Sometimes songwriters write lyrics that are completely incomprehensible, stringing together a bunch of words that have just the right rhythm for the song, but in context make no sense whatsoever. This is known as Word Salad Lyrics. However, sometimes the same effect is done in a slightly less extreme way. Introducing the Phrase Salad Lyrics, where, unlike the more extreme Word Salad Lyrics, each line or sentence in a song actually completes a thought— but string several sentences together, and no meaning is clear. It may be symbolic, or it may not be. Sometimes each sentence sounds fitting to the mood of the song; but together the meaning of the sentences is still difficult, if not possible, to comprehend.
While it's true that Word Salad Lyrics and Phrase Salad Lyrics often overlap, Phrase Salad Lyrics are found so much more often than Word Salad Lyrics that the existence of the corresponding trope in songs with Phrase Salad Lyrics is often completely over-looked. It's even possible that songs with Phrase Salad Lyrics are just as common as songs with a clear meaning.
This is extremely common in Hip-Hop. Due to the genre's origins as party entertainment, many rappers and listeners pay more attention to wordplay, musicianship, presence and the creativity of individual lyrics than to the overall meaning of the song, which may carry only a vestigial theme like braggadocio, insulting haters or This Is a Song. Storytelling skills are admired in the genre too, however.
- There is an English version and French version of "O Canada," and often the singer will switch between the two if singing at a public event. Problem: the two versions mean very different things, so it's this trope if you speak both languages—and Word Puree Lyrics if you don't.
- Until You Leave by Permanent Me
See my friends
Run in circles
Watching cars pass on the street
Oh the night light
Casting shadows of defeat
You got me looking out the shades
Waiting up for you
How much longer should I wait?
Until you leave
My eyes will turn red for a minute
And I can't breathe when she goes
She kills me nightly
On my way home
I see the moon begin to fall
The world it turns now
Leaves me breathless
Sing the saddest song of all
- A lot of Backstreet Boys' stuff is this.
Life goes on 'cause it never ends
Eyes of stone observe the trends
They never say forever gaze if only
Guilty roads to an endless love
There's no control
Are you with me now?
Your every wish will be done
- "Everything You Want" from Vertical Horizon does this. The chorus makes perfect sense within the context of itself, but the lines in the verses neither have anything to do with each other, or with the chorus.
- Sometimes the pop song sounds like it's becoming Jamaican, both in tone and use of words.
- KMFDM tends to string together idioms in their songs sometimes.
- The song "Afternoons in Utopia" by Alphaville features the most abstract lyrics on an album full of songs pretty abstract to begin with.
Mighty Mamoondog drifts across the grass
Healing lullabies for Easter time on Mars
Paint your hats and shoes with flowers and with stars
Singing in metropolitan operas.
- "The Arrangement" by Oliver! can easily be regarded as this.
You can go down and visit the bus stop
If you can find the right change or box top
And you know you'll have a good time
Won't it be fine?
I will be glad to give you these fine clothes
If you can show me how fast your fortune grows
You'll be smart and wear a smile
You'll be in style
I'll look around and find you a nice bowl
If you won't miss a small piece of your soul
In a crowd you'll be at ease
You'll never sneeze
- bill wurtz does this in just about every song. He has a fondness for love and a feeling of going back home and/or where you belong, but as per his sense of humor, his songs never really build on a specific theme or narrative despite individual phrases being perfectly coherent. An example from "La de da de da de da de day oh":
I went down to the mall, then they closed down the mall
Guess they don't want me goin' to the mall, cause I'm just too small (too small for the mall!)
Then I built some trains, and I'm travelin' somewhere new
It's a wonderful world, but still no you
It's a wonderful world for two
- "January" by Disclosure falls into this:
I might as well fix up and play your game
Make the memory the reason
Remembering the time when you and I fell behind
But found a way to justify
- By dance song standards, the lyrics to "Walk Like An Egyptian" by The Bangles make sense for the most part, but only the first couple verses actually relate to Egyptians. After the first chorus finishes up, the lyrics eventually switch to out-of-nowhere phrases about blonde waitresses, school kids hanging out at metal and punk concerts, Japanese with yen, and cops in donuts shops.
- The third-person-view story in the lyrics to American Girl by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is suddenly interrupted by a first-person-view chorus of the singer having sex with someone. Isn't it rude to sing about some other girl while you're having sex with the one in front of you?
Oh yeah! All right!Take it easy baby!Make it last all night!She was... an American girl!
- John Lennon wrote "I Am The Walrus" to deliberately make no sense to baffle music experts and critics trying to find the meanings of The Beatles' songs.
- Many heavy metal lyrics have cool/threatening phrases stringed together, even if they don't make much sense. For instance, the chorus of "Two Minutes to Midnight" by Iron Maiden is a metaphorical description of the Doomsday Clock. The verses, just random War Is Hell sentences.
Kill for gain or shoot to maim
But we don't need a reason
The golden goose is on the loose
And never out of season
Blackened pride still burns inside
This shell of bloody treason
Here's my gun for a barrel of fun
For the love of living death
- Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis does this a lot. The crowner is probably the epic long poem at the end of "Death of a Martian" off of Stadium Arcadium, where each line individually makes sense, but strong together sounds like gibberish:
She's got a sword in case
No, this is not her lord in case
The one who can't afford to face
Her image is restored to grace
- With the exception of the chorus, the lyrics to Poets of the Fall's "Choice Millionaire" range from nonsensical to flirting with coherence from line to line as the listener attempts to parse them.
Subliminal love for the ones you hate
LOL as I abbreviate
Alleviate if you can relate to the pink slip
Of love unzipped
- "Take Me to Church" by Hozier can fall into this. Word of God is that it's a metaphor about the Catholic Church and its stance on homosexuality, although if you don't know this, the lyrics sound somewhat nonsensical.
Drain the whole sea
Get something shiny
Something meaty for the main course
That's a fine-looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We've a lot of starving faithful
- The Polish rockman Kazik Staszewski's song "Mars napada" (Mars Attacks) is ostensibly about an Alien Invasion... but half of the lyrics are random musings or out-of-context inside jokes that have nothing to do with the alien invasion story.
- Speaking of Polish rock (and pop) men, Kuba Sienkiewicz, he of the song about paintings of Salvador Dalí. Among others.
- "Moonlight Shadow" by Mike Oldfield (with vocals by Maggie Reilly) otherwise tells a fairly clear story of a woman whose lover is shot, but it uses a trick of having every second line in every stanza be the same, and only some of those lines fit between the ones telling the story.
- The portions of Beck's catalogue that don't fall into outright Word Salad Lyrics tend to rest here. In general his approach to songwriting is one that favors describing thematically related snippets of imagery rather than telling a traditional narrative.
- Electric Six songs often indulge in this, such as in "Psychic Visions"
And she's the queen of the queen bees
She's coming on the next jet from Belize
I see her dancing in the Latin quarter
Abbreviations make everything shorter
- "Do You Like Me" by Fugazi is said to be the result of Guy Picciotto fusing two unfinished songs together, one being a song about a crush and the other being a Protest Song about war - hence why the song starts with him describing someone who "should pay rent in my mind", but ends with a chant of "Lockheed, Lockheed Martin Marietta", as in the arms corporation.
- The Strangers with Candy movie ends with a Phrasebook Salad song composed entirely of random Spanish sentences.
No lo sé pero creo que sí / I dunno but I think so
Qué quiere? díselo / What do you want? tell him
Dónde está la panadería? / Where is the bakery?
A la derecha tener cuidado / To the right take care
Ahora mismo, otra vez / Right now, once again
El gusto es mío / The pleasure's mine
Muchas gracias. / Many thanks.
- Many songs from the Sonic the Hedgehog series that have lyrics qualify. Some more notable examples are listed below.
- Sonic Adventure: "Unknown from M.E." (Knuckles the Echidna's theme):
The new porcupine on the block with the buff chest
Out the wilderness with the ruggedness
Knock knock, it's Knuckles, the bloat thrower
Independent flow-er, magical emerald holder
Give you the coldest shoulder
My spike goes through boulders
That's why I stay a loner
- Sonic Adventure: "Lazy Days ~Livin' in Paradise~" (Big the Cat's theme):
Everyday's a new beginning, yeah! (We don't know who we're gonna meet today!)
The more I want, the less that I can get (Keep working for a new tomorrow!)
But I guess that I'm so happy now, gonna set my heart free!
- Sonic and the Secret Rings: "Seven Rings in Hand", the main theme of the game (overlapping with Word Salad Lyrics):
No such thing as fate for those who speed
A path out of time instead of just livin' it
So many things erased before they begin
Hopes un-dream instead of what could have been
- Sonic Adventure: "Unknown from M.E." (Knuckles the Echidna's theme):