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Lyrical Shoehorn

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"Slumming in at number two are songs that try to pass off 'na nas,' 'la las,' and 'doot doos' as legit lyrics, as evidenced in Limozeen's bizarrely-titled 'Feed the Childrens'."

So you're listening to a new song, and really like it! Not only is the melody awesome, but the lyrics seem really deep and poignant. But is the singer talking about shoes there? You're not sure, so you go to the Internet, pull up a lyrics site, and look up to the words to the song.

And they end up looking something like this:

I put 'em in my hat, I eat it just like that,
I put 'em in my ears and in my shoes,
I put 'em in my pants, do a little dance,
It always seems to take away my blues!


While song lyrics are a form of poetry, there's one simple fact about songs that sets them apart from poems: They're meant to be sung. So lines that make no sense on paper—such as run-on or fragmented sentences, strange contrivances of grammar, and outright nonsense—are not only accepted in songs, but they can actually make them better, since it flows better with the music. Whether the words are written to fit the music, or the music written after the words are down, a song and its lyrics have to fit together—and if the words have to be "squeezed" a little to make them fit, well, that might just happen.

See also Word Salad Lyrics, when the words don't even attempt to make sense (or occasionally, even be grammatical), and Singing Simlish, for songs that are just gibberish. Lyrical Tic is for particular shoehorns that become a certain artist's catchphrase.

See also Scatting.


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  • The Australian Crawl song "The Boys Light Up" includes the lines The garden it is Dorseted / That lady she's so corseted. The song's writer James Reyne admitted that "Dorseted" isn't a real word, it's just intended to rhyme with "corseted" and sound vaguely suburban.
  • Bauhaus' "In The Flat Field":
    Yin and yang lumber punch
    Go taste a tart, then eat my lunch
    And force my slender thin and lean
    In this solemn place of fill wetting dreams
    Of black matted lace of pregnant cows
    As life maps out onto my brow
    The card is lowered in index turn
    Into my filing cabinet hemispheres spurn.
  • "Hey Jude" is composed of about 3 minutes of regular song... and four minutes of "Nah nahs."
    • "In My Life": "But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you". It should probably be "...there is no one who compares with you", but that would throw off the meter a bit.
  • Bruce Springsteen has a bad habit of adding "mister" to lines when he needs a couple of extra syllables to fill out the meter.
    • "Hungry Heart": "Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack" so he can rhyme it with "back".
  • Bob Dylan does this a lot, most famously adding the word "babe" at the end of lines. Other examples from his early work: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (rhyming "knowed" with "road"); "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" ("there's beauty in the sunrise in the sky"—where else would the sunrise be?)
    • "If it works, why not?" is perhaps the closest Bob has to a philosophy. Consider—in these stanzas from "Motorpsycho Nitemare"—the elegant division of lines:
    Rita mumbled something
    'Bout her mother on the hill
    As his fist hit the icebox
    He said he's going to kill
    Me if I don't get out of the door
    In two seconds flat
    "You unpatriotic
    • Dylan also loves squeezing way too many syllables into a line. "Summer Days", for instance, has a standard AAB blues pattern, where he somehow manages to sing
    She looks into my eyes, she's a-holdin' my hand
    She looks into my eyes, she's a-holdin' my hand
    She says "You can't repeat the past." I say "You can't? What do you mean you can't? Of course you can!"
  • Einstürzende Neubauten "Was Ist, Ist". Half of the lyrics are nonsensical revolutionary political claims, half adlibbed each time it is sung, and half fillers a la "dididi und didi di."
  • Done intentionally by Frank Zappa for "I Have Been In You," as it was an IKEA Erotica parody of Peter Frampton's "I'm In You":
    "I have been in you, baby
    And you
    Have been in me
    And we
    Have be
    So intimately
    And it sure was fine
    I have been in you, baby
    And you
    Have been in me
    And so you see
    Have be so together
    I thought that we would never
    Return from forever
    Return from forever
    Return from forever..."
  • Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" subverts this by having perfectly intelligible lyrics at some points, at the expense of rhythm.
    Oh 4,5,6
    C'mon and get your kicks
    Now you don't need money
    When you look like that do ya honey?
  • Jimi Hendrix: "And so castles made of sand fall/melts/slips in/into/into the sea, eventually."
  • My Chemical Romance actually named a song "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)". Its chorus is three lines of 16 "na"s each. (Side note that their song "Destroya" also contains sections that repeat "check check check" or "uh uh uh". In fact, most of the other lyrics fit this trope as well.)
  • Nickelback songs should only be listened to and never analyzed on paper for this very reason. The lyrics come off as a bit sing-songy and childish when they're just read through.
    Kim's the first girl I kissed
    I was so nervous that I nearly missed
    She's had a couple of kids since then
    I haven't seen her since God knows when
  • An infamous example is Paul McCartney's "My Love," whose lyrics are copiously padded with the syllable "wo."
  • Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah": "Even more in love with me you'd fall", clearly phrased in that borderline nonsensical manner to both fit the meter and rhyme with "all".
  • The Police song "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da" fits this trope, for obvious reasons. ("De do do do de da da da / Is all I want to say to you")
  • The Queens of the Stone Age song "Turnin' On The Screw" has this rather cringe-worthy line:
    You want a reason? How's about because
    You ain't a "has been" if you never was
  • The Residents album "Duck Stab" was built entirely around this concept often with unusual results...
    A red, red rose saw a big pig pose
    On the edge of a silver dollar
    The end of his tail was a long-necked nail
    And in place of his face was the scholar
  • Steely Dan's "Soul Ram", where every line seems to have been written purely to give the song lyrics, making no sense at all. In particular, the line "Just pretends knows the score" which omits "she" twice in order to fit with the meter of the song.
  • The Steve Miller Band's song "Take the Money and Run", does this for a set of Least Rhymable Words:
    Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas
    You know he knows just exactly what the facts is
    He ain't gonna let those two escape justice
    He makes his livin' off of the people's taxes
  • Van Halen's "Why Can't This Be Love?": "Only time will tell if we stand the test of time".
  • A substantial amount of Goth music fits this trope and Word Salad Lyrics. Artists are divided between those who freely admit that they choose lyrics strictly for sound and cadence, and those who insist that there is a deeper symbolism, only critics are too stupid or superficial to understand them. Andrew Eldritch of Sisters of Mercy, and Valor Kand of Christian Death are classic examples of the latter.

    Alternative/Progressive/Punk/Indie Rock 
  • Against Me! (well, technically Laura Jane Grace, as she writes all of their lyrics) invokes this in many of their songs. "You Look Like I Need a Drink" is an extreme example, requiring Grace to employ rapid-fire vocal delivery just to keep in time, which is already at a very high tempo. Less extreme, but still a painful example: the minor hit "Thrash Unreal".
  • Most songs written by Benjamin Gibbard subvert this trope. He writes long, grammatically correct (or sometimes run-on) sentences that have to squeeze themselves awkwardly into the rhythms and often don't even rhyme.
    • The lines in "Such Great Heights" are so long they overlap at the ends and it's difficult to mark breaks in the phrases:
      I am thinking it's a sign that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned
      And I have to speculate that God himself did make us into corresponding shapes like puzzle pieces from the clay
  • Canadian band Big Wreck may have the worst example of all with "That Song"- they changed the pronounciation of a word to make it fit better into the song! "Dumb" becomes "doom", simply so that it will rhyme with "room". Seriously, could no other word have been used there?:
    and it might sound doom,
    so just leave the room
    • On the plus side, though, it does sound very "doom," so it works in that regard.
  • Cracker's "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)" plays with this trope:
    'Cause what the world needs now
    Is some true words of wisdom
    Like la la la la, la la, la la la
  • The Cranberries do this sometimes, for instance:
    People are strangers
    People in danger
    People are strangers
    People deranged are
    Loud And Clear
  • Edwin McCain's "I'll Be" has "I'll be your crying shoulder". The usual expression is "a shoulder to cry on", but the line needed to end on a rhyme for "older". The listener might end up with the mental image of a shoulder that's crying, rather than a shoulder being used to cry on.
  • The chorus of Everclear's "I Will Buy You A New Life" includes the line "I will buy you a new car, perfect shiny and new". The second "new" does need to be there to slant rhyme with "bloom", but plenty of other one syllable adjectives could have come before "car" while still fitting the meter.
  • "My Egyptian Grammar" by Fiery Furnaces bizarrely mangles the grammar of the sentence "she let me into the car" for the sake of rhyme. However, the song is from the point of view of an increasingly delusional narrator, so it can also be read as the character getting her word order mixed up because she's agitated or in a manic state:
    A white-haired half-Samoan girl from Darwin
    Gave me a ride, it seems
    She let me the car in
  • The Gorillaz song "Rockit" consists mostly of the word "blah." People have variously interpreted this as incredibly deep or incredibly lazy. Word of God is that it's about rock stars who pump out a few good albums and then start cranking out lazy shit (hence: "I'm walking to the something, blah blah blah blah blah", among other lines).
  • Incubus seems to make a game out of smashing as many free-verse syllables as possible into every stanza.
  • Interpol's "Obstacle 1":
    "Her stories are boring and stuff,
    She's always calling my bluff"
    • From the same band, "PDA":
    Sleep tight, grim rite
    We have two hundred couches where you can
    Sleep tight, grim rite...
  • From early in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds:
    "The chances of anything coming from Mars
    Are a million to one," he said.
    (In the original novel, it's "The chances against anything...")
  • "Na Na Na Na Naa" is the name of a song by Kaiser Chiefs, as well as a great deal of the lyric. It verges on being the band's Lyrical Tic.
  • Frequently averted by the Minutemen: Since the words often came first and sometimes were scraps of poetry that weren't even originally intended to be sung, there would frequently be an excess of syllables. For example, "My Heart And The Real World" finds D Boone having to rapidly sing lines like "And if I was a word, could my letters number a hundred? More likely coarse and guttural one syllable Anglo-Saxon" in order to stay on beat.
  • King Crimson's song "Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" is an intentional stab at this trope, with such lyrics as:
    And when I have some words
    This is the way I'll sing
    Through a distortion box
    To make them menacing.
    Yeah, then I'm gonna have to write a chorus
    We're gonna need to have a chorus
    And this seems to be as good as any other place
    To sing until I'm blue in the face.
  • Kingston Wall's "When Something Old Dies" contains the line "Something new borns when something old dies" over and over. The songwriter Petri Walli knew full well it was grammatically incorrect, but to him it just sounded better.
  • The Killers' "Human": In order to rhyme with "answer," the grammatically incorrect "Are we human or are we dancer?" was made the focal point of the chorus.
    • There are times when such nouns are treated as adjectives (if you were asking about a group's nationality, both "Are they German?" and "Are they Germans?" would be accepted), so the lyrics are only asking us to start considering 'dancer' to be a biological classification mutually exclusive with 'human'.
      • Then again, they credit the line-as-written to Hunter S. Thompson, so make of that what you will.
  • Neil Diamond: "Songs that she sang to me, songs that she brang to me". Usually one would say "brought" instead.
  • Carl Newman of The New Pornographers takes this trope and just runs with it. He's admitted that a lot of his lyrics don't really mean anything, that he just uses whatever sounds best in the song, or will use certain words because their vowels and consonants go well with a melody.
  • "Give it Away" by Red Hot Chili Peppers has quite a few lines that are puzzling at best and groan-inducing at worst. For example:
    Confide with sly you'll be the wiser
    Young blood is the loving upriser
    How come everybody want to keep it like the kaiser?
    • "All Around the World" at one point has the line "Ding dang dong dong ding dang dong dong ding dang" completely without any context or explanation whatsoever.
  • R.E.M.:
    • Played for laughs in "Voice of Harold", which consists of Michael Stipe singing out the liner notes to a gospel album to the tune of "7 Chinese Bros." Many parts of the writing inevitably don't fit the meter of the song, resulting in him frequently having to either drag out, rush through, or add pauses in the middle of some of the words.
    • The chorus of "Leaving New York" has the grammatically odd line "leaving was never my proud" (probably meaning "pride", but that wouldn't slant-rhyme with "around" and "down"). Like the Carrie Underwood example, it can be read as being in LOLCat speak.
  • The Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" opens with the following couplet, with the second line mispronounced to rhyme with the first (anarkaist):
    I am an antichrist
    And I am an anarchist
    • Johnny Rotten has gone on record saying that was the only part of the song he didn't like.
  • They Might Be Giants' song "Don't Let's Start":
    "They want what they're not/and I wish they would stop/ saying: "Deputy dawg dog a ding dang depa depa, Deputy dawg dog a ding dang depa depa" D: World Destruction/ O-ver an overture/N: do I need/Apostrophe T: need this torture?
    • Linnell has stated that the music for Don't Let's Start was written before the lyrics, and the lyrics were mostly chosen because they fit the number of syllables for the melody. When asked about the song's meaning, Linnell simply answered that it was about "not let's starting."
  • "In The Garage" by Weezer has "garage" repeatedly pronounced as "grodge" to better fit the meter of the chorusnote . It works in a Narm Charm sort of way though.
  • Vagiant's FTK, a Bowdlerization of one of their songs for Guitar Hero 2, has to fall into this at one point to match a rhyming scheme and meter that was originally intended for more... colorful lyrics, inserting the bizarre nonsequitur "Take this car and fill it up with tons of gas".
  • Andy Partridge admitted he was forced to butcher the line "Please don't pull me out/I'm relax in the undertow" in XTC's "Summer's Cauldron" simply because that extra syllable from the correct grammar would screw up the meter.
  • The large majority of the lyrics of Yes are picked for sound over anything else. "Love Will Find A Way", though, has their most blatant and famous one:
    ''Here is my heart
    Waiting for you
    Here is my soul

  • Andy Williams' "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" with its mentions of "marshmallows for toasting" and "scary ghost stories," which are about as far from Christmas imagery as you can get (you could count A Christmas Carol but that's a stretch). There's also a mention of "gay happy meetings", which is of course a bit redundant.
    • Possibly an example of something becoming this over time. There are traditions of telling ghost stories at Christmas, as seen here for example.
  • Ariana Grande and Zedd's "Break Free", which contains the grammatically incorrect lyric "now that I've become who I really are" note , as well as the oxymoron "I only wanna die alive". As with the Backstreet Boys example below, Ariana initially objected to singing those words, but Max convinced her otherwise.
  • This is ridiculously prolific Swedish record producer Max Martin's preferred method of writing and producing songs, especially since English is also his second language. He deploys a concept that he called "melodic math", in which the song lyrics take a backseat to the music and the syllables must match the beat. While writing and producing "I Want It That Way", for Backstreet Boys, they protested that the lyrics made no sense. He allowed them to record two versions of the song, one where the lyrics made sense, and the original one. The band ultimately chose the original nonsensical lyrics because it made the song flow better.
    • On the topic of grammar errors, "All I Have to Give" has the lines "does his gifts come from the heart" and "does his friends get on your time". This is especially unsettling because "do his gifts..." and "do his friends..." would have fit the metric just fine.
  • The Bangles's "If She Knew What She Wants". Grammatically, it should be "If She Knew What She Wanted", but that would really mess up the meter.
  • Billy Joel was prone to these. From "Tell Her About It":
    Listen, boy, it's good information from a man who's made mistakes:
    Just the word or two that she gets from you could be the difference that it makes.
    • In "Piano Man" he inverts the usual order of "gin and tonic" because "in" doesn't rhyme with "tonic".
  • There's Céline Dion's "With This Tear" (written by Prince):
    With this tear, I thee want
    I long for you to talk me like you did that night in the restaurant.
  • Do you know where you're going to?
  • Ed Sheeran's "The A-Team" (a song about a woman addicted to drugs) has some seriously Painful Rhymes because of this:
    But lately
    her face seems
    Slowly sinking, wasting
    Crumbling like pastries
  • Frou Frou has a song, Flicks, which is basically this trope.
  • Harry Chapin's hit "Cat's in the Cradle": "It's been sure nice talking to you."
    • From the same song: "What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys/ see you later, can I have them please?"
  • From James Blunt's "You're Beautiful": "There must be an angel with a smile on her face/When she thought up that I should be with you."
  • Lady Gaga has a few songs that force unusual enunciation (not to mention some bizarre ad-hoc grammar) to fit the meter, almost as if she doesn't want fans to sing along, but the most egregious is "Telephone" (broken into syllables to demonstrate):
    Wha-wha-what did you say, huh? You're break-ing up on me.
    Sor-ry I ca-NOT hear you, I'm kin-da bu-sy.
    Just a sec-ond, it's my fav-rite song they gon-na play
    And I ca-NOT text you with a drin' kin-my-hand, eh?
  • LFO's "Summer Girls" takes this to Word Salad Lyrics extremes, throwing out Non Sequiturs every other line in order to rhyme with the previous one (and not always succeeding, infamously rhyming "sonnets" with "hornet").
  • From Madonna's "Don't Stop":
    Get up on the dance floor
    Everything is groovin'
    Get up on the dance floor
    Got to see you movin'
    Let the music shake you
    Let the rhythm take you
    Feel it in your body
    Sing la-dee-da-dee
  • Maroon5's "Payphone" has the line "Even the sun sets in paradise" - in context, this is clearly supposed to mean "Even in paradise, the sun sets", but that wouldn't fit into the meter or rhyme with "paralyzed".
  • Mew's "Satellites" manages to do this:
    I wanna breathe in a sunlight beam
    I wanna be with a girl like she
  • One Direction seems to be incredibly fond of "na na"s.
  • In the much-covered "Umbrella" by Rihanna there's a lyric that goes "When the war has took its part..." Irritating, but "taken its part" wouldn't scan, so...
    • In the chorus of "Disturbia," she informs us that the titular state of mind "ain't used to what you like." That should probably be the other way around, in order to make any sense at all.
      • Probably intentional, considering what the song is about.
  • Paula Cole's "I Don't Want To Wait":
    So open up your morning light
    And say a little prayer for I
  • Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca" had a dilemma in its chorus: the only workable English word to rhyme with "loca" is "mocha". But a reference to coffee in a song about a Femme Fatale would seem weird. But the solution they came up with was equally odd and tortured.
    Her lips are devil-red
    And her skin's the color mochanote 
  • The later verses of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" are very guilty of this:
    With little tin horns and little toy drums
    Rooty-toot-toots and rummy-tums-tums
    Santa Claus is comin' to town
    With curly-head dolls that toddle and coo
    Elephants, boats, and kiddie cars too
  • Steam's "Nah Nah, Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)", ends in an extended chorus of the refrain, "Na-na-na-nah, Na-na-na-nah, Hey-hey-hey, goodbye", because the band realized that the track was a bit short without it.
  • Taylor Swift's "Fearless": "And I don't know why, but with you I'd dance / In a storm in my best dress, fearless". Also, about half the song has very odd line breaks and a bad case of Accent On The Wrong Syllable.
  • Tears for Fears' song "The Hurting" opens with the verse, "Is it an 'orrific dream?" which should be "Is it a horrific dream?", but this would not fit in with the song. They can get away with it, being British. Note the line from Monty Python's "Eric the Half-a-Bee" where John Cleese describes his pet fish Eric as "He's an 'alibut."
  • Train's "Drops of Jupiter" has a fair few of "nah nah"s as well as "yeahs/heys" at the end of some lines.

  • Akon's "Dangerous" has the first line "I can't notice but to notice you, noticing me."
  • Bo Diddley by way of the Remains, "Diddy Wah Diddy": "She don't come from no town, she don't come from no city, she lives way down in Diddy Wah Diddy".
  • Brenton Wood's "Oogum Boogum Song": "Oogum, boogum, boogum, boogum now baby, now cast your spell on me."
  • "Land Of A Thousand Dances" by Chris Kenner opens up with one long strand of "na na"s.
  • Manfred Mann's "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy": "There she was, just a-walkin' down the street, singin' 'doo wah diddy, diddy dum, diddy do'".

  • In The Black Eyed Peas' song "Imma Be", in between repeating its title over and over again, had deliver the immortal line: "Imma be a brother, but my name ain't Lehmann; Imma be a bank, I be loaning out semen." No-one is quite sure why.
  • Eminem has faced criticism on recent projects for lyrics based on Hurricane of Puns wordplay in order to force rigid rhyme schemes, resulting in peculiar lyrics like "pressure increases like khakis". Eminem responded to the criticism by saying he just puts in lines he thinks of that make him laugh and doesn't care if critics like it.
  • "Concrete jungle where dreams are made of" in Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State Of Mind", though "Concrete jungle that dreams are made of" would have made more sense and still fit in.
  • Krispy Kreme's "The Baddest" has "I have four hundred houses / I have four hundred mouses and four hundred houses". It's not just the improper plural of "mouse", but also the fact that mice themselves are an unlikely thing to brag about having in a Boastful Rap unless you just really need something that rhymes with "house". Though it's possible he means computer mouses - "mouses" is considered an acceptable plural in that context, and it'd be a slightly more logical thing to brag about than having a rodent problem.
  • A Spelling Song variant of this occurs in L'Homme Run's song "Pizza Party". They spell out the song title, but it ends up sounding like "P-I-Z-Z-A P-R-T-Y" because "P-A-R-T-Y" wouldn't have worked with the melody - so it's like "P-AR-TY".
  • Soulja Boy, particularly adding his own name.
  • Timbaland's "The Way I Are":
    I ain't got no money. I ain't got no car to take you on a date.

  • The Chemical Brothers song "Let Forever Be" starts 85% of the lines by asking the listener the question "How does it feel like?" Fits the meter, but is a grammatical train wreck that just keeps going.
  • "FRIENDS" by Marshmello and Anne-Marie is a Spelling Song, but the proper spelling of the word "friends" has one syllable too many to fit the chorus melody, so most of the time the lyrics seem to spell it "F-r-i-n-d-s". According to the official lyric video, it's "f-r-i-en-d-s", with "en" presumably meant to be pronounced like the letter "n".
  • Endemic in Starflyer 59's music. Jason Martin always writes the music first and the lyrics last, and he admits to padding songs with lyrics that sound good and mean nothing—and for the fans, it's usually impossible to tell the difference.

  • Aaron Tippin wants you to know that he's looking for his "blue-ahoo-ooh-ahoo-ooh" angel. It's almost like a yodel, but not quite.
    "She isn't a Cadillac, and she isn't a Rolls, but there isn't anything wrong with the radio."
    "It's well, it's soundin' uh, real good, but replacing "ain't" with "isn't" ain't cuttin' it for me, pal.
  • The third verse of Alan Jackson's "Where I Come From" is a Painful Rhyme-riddled mess of a word salad. Good luck trying to figure out what he's even trying to say:
    I was chasin' sun on 101
    Somewhere around Ventura
    I lost a universal joint
    And I had to use my fingernote 
    This tall lady stopped and asked
    If I had plans for dinner
    Said, "No thanks, ma'am, back home
    We like the girls that sing soprano"
  • Carrie Underwood's "Undo It" has a couple, most notably "you stole my happy" (which one reviewer said made the song sound like she was singing in LOLcat speak) and "uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it."
  • Collin Raye's "On the Verge" uses the phrase "slow down me" to rhyme with "around me."
  • Diamond Rio has a few:
    • "How Your Love Makes Me Feel":
    It's like just before dark, jump in the car
    Buy an ice cream and see how far
    We can drive before it melts
    Kind of easy
    (That's how your love makes me feel)
    Then there's a cow in the road and you swerve to the left (?!?)
    Fate skips a beat and it scares you to death
    And you laugh until you cry
    That's how your love makes me feel inside.
    • "Walkin' Away", with the line "These occasional moments of weakness only makes our love more strong". Subect/verb disagreement, anyone?
    • And "Unbelievable" has "She's so beautiful, it's undisputable / It's undeniable, she's gottahaveable". Writer Jeffrey Steele supposedly disliked this line.
  • The Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice" somehow manages to use "mad as hell" twice in the chorus just because they couldn't think of another line.
  • Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me" features a completely avoidable pronoun flub:
    If I could grant you one wish
    I wish you could see the way you kiss.
    • So she'll grant him a wish, but she gets to pick it. Yeah, that makes sense. And the next lines are hardly any better:
      Ooh, I love watching you, ooh, baby
      When you're drivin' me, ooh, crazy
      Ooh, I love the way you, love the way you love me…
  • Jessi Colter's "I'm Not Lisa" gets a mention for having "I'm not Lisa, my name is Julie." First of all, "Jessi" would've fit, and second of all, there isn't a single rhyme in the whole chorus, so there was really no reason to use "Julie" instead. (And even if there were a rhyme scheme in the chorus, nearly anything that rhymed with "Julie" could at least passably rhyme with the long E sound of "Jessi".)
  • John Conlee's "Old School" has a rather shoehorned word: "We both made it to our graduation / You chose a college, I chose a vocation / Driving 18 wheels."
  • Almost anything written by John Rich. One particularly painful example is "New York City town" from "Shuttin' Detroit Down". Not to mention that he uses the town/down rhyme twice in the chorus.
  • "That's Enough of That" by country singer Mila Mason: "That's enough of this crying, enough of this whining, enough of this over-react / That's enough of this all-day, everyday, thinkin' maybe someday you're comin' back / That's enough of that".
  • "Moody River". When the song's original artist Chase Webster wrote it (credited under his real name, Gary D. Bruce), the first line of the chorus was "Moody River, more deadly than the sharpest knife", but when he recorded the song he kept popping the P on "sharpest", so the producer asked him to change the word. He sang the first thing that came to mind, "vainest", even though "vainest knife" makes absolutely no sense. When Pat Boone Covered Up the song a little while later, his producer actually checked with Webster to make sure that was the correct lyric.
  • Rascal Flatts's "Feels Like Today" has "The last sacred blessing and, hey / Feels like today." Really? That was the best rhyme the writers could come up with?
  • Reba McEntire's "You're Gonna Be" contains a particularly Yoda-esque lyric:
    Life has no guarantees
    But always loved by me
    You're gonna be
  • "All I Want To Do" by Sugarland. The word "do" is stretched quite egregiously over a very long melodic run.
  • "Twenty years have came and went" from "Angry All the Time" by Tim McGraw. "Have come and gone" would have scanned, you know.
    • From another one of Tim's songs, "My Old Friend": "They laugh and they cry me / And somehow sanctify me". Verbs do not work that way.
    • "8.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu" from "Live Like You Were Dying" sticks out as a particularly specific line in an otherwise fairly broad-strokes song.
  • "She got it goin' on like Donkey Kong" from Trace Adkins' "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" (see also Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks).

  • "Hey Man Nice Shot" by Filter gives us the immortal line "AAAA MAN/HAS GUN".
  • Nine Inch Nails is usually better about this, but the beginning of "Terrible Lie" is somewhat cringe-worthy.
    Why are you doing this to me
    Am I not living up to what I'm supposed to be
    Why am I seething with this animosity
    I think you owe me a great big apology
    • "Only" has the rather awkward "Yes I'm alone, but then again I always was", where "I've always been" would have sounded much better. But it needed to rhyme with "because", so...
    • Furthermore, "We're in This Together" and "The Great Below" feature "down the path we have chose" and "the destiny I've chose". In both cases, "chosen" would be semantically correct, but also wouldn't scan.
  • A lot of The Protomen's lyrics look quite strange on paper, and it doesn't help that their lyric sheets are interspersed with things happening during the song that are not actually sung, resulting in instrumental songs with three paragraphs of "lyrics".
    "Send your armies. There's no man or machine who can stop me, and you'll soon see.
    I come for vengeance for the first Son of Light. I'm ready, I'm willing, I'm prepared to—"
    • It should be noted that that particular part is interrupted, and the closing word is 'fight'.
  • "Bop bop she bop" appears in Rammstein's Adios

  • After Barry McGuire's Protest Song "Eve of Destruction" became a #1 hit, an answer song called "The Dawn of Correction" by The Spokesmen was quickly recorded and released and became a Top 40 hit in its own right. The original had some notable Shoehorns ("My blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'") of its own, but "The Dawn of Correction", in trying to make a coherent comment on 1965 current events, while trying to have practically every line of its verse end with an "-ation" rhyme, came up with quite a few doozies:
    You missed all the good in your evaluation.
    What about the things that deserve commendation?
    Where there once was no cure, there's vaccination.
    Where there once was a desert, there's vegetation.
    Self-government's replacing colonization.
    What about the Peace Corps organization?
    Don't forget the work of the United Nations.
  • Dave Barnes' "God Gave Me You" (Covered Up by Blake Shelton) has "That you, an angel lovely, could somehow fall for me." This is particularly baffling, as the particular line could've been the much better-sounding "a lovely angel" since it's mid-line and doesn't have to rhyme with anything.
  • The children's praise song "The Wa Wa Song" (from Kids Praise) has a particularly glaring one:
    On days when trials come
    And my heart goes clippity-ping
    I’m glad for Jesus Christ
    And that He taught me how to sing

    Ambient/Avant Garde/Experimental 
  • Pick any Brian Eno song. He does this intentionally because he doesn't like writing lyrics and doesn't think that lyrics should be read as poetry.
    • Or much of Talking Heads' output during his time as their producer. As a matter of fact, "I Zimbra" is based on an actual sound-poem, specifically one by Dadaist Hugo Ball.

  • Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown has this as a Signature Style. Even when he writes in English.
  • Who could forget the memetic part of Ievan Polkka as performed by Loituma? Traditionally, that part is ad-libbed in random, interesting-sounding scatting.
  • Many sea shanties and work songs have sections of rhythmic nonsense intended to help the singers co-ordinate their actions, like hauling on ropes. It doesn't have to mean anything, as long as it keeps you from falling out of sync.

  • The Chipmunks' "Witch Doctor": "Oo ee, oo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang..."
  • The first verse of "Dear Mr. Governor" by Da Yoopers starts off fine, but totally derails on the last line:
    "What's this on my mitten?" said the troll from down belownote 
    "Is it just a picker, or a piece of dirty snow?
    I think I'll just brush it off and kick it in the lake
    And stay down below the bridge and eat my birthday cake"
  • "Running Through the Back Brain" (which is to be fair a comic song) written by Michael Moorcock and performed by him with Hawkwind:
    Killers on the street are wearing striped pants
    They are interfering with my larynx
  • Peter Schickele's annotations to the lyrics of P.D.Q. Bach's madrigal "My Bonnie Lass She Smelleth" insist that the second line in this couplet is absolutely meaningless:
    My bonnie lass liketh to dance a lot;
    —>She's Guinevere and I'm Sir Lancelot.
    • Of course, given the parodic nature of the Anti-Love Song as a whole, and given the illicit nature of Lancelot and Guinevere's affair...
  • Randy Rainbow:
    • The chorus of "Desperate Cheeto" features words like "bleep-o" and "creep-o" to make them all sort of rhyme with "cheeto" and fit the meter of the song. There's also a verse containing the line "stop smoking marijuania" to make it rhyme with "Melania" and "ya".
    • "A Very Stable Genius" has "penius", "vaginias" and "subpoenias".
  • Tom Lehrer's "The Folk Song Army":
    The tune don't have to be clever,
    And it don't matter if you put a couple extra syllables into a line.
    It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English
    And it don't even gotta rhyme... (excuse me: rhyne!)
    • Even more shoehorned is ''We Will All Go Together When We Go":
    When you attend a funeral
    Ain't it sad to think that sooner o' l-
    Ater those you love will do the same for you
    And you may have thought it tragic
    Not to mention other adjec-
    Tives to think of all the weeping they will do...
    I love she and she loves me
    Enraptured are the both of we
    As I love she and she loves I
    And will through all eternitye!
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic takes pride in these in his parody songs. Where the original song uses the same lyrics for every refrain (e.g. "beat it / beat it / noone wants to be defeated"), he puts effort into using a different rhyme word every time the refrain comes up (e.g. "get yourself an egg and beat it", "open up your mouth and feed it", "if it's getting cold, reheat it", and so forth). This includes finding half a dozen different rhymes for "the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota"...
  • Ring, Ring, Ring, Ring, BANANNA PHONE!

Other Examples:

  • There's an Oscar Meyer Lunchables Commercial:
    Girl: WRAPZ are a taste you can't deny.
    Boy: I know you're gonna love 'em just like I.
    • The twist here is that the grammar is actually correct — the boy's sentence ends with an unspoken "do".

  • Don't listen too closely to "World Without Logos" (the opening theme of Hellsing TV). The lyrics are so full of this and Gratuitous English that it's practically scat-singing.

  • In the Eegah! song "Valerie", Arch Hall Jr. very clumsily tosses in the words "gallery", "calorie" and "salary" just so they can rhyme with the title.
  • The song "Knights of the Round Table" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is composed entirely of this trope, to the point that it includes the Lampshade:
    But many times
    We're given rhymes
    That are quite unsing-able
  • "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music has the irritatingly shoehorned line, "La: a note to follow so." It's probably because there just isn't a good pun on "la."
    • The line is the subject of a Douglas Adams essay, as he uses it as an example of "Unfinished Business of the 20th Century", things that really should be sorted out before the digits change. He even tries to repair it himself before conceding that perhaps it's not as easy a problem as it first appears.

  • In Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs Dave calls out "Baby I'm-a Want You" by Bread. "Baby, I'm-a too lazy to write lyrics that scan, so I'm-a just add an extra 'a' whenever I'm-a need a syllable."
  • In a sort-of non-musical example, the poetry of Homer is full of these, at least if you accept the (generally accepted) theory of oral-formulaic composition. Anyone who reads Homer soon notices that certain words and passages crop up again and again: e.g., the sea is often described as 'wine-dark', dawn is 'rosy-fingered', and there's an entire chunk of lines in the Iliad describing how they cook and eat meat which just gets repeated whenever the guys want to have food. In the 1920s, classical scholar Milman Parry developed a theory to explain this, based in part on his field studies of oral poetry in the Balkan countries. The theory says that the poems attributed to Homer were originally composed as part of an oral tradition before they got written down — in fact, they were sung — and the singers often needed to come up with a word that would help a line to flow but would also fit the meaning. Some of these would take the form of entire 'type-scenes', which could be brought out to mark significant moments and which wouldn't vary much from character to character. Further scholars have extended this theory to the study of The Bible and The Qur'an. Yes, when it's a showdown between rhythm and meaning, rhythm wins.

     Live-Action TV 
  • The theme song for Murder Most Horrid has a line at the end which goes "and you wake in the night, wipe the sweat from your forehead (pronounced as forrid)/ Murder Most Horrid", and each episode has a different word substituted that rhymes with "horrid", such as torrid and borrowed (pronounced "borrid"). They seem to run out of words at one point, and the line becomes "and you wake in the night... la la la la la lorid". The fact that it's Played for Laughs eases the pain.

  • The chorus of "Good Morning Starshine" from Hair:
    Gliddy gloop gloopy
    Nibby nobby nooby
    La la la lo lo
    Sabba sibby sabba
    Nooby abba dabba
    Le le lo lo
    dooby ooby walla
    dooby abba dabba
    Early morning singing song
  • In the Stephen Sondheim musical Merrily We Roll Along, the main character is demoing one of his songs to a producer, and expresses his dissatisfaction with the line, "They're always popping their cork."
  • "Mack the Knife," as it appears in the Marc Blitzstein translation of The Threepenny Opera, has about every other line ending with a gratuitous "dear". It should be observed that some of the most famous covers of the song use Blitzstein's English version of the lyrics but with that word changed.

    Video Games 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has wacky phrasing and rhyme scheme to fit the tempo of the song.
    • Witness "Slipping", where the verse ends in the middle of a sentence and the continuing sentence starts the next verse.
      Now that your savior
      Is still as the grave, you're
      Beginning to fear me

      Like cavemen fear thunder
      I still have to wonder
      Can you really hear me?
    • Same is true for Captain Hammer's intro, "A Man's Gotta Do":
      Stand back everyone, nothing here to see.
      Just imminent danger; in the middle of it, me!
      Yes, Captain Hammer's here, hair blowing in the breeze,
      The day needs my saving expertise!

    Western Animation