass over a chiptune-esque electronic beat. It was accidentally uploaded by the band and their fans reacted positively to it, so they decided to include it on the album, making it an entire song's worth of Throw It In.
The track "Love and Caring" also qualifies - during a short instrumental section, Glass can easily be heard saying "What the fuck is...? Oh, it's the bass... " before launching into more distorted, noisy vocals.
At the end of "Riding Into Work In The Year 2025 (Your Invisible Now)" [sic] by Flaming Lips, while the singer is going "Aaahhh..." over and over, someone can be heard saying "Alright... stop."
In "What Is The Light?", the stopwatch function on someone's digital watch can be heard going off - it happened to do so on rhythm, and right before the drums kicked in.
After "I'm Still Alive" by Stratovarius, two people can be heard talking.
In the anthology film Urgh! A Music War, the band Magazine shows their awareness of a common Mondegreen of their song Model Worker. While the original studio version had the line "I know the cadre will look after me," they changed it to its mishearing "I know that Carter will look after me," and confirmed it by rhyming an original lyric, "I have been indulging in ostentatious display" with "Playing in the Rose Garden, rolling in the hay".
The opening operatic blast which falters and fails in the Electric Light Orchestra track "Rockaria", before the song picks up as it should, was a fault by the diva they'd brought in; they left it in because the false-start-and-retake sounded right.
At the end of the Sonata Arctica song "The Power of One" on the Silence album, there's about a minute of silence, followed by someonenote Nik Van-Eckmann, the voice on this track's intro and ending muttering "And I fuckin' touched the mic, hold on."
Draw Me from Winterheart's Guild has a conversation among the band (in Finnish) at the end of it, when a bird flew into the recording studio. If you can't understand it, the (clear) lines translate to "You should get an award from Greenpeace." "A bird roast." "A bird roast... (Laughs)"
Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess played the last note of In the Name of God" with his nose. Apparently Mike Portnoy liked it so much they decided to keep it.
On a similar note, Rudess played an improvised, on the fly solo on his continuum at the end of The Dark Eternal Night while they were tracking the drums or something, and the band liked it so much that they stuck it on the record.
Also, John Myung's bass solo in "Metropolis Part 1" was a tapping exercise he used to warm up. The rest of the band liked it and convinced him to throw it into a song.
One famous example is Australian band Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl", which begins with the lead singer clearing his throat.
In the Ben Folds Five song "Steven's Last Night In Town," a barely audible phone ring is heard just before the last line of the chorus is sung. The placement is absolutely perfect and they kept it in.
Outkast's music video for "Ms Jackson" contains a plethora of animals. In one scene, an owl moves its head perfectly to the rhythm of the words. This was completely accidental, and was kept in because it just looks so damn cool.
The entire outro to the Outkast song "Prototype" is Andre 3000 ad-libbing...and then asking if they were recording the ad-libs.
"Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," from the album Bringing It All Back Home, opens with a take that quickly breaks down as Dylan (or his producer) bursts out laughing and says, "Start again, start again."
"To Be Alone with You," from Dylan's Nashville Skyline, opens with him saying, "Is it rolling, Bob?" This is not a self-reference but rather Dylan asking his producer, Bob Johnston, whether the tape was rolling. For a short time, the line became a fan catchphrase.
More generally, a lot of Dylan songs have minor-but-noticeable vocal or instrumental flubs, as Dylan was/is a believer in making recordings "on the fly", with little prior rehearsal and in as few takes as possible.
Elvis Costello messes up the intro to "Running Out of Angels" before saying "Sorry, I blew it" and starting over.
In Janet Jackson's early hit "Nasty," she ad-libs the spoken line, "Oh, I like this part."
Towards the end of "Runaway," as she repeats the line "I just know we'll have a good time," Jackson flubs a note and says, "Mm, didn't quite hit that note; that wasn't such a good time."
The opening of System of a Down's "Chop Suey" is two drumstick taps and the engineer saying "We're rolling 'Suicide'," the song's working name.
"Stuck With Me" ended up with its Non-Appearing Title this way - the band were working on one song they hadn't given a name yet and another one called "Stuck With Me", and someone at the studio mislabeled the recordings. The band decided "Stuck With Me" fit the theme of the untitled song, and it became the new title. The original "Stuck With Me" became "Do Dah Dah" when it was released as a B-Side.
At the end of Relient K's "Mood Rings," lead singer Matt Thiessen quietly adds, "That was terrible."
After the breathtaking scream that ends Does It Offend You, Yeah?'s song "Let's Make Out," you can hear a voice going "Okay, that was great, but, uh... do it again." Another voice responds with "Ahahahahaa... no."
The "false start" on the piano at the beginning of "Old Time Rock and Roll" was a recording error, but Bob Seger liked it.
The Monkees, being comic actors as well as a band, did lots of these: some by accident, some by improv, & even some by design.
Gotta Eat by Lupe Fiasco, a three-minute running food pun, ends with a barely audible "so stupid."
Which may actually also be a Take That at Soulja Boy. Before the "so stupid", he mimics Soulja Boy's trademark "Yoooouuuuu!"
In the intro to Frank Zappa's Muffin Man, he flubs a line, breaks down laughing, and mutters "Let's try that again," before repeating the sentence.
The Hush Sound, "Love You Much Better" ends with improv crowd. During the clapping, you can hear a very loud "YES!" from opposite lead singer Bob Morris. After the applause dies down, you can hear Greta laughing hysterically and mocking Bob, "That yes was ridiculous. YESH."
The Who's "Happy Jack" ends with Pete Townshend shouting "I saw ya!" This was apparently his response to Keith Moon making faces outside the vocal booth while the rest of the band were recording backing vocals.
Legend has it that the rest of the group kicked Moon out of the vocal sessions for the song because his singing was exceptionally loud and terrible.
That, or he usually ruined their takes by doing something to crack them up.
On the bonus track "Pure and Easy" from Who's Next, you can hear Townshend scream "Put away your girly magazine!" and Moon reply with "Sorry!"
An urban legend has it that the stutter in "My Generation" was originally the result of a freezing cold recording studio. (Another common explanation that Roger Daltrey gives is that he hadn't rehearsed the song before recording and couldn't hear his own singing through the monitors and thus struggled to try to fit the lines in as best he could.) Supposedly, they decided they liked the way it sounded and decided to run with it.
Those Precision F Strikes in "Who Are You" were supposedly ad-libbed by Roger Daltrey and left in anyway.
Ronnie Van Zant saying "Turn it up!" from Sweet Home Alabama was because he wanted the producer to turn up the volume in his headphones.
Led Zeppelin has a number of examples, despite being a band known for attention to details:
Due to the tracks "bleeding through" the original recording tapes, Plant seems to sing some of the lyrics to "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" twice.
There's also the bleedthrough in the breakdown on "Whole Lotta Love", with backwards echo.
As Plant "ends" "In My Time of Dying" John Bonham gets a cough fit, causing Plant to say cough into the mic. Bonham then says "That's the one, isn't it?" and the studio engineer says: "Come and have a listen." with Bonham saying "oh yes, thank you."
"Black Country Woman" begins with the sound of a plane passing overhead (the band were recording outside) and Robert Plant chuckling. Engineer Eddie Kramer can be heard saying "Should we roll it, Jimmy?" in the background, then "Oh, lemme get this airplane off!", and then Plant audibly replies, "Nah leave it." before launching into the song.
"Tangerine" starts with Page strumming a few random chords, then counting off.
"Friends", likewise, starts with a few seconds of studio noise. Turn it up loud enough and one of the band members drops the F bomb.
The hum that leads from "Friends" into "Celebration Day" was required thanks to a production screw up - a mixer accidentally erased the drums from the beginning of "Celebration Day". Jimmy (IIRC) managed to salvage it by taking said hum and Fading Into the Next Song.
The entire band gets completely out of sync with each other on the harmonies partway through "Misty Mountain Hop." They kept it in because the rest of the take was too good to lose.
John Bonham's bass drum pedal squeaks in a number of songs, most noticeably "Since I've Been Loving You."
One can hear a telephone ringing in the background of "The Ocean" The song itself starts with Bonham chanting, "We've done four already, now we're steady, and one, two, three, four..." The "four already" part refers to the fact that the band screwed up the previous takes due to the song's complicated rhythm and structure, and Bonham was trying to encourage them.
For a while, John Paul Jones performed with a telephone on top of his organ. His explanation as to its purpose was something along the lines of "No one bothered to take it away."
"Carouselambra" has a guitar multi-string bend tracked in at the beginning and in the middle of the guitar solo. This was the result of an earlier take where Jimmy Page's guitar strap broke, causing Page to hold on to the neck to keep the guitar from hitting the floor.
Neil Young & Pearl Jam's "Downtown" starts with Neil saying: "I fucked up, let me just play in the groove for a bit." It ends with Neil saying: "Well, we know that one!"
David Lee Roth improvises many funny bits in Van Halen's songs. The best known is "Unchained", where Roth comments on the producer Ted Templeman's suit, Templeman telling him to give it a break, and Roth responds "One break, coming up!"
One story has it that the "knocking" sound that comes out of nowhere right before Van Halen's guitar solo in Michael Jackson's "Beat It" is the result of someone accidentally knocking on the studio door during a recording session.
Chicago has several of these scattered amongst their albums, but the 2004 Rhino remaster of Chicago VII removed the breakdown from the beginning of "Happy Man." The fans were not pleased.
The original mono mix of Pet Sounds features a few engineering errors. "Here Today" is probably the main offender — a quiet instrumental break features the faint sounds of conversation in the background, after which Brian Wilson can be heard saying, "No talking!"
An earlier Beach Boys song, "Wendy", has audible studio laughter during an instrumental break.
Brian Wilson frequently incorporated mistakes and suggestions made by his backing musicians. The most notable is the staccato piano break in "God Only Knows," by Don Randi, which became one of the song's hooks.
Korn's song "Clown" from their debut album opens with a bit of random chatter, the band messing up the intro, yelling obscenities at the engineers and finally playing the bloody thing.
Limp Bizkit's song "Pollution" from their debut album "Three Dollar Bill, Y'all$" ends with someone yelling out "FRED, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!" while the vocalist Fred Durst repeatedly shouts out "BRING [THAT BEAT] BACK". After that, Fred continues to yell out "BACK" and other stuff repeatedly, while the guy's trying to tell him to shut up. Once a second "FRED, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!" gets shouted out, Fred just nonchalantly says "and we're done".
The whole second side of the second record of Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything was done live in studio, so breakdowns and banter are included before and after nearly every song (though the single version of "Hello It's Me" cuts out its false start). And because the liner notes make a tongue-in-cheek claim that the whole side is an operetta about a musician, all the banter is transcribed and presented as dialogue next to the lyrics.
“Couldn’t I Just Tell You,” from the first disc, leaves in Todd’s false start on the drums.
The Velvet Underground song "Temptation Inside Your Heart" is almost completely strange ad-libs between Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, kicked off by the line "you can talk during this" and then proceeding to mention how "in New York buildings are very high- and not at all offensive" and something about the "Pope in the silver castle."
Apparently, they were just going to overdub some "Dooo-dooo-dooo" during the chorus, and were unaware that they were actually recording to the same track as the lead vocals, so they just goofed off and let their mouths run between choruses.
At the start of Slipknot's "Get This", someone (possibly vocalist Corey Taylor) whispers "fuck", then the producer says, "Gimme a scream, Corey." There's a loud click, and then Taylor obliges him to start the song.
Also at the end of "Pulse Of The Maggots", a voice (presumably Corey's) can be heard proudly saying "Rockin'!"
Pretty much the whole first minute of "Don't You Evah" by the indie band Spoon is requests for recording talkbacks and for the producer to record vocal queues.
At the beginning of Mono's Yearning starts out with "We're rolling". It's particularly noticeable as the entire album is instrumental. (Well, except the other "throw it in" of one of the musicians asking "I think that was it, right?" in the middle of Moonlight)
In the beginning of Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son", the drum intro (two sets of two bass drum hits followed by a snare) was originally a placeholder drummer Phil Ehart planned on replacing, but decided to keep.
In "Cleaning Out My Closet", Eminem famously had no snare (drum) in his headphones. A German techno artist made fun of this on one of his songs, as he "found" his snares, in his samples folder in Protools.
The Abbey Road Medley has a very noticeable skip between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam", where "Her Majesty" was cut out.
While recording "I Am the Walrus," John Lennon randomly flipped through radio stations and came across a BBC production of King Lear. He added snippets of dialogue from the scene being broadcast at that moment to the mix, most of which appear in the song's coda.
Also, at the end of "Helter Skelter" (but not in the rare mono version) you can hear Ringo Starr throw his drumsticks across the room and famously scream "I got blisters on my fingers!" Your hands would be sore too, if you had played a 27-minute-long version of Helter Skelter earlier in the day. The version captured for the White Album was the band's 18th take of the night.
"I'm So Tired" ends with John mumbling "Monsieur, monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?", and a "pleh" that supposedly comes from his son Julian. This was one of the things that fueled the "Paul Is Dead" myth, since when reversed, it supposedly sounded like him saying "Paul is dead man, miss him, miss him!".
While recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", when Paul first gets to the line "Desmond lets the children lend a hand", George and John can be heard chiming in with "Arm!" and "Leg!". Paul managed to keep going, but as a result, got Molly and Desmond's roles backwards in the final verse.
Jack Fallon's fiddle solo in "Don't Pass Me By" includes some ugly, scraped harmonics and bum notes as the song fades out. Fallon himself said "I was very surprised they kept it in, it was pretty dreadful." Similarly, in the last chorus Ringo added more percussion and drum fills to try and cover for the fact that he accidentally switched the chords on the piano a bar too early.
That spine-tingling howl at the end of "Long, Long, Long" was caused by an empty wine bottle placed on the organ's amp that started to rattle when Paul hit a certain note, the microphone picking it up and causing feedback, and George immediately answered it with a howl of his own.=]
"Wild Honey Pie" was, by Paul's account, an entire Throw It In song: he made it up in an experimental mood and they were going to leave it off the album, but George's then-wife Pattie Boyd liked it. This convinced them to keep it on the album.
"Yer Blues" has audible leftovers from a previous take in the left channel, namely John singing early placeholder lyrics leaking through the drum mic. The solo similarly has the originally-recorded solo bleed through Ringo's microphone in the left channel, while the right features the newly-recorded solo.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" contains a surprising amount of missed notes and flubs, perhaps the most obvious being the ending where the band go out of sync with each other, as Paul ends up being the only one playing the correct chord sequence while the rest of the band switch chords way too early.
Appended to the very beginning of "Revolution 9" is a barely-audible control room conversation between producer George Martin and Apple office manager Alistair Taylor.
Taylor: ... bottle of claret for you if I'd realised. I'd forgotten all about it, George, I'm sorry.
Martin: Well, do next time.
Taylor: Will you forgive me?
Martin: Mmmm... yes.
Taylor: Cheeky bitch.
In "I'm Looking Through You," after the line "but not today," there's a tambourine shake on an off-beat. That was one of the Beatles (not entirely sure which; I've seen it credited to all four!) actually dropping the tambourine.
The U.S. stereo mix of the song includes a false start during the intro.
"A Day in the Life": Mal Evans set off an alarm clock to signal when the first orchestral interlude would end, but it fit so well with the beginning of the second theme "Woke up, got out of bed, ran a comb across my head..." that they left it in. One can also faintly hear him counting the 24 measures leading up to the end of the section.
Toward the end of the song's protracted fade-out of the last chord, an air conditioner can be heard. A folding chair can be heard squeaking in the studio as well.
On their song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," Paul can be heard laughing at the start of the line "...writing fifty times I must not be so..." around 1:21. This is rumored to be because John mooned him from the control room during the recording (the line preceding it was "so he waits behind").
About three minutes into "Hey Jude," somebody (it's disputed who said it, but it was either Paul or John) mumbles "Fucking hell!", apparently because Paul hit the wrong note on his piano.
In the stereo version of the song "Please Please Me," John flubs a line in the last verse at 1:53: instead of "I know you never even try, girl" he says "I know I never even try, girl" and then giggles. (Remember, the whole album Please Please Me, except for four songs previously recorded for singles, was recorded in a single 10-hour studio session with virtually no edits or overdubs; it was largely the Beatles' live act, warts and all.)
John screams "YEEEEEEEEEAHHHHH!" at one point in "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", which is followed by some indistinct chatter. Popular interpretation is that, since John screamed so loudly it audibly distorted, the chatter is somebody yelling to the mixing engineer "TURN IT THE FUCK DOWN" or something to that effect.
The song "Hey Bulldog" was originally "Hey Bullfrog"; the band changed the words after Paul improvised a dog's bark.
"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" contains a line that is sung as "If she's gone, I can't go on, feeling two foot small". John flubbed the line, which was originally "two foot tall", but he thought that the new line worked better and kept it.
In the B-side medley on Abbey Road, at the end of "Polythene Pam" and the start of "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window", John Lennon can be heard saying "We'll listen to that now, hehe" as a reference to the track changing. He then says "Oh, look out!" (presumably telling the others to get ready for the new song), and then another (barely audible) voice says "You should-" before "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" starts.
One of the most famous examples is at the very top of their first album: Paul's count-off "One, two, three, faw!" at the beginning of "I Saw Her Standing There". This would normally have been cut from the final track, but the band liked the way he did it on one take so much that they ended up editing it into the beginning of the take that they actually used. When Greil Marcus first heard it, he was astonished because he thought Paul had said "One, two, three, fuck!"
John's line "I'd like to say "thank you" on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition" at the end of "Get Back" was an ad-lib at the end of the famous rooftop concert, and was added to the studio version. Since they're the last words ever spoken at a public Beatles performance, and would have been the kind of thing that the band would say at auditions back when they were teenage nobodies, they also qualify as a Meaningful Echo.
Cream's song "Badge" features this in the title. The song was co-written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison and when Harrison was writing the lyrics, he scribbled the word 'Bridge' to signify the arpeggiated guitar bit halfway through the song. Clapton peered at Harrison's lyric sheet and said "What's that - badge?" Which ended up being the title of the song.
The well known beginning of "While You See a Chance" was originally supposed to have a drum track with it, however, Steve Winwood accidentally erased it when he was recording his voice.
The final line of the Barenaked Ladies song "One Week" was inserted as a placeholder. The lead singer saw an LED sign in front of a high school displaying "Birchmount Stadium: Home of the Robbies." One of the band members commented that they are waiting for the sign to be changed to read, "Birchmount Stadium: Home of 'Home of the Robbies'."
When the Mamas and the Papas were making "I Saw Her Again" there is a part of the song where one of them begins the line "I saw her, again last night" but stops at the comma when one of the others starts up. So the line ends up becoming "I saw her. I saw her again, last night." Reportedly, Paul McCartney said to one of the members of the group, "That was an accident, wasn't it." When asked how he knew that it was, it's told he said, "Nobody is that good."
On the song "Polly" by Nirvana, Kurt Cobain whispers "Polly Said" once during the interlude. This was originally a too early start on the next verse, but they liked it and left it in. It then became an official part of the lyrics and Cobain sung it (intentionally this time) on the alternate "Polly (New Wave)" version of the song found on Incesticide.
Similarly "Come As You Are" has an "I don't have a gun" a little too early, near the end of solo. Again they kept it in because they liked it.
Krist Novaselic accidentally had his bass tuned to drop C# when recording "Blew" - He'd been playing in drop D earlier, then he tuned it again thinking it was in standard tuning. The strange, low bass tone that resulted made the song sound heavier, so they used that take for the album.
In his song "You're Beautiful", James Blunt sings the opening line too early, pauses, and restarts once the music comes around again.
Of course "Weird Al" Yankovic exaggerated & lampshaded this in "You're Pitiful." Blunt was amused. Atlantic Records was not, so they don't get copyright royalties for the free track.
"Weird Al" also has an example on his original song "Albuquerque": the track ends with guitarist Jim West laughing because of the ridiculous chord he plays at the end of the song.
Similarly, one other song, "Genius in France." features a somebody in the studio laughing right before the intro of the song.
In the video for "Eat It", a shot-for-shot adaptation of Michael Jackson's "Beat It", the picture falling off the wall was coincidental, but it was left in anyway, since it added to the humor.
While Stavesacre was recording an acoustic version of their song "An Eclipsing" for their Greatest Hits album Collective, lead singer Mark Soloman broke out in laughter after an unexpected vibraslap hit. The take broke down, and one of the other members quipped, "A rattler just invaded our campfire!" The false start and ensuing hilarity were left in the final cut.
Fanny's song "Changing Horses", a raucous boogie about dumping your useless boyfriend, opens with a quiet, soulful piano intro. One of the other bandmembers doesn't seem to have noticed that they're recording, because she starts casually telling a story about meeting a dog that "had this really cute owner who decided to join us" before one of the other women in the band shushes her.
The beginning of "Shadows In the Rain", on Sting's Dream of Blue Turtles album starts with the drummer giving the beat, then a guitarist asking, "What key is it in? WAIT, WAIT; what key is it in?" Apparently they were so strapped for time in the studio they didn't have time for another take, so it was left in.
A similar moment comes at the end of the album's title track; as the song ends, you hear the entire band suddenly start cracking up.
Near the beginning of The Police's "Roxanne", there is the sound of a piano and Sting chuckling. The dissonant piano chord was a result of Sting accidentally sitting on the instrument during recording.
The very first portion of the Police song "Does Everyone Stare" is the original demo vocal Stewart Copeland did for the band; while he was recording the demo, his mike picked up a freak radio signal, one which was carrying an opera broadcast. The snippet of the opera was the same key as the song, so they kept the whole section in.
Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" begins with a coughing sound. This was Tony Iommi who was getting ready to record a guitar part when the other guys in the band offered him a joint to smoke. This caused him to cough uncontrollably, and the band recorded it and stuck it at the front of the song. This was lampshaded in Godsmack's cover of the same song, which began with a busy crowded bar scene, ending with the coughing sequence, recorded twice- the second time, in the same style.
Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and Oasis' "Roll With It" also have unedited coughs.
Another Maiden example comes at the end of their Brave New World album where a dismayed Nicko Mc Brain can be heard to shout "Oh, I FACKING missed it!" after he thought he had messed up the drum track to an eight-and-a-half minute song on the very last hit.
Some think it is "Facking missed him", referring to Bruce.
The last song from The X Factor, "The Unbeliever", ends with a voice from the studio say "That's the one...yeah, that's it, let's go listen".
In Dickinson's solo career, there is a B-side called "Acoustic Song". Roy Z recorded the guitar track in a single take in his bedroom, and the sound of his phone ringing in the background was caught at the end of track.
The presence of a lo-fi sample of "Dixie" in the Clash's "Rock The Casbah" (at the "the in-crowd says it's cool..." part) is attributed to Topper Headon's The Dukesof Hazzard watch alarm. The best thing is, it keeps up with the section's tempo.
Near the end of "Armagideon Time," there's an exchange between the engineer and Joe Strummer. Trying to keep the song from veering into "raga territory," they told the engineer to tell them when four minutes had gone up. Then Strummer changed his mind ("Okay, okay. Don't push us when we're hot!").
During the instrumental break of "Should I Stay Or Should I Go", singer Mick Jones suddenly snarls out the word "Split!" That's because during recording, Joe Strummer snuck up behind him in the studio and jumped out to scare him. Mick didn't appreciate the joke and was telling him to get lost.
The Fall's "Paintwork" goes through a couple of odd, abrupt sound collage breaks where the music suddenly becomes distant-sounding and gets drowned out by a program about astronomy and later, a brief snippet of classical music. This was because Mark E. Smith accidentally taped over parts of the song.
In U2's "I Will Follow", drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. kicked over a beer bottle mid-take, and it was picked up by the kick-drum mic - and kept because it bounced perfectly in time with the music.
During the recording of the track The "The Unforgettable Fire" Larry Mullen, Jr. started playing the drums early, and can be heard saying "oh, shit" in the background after he stops.
While recording his anti-suicide song "You're Only Human (Second Wind)", Billy Joel briefly forgot the words for a second then added them and laughed. Since it fit in with the song's theme of accepting your mistakes, it was left in.
When recording his breakthrough album The Stranger, Joel couldn't decide which wind instrument should play the melancholy opening melody of the title track "The Stranger", although he was leaning towards a clarinet. He approached his producer Phil Ramone for an opinion, and Ramone asked Joel to whistle the melody for him so that he could help. After Joel had finished whistling it for him, Ramone told him that he should just whistle it.
The famous opening of "Rhaphsody in Blue". During a rehearsal, the clarinetist added a glissando as a joke — Gershwin loved it and added it to the piece.
At the end of "Nudsie's Wedding Reception" by Michigan comedy band Da Yoopers, you can hear then-guitarist Joe Potila mumble "I messed up" at the end.
The Tractors, a country music band, left the tape running between songs on their debut album, including several ad-libs and chatter.
Alan Jackson began whistling the melody at the end of his recording session for his 1998 single "Right on the Money", unaware that the tape was still running. When he heard the whistling, he and producer Keith Stegall decided to leave it in.
Brooks & Dunn's "Lucky Me, Lonely You" contains at least three false starts, which may or may not be part of this trope.
The invention of the fuzzbox, a type of guitar pedal that creates distortion, was the result of this trope. During the recording of Marty Robbins' "Don't Worry," guitarist Grady Martin's pre-amp had a fault in it, causing a distorted sound. Robbins' producer, Don Law, liked the sound and decided to have him play it as-is. The Ventures heard the song and worked with guitar techs to create an amp that would make a similar sound.
Megadeth's cover of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" contains a flub by then-drummer Nick Menza, who keeps playing after everyone else had stopped at the very end of the song. Mustaine yells, "Nick...Nick...Nick!"; the drums stop, and then faintly in the background, Menza can be heard yelling, "Fuck...me...running!"
Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You" was originally intended to be far more sedate, but Hawkins and the rest of the musicians got blind drunk before recording it. The resulting cacophany came to be Hawkins' signature tune.
At the very end of DragonForce's "Through the Fire and Flames," guitarist Herman Li broke a string while doing a whammy effect. They've kept it in the final cut.
Not the only thing Li broke on that song, either - in the video version, you can catch a glimpse of his guitar's whammy-bar snapping off and flying offscreen at the end of his solo.
In Queen's song "One Vision", the final line is supposed to end with "one vision". During recording, Freddie Mercury jokingly yelled "fried chicken" instead, as they had eaten it for dinner that day. They ended up keeping it in, despite the echo of the final line still saying "one vision".
The guitar riff that starts at about 2:50 into the song "Fake Plastic Trees" was supposed to start a half measure later, but was put in at the wrong time in mixing. The band decided that it sounded better the way it was, and left it in.
The first sound recorded during the Hail to the Thief sessions was kept at the opening track "2+2=5" (Greenwood plugging in his guitar, saying 'We're on', and singer Thom Yorke replying "That's a nice way to start, Jonny...").
Country music singer K. T. Oslin accidentally set her keyboard to the guitar patch when she recorded "Come Next Monday." She liked the sound and decided to keep it in.
At the end of Pinmonkey's "Stay with Us," one of the guitarists says, "That better be it, because I just broke my A string on the last bar."
Butthole Surfers' "Creep In The Cellar" has a strange backwards fiddle part that almost-but-not-quite fits the chords and rhythm of the song. It's just disorienting enough to seem deliberate, but in fact it wasn't supposed to be part of the song at all: The band were recording over tapes the last band to use the studio left behind, and somehow while they were tracking the song a stray fiddle track running in reverse popped up in the mix. By the time they figured out how to get rid of it, they had decided to just keep it in.
During the coda for the song "Just Like Noah's Ark", from Elton John's 2006 album, The Captain and the Kid, a pet dog of one of the band members, sensitive to the volume of a electronic cowbell sound played on the click track, begins to bark at the sound as the band is recording the track live. As the barking fit in well rhythmically with the track, the engineers left it in, and the dog is credited in the liner notes of the album with "woof-bells".
Frankie Sparo flubs a line in "Akzidenz Grotesk" on Welcome Crummy Mystics, but the lyrics are double-tracked, so in one channel he continues singing, and in the other he curses extravagantly.
In Fall Out Baby's "Dance, Dance", bassist Pete Wentz can be heard whispering "We're going into D minor" just before the chorus at one point.
New Order: Bernard Sumner starts laughing in "Every Little Counts" and can't quite stop until the next line. Given the verse, it's made even more humorous.
That unusual beat/cymbal break about a minute into "Blue Monday" was a result of selecting the wrong drum beat track. Not only did it stay, but it made its way into remixes and even covers of the song.
The recording of "Modern World" by Wolf Parade has a very audible sniffle 44 seconds into the song. However, it was most likely left in there because it occurs precisely in time with the music.
Colbie Caillat's "Can you count me in?" from Bubbly is arguably one of these.
The famous riff of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" originated from Slash mucking around. He never intended the riff to be recorded, let alone immortalised.
For the same song, they also weren't sure what to do for the ending, so Axl started saying to himself "Where do we go now?" (the whole song was done in one live take, mind you)
The piano melody in the second half of the Derek and the Dominoes hit "Layla" was originally something drummer Jim Gordon was working on for a separate project. Eric Clapton came upon Gordon playing it in the studio late one night and begged for it to be included in the song.
"Key To The Highway", an old blues standard, was a thrown-in track. They heard Sam The Sham recording it, and started jamming during some studio downtime. Producer Tom Dowd supposedly told the engineer to "Turn on the fucking tape." when he heard them, which is why the song begins with a fade-in.
The name of the band itself is a Throw It In of a Mondegreen. Someone mispronounced the band's real name, "Eric and the Dynamos", and it just stuck.
If you're paying extremely close attention to the end of Neutral Milk Hotel's "Oh Comely" (which was recorded in one take) you can barely make out one of the band members saying "Holy shit!"
The story goes like this: when Jeff Mangum went into the recording booth, it was assumed by all those present that he was merely testing out the mic. However, after running through all eight minutes of the song, without fault, those present were in awe, including producer Robert Schneider who was awestruck enough to deliver the terribly apt "Holy shit!"
Likewise, at the beginning of "Song Against Sex" from their first album, you can hear Mangum play a few notes on guitar, clear his throat, and then hear Robert Schneider talking for a moment before the song starts.
At the end of the song "I Will Bury You In Time" from the Ferris Wheel on Fire EP you can here Robert Schneider say "You're rolling again" and Mangum respond "Thanks, Robert."
At the beginning of the Bettie Serveert song "Hell Is Other People", lead singer Carol van Dyk says something unintelligible, followed by a guy replying "Yeah, cool." Carol can't remember what they were talking about, but she was talking to an American friend of theirs and was unaware that they were being recorded. When they started mixing the song, they just left it like that.
The intro to "C Moon" by Wings goes on, and on, and on ... until Paul McCartney sheepishly asks "Was that the intro I should have been in?" before leaping into a spontanteous sung intro of his own.
In Sum41's video for "Pieces", the "f" in the "The Perfect Life" sign falling off wasn't intentional, but it was kept since it related to the theme of the song.
At the end of "He Doesn't Know Why" by the FleetFoxes, one member can be heard asking "Are we going?" (which is answered by "Yup.") before a piano solo (which sounds completely unrelated to the song) starts. These remarks show up very briefly as text at the end of the music video.
In Dan Swano's solo album "Moontower" he recorded keyboard tracks as a guide to the lead guitar tracks he'd play later on. He decided he liked the way the keys sounded, so he kept it in and never recorded most of the lead guitars.
Gaelic Storm singer Patrick Murphy started laughing when singing the last line of the song "Kelly's Wellies". He can be heard apologizing for messing up the take, but in fact the laughter just makes the ending that much better, and was left in.
The synth riff for "Walk of Life" by Dire Straits was a warm-up tune used by the keyboardist. A producer asked him to see if he could build a song around it.
John Flansburgh's exclamation at the end of the They Might Be Giants song "For Science," "Let's get those missiles ready to destroy the universe!", was ad-libbed.
Procol Harum's greatest hit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale", started from a botched attempt to play Bach's Air on a G string.
Not only was the killer sax break on Gerry Rafferty's greatest hit "Baker Street" improvised in its entirety by session saxophonist Raphael Ravenscroft, Ravenscroft ended up recording his sax part in the wrong key but it got the thumbs-up regardless.
Louis Armstrong claimed that while recording the song "Heebie Jeebies", his sheet music fell; he proceeded to improvise a section.
It is occasionally reported that this is the origin of Scat Singing; in truth, Scat Singing went back to at least 1911 ("Heebie Jeebies" was recorded in 1926); however, "Heebie Jeebies" definitely was the Trope Codifier, if not exactly the Trope Maker.
Gorillaz: While recording "Rock It", the lead singer let out a slight chuckle at the line "I got myself together". They decided to leave it in because it fit in character with 2D.
Additionally, the chorus for their song "DARE" was originally "It's there", but guest vocalist Shaun Ryder had such a strong Manchester accent, it came out as "It's dare".
The stutter in Bachman Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" was supposedly thrown to make fun of a band member's brother, who stuttered. But it sounded good and they kept it.
Legend has it that the Monotones were recording their doo-wop song "Book of Love" in a studio nearby a park where some kids were playing baseball. The percussion in the chorus — "I wonder, wonder, who, woo-ooo-ooo" * WHOMP* "Who wrote the book of love..." was inspired by a very well-timed baseball hitting the outside wall during rehearsal.
On William Shatner's album Has Been, the track ''I Can't Get the Behind That" ends with Henry Rollins and Shatner talking about recording another take. "Always can do one more." "Alright, let's hit it!"
"You Don't Know" by ska band Big Reel Fish begins with a recording of lead singer Aaron Barrett, apparently unaware that they were recording, saying, "Horns standing by... Holy shit we're rolling!"
American indie band Say Anything's original plans for their record '...Is A Real Boy' were to have spoken word introductions preceding each song. The only introduction to survive the final cut was that belonging to the first song, and the introduction itself is preceded by another recording of lead singer Max Bemis discussing his anxiety over the concept of a spoken-word introduction with another band member. It makes sense if you listen to it.
At the start of one chorus of "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" by REM, Michael Stipe can be heard trying to suppress laughter. This is because the last line of the preceding verse was "a reading from Dr. Seuss" and he kept on messing up previous takes by accidentally singing "Dr. Zeus" instead.
"Bitches" by Insane Clown Posse is a "Hail Mary throw" sort of throwing it in. Ol' Dirty Bastard was asked to guest-star on the album, and the band sent him a raw tape of the intended song, with pauses for ODB's contribution. When the tape was returned, they realized that not only had he not listened to the song before recording, he had shouted incoherently over the entire thing, drowning out ICP's verses. Having already paid him, they scrapped the song and edited what little of his bullshit they could salvage into a new song, embellishing with new lyrics. Since most of ODB's ramblings were about "bitches", that was the theme of the song. Violent J is proud of the final result, considering how utterly useless Ol' Dirty proved to be.
The drum solo partway through "Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails was performed by Trent Reznor as a placeholder to be filled in with a proper solo later. However, he liked it too much to have it lost, so it was kept for the final version.
The odd, slightly dissonant sequencer pattern on the latter part of Tangerine Dream's "Thru Metamorphic Rocks" was produced by a malfunctioning synthesizer. The band liked the sound, though, and improvised over it.
At the beginning of Jethro Tull's "Baker Street Muse," Ian Anderson messes up, says, "Shit, shit, shit. Take two," and continues playing the song.
During the solo for the song "Aqualung" Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin walked into the recording studio and waved to Jethro Tull's guitarist Martin Barre. There are a few differing accounts of this story but one version says that Barre waved back, sustaining a note with his left hand and waving with his right. Ian Anderson claims that if you turn up the volume you can even hear him wave. There IS a short sustain in the solo, so this may be true, and if it is, then it's definitely an example. Another version is that Barre started improvising when Page walked in to try and impress him. If that was the case then it's still an example of this trope.
Near the end of "Strange Enough" for N.A.S.A's "Spirt of Apollo" album, Karen O cracks up during the chorus and adds, "Something like that, right? Is that what you want?" The producer replies, "Perfect."
Session guitarist Brent Mason ad-libbed some 70's porn music-esque "wah wah" guitar sounds on Billy Currington's "Don't". They were left in.
According to the band, Mike Wengren of Disturbed was noodling around when he created the drum-opener to "Down With The Sickness". Guitarist Dan Donegan heard it and asked "What is that? Keep doing that". It's now one of the band's most famous hooks.
The Agonist did this in their song "And Their Eulogies Sang Me To Sleep" - the 'false start' at the beginning is an out-take that the band decided to keep.
There's an audible click near the end of "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks, which is the sound of one of the musicians opening a beer can. Later on, a backing vocalist yells "Push, Marie!" in reference to the wife of one of Brooks' guitarists, who was in the hospital giving birth at the time of the recording.
The legendary drum sound Phil Collins used in Peter Gabriel's "Intruder", popularized in the breakdown of Collins' "In The Air Tonight", started life as an accident involving the talkback circuit on the mixing board. The single-headed drum kit as miked in the stone room they were placed in lent the right kind of heavy reverb, which was heavily compressed and gated.
"Sittin' on a Fence", on The Rolling Stones' Aftermath album, ends with an acoustic guitar figure (by either Keith or Brian) that includes a rather obvious missed note.
Also from the Stones: If you listen very closely to the bridge of "Gimme Shelter", just after the singer's voice cracks, one can hear a band-mate whooping and clapping.
BECK's "Outcome" has someone coughing into the microphone in the middle of the song. One Foot In The Grave is one of his more Three Chordsandthe Truth-style albums, so it was probably left in to add to the unrehearsed feel.
At the end of the song "Blitzkrieg" by Metallica, a member of the band burps loudly and proceeds to laugh about it. Another is then heard saying in the background, "We fucked up in one place."
At the end of Michelle Shocked's version of "The Arkansas Traveler"(?) the old man playing the farmer in the dialogue parts ends up flubbing the classic ending, "Shave and a haircut: two bits!" by saying "six bits" instead. This is followed by his and Michelle's raucous laughter, and the old man muttering the quip, "Six bits?...I'll saw you in half for six bits...."
The hidden track on Starflyer 59's Everybody Makes Mistakes came about this way. Producer Gene Eugene was recording an unrelated album with some session musicians, and as a lark, asked the sax player to solo over the rhythm section from Sf59's "The Party". Gene showed the recording to Jason Martin, who thought it was ridiculous but decided to include it on the album anyway.
During the drum solo which opens Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "The Sheriff" (on the Trilogy album), Palmer messes up at first and mumbles "shit". It's probably most audible over headphones.
The now world-famous Moog solo at the end of "Lucky Man" wasn't planned either. Keith Emerson decided to play that solo spontaneously over the song and didn't even know the tape machine was running. They kept the first take.
While recording the vocals for the song Blood on the Cornfields, Cormorant's vocalist Arhur von Nagel's voice cracked while delivering the lines "Was Christ not crucified?". Producer Billy Anderson told him that there was no need to rerecord it, as it added even more power to the delivery.
At the end of Bride's "Heroes", there is a long pause followed by a sort of wailing, screaming sound and some eerie tones. While many fans took this to be "demonic" noises, it was really just their producer, John Petri, "playing the inside of a piano while howling like Yoko Ono". (He made a point to wake the band up every day in such a manner.)
At the time he was writing songs for Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan owned a cheap electric guitar that would start producing odd, whistling feedback whenever he stopped playing it. He decided to exploit it as a good bad bug by deliberately writing a lot of Stopand Go parts into the song "Mayonaise" and using that guitar for the recording.
At the end of "Silverfuck" you can hear Billy Corgan say "This take, don't give a fuck".
The song "Hello Kitty Kat" ends with Billy Corgan saying "Song's over".
Various Status Quo recordings have count-in's, false starts or pre-song chatter left in.
The ends of several Wildhearts songs have people commenting before the tape cuts off - "YES!!", "Haha, I even got the words wrong", "Sexy! I'm sexy!"
"Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen has an odd note in the break after the first chorus that could have been deliberate, but sounds very much as if Brian May forgot that his guitar was in drop-D tuning.
Franz Ferdinard's "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" starts with one band member, apparently Alex asking "You ready, Nick?" (or "mate", according to some sources), to which Nick replies "Yeah."
In "Raise Your Glass", P!nk comes out of the bridge and starts to sing the chorus a few beats early, the result being that the last chorus begins with the line, "So raise your... aw, fuck."
When Nino Tempo and April Stevens recorded "Deep Purple" for Atlantic Records in 1963, Nino actually forgot the words during the second half of the song, and April spoke them out loud to remind him. Nino actually wanted the spoken lines removed because, according to April, "He didn't want anyone talking while he was singing!" However, the song's producer, Ahmet Ertegun, who was also Atlantic's co-founder and president, felt that April's spoken words were "cute" and that they actually enhanced the song, thus he insisted that they be included in the finished product.
During the production of the music video for New Zealand alt-rock group The Clean's "Tally Ho", director Chris Knox accidentally exposed half the film stock, causing it to have a distinctive orange flare. The band rather liked the psychedelic effect of the flare, and kept it in.
An amusing example: the first movement of the song "Suicidio a sorpresa" by Italian band Elio e le Storie Tese ends with a barely audible Darth Vader saying "You don't know the power of the Dark Side", to which one of them replies "Eh sì, ciao! Ciao!". Supposedly, they had a toy Vader helmet in the rec room, and one of them touched it by mistake, activating it. Since their songs are already full of jokes, snippets from other sources, samples and references, Vader's voice was not so much out of place...
If you listen carefully to the guitar intro of Aerosmith's "Nobody's Fault", you can hear a squeaky door swing open moments before the rest of the band kicks in: According to Steven Tyler, an engineer had walked in while they were recording, and the timing of it amused them enough that they left it in.
Pantera's "Domination" starts off with a short drum intro by Vinnie Paul who can then be heard yelling 'fart stinks like a motherfucker!' before counting in the song.
The version of 'Valerie' sung by Amy Winehouse (said to have been done in one take) starts with producer Mark Ronson saying, "All right, it's rolling." and Amy murmuring, "I'm sorry Charlie Murphy; I was having too much fun."
Red Hot Chilli Peppers' 'Did I Let You Know' features the word 'Mozambiquey' which was thrown in because it fits the rhythm of the song...but doesn't mean anything.
Near the ending of Frusciante's solo in 'If You Have To Ask', the rest of the band can be heard clapping and cheering him enthusiastically. Many other tracks on Blood Sugar Sex Magik have small voice snippets, like Anthony asking "Frankie, is it?" at the end of 'The Righteous & The Wicked'.
Weezer's "Falling For You" has a woman briefly speaking in Korean over the intro. It wasn't meant to be in the song, but an amplifier picked up some radio interference, and they decided to leave it in because it fit with Pinkerton's repeated references to Asian women. The Korean in the song translates to "Which company makes this product?", by the way.
Similarly, the noise at the end of Rage Against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire" comes from Tom Morello's amplifier picking up a radio signal.
There is a live version of "Are You Lonesome Tonight" by Elvis Presley where he changes the lyric "Do you gaze at your doorstep and wish I was there?" to "Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair?" - he had made that substitution before (apparently) but this time, the King supposedly noticed a bald man in the audience (who was nodding and laughing) right then and started laughing and never really recovered - even saying "That's it man - fourteen years, right down the drain". This version became an official release.
Vivian Stanshall’s appearance as the "Master of Ceremonies" on Tubular Bells (and, by connection, the title of the album itself). Mike Oldfield and assistant Tom Newman were basically camped out at Richard Branson’s new Manor Studio, recording their way through his multi-instrumental magnum opus while the studio would otherwise have been unused, and knocking off down the pub in the evenings. When Viv Stanshall came to record his solo album, he, unsurprisingly, accompanied them to the pub that evening, and they all got rather merry together. They came up with the idea of having Viv "introduce" the various instruments in the final section of side 1, and recorded it that night while still drunk. They also recorded a version of "The Sailor’s Hornpipe" for the finish of side 2, where they miked up most of the ground floor and performed the melody on guitars, while Viv improvised a humorous monologue on the historical features of the house. In the cold light of the following morning, the embellishments to side 1 were thrown in, including the "Plus… (Tubular Bells)!" that gave the album its title. The pissup version of "The Sailor’s Hornpipe", however, was thrown out as being just a little too avant garde for a solo artist on his first album, but later appeared in the Boxed compilation.
In the final verse of Rascal Flatts' "Prayin' for Daylight", after Gary Le Vox sings the line "Deep in my heart I know that you love me as much as I love you", one of the other members mumbles, "You know I love you, girl."
The acoustic guitar passage at the start of the Yes epic "And You and I". They were gearing up to start recording it, and Steve Howe was doodling and checking the tuning on his guitar. Jon Anderson thought it sounded "beautiful" and signalled to Eddie Offord to start recording. You can hear Eddie reply "OK" to Jon's signal after he starts the tape.
In a non-recording-related example, country music singer Dusty Drake came by his stage name when a concert promoter accidentally called him Dusty (his real name is Dean Buffalini).
Sonic Youth's "Mary-Christ" ends with the intro to "Kool Thing", which then fades out - and then the next song on the album actually is "Kool Thing". They actually did start playing "Kool Thing" immediately after recording that take of "Mary-Christ", and decided to just leave it in.
At the end of the song “April Fool” by the 70s all-woman brass-rock band Isis, you can hear trombonist Lolly Bienenfeld saying, “Oh! I blew the last note!”
Pam Tillis and producer Paul Worley liked the demo of "Shake the Sugar Tree" (sung by Stephanie Bentley) so much, that they left most of it in the final version, dubbing in only Pam's vocal and a couple more instruments.
Another example from her: the second verse to "Maybe It Was Memphis" ("Read about you in a Faulkner novel / Met you once in a Williams play") was a filler verse put in by writer Michael Anderson, with the intent of writing a different verse later. He never got around to replacing the words.
Red House Painters were notorious for this. From the Studio Chatter on "Over My Head", the jazz-like improvisation on the same track, on-the-fly droning that stretched originally 5-minute-long songs to 7+, and the borderline atonal guitar solos Kozelek added on ''Songs For A Blue Guitar'', there's a lot that was just "thrown in" for the band.
Roxette - The introductory lyrics to their first big hit, "The Look", were guide lyrics - words just scribbled down just to have something to sing to the tune while working on it - Per couldn't come up with anything better and decided to roll with it, saying later after the song became a smash hit "Everyone gets lucky sometimes."
The Hombres' "Let It All Hang Out" starts with a somewhat distant voice announcing "A preach, my dear friends, you're about to receive, on John Barleycorn, nicotine, and the temptations of Eve..." followed by a Bronx cheer. This is sometimes mistaken for an early use of Spoken Word In Music, but isn't quite: though the words themselves were apparently taken from another record, what you're hearing is drummer Johnny Hunter suddenly deciding to recite that line at the start of the take, followed by vocalist BB Cunningham responding with a raspberry. Because Hunter's drums were being recorded with a single overhead microphone, his impromptu spoken word bit doesn't sound as clear as the rest of the song.
Guided By Voices are known for their lo-fi sound, and sometimes add to this by leaving in obvious recording mistakes. For instance, "Hardcore UFOs" has a couple of moments where the lead guitar abruptly cuts off mid-note and disappears from the mix, only to come back just as suddenly - apparently parts of that track were accidentally erased and they just left it like that.
While filming NSYNC's video for "Bye Bye Bye", Joey Fatone slipped and slammed into the wall of the rotating room they were filming in, and the director left the clip in while the other band members were dancing.
At the end of The Smiths' "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish", lead singer Morrissey turned to producer Stephen Street and asked "Hey Stephen, can we do that again?" - this is audible on the final mix.
Matthew Sweet's "Sick Of Myself" ends with the band picking up the final coda after the intended ending several times, with the final iteration being kicked off with Matthew saying "One more time."
Kirsty MacColl was only supposed to record the guide vocal for the female part on "Fairytale of New York" - a favour to her husband, who was producing the track. But The Pogues, who were between female vocalists at the time, fell in love with her performance.
The guitar riff of Linkin Park's "Bleed It Out" was played incorrectly during a practice session. The band liked the result enough to record that arrangement instead of what was written (the song's working title was "Accident" due to this incident).
The heavy use of AutoTune on Cher's "Believe", the first mainstream pop song to use it, was simply the result of producer Mark Taylor messing with Cher's voice out of boredom.
Kings Of Leon's famous song "Sex on Fire" got its title from this. The lyric was supposed to be "You'll set us on fire", but someone misheard it during the recording.
While Garbage was mixing "Supervixen", the tapes kept slipping, and the band liked how the pauses sounded and incorporated them to the song.
Later, while recording "Push It" Shirley Manson improvised by singing "Don't worry baby, it's gonna be alright". Thus Butch Vig sent the song to Brian Wilson to see if he approved the inclusion of his lyric, and he did.
After recording "Till the Money Comes", Jonathan Coulton tripped over his bass. It was kept in at the end of the track.
The Breeders' Signature Song "Cannonball" includes a couple of false starts on the bass before the full band starts playing together. This wasn't a spontaneous studio mistake, but bassist Josephine Wiggs had done the same thing while they were rehearsing the song due to hitting a wrong note, and they liked it enough that they had her do it on purpose when actually recording.
Traffic's "Paper Sun" ends with a faint voice saying "That's the one!" This seems to be an accidental recording of the producer, declaring the current take to be the best one. It's probably a happy coincidence that it rhymes with the title and seems to fit in with the lyrics.
Hot Water Music's cover of Alkaline Trio's "Bleeder" on their split EP ends with singer Chuck Ragan saying, "Verdict? Oh, f- did I just fuck up by talking right then?"
Keith Urban's "Little Bit of Everything" contains two examples. The "stuttering" ukulele riff on the instrumental breaks was an off-the-cuff idea from producer Nathan Chapman, who was inspired by a similar guitar riff on Madonna's "Don't Tell Me." Also, the bass line is played on a synthesizer because the first two bassists that Urban and Chapman contacted were unavailable.
The outro of Lady Antebellum's "Goodbye Town" (most of which was cut from the radio edit) was entirely improvised. It's just the band jamming and co-lead singer Charles Kelley ad-libbing.
The sound at the end of the drum solo in Midnight Oil's "Power and the Passion" is that of Rob Hirst smashing a lightbulb above his head. He planned it ahead of time, but didn't tell the band.
At the beginning of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain," you can faintly hear someone whisper "Fuck!"
On Pink Floyd's "Let There Be More Light," Roger Waters flubs one of the whispered vocals on the third verse ("something there for me" rather than "waiting there for me").
King Crimson's "Indoor Games" ends with singer Gordon Haskell breaking down into uncontrollable laughter after an unenthusiastic "Hey ho," which he later explained was his reaction to what he considered very silly lyrics.
Ozzy Osbourne's opening riff from "No More Tears" was originally a warm-up riff then-bassist Mike Inez. Supposedly, Ozzy was hung over and barely awake when Inez played the riff and Ozzy suddenly sat up and shouted, "That's a song!"
Randy Travis recorded a cover of Brook Benton's "It's Just a Matter of Time" for a multi-artist covers album. When he liked how the cover turned out, he decided to put it on one of his own albums and release it as a single. His version went to #1 on the country charts in December 1989.
In Dirty Rotten Imbeciles' song "Dry Heaves" on their album "Definition", the song started with a false start when Kurt Brecht and Spike Cassidy were supposed to count "1, 2, 3, 4" together but only one of them counted. It led to a conversation for the first 20 seconds of the song before finally starting. If you listen closely to before they start the song, you can hear the producer yelling "go!"
Martina McBride based her vocal performance on "I Love You" on the vocalist who sang the demo.
When The Byrds covered Bob Dylan's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", they inadvertently changed the line "Pick up your money, pack up your tent" from Dylan's demo to "Pack up your money, pick up your tent". When Dylan recorded the song later on, he sang "Pack up your money, put up your tent, McGuinn…" in reference to Byrds bassist Roger McGuinn. Then in 1989, McGuinn covered the song along with Roger Hillman on a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album, where he replied to Dylan with "Pack up your money, pick up your tent, Dylan…"
The guitar intro to Syd Barrett's "Baby Lemonade" was apparently Syd noodling about between takes as a warm-up. When producer David Gilmour found out that the lick had been recorded, he decided to tack it on at the beginning of the song.
In Beirut's song "My Family's Role in the World Revolution," the pianist screws up eight seconds into the intro, then stops. The band members chatter and fidget with their instruments for a few seconds until someone says, "It's cool, it's cool!" and the song starts over.