Snow: ButwhenImaatadanceand they say "Where ya come from?"
Todd: It's... it's going too fast. Slow it down. And MTV did re-cut this video with actual subtitles, but even they didn't seem able to keep up.
You know that song that you know all the words to? This is not that song.
This is that song where the lyrics move so quickly or are so garbled that you know only the one word or phrase that is shouted very clearly. If it's not actually shouted by the original artist, it certainly is by anyone singing along, presumably in order to make up for lost time.
The name of the trope comes from "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. from their album Document. It begins "That's great! It starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes and aeroplanes, and Lenny Bruce is not afraid," and then (aside from the Title Drop in the chorus) your guess is good as ours until the only part of any of the verses that anyone knows properly: "LEO-NARD BERN-STEIN!" note So attempts to sing along to usually go "something something Leonard Bernstein".note
Any and all foreign songs with a token English word, when listened to by a person only fluent in English, will often fall into this as well. For instance, Japanese songs with Gratuitous English.
Compare Second Verse Curse, Chorus-Only Song, Refrain from Assuming, Even the Subtitler Is Stumped, and Single Stanza Song. Related to Indecipherable Lyrics, the point here being that there is at least one word or phrase that everyone will know and shout out with gusto to make up for not knowing the rest. This phenomenon is often caused by the Perishing Alt-Rock Voice.
Note, it's not being able to decipher the lyrics; it's more along the lines of not being able to remember them. Also, if you're going to put in an example, put down what the one special word or phrase that everybody absolutely gets is. If you can't do that, then put it in Indecipherable Lyrics.
- "Guren No Yumiya" from Attack on Titan has the opening line "Sind sie das Essen? Nein, wir sind die Jäger!"note And then, in the middle of the verses, the dramatically screamed "JÄGER!" You can find video of the English cast singing it together at a convention, and it's the only word they know.
- The opening theme of Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood is definitely subject to this, as the most prominent words from that theme seem to be "SONO CHI NO SADAME, JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOJO!"
- According to Eddie Izzard, the United States National Anthem is this to most Americans.
- "FIIIIIIIVE GO-OOOOOOOOLD RIIIIIIIIINGS!"
- "It's because we're human. We only like to learn a little bit of a song. I mean, above that, the words could be anything — but then they hear that bit, and people go berserk at that point. You have people running in from other rooms. FIVE GOLD RINGS!!!"
- "FIIIIIIIVE GO-OOOOOOOOLD RIIIIIIIIINGS!"
- British comedian Bill Bailey has a minor sketch based around “La Bamba” where it is described as a "Karaoke black hole".
- Sinbad pointed this in one stand-up show where he used "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty By Nature (the one where the chorus involves chanting "Hey! Ho!" and waving your arms) as a sort of theme song. At one point when the song is playing, he stops to remark "Y'all don't know the other words, do you? It's like, 'Ma-namanamanamana (hereitcomes) HEY! HO!'"
- Michael McIntyre on “Fairytale of New York”:
"The first line is 'it was Christmas Eve, babe', but from that point on... I'm not sure that the man who first sang it is entirely au fait with the words himself."
- In the Discworld tale Gap Year Adventures, by A.A. Pessimal, a song from faraway Howondaland briefly grips the imagination of Ankh-Morpork and is performed in music halls. As it is not in Morporkian, people guess at the meaning of the words. The repetition of a phrase in the language spoken in Howondaland must be important. Morporkians speculate on why this bloke called Marcus Fontayne is so important. Others say no, you've got it wrong, it's a woman. Margot Fontayne. You know, the ballerina at the Opera House. The fact it's a placename with special significance — Magersfontein — is not realised by people who don't quite get the cultural reference, and in any case were on the losing side in a long-ago war. Characters called Boris Kriger (boereskryger = farmer-fighter) and Stan Your Man (staan jou maan, "face your foe") and his mate Stan Fast (staan vas! = Stand firm!) also come into the song. note The girl responsible for popularising the song in Ankh-Morpork is duly mortified with embarrasment.
- The grasshoppers from A Bug's Life don't know the lyrics to "La Cucaracha" aside from the title phrase.
- The animated adaptation of Horton Hatches the Egg:
Horton: [singing] Hut-Sut Rawlson on the Rillerah, and so on and so forth...
- Miles Morales of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse doesn't know most of the lyrics to Post Malone & Swae Lee's "Sunflower" beyond "...nevertheless, callin' it quits now, baby, I'm a wreck," faking his way through the rest when he sings it.
- John Candy and his two companions attempt to sing "Born in the USA" and "Oklahoma" in the Michael Moore comedy Canadian Bacon, but the only words they know are the titles.
- In Tommy Boy, the two protagonists hear the second verse of the Trope Namer, and just mumble along to any words past "Six o'clock, T.V. hour".
- There's a scene in The Blue Lagoon where the marooned Richard and Emmeline are celebrating Christmas and try to sing carols, but they've been on the island too long and have forgotten most of them. Each one they try they get through the first line or two, then peter out. Eventually they just giggle awkwardly and give up.
- In Dave Barry Slept Here, the lyrics of the supposed hit song are presented as follows:
Britannica dum de dum.
Dum dum, da de dum dum
Da DEE dum DUM!
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has this in-universe - the official anthem of the City of Ankh-Morpork has a first verse and a chorus, but the second verse...
We bankrupt all invaders, we sell them souvenirs
We ner ner ner ner ner, hner ner hner by the ears
Er hner we ner ner ner ner ner
Er ner ner hner ner, nher hner ner ner (etc.)
Ner hner ner, your gleaming swords, we mortgaged to the hilt!
We can rule you wholesale!
Credit where it's due!
- And those are the official lyrics, based on the logic that nobody remembers the second verse of a national anthem anyway, remembering only the first line and the end (which is sung very loudly to compensate).
- From The Inimitable Jeeves, by P. G. Wodehouse:
I take it you know that Orange number at the Palace? It goes:Oh, won't you something something oranges,
My something oranges,
My something oranges,
Oh, won't you something something something I forget,
Something something something tumty tumty yet,
Oh,or words to that effect. It's a dashed clever lyric ...
- Saturday Night Live:
- One skit has a fake commercial for J-Disc Presents: Ten Beatles Classics You Kind of Know the Words To. Sung by the Kind of Know the Words To Singers.
- The lyrics of "Smooth Criminal" are difficult to understand other than "You've been hit by, you've been struck by..." SNL points this out in a sketch with Bruno Mars where his character works at Pandora Radio and has to impersonate various singers when their stations crash. While singing "Smooth Criminal" for the Michael Jackson station he just sings gibberish.
- A Christmas show sketch took place at a dinner for members of a lodge. The emcee led the crowd in Christmas carols, only for everyone to start mumbling after the well-known first line. When they tried The First Noel, they started with the chorus ("Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel...."), but the only person who knew the next words ("Born is the King of Israel") was Mickey (Elliott Gould), their Jewish guest .
- The Eddie Murphy skit "Buckwheat Sings" - or rather, "Buh-weet Sings". He sings "Three Times a Lady", which the captions identify as "Fee Tines a Mady", then "Lookin' for Love" ("Wookin' pa Nub"). But when he starts singing "Bette Davis Eyes," the caption just says, "?????" because he's so unintelligible.
- Another fake commercial for an album by "The Drunken Asses" features episode host Tom Hanks leading a group of intoxicated people in a bar who can only remember parts of the choruses of popular songs, mumbling their way through the verses.
- British music quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks had a round where the panel tries to sing along to a song with hard-to-follow lyrics, and the panellists mostly get it wrong. For "Smells Like Teen Spirit”, they guessed "Here we are now, eat potatoes”.
- In 3rd Rock from the Sun, the first verse of their mission song is:
Across the void we come a warping
across the fields of stars we... soar!
We pledge to land and... something something
Dum da da da dum da da da SPACESHIP!
- One of Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night Hashtags" bits was all about misheard lyrics, so it contains more than a dozen examples.
- Jimmy again, this time on The Tonight Show:
"I just heard that Despacito became the most streamed song online. It's also the most popular song where people just sing one word and mumble the rest."
- Jimmy again, this time on The Tonight Show:
- Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) playing Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" on the piano in an episode of Two and a Half Men, trying to sing along. He doesn't remember much between "Harry Truman" and "Marilyn Monroe."
- In The Office (US), Dwight and Michael mumble through a verse of "We Didn't Start the Fire" (or really "Ryan Started the Fire") until they can shout "Marilyn Monroe". The trope is subverted when Dwight demonstrates in a later confessional that he can deliver the lyrics perfectly. (Or else he looked them up and rehearsed before going on camera.)
- A Mr. Bean sketch has Mr. Bean attending a church service, but when the time comes to sing the hymn "All Creatures of our God and King", the man next to Mr. Bean refuses to share his hymnal (due to Mr. Bean's earlier off-putting antics). Mr. Bean is left mumbling all the words along with the general tune until it gets to the one word he knows and shouts triumphantly: "ALLELUIA!" The rest of the first verse has him alternating between mumbling and "ALLELUIA!"
- Brazilian group Casseta & Planeta did a commercial for "Songs For People Who Don't Know the Lyrics". Along with Brazilian songs (including the national anthem, which the national soccer squad had a tradition of badly mouthing along or not at all), there is Elvis Costello's "She":
- When singer Olga de Souza, of Eurodance project Corona, went to a talk show in her native Brazil, the hosts made sure to show the network employees trying to sing along to the band's hit "The Rhythm of the Night".
- In "Look Before You Leap" Frasier is set to perform a solo at a PBS telethon. At the last second he backs out of performing a "challenging aria" from Rigoletto and decides to do his traditional performance of "Buttons and Bows" from Paleface. The problem is, he hasn't rehearsed "Buttons and Bows" at all and once he starts singing he discovers he can't remember most of the lyrics forcing him to improv to fill the gaps.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Return's Christmas Episode The Christmas That Almost Wasn't Jonah starts the one Christmas carol nobody knows: Good King Wenceslas.
Johna: Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of StephenServo: And the... Christmas guys... did shout...Crow: ...at the... Justin Bieber.
- In the 70s series We'll Get By, the family is singing around a campfire, but they do not really know any songs, and sing "Na na na na nanana, The Wabash Cannonball", over and over.
- After saving Greendale College from being bought out and and plowed under by unscrupulous sandwich-makers, the lovable misfits of Community have a wild Dance Party Ending scored to The Dave Matthews Band's "Ants Marching" to celebrate. What's funny that no one seems to actually know the words to that happy little tune; they just whoop and mumble rhythmically as they go along.
- "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. is the partial Trope Namer; the phrase "Leonard Bernstein" is easily the most decipherable lyric in the song, though the chorus and opening verse are at least relatively understandable. This is actually one of several such examples by this band, with another notable (and more extreme) instance being "Radio Free Europe," in which the words of the title phrase are the only clearly articulated ones.
- They Might Be Giants were asked to cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on a radio show (listen here). It's even harder to understand than the original because John Flansburgh tries to sing it despite not knowing a single word of the song.
- The infamous cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Most people think can only pick the title out of "She was blinded by the light, revved up like a Deuce, another runner in the night" due to the enunciation of many of the lyrics. The original lyric is "Cut loose like a deuce." Apparently, Mann couldn't figure out the lyrics to the song he was covering, in a cross between this trope and Adaptation Decay. It doesn't help that lead singer Chris Hamlet Thompson has a lisp, resulting in the way he sings "deuce" making it sound like "douche". Canadian comedy troupe The Vacant Lot had a sketch about just this situation, including that same misheard lyric.
- Australian singer James Reyne is notorious for his indecipherable strine accent, often rendering the lyrics of his songs completely unintelligible. He was regularly parodied in Australian media for this, to such an extent that his old band Australian Crawl is still widely known as Australian Drawl. Classic examples include the Australian Crawl songs "Errol" and "Things Don't Seem", as well as his first solo single, "Fall of Rome".
- According to Word of God, the song Aserejé by Las Ketchup invokes this on purpose; the chorus is the main character muttering a song he likes, but whose lyrics he doesn't know.
Aserejé, ja deje dejebe tudejebe de sebiunouva majabi an de bugui an de buididipínote
- The John Denver song "Late Night Radio" discusses this:
"Falala" I sing along
'Cos you never know the words,
"Falala la-la-la-la" O-oo-oh.
- The Swedish folk song parody "The Ballad of One-Eyed Elin" pulls a similar trick to the Discworld example above by consisting entirely of hummed lines with the occasional remembered word hinting that the "real" song is extremely Gorny.
Hmmm-da-aye-da grave deerum desecrate-aye
Rie-da white bones in a die-da-dee-die
Doy-rum-doy-rum skull, tra-la-la
Crawling little maggots, whooopsie-da
Hmmmm who rests in unhallowed ground...
- When Chicago recorded their cover of The Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man" for their first album in 1969, keyboardist Robert Lamm admitted that "we mangled the lyrics unbelievably."
- As mentioned above, most people only know a few words from the verses of "We Didn't Start the Fire," usually including "Marilyn Monroe."
- The verses of "Witches" by Good Kid. "???, grew up in the suburbs ???! Now just take a look at this ?????, a bit to the right!"note The band even made a video of them playing the song for random people on the street and having them guess the lyrics.
- ESPN.com's Bill Simmons did a running diary of WrestleMania XXVI and demonstrated why rapping and wrestling don't mix.
0:01: For our first match, tag-team championship belts are on the line: R-Truth (a rapper/wrestler) and John Morrison (an entertaining Jim Morrison ripoff) challenging the champs, the Big Show and The Miz (carrying two belts apiece, for some reason). R-Truth came out prancing and singing his hit song, "What's Up?" The lyrics go like this: "Shshshn cnbcnsbdb fhdehsh fhdhs dhdhan dbdjdndjd dbdbdbdbdb shshsnhs ffrhdhhjs xbcxbbffgfhhj WHAT'S UP? WHAT'S UP? WHAT'S UP? WHAT'S UP?" I don't think he wrote that one with Burt Bacharach and Carly Simon.
- Here is the potentially hard to decipher first verse from Hillbilly Jim's theme "Don't Go Messin' With a Country Boy":
"when I was a little boy baby, I cut my teeth on a big ol' tree
Mama filled my bottle from a moonshine still
my first meal was the bass he killed
bass he killed the bass he killed
my first meal was the bass he killed"
- When The Macarena was used in Pick Up Song in the British radio show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Tim gave up completely on the Spanish parts and started singing "It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it, Hey Macarena!"
- Tony Hawk had to perform “Gangnam Style” for the Pick-Up Song game. He spent most of it ranting vaguely Korean-sounding gibberish apart from "Oppa Gangnam Style". Jack Dee commented after the song that Tony had performed "the lyrics we know so well".
- If you hear Hoagy Carmichael's "The Monkey Song" and don't understand most of the lyrics, you're hardly alone. This was demonstrated on The Stan Freberg Show.
- The D-Generation on The Satanic Sketches album:
Let's all be upstanding for the Australian national anthem.
(tinkly piano starts)
Australians all, let us rejoice
For something something free,
With golden soil, and... chocolate royals?
Our home is dum dee dee.
We're something something... Girt by sea!
We're something something... shore!
So let's refrain from... something strain?
Advance Australia... GIRT!
- GOLD RUSH from beatmania IIDX 14: GOLD. Thanks in part to the fact that the lyrics are entirely in English but sung with a thick Japanese accent, about the only two discernable phrases are "Make it! Make money!" and "TWO DEE ECKS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!!!" The remix used in pop'n music also adds "SENGOKU RETSUDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!" to the list.
- Black Onslaught from BlazBlue is sung in a muffled death growl and goes roughly "barghlegarghlebla WHAT A BIG BIG MISTAKE". A new version was recorded for the L.A. Vocal Edition album without the death growl, while the remastered version from Chronophantasma keeps the death growl but is still much more intelligible than the original.
- Aaron G., who frequently does vocals for Naoki's songs in DanceDanceRevolution, has a talent for really fast rapping. The lyrics to Dynamite Rave scroll quite fast on DDR 3rd Mix's karaoke lyrics, and later games removed the lyrics display altogether, so for most people singing along, the rap section's lyrics might as well be "Techno rave, mumblemumblemumble mumblemumblemumble mumblemumblemumble... DYNAMITE RAVE mumblemumblemumble..." It helps that the Title Drop is in all caps in the official lyrics.
- This comes up in The Fairly OddParents: Breakin' da Rules, when Timmy faces the Disco Dan character Gilded Arches. If you come across his goons, Cosmo will attempts to sing the chorus of "Tragedy" by The Bee Gees, very quickly devolving into gibberish after the Title Drop.
- Final Fantasy:
- Sephiroth's leitmotif from Final Fantasy VII. Something indecipherable, probably Latin, something something something SEPHIROTH!
- The final raid of Alexander in Final Fantasy XIV has "Rise", a background song that has been described as "SONIC BOOM completely incomprehensible but enjoyable rap", and has since spawned numerous videos featuring the song with mondegreen lyrics by players. There are some other phrases, such as "A to the L to the E X ANDER" and "Rise with me, rise with me, rise with me, rise up!", but since the official lyrics have not been released the only words that every player can truly agree on is "SONIC BOOM". Even with the official lyrics being released to the public, the singer sings the lyrics way too fast to keep up even with the words in front of you.
- One of the ghosts in Osohe Castle in Mother 3 sings his own version of the song that the ghost at the piano is playing, admitting that, while he likes the song, he doesn't quite have the lyrics down.
- Persona: Tracks with lyrics in this series are often very difficult to interpret due to swapping between English and Japanese, sometimes mid-sentence.
- Persona 3:
- The main battle theme, "Mass Destruction" has rapping. Fast rapping. Other songs in the game sung in English by Japanese people, like the opening theme song "Burn my Dread" are an example of this too, but not as bad as this:
- Persona 4:
- It's almost impossible to make out any of the lyrics of "Reach Out to the Truth" other than "I face out, I hold out, I reach out to the truth of my life" and "can you let me out, can you let me out, can you set me free from this dernernerIdunnotherest".note It's also frequently heard as "All the LESBIANS, oh yeah LESBIANS, can you SET ME FREE" and then descends into glarble territory.
- The theme of the Hub Level, "Backside of the TV" is fairly incomprehensible without looking up the lyrics, aside from "Duhduhnana, duhduhnana, FEEL NO PAIN"note from the intro, and "Somethingwhatever, cantunderstand, WHATCHU GONNA DO" in the rapping segment.
- Persona 5: As usual, Shoji Meguro's themes are in English, despite Meguro not being entirely fluent, and sung by a non-English speaker, resulting in hard to make out lyrics. Special mention goes to "Last Surprise", the normal battle theme, because you're going to hear it a lot.
Dadadadedoo, hold up, dadaden, dodado, bajubadden ba, beshuwegataku howba, hereswego, doncha know, rollmaeye, hardewye, and as I look to the horizon, na ta gow bala stormy weathers go to the cold, dananaeekup out of nowhere, awh na na nana not what wha to photo, YOU'LL NEVER SEE IT COMIIIIINGnote
- Persona 3:
- The theme of The Neverhood does have lyrics. It just so happens that all the lyrics aside from proper nouns are mumbled (and in the case of the final verse, too fast to hear).
- H.Bomberguy's version of Mad World in his Doomfist In-Depth Analysis'' video involves him mumbling about half of the lyrics.
- Super Best Friends Play: In Part 7 of the Twilight Princess LP, Woolie attempts to sing the Grenadan national anthem based solely on what he could recall from his childhood. Although he's amazed that he remembered it as well as he did, it starts to fall apart around the second verse.
Soooooome-thing with God,
Something faith and courage,
Blah blah, blah blah blah.
- Todd in the Shadows:
Every Flo Rida song is basically just gibberish 'til the chorus anyway. Nobody cares! "Bah bah bur rur, Leonard Bernstein...." Whatever!
- From his review of Flo Rida's "Club Can't Handle Me":
- When discussing R.E.M. in the "Top Ten Songs About Mediocre Romance" list, Todd uses the Trope Namer to show how Michael Stipe's fast singing make them hard to understand and sing along. (he also claims Stipe's slurring delivery can be blamed, at least in the first albums)
- Also provides the page quote when discussing Snow's "Informer"
- The Rap Critic calls this on Mystikal (even comparing him to Yosemite Sam), saying the only line he understood was "I came in here with my dick in my hand!".
- Desert Bus for Hope has turned not knowing the other words to Toto's "Africa" except the title word into their own meme.
- ProJared does a retrospective on the original Carmen Sandiego game. He discusses the game show adaptation and praises its fantastic Theme Tune. He enthusiastically sings along to the Title Drop, then awkwardly doesn't know the rest.
...We got a pretty good game show out of it, with one of the coolest songs, with some of the most unforgettable lyrics. Do it, Rockapella! Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? [fidgets, continues to mumble the melody]
- A "foreign song" variant in the ProZD video "when you know only the random English parts in a non-English song" where SungWon listens to "Snow Halation" and just stares blankly at the screen until it gets to the Title Drop, which he belts out proudly. In a sequel video, he listens to the Haikyuu!! season two theme song, but only sings along to the "Aw yeah!" parts.
- An Easter Egg at the end of the Strongbad Email episode "Montage" shows Homestar trying to recreate the climax of The Karate Kid, albeit by himself in an empty gym, and having to sing "You're the Best" himself.
Homestar: "I'm the best around!
Sombadubba sombadubba, take me down!
I'm the best around!
Dubba dubba dubbado, take me down!"
- The Fairly OddParents! has Cosmo sing “La Cucaracha” as “La cucaracha, la cucaracha! Enchilada blah blah blah!”
- Family Guy:
- One of the show's cutaways claims that you can understand only the last three words from any of Sting's songs, using "Fields of Gold" as an example.
- Men at Work's most famous song, "Down Under", is parodied.
Peter: I COME FROM THE LAND DOWN UNDER.
SHVINGA SCHWER SHVINGA DINGA HUMBA. ("Where women glow and men plunder"note )
KIPPA LOOP DIPPA DOPP DA DOOPA. ("Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?")
LOOK AT ME WITH A BRAND NEW HYUNDAI. ("You'd better run, you'd better take cover")
- Peter does the exact same thing as the Trope Namer. It Makes Sense in Context since he had a stroke on the left side of his body and might be able to sing it normally if he wasn't in such a condition.
- In the episode "Killer Queen", Lois notes that Peter isn't very good at patter songs. This claim is backed up with two cutaways, one of Peter singing "America" from West Side Story with him mumbling everything but "America", and the other cutaway is of Peter singing the Major General Song from The Pirates of Penzance.
Peter: I am the (incoherent mumbling) Major General,
(more incoherent mumbling) mineral,
(even more incoherent mumbling) -torical,
(some more incoherent mumbling) with the eggs on top!
- Peter doesn't have much luck with "We Didn't Start the Fire," either, but then again, Billy Joel himself can't remember the lyrics to that one.
- This is done deliberately in the Expository Theme Tune of Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness:
He lives and he trains and he fights with the Furious Five
Protects the valley something something something something alive
KUNG FU PANDA!
- The Simpsons: In "Little Girl in the Big Ten", Homer struggles to sing "Tubthumping" by Chumbawamba.
Homer: I get knocked down, I get knocked down again! You're never gonna bring me down!
I take a whiskey drink, I take a chocolate drink, and when I have to pee, I use the kitchen sink! I sing the song that reminds me of a urinating guy!
- In one episode of Freakazoid!, the villains are all being transported on a plane and try to have a singalong to "Polly Wolly Doodle", but they only know the first line and the repeated refrain:
Oh I went down South for to see my Sal, singing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day... [uncertain mumbling] ... singing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day!
- The Trope Namer as covered by Canadian folk band Great Big Sea is, believe it or not, even worse for the confusion; the speed is upped about 30% and a number of additional instrumental tracks (like the fiddle) are added. And it's so much fun! In this version, the one line that stands out is "and I Decline!"
- More or less lampshaded in the music video, as main vocalist Alan Doyle can be seen pausing halfway through the second chorus (though the music is not interrupted) with a "What the hell are the lyrics" expression.
- Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Homer the Moe", where R.E.M. makes a guest appearance (already without Bill Berry at the time) and Homer further mondegreens their song:
Leonid whats-his-name, Herman Munster Motorcade
Birthday party, Cheetos, pogo sticks and lemonade
You symbiotic stupid jerk, that's right, Flanders, I'm talking about you!
- It gets better: R.E.M. — the folks who wrote the song — don't know the lyrics, either. Singer Michael Stipe admitted this during the band's MTV Unplugged performance, explaining later that he had to go to fan boards to look up his own lyrics:
Michael: (holding up printout) We had to get the words from a computer...and I'm not sure they're right. But we're gonna give it a go...
- Great Big Sea, mentioned above, also produced the following version of the traditional Scottish folk song "Mari-mac", already a tongue-twister; until you actually read the words it sounds like "Marimacmorramarrymemarrymorresmakingmemarrymarimac, wellimgonnamarrymariformewennamarrytakingcarrime; weelallbeferrinmerrywerrymarrymarimac!" ...and that's just the chorus. Add in the violins, the group singers, the yelling and the fact that they perform accelerando, and the whole thingjustpilesupanfallsonyurheadmoreaspirinpleasevicar.
- "Battery", by Metallica. "Da da da da da da du du da da da da, dadadada BAT-TA-RAY!"note
- "GIMME FUE, GIMME FAI, GIMME DABAJABAZA!" note
- Led Zeppelin's "Carouselambra" is so instrument heavy that it's difficult to understand Robert Plant at any point in the song, save for his recurring wails and "but guard the seed" (he even complained that the vocals were mixed too low). It doesn't help that the whole thing is made of Word Salad Lyrics.
- "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana - Most people can only pick out "here we are now" and something about "stupid and contagious" (and maybe the endless repetitions of "hello”). Despite the lyrics being quite clear on the verses, no one seems to know them. The "Weird Al" Yankovic parody, "Smells Like Nirvana", lampshades and notes this by having a section where Weird Al deliberately mumbles garbage while on the video subtitles go from translating it into actual words to translating it to "bargle nawdle zouss" before finally descending into "???". Then he continues with "with all these marbles in my mouth"... spitting out said marbles.
Sing distinctly? We don't wanna!Buy our album! We're Nirvana!Well I'm yelling, and we're playing,But I don't know what I'm saying!
- "Counting Stars" by OneRepublic - "Baby blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah we'll be counting stars"
- "TAKE THAT MONEY, WATCH IT BURN, DININININA THE LESSONS ARE LEARNED"note
- "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen: The fact that no one could understand anything except "Louie louiiie" launched a Congressional investigation into the possibility of dirty lyrics. Eleven hundred pages later the committee concluded that they didn't know whether there were any harmful effects to "Louie, Louie" or not because they couldn't understand the words. The general assumption that the slurred lyrics were something dirty inspired a number of covers, including Iggy Pop's downright profane version.
- Which makes the fact that it almost wound up the state anthem for Washington State even more hilarious. Ask some state residents and you'll find more than a few who think it really is the official anthem, rather than the fan preferred version.
- "Louie Louie" is famous for this, and is often picked on for it by Dave Barry. There was also a commercial in the late '90s which featured the song and scrolled nonsensical gibberish in place of actual lyrics to parody how difficult it was to understand the song.
- Animal House also lampshades the difficulties when Bluto teaches the freshmen frat members a more obscene version of the song. To their credit, though, the soundtrack actually has a well-sung — even comprehensible! — version sung by none other than Mr. Belushi himself!
- Lampshaded in Down Periscope, where the song is chosen as perfect for helping the submarine crew pass themselves off as a boat full of drunk fishermen, because nobody knows the lyrics anyways.
- The sad part is, the original recording of the song as performed by the composer, Richard Berry, is perfectly understandable and a terrific rendition... but nobody cares, because the Kingsmen's incoherent cover got more press.
- Bonus hilarity: on the Kingsmen recording, about a minute in, you can clearly hear the drummer dropping an F-bomb. The investigators never picked up on that one!
- "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam - "Oooooeeeeeeyeeeeeahahhhhhh... da da da da da da something concrete".note And most of their other songs, but this one gets made fun of the most once people realize they don't know it.
- Adam Sandler's impression of Eddie Vedder on Saturday Night Live usually consisted of gibberish set to the tune of "Even Flow".
- Most would contend that "Yellow Ledbetter" is the more quintessential garbled Pearl Jam (not that there is a dearth of selection, mind you) as illustrated by this slice of hilarity
- Unsurprising, as Eddie Vedder was making up the words as he went along on the recording.
- "Go", aside from the chorus, makes "Even Flow" sound totally understandable in comparison - "Wamsbesamsubaeoh, naybeedesham, movenososwifly, wessubsheson, apubegodosubahem, should've pulled the alarm!". Uhh...what?
- Megadeth's cover of "Anarchy in the UK" is infamous for having plenty of errors on the lyrics, because Dave Mustaine couldn't understand what the hell Johnny Rotten was singing at some points. Because of this, he even threw in profanity where there wasn't any before ("And other cunt-like tendencies" instead of "Another council tenancy").
- The "I thought it was the USA", though, is deliberate, rather obviously.
- In the "foreign song with lone English word" category is the Mai Ha Hi song, officially Dragostea Din Tei aka Numa Numa. The alternate names come from basically the only foreign words people can make sense of. If you speak English and you haven't memorized one of the many Misheard Lyrics videos like these, singing along will go something like "Mai Ha hi, Mai Ha ha, Hello, Salut, mbmmblmblmbmlfmblfml Picassooooo". In Japanese, Numa Numa sounds like Noma Noma meaning "Drink! Drink!" so it became popular as a drinking song. Considering how much alcohol that implies, remembering the lyrics is going to pale next to the problem of remembering your own name.
- Brazil has a weird twist on this song, since the garbled lyrics might be mixed with a raunchy Portuguese version which became popular (sometimes phonetical: "verchyra" became "orgy").
- Ameliorated (somewhat) by the fact that the same group also produced an English version of the song, although it's still no miracle of clarity. Possibly justified by the singers' fairly heavy accents.
- Snow's "Informer". "Informer, something something something something something, a licky boom boom down..." Let's just put it this way: MTV ran it with subtitles.
- Jim Carrey sang a parody/cover back when he was "the white guy on In Living Color!" called "Imposter", which at one point lampshades Snow's performance by singing in a garbled Popeye voice.
- The style Snow was using, dancehall complete with a Jamaican-esque accent, also causes problems with other artists using that same style. If someone claims they know the lyrics of a Sean Paul song just from listening? Odds are they're lying. "We be burning... da da da da."
- "Technical Difficulties" by Julien-K, from the first live-action Transformers movie. "We are/ something technical/ something" a few times, and then "Nothing is working, please stand by." The rest of the song is lost not in fast delivery, but electronic distortion and very little contrast.
- And to some, Kick the Bass by the same group is worse - "Great song, and I only know the first line." It's apparently about girls and parties, but good luck figuring that out with the mushy audio and the lyrics not fitting in with the overall feel of the song.
- The first first Transformers movie had an entire soundtrack full of this. "Instruments of Destruction" and "Nothing's Gonna Stand In Our Way" are particularly notorious.
- "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals; if the high falsetto alone didn't make it near impossible to sing along to, there's also the fact that the only bit you'll get is part of the chorus: "She drives me crazy and I can't help myself."
- The cover of Traffic's "Feelin' Alright" by Joe Cocker. Can't understand anything but "Feelin' Alright, not feelin' that good myself..."
- The 2020 group remake of the song by Traffic's Dave Mason also lapses into this in the third verse, with it being sung by Michael McDonald.
- "Telephone Call From Istanbul", along with many other Tom Waits songs.
UHMUNGAYRODAPLEEDONNAOVAHAYDFEHEHPEDDADONKEHWIDHEY I GOT A TELEPHONE CALL FROM ISTANBUL
- It's easier to make lyrics out when they make some kind of sense, which (along with Tom Waits' voice, which sounds like he's been gargling a mixture of whiskey and gravel) is why a lot of his songs are so mystifying. For the record, the actual lyrics quoted above are "The monkey rode a blade on the overhead fan, they paint the donkey blue if you pay."
- The infamous cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Most people think can only pick the title out of "She was blinded by the light, revved up like a Deuce, another runner in the night" due to the enunciation of many of the lyrics.
- Made even more irritating by the fact that the original lyric is "Cut loose like a deuce." Apparently Mann couldn't figure out the lyrics to the song he was covering, in a cross between this trope and Adaptation Decay.
- It doesn't help that the way lead singer Chris Hamlet Thompson sings "deuce" makes it sound like "douche".
- Canadian comedy troupe The Vacant Lot had a sketch about just this situation, including that same misheard lyric.
- The song "Valerie" by Steve Winwood. A combination of a lot of treble in the mix and a high-pitched male vocal in the original song tends to result in soprano gargling in the verses, and a chorus which can approximated thus: imaeer... onauuhhon... val-er-IEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE...callme...val-er-IEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... callme... cumandCEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... imsemohboyteusetapeer.
- Notably, the Eric Prydz song "Call on Me", which sampled the chorus of "Valerie", inadvertently lampshaded this trope — in that Prydz sampled the lyric "Call on Me" as pretty much the only lyric that was understandable from the original song. And even that isn't recognized perfectly: see the "Colony" fad on YTMND.
- "Auld Lang Syne" is a difficult one because the original poem was in Scots which made it too hard for the Sassenach to ken its meaning apart from the first line "Should auld acquaintance be forgot...". So then people tried to make English versions but more than one were made so nobody knew the same version and since the only time you sing it is when you're drunk at 00:01 on New Year's Day, in a large crowd of people who all have different versions with the only guy who really knows it being that one really keen Scottish guy, you never actually learn any of those version and just stick to "ouagh aaugh AAAUGH Aaughu AAUUGH AAUGH".
Get ready to hum "Auld Lang Syne",'Cause a person that knows the words is hard to find.
- Lampshaded by Will Smith in the turn-of-the-millennium anthem "Willennium".
- Though, on that note, O Flower of Scotland usually receives the same fate at rugby matches: "OH FLOWER OF SCOTLAND RAWR RAWR RAWR RAWR~ RAWR RAWR RAWR RAWR~!"
- Unlike the others, this is often a result of the so-called "Tourettes" sections, which get inserted into the breaks. Example: "..And stood against him/('GAINST WHO?)/Proud Edwards Army/(BASTARDS!)/And sent them homewards/(FUCK OFF!)/To think again"
- There's also a middle verse that never gets sung because few people know it even exists, let alone the words to it.
- As neatly demonstrated by The Office (US) chorus of "Stayin' Alive", by The Bee Gees. "muttermuttermuttermuttermuttermuttermuttermutter STAYIN' ALIVE! STAYIN' ALIVE!" (though there they also bungle the last line before the chorus) The falsetto doesn't help either.
- Non-Spanish speakers sing the opening line of "La Bamba" as just "a-la-la-la la bamba" or "Bala bala ba La Bamba" rather than "Para bailar la bamba." "Weird Al" Yankovic didn't help there.
- And an oldie along the same lines: Does anyone know more of the lyrics to "La Cucaracha" than simply the title phrase?
- Kids probably know the lyrics in The Fairly OddParents!
"La cucaracha, la cucaracha! Enchilada blah blah blah!"
- The grasshoppers in A Bug's Life don't know them either.
La cucaracha, la cucaracha, dunnanunnanunnanuh!
- Being a traditional song, it has several versions that differ from the 4th line onward:
1: La cucaracha, la cucaracha - The cockroach, the cockroach2: ya no puede caminar - cannot walk anymore3: porque no tiene, porque le falta - because it doesn't have, because it's lacking4a: la patita principal. - its main leg.4b: las dos patitas de atrás. - its two back legs.4c: una patita para caminar - a leg to walk with.
- An English version of the song is featured in one of the Jumpstart games.
Then one day the cook was bakingWondered he, 'what is she making'?For it looked so appetizingWith the batter slowly risingTo the edge he started skippingThen he found that he was slippingIn the pie so hot and blazin'Now he's just another raisin.
- Kids probably know the lyrics in The Fairly OddParents!
- Raise your hand if you ever figured out the rest of the lyrics besides "MMMBop". Didn't think so. The chorus is fair enough, as that consists entirely of scatting, but the verses aren't much easier to understand ("something, something, gone so fast"?)
- Lampshaded on VH1's I Love the 90s by the aggravated Hanson brothers: "MMMbop/ Ba du ba dop/ Ba du bop/ Ba du ba dop/ Ba du bop/ Ba du ba dop/ ba du." "It's really not that hard."
- Richard Thompson's website Q&A has arguably the funniest invocation of this. The poor man can be forgiven; the song's in Renaissance Italian.
- The theme song to The Big Bang Theory by Barenaked Ladies is centred around a sped-up description of... everything, so it's hard to catch all but the beginning and the end, leading to "Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, and nearly 14 million years ago—mumblemumblemumble, the year began in something something, something something something, something something something we built a wall, WE BUILT THE PYRAMIDS! Math, Science, History, something something mystery, and it all started with a big bang, BANG!" That line is also sung as a gang vocal, so even though anyone who's watched the show since the beginning should have been able to pick up all the lyrics by now, most viewers will still only sing along with that part, and the "BANG!" at the end.
- The part after the "PYRAMIDS" line is actually "unraveling the mystery" and does get easier to understand after a while.
- That's not nearly as bad as "One Week" by the same band: "It's been one week...sorry...tiny nuts...Harrison Ford...one week..." Most people (well, non-fans) remember it as the 'Chickety China, the Chinese Chicken' song.
- And once again "Weird Al" Yankovic steps in. Is it any wonder that his alternate lyrics so often end up eclipsing the original words to songs nobody can decipher/remember? After all, he has to enunciate or the jokes would fall flat. "The Saga Begins" has the same effect, but because the Filk Song lyrics make more sense than Don McLean's original in a different sort of way. (McLean himself declared his children listened to the song so much that he at times almost sings Al's lyrics in performances of "American Pie")
- Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll". People tend to get as far as "Cigarette holder" and then go quiet until "my satin doll."
- "Nothin' to Lose" by Josh Gracin. It's hard to get anything but "Oh yeah, by the way she moves" in the chorus, or anything in the verses ("It was noon time, down time, break time, Summertime, Miller Time, anytime, she was looking pretty fine…"). It at least draws the notes out more on the bridge.
- "Favorite State of Mind" is almost as bad in that regard, especially on the chorus ("Hawaii's got big breaks; Michigan, Great Lakes; Colorado snowflakes, Georgia peaches / Louisiana hot food, New York attitude, Florida beaches / Tennessee whiskey; Baby, are you with me? / Texas chili, Virginia pine…") Not surprisingly, both songs have the same writer.
- "I Want You" by Savage Garden comes close, since the words go fast, you can barely comprehend them, all except for the last few words of every line, one of which is "Chik-a-cherry cola" (not "chicken cherry cola"), which is sometimes a nickname for the song used by people who don't know the real name of the song. Rosie O'Donnell went to town with this one on her talk show. Then the single really took off.
- Andrew Eldritch of "The Sisters of Mercy", especially on pre-FLAA material. He's another one who likes to use a good bit of reverb as well. Lyrics to Adrenochrome anyone?
- Covers of note include the equally undecipherable "Louie Louie", and most recently, to prove that he can still do it 30+ years in, "Police Car" of which "I'm a police car" are just about the only understandable lyrics.
- Buckethead's "We Are One" is nigh impossible to comprehend, thanks to guest vocalist Serj Tankian's rapid-fire lyrical delivery. The only clear part is "Do you know, that we are one..."; the rest sounds vaguely like scat singing punctuated by drum beats. And that's just the first part...
- It gets worse when you look up the lyrics and listen to the song and realize they only match SOMETIMES.
- Most people familiar with Neutral Milk Hotel can tell you that The King of Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three starts off with Jeff Mangum bellowing "IIIIIIII LOOOOOOOOVE YOOOOOOU JEEEEEEEESUSSSSSS CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIST," but... not that much past that point.
- Here's a site for deciphering Elton John's lyrics if you're stuck. "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit, you know, I read it in a magazine".
Hey, kids shake it loose— a lemonGotta make a featherYou're gonna heara handsome musicSo the walrus soundsSay, Penny's no longer in a cement jetOoh, but you're so laced downBuh, buh, buh, buh Bennie and the JetsOo, in the wind and the waterfallOh, baby, she's a revocaineShe's got electric boobsAnd mohair shoesYou know I read it in a magazi-ine!Oh, oh, buh, buh, buh Bennie and the Jets
- "you know a yaddayaddayaddayaddaeIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIaaaa oh....B-B-B-Bennie and the Jetssssssss....."
- From 27 Dresses:
- "you know a yaddayaddayaddayaddaeIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIaaaa oh....B-B-B-Bennie and the Jetssssssss....."
- The beginning of Nightwish's Fantasmic basically goes "Wish upon a star, nwlasfjdkcldnsfcnsal, take my ham, nwsdlkjncklcxfndskjl..."
"Wish! Upon, a star, believe in will, the realm of the king, of fantasy, the master of, the tale-like lore, the way to kingdom I adore, where the warrior's heart is pure, where the stories will come true", repeat.
Welcome to my bee, fsdakfnwkalfjewlksdlkfnckldsnflkwdhjlfkndslkfndskl succubi, lskdmlkafnkdlsnslkdnclglksdfnvclsdnflk BrundlebeeWell, yeah, that one's a wordgasm about the Disney Animated Canon sung in stereotypically unintelligible "I'm-a twenty-years-trained real-life opera-singer" (which Tarja has mentioned she wasn't fond of using so much; Tuomas insisted on it), so it also fits under Indecipherable Lyrics for two distinct reasons, and Word Salad Lyrics, which thus also makes it Troperrific, which fits.
- Oh, that's nothing. Wait till part 3.
- It's all over in older Nightwish songs, as Tarja's Finnish accent became progressively less pronounced with each album. Can anyone understand anything Tarja says the first time they listened? I thought not.
- "Did she just say 'happy haunting, you taco-faced carnie fork'?" For the curious, they're probably listening to "Romanticide"— the actual lyrics are, "Happy hunting, you double-faced carnivore."
- System of a Down's "IEAIAIO" was made for the sole reason of taking this trope to eleven, so as a result, the original REM song sounds really clear and articulate in comparison.
- "Fighting crime/with a partner/Lois Lane/Jimmy Carter"? The only easily intelligible word is the "WHY?!" at the end of each line.
- Probably their most famous example is the opening verse of "Chop Suey" which is pretty much made of this. While most of the song is fairly slow and easy to make out, the most that most people can get from the opening is "WAKE UP! DunnernunnernunnernunnerMAKE-UP! HusserfussermusserfusserSHAKE-UP! HajamajhajafajaTABLE! Heemamummaheemamumma(somethingthatrhymeswith)ABLE!" and then the whole thing again with "YOU WANTED TO" at the start of every line. (The actual lyrics are surprisingly easy- "Wake up/Grab a brush and put a little make-up/Hide the scars to fade away the shake-up/Why'd you leave the keys upon the table?/Here you go create another fable.")
- This happens with a LOT of System of a Down's music, actually, due to Serj's weird accent and Motor Mouth.
- Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come on Eileen". Aside from the title, the rest is largely unintelligible, as the backing vocals frequently overlap with the singer's words: "Come on Eileen, swear la la means, la la la means everything, pretty white dress, la la la la-ness, la la la la... toora loora toora loo-rye aye!"
- Maximum the Hormone's "Chu Chu Lovely Muni Muni Mura Mura". The title is the first four lines, followed by garbled (Japanese? Engrish?) words (Purin purin boron nururu rerorero/Pudding pudding boron drip-drip lick-lick) and "VINYL VINYL VINYL VINYL VINYL VINYL SEX!!" Remember to shout extra loud on 'sex'.
- Another good example from Maximum the Hormone: "What's Up People?" See if you can remember any of the words aside from "Hey Hey", something that sounds like "ravenga".
- The word is ningen, which is Japanese for human, but most people probably heard it as the N word.
- This is a rather interesting case since the only lyrics people think they understand are probably 'Hey, hey ningen sucker *Japanese gibberish* ningen fucker'. Turns out it's actually 'Hey, hey! Ningen sanka ai nige ningen fuan ka?' This was definitely an intentional mondegreen, and later on the words sucker and fucker actually ARE said when he's shouting near the end. The official subtitles just have it the other way to not violate FCC guidelines. Doesn't help that this song has been Gag Subbed by so many videos tho.
- Another nother good example from Maximum the Hormone, Zetsubou Billy - "Kira! Even a Kira! My name is Kira!..."
- Duran Duran's "Hold Back the Rain", being a mishmash of decent enunciation and indecipherable mushmouthery (and the lyrics don't make a lot of sense in the first place, further confounding efforts), is full of this. Like the end of the chorus: "Na da gerroh so help me, please... hold back the rain!"
- While much of Gucci Mane's I'm a Star is easy to decipher, the second verse absolutely murders any sense of lyrical comprehension. Good luck understanding anything without the assistance of subtitles.
- Blur's "Song 2" goes, "WOO-HOO!" The rest of the refrain consists of semi-distorted English-sounding rambles. The verses are slightly easier to understand, but it's not like anyone knows those anyway. Considering the refrain was used nigh-everywhere in adverts and the like, especially in America, it gets this treatment a lot.
- The irony is this song was written with the sole purpose of taking the piss out of grunge, and it ended up becoming an archetype for it.
- "Prisencolinensinainciusol," by Adriano Celentano - mostly because aside from a few Title Drops and the occasional "all right," "baby," and one carefully enunciated "girls," it's complete Word Puree Lyrics. He wanted to duplicate what English sounded like to native Italian speakers—i.e. nonsense.
- The song "Promise" by Kohmi Hirose probably became a meme due to this. "GET. DOWN. yumehsjsajsodnzkfewprgkqwodcsetsunaaaaai kimochi"
- "Rap is a Man's Soul". It's almost impossible to make sense out of the verses (even if you know the words). However, most of the people here know the chorus.
- "Libera Me (from Hell)" is worse, unless you're fluent in Latin.
- Song 10 by Zebrahead. Even worse that the band never put the lyrics in with the album, claiming the lyrics don't exist. The only words everyone can agree on are "YEAH! WESTSIDE!"
- The band tool is an interesting variant, in that whilst the words would be quite comprehensible on their own, they do not boost the volume of the vocalist as much as other bands do, leading to a more instrumental experience. For instance, in the song "Vicarious", "Vicarious" is about the only word anyone picks out of the song, though attempts to sing along end up with "Vicarious! mumble mumu-umble" ("Vicarious I live while the whole word dies"), for three reasons: 1) It's the title, 2) The singer near-shouts the word 3) it comes at an instrumental lull.
- Somethingaboutalienscomingdownandcalmingaguydownwithadrinkandanorangesliceandtellingme you are the chosen one. - "Rosetta Stoned"
- The pre-chorus of "Always" by Erasure, made famous from Robot Unicorn Attack seems to go "When it's cold outside, da da da da daaay, HOLD ON TO THE NIGHT, THERE WILL BE NO SHAME!" (It's actually "Am I here in vain?")
- Andy Bell's occasionally cryptic lyrics, high tessitura, and penchant for jamming words into awkward spaces make this sort of thing relatively commonplace in Erasure songs.
- Pere Ubu, a weird band to begin with, have a song call "Street Waves," in which the only comprehensible words are "I ride a street wave." As they don't ever release their lyrics, no one's even sure about this part.
- "Street Waves" aside, at least 95% of Pere Ubu's oeuvre is indecipherable due to David Thomas' squawking, blubbering vocal delivery and the band's bizarre, often esoteric lyrics.
We printed lyrics in 1982 because we couldn't think of anything to put on the back cover of Song of the Bailing Man. Then compact discs happened and it seemed you had to fill up those booklets. We allowed ourselves to become confused. We drifted with the herd. No more. To print lyrics is a Bad Thing.
- For added fun, track down a Pere Ubu record, try writing down what you hear, then go to their website and look up the lyrics. Compare results.
- Ubu started to include lyrics on their releases in The '80s, but stopped a few years later. Band leader David Thomas explained his reasons in the liner notes of the 1995 release Raygun Suitcase:
- "Street Waves" aside, at least 95% of Pere Ubu's oeuvre is indecipherable due to David Thomas' squawking, blubbering vocal delivery and the band's bizarre, often esoteric lyrics.
- Usually only one or two words in Dave Matthews' songs are immediately understandable, and they're almost always the title (example: Iiii'm the kinguh the caaaastle, ammonia and glass oh crash in to me and more slurring than that helps keep people from realising what Crash Into Me is about. Another example: And all the little ants are marching, reh uh ah and en uh waaaaving...). Admittedly, the Dave Matthews Band covered Louie Louie as well.
- "El Mañana" by Gorillaz from Demon Days (Album): "Do da faaaaaaaiiiii. Maybe in time, you'll want to be mine. So ma gaaaaay..."
- "Re-hash": "It's the sweet sen-sation, oh bah de dop/ a lot of situations, doh bana stop. It's the crash spots, oh boy/ it's' the money an' stuff....
- (From the B-side of Demon Days) "Spitting Out the Demons": "Spitting out the demons-Demons!/ Popping outta holes (Good Times)/ Spitting out the demons/ (incomprehensible slurring)"
- "Feel Good Inc" is this to a lesser degree. After the initial 'City's breaking down on a camel's back' people tend to go silent 'til the chorus.
- "Punk" has only two discernible words, "shut up".
- Damon's verses on "DoYaThing" contain such lines as "You got a folding chair, and you don't know what to do".
- Lady Gaga (well, technically Colby O'Donis, but still): When I come through on the dance floor checkin' out that catalogue. Can’t believe my eyes so many women without a flaw. mumblemumblemumble—JUST DANCE, GONNA BE OKAY.
- "Judas" is particularly bad. The intro and chorus are crystal clear, but the verses are so garbled you wonder what the hell she's singing: "Forgive him when his dogjkahkasghkwahegaghd, even if ahfhahasdadjasej BETRAYS ME / I couldn't ahjasgsdfsdghfg asjdhsadkjash, I hawhasdh LOVE is ajkshkfjshkfhsdfksd, SINK THE BODY".
- Christopher Durang's Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge has a number of people at a bar attempting to sing "Good King Wenceslas": "Da da da da... moon that night, though the frost was cruel! Da da da da... came in sight... something... Christmas gruel...?"
- Clear Mind by Masaaki Endoh has a ton of English pieces in it; some pronounced well, some not. Most of them, like "Keep on Burning Soul" or "Crazy Keep on Driving", make no sense; so even if you hear the lyrics correctly, you may second-guess your understanding of them.
- The 'Singular-English-line' variant appears in the Rammstein song "Amerika," with growled German lyrics for the majority of the song, and the chorus "We're all living in America, America, it's wunderbar."
- "Dr. Feelgood" by Mötley Crüe. The rapid-fire, nasally vocals are non-stop, and most people give up and sing along to the guitar riff for the chorus: "HE'S THE ONE THEY CALL DR. FEELGOOD! HE'S THE ONE THAT MAKES YOU FEEL ALL RIGHT! HE'S THE ONE THEY CALL DR. FEELGOOD! HE'S GONNA BE YOUR FRANKENSTEIN!" How bad is it? Vince Neil himself is having troubles performing it live, and ends up singing like this.
- Radiohead can veer into this at times, thanks to Thom Yorke's penchant for Word Salad Lyrics and his oftentimes hypnagogic delivery style.
- "Karma Police": "Karma police, aranananananote , I-dont-know-the-words, this is what you get, this is what you get... " Did we mention these are the opening lyrics?
- "Myxomatosis" makes "Karma Police" sound like a sparkling triumph of enunciation. "Zmugma cafkeebone, owning half a head. To see it to shut up, towallis noofow frehhh. He said I benawaiyawaaaa. Asleplyfoolala.note She ate me up for breakfast, she screwed me in a vice."
- "Pyramid Song". If you can understand anything after the first line or two then congratulations. "Awehaahwetehwenemelaohboy" note indeed.
- "2 + 2 = 5", especially when performed live: "Ah salablabla, aswaflashafabla coz I'M NOT!"note If you can understand what he just said there, about 3 minutes in, you have the hearing/linguistic abilities of a god. Notably, the liner notes to the album outright give up on trying to decipher this.
- "No Surprises", and the only part you understand, you understand it because it's the Title. "Mumblemumblemumble No Surprises mumblemumblemumblemumble No Surprises Please"note
- Apparently, "Feral" has lyrics. Most people have never been able to make out anything past the Title Drop, and even that is debatable.
- "Kid A" is one of their worst songs for this. Thom Yorke's voice is so distorted it's hard to make out anything other than the odd word like "away". Notably, this was an Invoked Trope here, with Thom distorting his vocals specifically to distance himself from the highly personal tone of the song; still, if you didn't have the lyrics pointed out to you already, it can be hard to decipher much beyond a few scattered words and phrases like "come on, kids."
- Apparently whoever wrote the lyrics for "Dollars and Cents"◊ in the official Radiohead songbook gave up in despair by the third verse.
- "They're Red Hot" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. The first time you listen to it, you'll probably only be able to make out the occasional "red hot", if you're even that lucky.
"Humunanana CAN I GET YOU MAYBE EVEN THREE OF THESE something something... THIS LIFE IS MORE THAN JUST A READ THROUGH"
STEAK KNIFE, CARD SHARP, CON JOB, BOOT CUT, kisifsifdfaiiisfdsavagccgdifhsuvdfajgeiraghgioaewkigdhauhfjdlv, DOG TOWN, BLOOD BATH...
- "By the Way" is pretty fierce, too, except for the chorus.
"The fire in your brain willghafjafjafinsainn, yuweaheaejk, enebenebmenegheinn, so don't ghebeda, afahafweweqwainakekweainqwiewieqwain blahblahblah FIGHT LIKE A BRAVE..."
- Usually pretty much all of their older songs fall in this trope, really. Try understanding anything in "Fight Like A Brave" except the chorus for example.
- "Scar Tissue". "Withabrguujsjklshsdfa LONELY VIEW"... Burma-shave? The Burgess Shale? Huh? note
- Their B-Side "Long Progression" gives us: "Bishepptekksnappamabappamapowwoquawwaffawo, HERE'S YOR HAM ON RYE". Is that...is that even English? note
- Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady". Utterly lyrically incomprehensible.
- "Tubes in her arm" and "the night nurse" is maybe the most anyone can catch which is half of why the song is so disturbing. Most of their recordings are fairly primitive for studio work, so you get this in spades. "Zyklon B Zombie" and "Hit By A Rock" have only the Title Drop decipherable as a couple of extra examples that are also creepy listening. TG managed to make this into a horror trope.
- Phoenix's "1901." Try understanding any lyrics besides "Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey" or "Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it." Even they could be difficult to decipher.
- "Lisztomania" is in the same vein; the title (if you're familiar with the term in the first place) and "not easily offended" in the chorus are about the only intelligible lyrics in the whole song, and context won't do a lot of good in figuring them out either.
- The Red Dwarf theme song for some people. "Nananannananaanaaa MANGO JUICE!"
- Ask someone to sing Toni Basil's "Mickey" and chances are they'll sing the famous "Oh Mickey, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!" refrain and then get stuck because they don't know the rest of the song.
- Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" from Antichrist Superstar. Most people only know the words "The beautiful people, the beautiful people".
- Disturbed singer David Draiman's style has a way of doing this for three reasons:
2. His voice is weird-sounding to most first-time listeners.3. His style involves Scatting to create a vocal melody to work best with the song then applying lyrics later, making him occasionally mumble the lyrics since this is how he first experienced it (which created the scat section in "The Game").
- For the most part, just about the entire discography could count (though "Voices", "Sons of Plunder", "The Night", "Asylum" and "This Moment" are particular stand-outs).
- The song "Born Slippy.NUXX" by Underworld may be one of the most recognizable dance songs of the 90s, and is especially popular in England. However, it features heavy echo/reverb effects over the vocals, and most people are only able to pick out the word "boy" at the end of a few lines, as well as the famous "Shouting 'Lager, lager, lager lager'" and "Mega mega white thing" bits.
- This was Bernie Mac's response to Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" when he hosted the 2001 Billboard Music Awards.
Y'all don't know any of the words, you just like the "It Wasn't Me" part.
- M.I.A. has had a number of songs that fit this trope. There's "Paper Planes": "I fly like peppah get high like planes, if you catch me on the corner Ima meesim mihmah nay / if you come around hey- I'm naked all day / I get one dom inna simpah neffa way..."
- Daisy Dares You has "Number One Enemy", where the chorus essentially sounds like:
STARP!AHMNOTCHOOR NUMBER ONE ENEMYYYYAHMNOTCHOOR NUMBER ONE ENEMYYYYIF YOU WANNA BE A PADAMEEEEEEAHMNOTCHOOR NUMBER ONE ENEMYYY
- Foster the People has a few instances of garbled words but "Houdini" gets by far the most of it; the verses are difficult and the chorus is worse, with the whole thing being nigh-incomprehensible until "Sometimes I wanna disappear!" at the end of the chorus. But when it really comes into play is in the bridge:
(Raise up to your ability) Nevanoowhaikoofa, wuhdacomwidarealize, donowafudah compromise(Raise up to your ability) Yeah, I'm scared that I'll disappear, runninarah befowa condosyee, lyekisromunnaryesoowaaay(Raise up to your ability) IIII know that you want it, spuhsimpus heedasee, uhmafability(Raise up to your ability) Yeeeah yuwah decided, ehhh so wakseeda, ehhhh dowayumaduwhoa!
- It's made even worse by the fact that the lyrics to the bridge are missing from the liner notes. Good luck on that.
- "Pumped Up Kicks": "Rosrah quick hand / Herororahrahtota his plan / Tylenol cigarette / Hannydasmol he's the cowboy kid / I found a six-shooter gun / Hisdadpropreedrajsabazabbadabbafun". Pretty much the entire song except for the chorus is incomprehensible to first-time listeners.
- While the original version of 'Windmills of Your Mind' by Noel Harrison is calming and easy to understand, the Muppet's version... not so much
- The Doobie Brothers has, at the very least, "China Grove": "Well the people 'n' the peep, noo joo me crossnote / they are the talk of the town... People are some kind the strange / damn Mrs. Perkins againnote .... WOAH-HO, CHINA GROVE!"
- One way you can pick out someone from San Antonio is that they know a bit more than the above lyrics in said song, because "China Grove" is a song about a community called China Grove in south San Antonio. There's a bit about "old San Antone" and another one about "they just keep on lookin' to the East" in the song that refer to S.A. and is thus instantly pick-uppable for S.A. natives. Oh, and it's "dear Mrs. Perkins' a game".
- Talking Heads is quite prone to this, due to frontman David Byrne's deliberately obtuse writing and singing style. Anyone hoping to sing along might want to have the liner notes on-hand.
- "Burning Down the House" from Speaking in Tongues is a particularly glaring example: "What's that?/ Ching fanna army naftah!/ Who's there?/ Dee fellow party's over!/ I'm in... ordinary high! BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE!note The big problem here is that the line before the title drop is "I'm an ordinary guy" and there is no one on Earth who can understand why David Byrne would say that about himself.
- "Wild Wild Life" is another standout case of this: "Danananananananana WHOA-OH-OH, we've got some wild wild life, nanananananananananana WHOA-OH-OH, we've got some wild wild life." Problematic because the song has multiple choruses, with the Title Drop being the common lyrical thread for all of them— mixing up pieces from each chorus is common. What's more, while Speaking in Tongues at least puts the lyrics in the liner notes so that you can refer to them (at least on the CD release; the LP version features scans of hand-written lyric drafts that aren't quite as easy to read through), True Stories doesn't. In fact, True Stories is the only Talking Heads album to not include lyric transcriptions in the liner notes for no apparent reasons.
- Every Patter Song ever written! Gilbert and Sullivan? To begin with, the Major General song and It Really Doesn't Matter, in which they actually lampshade it—the line "this particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn't generally heard" is repeated several times! [it should be noted here that, theoretically, while the actors are singing, for the most part the characters aren't supposed to be, rendering this line even more amusing] Admittedly, the singers in this sort of situation are generally of a degree of skill such that they do enunciate every word clearly, but at that speed? And even if you can hear and understand it (not a given in a theater!) that doesn't mean that you know the words; most people likely can't recite much of the Major General song beyond "I am the very model of a modern major general"!
- Well, most people who aren't trained actors or singers. The Major General song is a standard speech exercise during training because it's so difficult to do.
- One particular Motor Mouth singer of the Major General song found that the Incessant Chorus couldn't keep up with him during the even faster encore. They solved the problem by invoking this trope directly and having the chorus sing: "But still in matters lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba lubba GENERAL!"
- Although the Major General song is nothing compared to My Name is John Wellington Wells which, on account of puns, garden path sentences, archaic language, and the occasionally lexical flight of fancy by Mr. Gilbert is easily the most difficult song to sing or understand in the G&S canon and among the most difficult in the history of musical theater. Wells even gives his address, in the libretto mind you, as "number seventy Simmery Axe" (which is complete gibberish to anyone not from London).
- The average Italian-speaker probably can't remember/recite more of Mina's Brava than the occasional phrase. She sings really fast, and at some impressive pitches!
- SASKATCHEWAN by Les Trois Accords. The song is probably insanely easy to sing along to in French, but all English singers can do is SasKATchewaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
- "99 Luftballons" (which translates to 99 Air Balloons, NOT 99 Red Balloons, but that's a whole different issue), is sung entirely in German except for two words.
da da da da, CAPTAIN KIRK.
- To be fair, it's easier to make out if you speak or are familiar with German; she's not singing particularly fast, but if you don't speak a language, it's pretty likely that a song in that language will sound like gibberish.
- Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" is Kentucky's state song that is sung before the Kentucky Derby. Most Kentucky schoolchildren know few of the lyrics other than "My Old Kentucky Home" and "... gay...", which they of course shout at the top of their lungs.
- They do run the lyrics on the screens at Churchill Downs and to be fair, a lot of the people you'll see television are probably not local. That, and since the Derby's run fairly late in the day, chances are good you're probably drunk by the time the state song is sung anyway.
- And there's the fact that it's a really old song. Practically no one from Kentucky has any idea what the words are.
- Heck... if you're at a Kentucky Wildcatsnote game, you hear the song, and start singing from the beginning, you're likely to get shouted down. Seriously. NO ONE at a UK game starts singing before "Weep no more, my lady" (the start of the final chorus).
- "Get Free" by The Vines — The verses are perfectly intelligible, but once it gets to the chorus, you're most likely only going to be able to make out "come in, come in, come in" and maybe "you know you really oughta". The excerpt of it in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Angry White Boy Polka" does make things a lot clearer.
- It's hard to know which version of "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" is harder to follow, the original Tom Waits due to his voice, or the Ramones cover that by a certain point has the loud instruments and fast vocals make things garbled.
- Due to the fast pace and Irish accents, no one knows the verses in "The Rocky Road to Dublin." For the most part you can get the chorus, but it still sounds something like "One, two, three, four, five! Huthehaandturnum, down the rocky road and all the way to Dublin. Whackfaloldida!" (Well, that last bit is just noises.)
- "Hunt the hare and turn 'er down the rocky road: all the way to Dublin. Whack-fo-lal-de-ra." (Those 'noises' are called lilting.)
- To those who don't know Swedish, "dance-a ????? clap-a your-a hand-air ?????? ????? Caramelldansen!"
- Though everybody likes singing along to the "Ooh ooh ooh-wa ooh-wa!" that comes immediately after. In Japan, the song is known as "Ooh ooh ooh-ma ooh-ma" ("Hor- hor- horse horse"), thanks to a certain meme popular in the late 2000s.
- Since the song is mainly popular because of the aforementioned meme, many people also assume that it's in Japanese, instead of Swedish.
- "Pudding Time" by Primus starts off with "Munipapa ganibaba teddebepa baidu paypaypaypay oooooooooo", which apparently means "You can have a lollypop/ a candy bar, a jelly bean/ I'll buy you a rainbow/ to hang above your door". Whoda thunk it?
- "Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry, throughout the entire song. Doesn't help that some of it is gibberish.
- Wet Wet Wet. My god. Wet Wet Wet. So much of their music revolves around this. For example, Sweet Little Mystery, in which it is impossible to make out the lyrics other than, "Sweet Little Mystery, that makes me try, try, try, try!" Even if you grew up listening to their music, you will still struggle.
- Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire". When singing in concert, Billy has said that if he forgets a line he just looks over to one of his bandmates who is always mouthing the lyrics to himself. For this song the guy just shrugged and told Joel he was on his own. His own band can't remember the words! For the 3 of you who haven't heard it, it's not so much that the lyrics are mumbled, but that they go by so fast that by the time you've deciphered one line, 2 more have gone by. The chorus is the only part that everybody knows.
- In the song's favor though, at least the words are understandable. Plus, it has an overarching theme (although that doesn't help at all either). On the downside, Joel admitted that "It's a nightmare to perform live, because if I miss one word, it's a train wreck."
- It also doesn't help that some of the people and events referred to in the song have since become pretty obscure. Most people below the age of about thirty won't have heard of Syngman Rheenote or the Payola scandalnote , and so the line "U2, Syngman Rhee, Payola and Kennedy" will sound like mostly gibberish to them.
- Lampshaded in Parks and Recreation by Leslie when she purposefully sings it without knowing the words, making up her own. It's hilarious.
- In an episode of Family Guy, Peter tries to sing "We Didn't Start the Fire", but only remembers the vague concept and tune without the lyrics:
Stuff, stuff, stuff, and stuff,
History and stuff and stuff,
People, people, someone's name,
History and sports.
Big disaster, someone's name
Stuff and stuff and stuff, and stuff,
History, someone's name,
Something I don't know.
Famous guy, movie star,
Don't know who these people are,
Stuff and stuff and history
Yelling really loud at me!
- Inverted with the Speed Test. It's the same thing over and over and starts out fairly slow, but start at 5:10 and see how many words you can make out.
MOVING ON! Garblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarble Trevor Grayden.
- Manamana hole in the ceiling/Bagibasef to you from the essence of my being/And I sing to my God songs of love and feeling/Mawansheownow
- Into the woods nuhnuhnuhnununuhnuhnuhnhunh, Into the woods nuhnuhunhunuhunuhunuhunh journey!
- The lyrics to MC 900 Ft (274.32 m). Jesus' "I'm Going Straight To Heaven" are delivered so low and distorted that the only clearly audible lines are the Title Drop and the repeated refrain that precedes it ("everybody shut up and leave me alone"). (Actually the video provides the first two verses, but beyond that, you're on your own, kid.)
- Thanks to the "Leekspin" video, all most international listeners can recite of the Finnish-language standard "Ieva's Polka" is the scatting section just before the final verse. However, things get twisted around two points: first, that section isn't even part of the actual song, having been added by the group Loituma for their version; and second, due to the improvisational nature of scatting, the "words" to that part are never the same from one performance to the next.
- Non-Finnish listeners are still left with something along the lines of salavilihipipitipatutaputitput HILIJALEEN!
- Hellsing opening theme The World Without Logos, also called LOGOS Naki WORLD, confuses almost everybody who hear it, thinking they just can't make out Yasushi Ishii's accent. As it turns out, it's because the lyrics mean literally nothing. Observe...
- The chorus of the theme song to DuckTales (1987): "DuckTales! Woohoo! Beh beh beh beh, beh beh beh beh, DuckTales! Woohoo!" In fact, even the Finnish-to-English soramimi lyrics on YTMND might be better known than the real English lyrics. It's not the fact that the lyrics are hard to understand, but the fact that the stupid "DUCKTALES! A-WOO HOO!" is so catchy it's hard to remember anything else around it.
- Duh nah nah nah nah HOLLY-WOOOOOD! Da na na na na HOLLY-WOOOD! dun na na ba dah dah dah... Hooray For Hollywood's most famous song (which does have full lyrics), is a severe case of this. You either know none of the lyrics or that one part with the Hollywood.
- The Beatles have several examples of this trope, including most of the rooftop concert:
- "All these jugmumble been mumble water been mumble cos nobody told me, all they've been looking for is somebody who looked like you"
- "Jojo was a man who thought mumble mumblenote , but he knew it couldn't last, Jojo left his home mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumblenote grass."
- And, of course, "I Am The Walrus"- "mumble bumble mumble pornographic priestess...". Though that was total nonsense.
- Solo too: "Everybody's talkin' bout something something mumble mumble...all we are saying is give peace a chance!"
- Most people only remember the refrain to "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan ("Hey Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me" and so on), and not the far more intricate verses that intersperse it (not helped by the far more well-known cover version by The Byrds which omits the first verse altogether).
- Also applicable to "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" (from the same album as "Mr Tambourine Man"). "Sometimes even the president of the United States has to stand naked" is the only line of the rather long and complex song audiences in the 60s really bothered to remember. This is probably because most people were still looking for clear anti-establishment messages in Dylan's lyrics, unable or unwilling to see that he'd moved on from straight-up protest songs to much more abstract beat poetry-influenced lyrics.
- From the unofficial Homestuck Christmas Album, the lyrics to The Squiddles Save Christmas seem to literally be "Squiddles, Squiddles, Squiddles, something Squiddles."
- From Britney Spears: "One, two, three, nidamean youandme, oneminadagree, And I'm caught in between."
- Umineko's ending. "Yami wo kirisaku, OH DESIRE! Something something something something..."
- SACRIFICE SHEEP TO GAWD!!!
- 'Round Christmas time, "Fairytale of New York" becomes this, if only because most people who are singing along are almost always drunk.
mhmhmhmmhmhmhmhmhmmhmhmhmmhmhmhmhmhmmh, AND THE BELLS WERE RINGING OUT, FOR CHRISTMAS DAY!
- Interpol in "Say Hello To The Angels" - "When I'mfeelinglafhllgtwawgeguyseweuawiocomesblrghargawygrerhhwaioeawerhjhfme INTO MY AIRSPAAACE, MOVE INTO MY AIRSPAAACE"
- Moxy Früvous' Johnny Saucep'n — My name is Johnny saucep'n aklflhslkkljlkgjijismmfkldsjmunstersdkflskflskfdkldsjfkldkscabbage and the crawfish claws
- "Take on Me" by A Ha is basically 50/50, between understandable and not (primarily due to the fact that the band is Norwegian). Probably more due to the very high pitch and the quite fast singing over also very high instruments. Of course some strange fast and strangely enunciated words don't help. "I'll be there lalalaaaaa" (actually: "in a day or two").
- J-Pop/Rock band The Pillows do this, featuring a few songs that have Japanese verses and English lines within the choruses. Sometimes English words are thrown in randomly for kicks.
- Translating the lyrics won't help much, either, e.g. Revenge no lobster hiki tsurete —> Lobster of revenge, bring it along
- The song "If I Should Fall From Grace With God" by the Pogues featured in this car commercial is damn near indecipherable. About the only lyrics that can be clearly heard is the title of the song itself and "Let me go, boys..." The Pogues could be this trope for several songs.
- Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina", specially for those who don't speak Spanish (or a similar language) is a Chorus-Only Song where the chorus is "something something gasolina!" eight times.
- Letters To Cleo's "Here And Now" has a chorus that's mostly unintelligible due to Kay Hanley going into motormouth mode: "ah huh huh ba ba, ba ba ba ba ras ababa ska, ah huh huh ba ba, ba ba ba ba sherbanowa sherbanowa HERE AND NOW! HERE AND NOW-OW-OW!"note
- OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass", due to its Wall of Sound-like orchestration and heavy echo effects on the vocals, is largely indecipherable except for the resounding chorus of "WHEN THE MORNING COMES!]
- "Hilikus" by early Incubus, due Brandon Boyd's fast rapping: "History has a tendency to blohkkadappappaladopeppelisaboutbaddelissadogoodta, fordehqwyegqwammenote syllables irhqwmehiqwaebdatto, webbeeaeguyeawguheddoteieaeibmnote to it, GO!"
- All over the place in "Make A Move" as well. His enunciation isn't the best to begin with, so the chorus, bridge and few random words are the only clear parts: "Ameedeebadeheenamayreboonageeeh, fodousabouchoabapatay, you had the perfect opportunity, buhbehdefeifh and walked awaaaay!"
- In theory, the theme to The Neverhood has lyrics. In reality, it sounds like this:
Numauhauamunu— haunauamuanum, at the NEVEEEERHOOD! NEVEEEEERHOOD!
Potatee love / my gravy love / tomatees and potatees and my peasnote
- While that particular song does have lyrics and they even kind of make sense, a lot of the songs are just scatting using SOME English words. Or something close to words.
- Unless you are a German-speaker or a singer, the only line you probably remember from Franz Schubert's setting of Goethe's "Der Erlkönig" is "Mein VAAAAAATERRR! Mein Vaaaterrr!"
- Angelspit's "Bullet Proof". The lyrics straddle the line (pun not intended) between coherent and incomprehensible. For example, the first lines just sound like "Lechers, with name tags, blahblahblahblahblahblahblah. Are you ready? Bullet proof, baby!" In fact, "Hell yeah! Bullet proof, baby!" are really the only lines anyone can understand.
- "Think About The Way" by Ice MC, barring Alexia's chorus vocals, is damn near impossible for anyone to sing as Ice starts listing nationalities at around a hundred words a second. Astute listeners will notice that he lists Spanish twice.
- Andrea Bocelli's "Con te partirò" is otherwise known as "Time to Say Goodbye", as that is the only English line in the verses, and for that matter, the only line English-speakers recognize.
- The lyrics to "Disco Pogo" by Die Atzen always end up something like "German, German, German, German—DISCO POGO. DING-A-LING-A-LING."
- Ponderosa's "Navajo" (once upon a time a free song on the iTunes Store). Nearly all of the lyrics are unintelligible because of Kalen Nash's distorted vocals and noisy melody. The lyrics "Everything's better in the dark / We drain the sun from the stars" are the only ones easy to hear.
- The lyrics to the chorus of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down on the Corner" from Willy and the Poor Boys are clearly, "# Down on the corner/ Out in the street / Wheenee to pooboyee sufeeh / Paysunikuh passefee."note
- Thanks to a thick Austrian accent prevalent in all of his songs, Falco falls into this big time. Very few people know there are any other words than "Amadeus Amadeus. Oh, oh, oh Amadeus!" in "Rock Me Amadeus"note , and in "Vienna Calling", about the only thing you can pick out is "Hello, Vienna calling!" (Unless you think it's "Hello, the anaconda".) Well, that and "Toronto, Canada". Even After the Fire fell into it covering Falco's "Der Kommissar"...
- Even knowing the language doesn't always help, since he's singing in an Austrian dialect very unlike standard German. Your knowledge of high school German may not be very helpful even if you look up the lyrics.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's been mentioned on this page a few times for making parodies that are more intelligible than the songs they're based on, but just try to sing the middle bit of his original song "Hardware Store." It's literally a list of 50 random objects, rattled off at high velocity. Al never performs it live because even he can't remember the whole thing. Most people remember that "automatic circumcizers" is in the list somewhere, for obvious reasons.
- Most of Psy's hit "Gangnam Style" is in Korean, so the only bits any Anglophones can sing along to are the title and the bridge.
- Fall Out Boy's "This Ain't a Scene..." is only intelligible during its first chorus ("This ain't a scene, it's a GOD. DAMN. ARMS. RACE!"). The rest of the song is almost completely indecipherable.
- Similarly, most people know the chorus of "Sugar, We're Going Down" as "We're going DARR DAR in ANELIARAAAH, and Sugar, we're going down swinging "
- This trope applies to a significant number of Fall Out Boy songs, due to a combination of Motor Mouth and less than clear enunciation.
- The Butthole Surfers song "Who Was In My Room Last Night?" has this in spades. "All night long my body burned mumble mumble mumble WHO WAS IN MY ROOM LAST NIGHT WHO THE HELL WAS IN MY BED?!"
- The best-known version of the Kanon ending theme has an English rap segment. The words to that section aren't in the lyric booklet and nobody really knows it beyond "Everybody and their mama know I got it goin' on!".
- The Manic Street Preachers' earlier albums sure contained some of the darkest and angriest lyrics ever found in Alternative Rock, but alas! If only they were easier to understand:
"I! AM! PURITY! / They call me perverted / holymolydabbadeedabbadadabbahey"note
- A prime example would be the song Faster:
- Later in the same song:
- Many songs by Polysics are prone to this even to some native Japanese speakers. This is due to many of their songs consisting mostly of Japanese, Gratuitous English, and gibberish.
dfkhdhkhfdaljfjahfhdjksafhdajk EINSTEIN MUST DIE! - what many people heard on the first verse of New Wave Jacketnote
- Canadian electronic musician Claire Boucher a.k.a. Grimes seems to love this trope. Not only is there usually a lot of reverb on her vocals, she also sings with a slight lisp.
- A good example would be the song "Genesis": "How will I know? Ya-ba-deebee-deebee-dah Da-dee-da I'm the one who loves (???)"
- The first half of "Crystal Ball" is even worse in that regard: "Holy Lord (???) I can't decide and I humum-mumble-hum..."note
- Grimes intentionally makes this worse by 1) refusing to release official lyrics to any of her songs (in fact, there might not even be "official" lyrics to some of them), and 2) essentially telling fans to come up with their own interpretations for the meanings of the songs.
- Attack on Titan's opening theme is a favorite among anime fans in general. However, the lyrics are in a combination of Japanese and Gratuitous German, meaning the only word most English-speaking fans can recognize is "Jäger" (German for "hunter," and the protagonist's surname). Cue many, many Western anime fans contorting their mouths around unfamiliar words only to suddenly shout "JAEGER!!" at the right point. And then there's the first phrase of the song, which sounds something like "Yipee, a Datsun, yee-bee-dee, YEEEEAH!" or complete gibberish to those who don't speak German.
- A good number of Reggae songs are like this to listeners outside of Jamaica. The unusual vocal style and heavy use of patois and Rasta jargon will seem incomprehensible, but the refrains tend to be simple and memorable.
- On Twitter there was a joke that the lyrics to Sean Paul's dancehall song "Gimme the Light" were "Just gimme the light anacasta jooooe/baka maka laka lamo"
- Many of The Rolling Stones' songs. Critic Dave Marsh summed it up discussing "Tumbling Dice" from Exile on Main St.:
The few phrases that do jump out at you—"fever in the funkhouse now," "you can be my partner in crime," "don't you know the deuce is still wild"—are probably red herrings, planted to make you doubt that Mick is making his lines up as he goes along.
- Most of Enya's "Orinoco Flow" sounds something like "Mhmhhshbdhmm shubaree wabadee shabawabadabawo, wabaree, shubadee, mumble mumble shabada, sail away sail away sail awayyyy...". You might understand the occasional "let me sail, let me sail", but the rest doesn't even sound like English. Some of it starts to make sense once you work out that it's mostly place names.
- Despite being Melodic Death Metal and done in Harsh Vocals, Dethklok's songs are pretty straight forward for fans but occasionally their songs with faster vocals qualify. The most notable examples are "Crush the Industry" (the only intelligible lyrics are the Title Drop and "No Security") and the theme song ("Dethklok, Dethklok). The second one 'even the tab books get the first line wrong.'
- "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" by Coheed and Cambria is 8 minutes of nigh-incomprehensible references to their sci fi 'verse, but the audience always knows when to shout "man your own jackhammers!"
- Obviously, when a listener doesn't speak that language, it will sound like gibberish to them. However, 1990s Japanese visual kei band Dir En Grey can even give native Japanese speakers this. Part of this is the band's heavy use of Gratuitous English, and because of the way it's sung, neither English nor Japanese listeners are able to understand many of the lyrics. In fact, they have songs written entirely in English that are so garbled, many English listeners go completely unaware it was even supposed to be English. Not all of their songs are complete garble-for example "Yokan" is enunciated just fine, but songs such as "Clever Sleazoid" tend to fall under this. In Japanese
- Inverted with Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us":
Return of the Mack (yo)What it is, what it does, what it is, what it isn't,sjerhcooeqkpgxqgbkfachecjuecnledanjsgfweboeaovsjvslpgendtkvqod noteGET UP!
- While "DVNO" by Justice has a pretty clear chorus, good luck trying to understand anything before that
"Yeah it's always the same, always the shffb story, tell me coadkasfhsdgssmin' ohh, donndohdsgwedayeumonedaduwaeheh, wammotammawewmememe it's all about membership...fommewowajkawka, swuehasdsdboin, apapwaajkshas blah blah blah, and soon you're saying different"
- The refrain of "Black Onslaught", the Superboss theme song from BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger goes roughly "blargleblargleblargh WHAT A BIG BIG MISTAKE!" By BlazBlue: Chronophantasma it was remixed to something more comprehensible.
- The lyrics of the theme song to Good Times can be this. Most people know the line "GOOD TIMES!". This was parodied on Chappelle's Show with a quiz show in which contestants were asked to finish a specific lyric to the song ("_____, GOOD TIMES!"). They came up with "hanging in a jury", "hanging a jacket" and indecipherable humming noises. Dave Chappelle gave the correct answer as "hangin' in a chow line", but the song's writers say that it's actually "hangin' in and jivin' ".
- The verses of Reunion's "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" are a laundry list of bands, singers, songs, dances, record labels and the kitchen sink, all recited at breakneck speed. Most people can pick out a few words in the verses, and sing along with the chorus. "Be-be-bo-bo-ba-ba-stingers-ma-fa-foo-foo-ra-ca-singers-la-me-map-n-tang-n-Eddie-he-ma-ring-air-goin'-steady...LIIIIFE IS A ROCK, BUT THE RADIO ROLLED MEEEEEEEE..."
- "I just want to be in your panorama"...so far so good. "Another new search form, another new internet"...probably not...better look it up on a Lyrics site after all. Yup, that's bound to happen when Smiley Smile meets Are Friends Electric and the text (probably intentionally) doesn't fit quite on the rhythm. Possibly the only Cars song guilty of this trope.
- The Sundays' Signature Song "Here's Where The Story Ends", it's easy enough to pick out the title and something about a "terrible year" but the rest is a bit of a blur. While some may have considered Tin Tin Out's shuffly "dance" cover version little short of sacrilege, it did at least enable some of us to understand the words for the first time.
- A car ad featuring "Bohemian Like You" by The Dandy Warhols had the characters mumble everything except "I like you! And I like you! And I *something something* like you!"
- This was not helped by the fact that the advertisers had to chop up the first verse because the line after "You've got a great car" is "What's wrong with it today?"
- Anything by The 1975, thanks to Matty Heally's ridiculously thick British accent, but especially the verses of "Chocolate":
HEYNACALLI A SPLIFF ZUNODAYAWILL
OH, YOU BUYING YOUR FRIEND LIKE CHOCOLATE?
YOUSNAY WE GO WHERE NOBODY KNOWS
WITH GUNS HIDDEN UNDERLIA PETTICOATS
WE'RE NEVER GONNA QUIT IT, NEVER NEVER GONNA QUIT IT NO
- "Love Me Again" by John Newman.
Know I done wrong, hmm hmm hmm hmm, is that what devils do?
Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm
I NEED TO KNOW NOW, KNOW NOW, CAN YOU LOVE ME AGAIN?
- "Stereo Love" by Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina has driven many people to the brink of insanity trying to figure out what song it is due to the strongly accented, but very soft voice of the singer, along with the distinctive and catchy accordion riff (yes, accordion riff) that is woven throughout the song.
- Tom Lehrer's "The Elements," sung to the tune of "The Major-General's Song" from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. Even if you're an accomplished chemist and fully conversant with the periodic table, it's near impossible for your ears to keep up with it.
- Skindred tends to end up with this, being essentially Welsh Death Reggae. Band from Wales with a lead singer of Jamaican descent playing music that they describe in one of their songs as "Ragga metal punk hip-hop".
- In British magazine Amiga Power's review of the licensed Motörhead game, the author mentions that one of his main memories of the band is
...being a spoggy twelve-year-old [...] mumbling along to the verse as if I really did know the lyrics and then shouting out 'The Ace of Spades! The Ace of Spades!' over the chorus.
- The Romantics' "What I Like About You", blahblahblah aaah-eeeeeet! mumblemumblemumblemum, blahblahblahblahblahblah aaah-eeeeeet! Yeah!
- Given that "Despacito" is almost entirely in Spanish, the only words that anyone knows are the title and "this is how we do it in Puerto Rico." Justin Bieber even admitted to not knowing the words.
- While in Spanish: South Americans are prone to speaking with a Motor Mouth. So take any Shakira song that's not originally in English, and there's a good chance it will devolve into this.
Estoy aquí, queriéndote, Ahogandome, enlararararararararararar...Nanananana, nananananu, lararara, ojos así, como los que tienes tú!
- Regarding the first song, comedian Gregorio Duvivier noted that it's adequate that the sentence after the garbled speedy part is "no puedo comprehender" ("I can't understand").
- Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs single "Wooly Bully" definitely fits this trope.
Mattie blah Hattie....Thing she saw.. Wooly Bully! Learn to dance... blah blah blah Wooly Bully, Wooly Bully Wooly Bully!
- The intro to The Little People will likely fit into this trope:
Discovering... blah.... blah blahhhh discovering.... magically..... blah.
- Melodic Hardcore band Worthwhile's signature song Unlovable consists of rather fast screamed lyrics, leaving only a few parts intelligible for those unfamiliar with the genre, two parts during the chorus where the vocalist screams "Home is where the heart is", "I want to change the world!" in the bridge, the actual title not too long after that and "breath in, breathe out", during the outro.
- "Country House" by Blur is this and a Chorus-Only Song. "Oh, he lives in a house, a very big house in the country! Da na na na na na, na na na na na na in the country!"note And good luck finding anyone who actually knows the verses.
- The Darkness: "I believe in a thing called love! JUST UHNUHNUHNUHNUHNUHNUHNUH HEART!"
- "The Race" by Yello: "Are you ever gonna blahblahblah, blahblahblah, blahblahblah and I haven't got a clue!". Or pick any other verse, they're all like this.
- Moskau by Dschinghis Khan is an insanely catchy song, but due to the song being entirely in German, the chorus is often sung as "Moskau, Moskau, dah dah la la la la duh, dah le la duh da deh duh, OH-OH-OH-OH-OH, HEY!".
- The band's other popular song, the self titled Dschengis Khan, is no better. People would most likely know "Ching! Ching! Dschengis Khan!", and nothing else.
- While the lyrics of Joe Dessin's Les Champs-Elysées isn't that hard to follow if you know French, watching a bunch of tryhards who don't know the lyrics try to sing it, in public no less, can be both cringing and amusing as the Aux Champs-Elysées line is the only line in the entire song they know.
- Tyler, the Creator's "Earfquake" is an interesting example in that it's not the song itself that's difficult to make out, but the guest rap by Playboy Carti, who recites his lines (in his distinctive "baby voice") as if he's having a stroke in the recording booth. The only discernible words in the entire verse is "oh my God," and the inability for anyone to make out anything else has become the source of much Memetic Mutation. For those wondering, the actual words are as follows:
We ain't gotta ball, D. Rose, huh
I don't give a fuck 'bout none', huh
Beamin' like fuck my lungs, huh
Just might call my lawyer, huh
Plug gon' set me up, huh (Yeah)
Bih', don't set me up (Okay)
I'm with Tyler, yuh (Slime)
He ride like the car, huh
And she wicked, huh, yuh
Like Woah Vicky, huh, yeah (Like Woah Vicky)
Oh, my God, hold up, um
Diamonds not Tiffany, huh, yeah (Woah, woah)
So in love
So in love
- "We Are," the original theme (and occasional leitmotif) from One Piece, falls under the Gratuitous English variant, and is therefore basically incomprehensible to English speakers until the final few lines of the song, to wit:
Bada na na blah blah blah, dada atsume!noteSagshi ma na na na you kee no sanoteNa na na na na na,noteAND DO YOU WANNA BE MY FRIEND?WE ARE, WE ARE ON THE CRUISE!
- Cantonese pop songs tend not to be as indecipherable as English pop songs could be, but the inherent difficulty of writing perfectly sensible songs in a six-tone language still makes this trope prevalent:
- Eason Chan's "Lonely Christmas" is a strange example in that the song is in Cantonese, except for the English line "Merry, merry Christmas, lonely, lonely Christmas" which is the only line literally everyone in Hong Kong knows.
- "愛與誠" ("Love and Honesty") has an incredibly well-known line "做隻貓 做隻狗 不做情人" ("Be a cat, be a dog, not a lover"), especially compared to how obscure even the title is. One of the most recognisable Cantonese lyrics written by one of the most celebrated Cantonese lyricists, but he didn't like the line and even wanted to remove it from the song.
- "不敵" ("Defeated") is only known from "我卻連自己都不再愛" ("But I could not even love myself").
- Mandarin festive (Chinese New Year) song "恭喜恭喜" ("Congratulations, Congratulations") is only known from its short but incessantly repetitive chorus: "恭喜恭喜恭喜你" ("Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations to you"). Apologies to anyone who understands Mandarin and now have this playing like a Broken Record in their head.
- Many Kraftwerk songs. For example, the lyrics to Autobahn are assumed by most to be "Fun fun fun on the Autobahn / Fun fun fun on the Autobahn / Four and three, something something something / Something something something, the glass shard!" note
- Inverted if you speak German. Kraftwerk's lyrics tend to be brief, with (sometimes artificially) clear articulation and plenty of repetition.
- Queen has the opera section of "Bohemian Rhapsody" : "I see a little silhouetto of a man, scatamoosh, scatamoosh, something something Fandango!"note
- Every Stephen Sondheim musical has at least one Patter Song that moves so quickly, only a trained singer can perform it at speed in an understandable manor.
- "Rock Lobster" by The B-52s. The only lyrics anybody can remotely make out are half of the chorus and "We were at the beach / Everybody had matching towels!"
- Most songs by Cocteau Twins fit this trope, but "Heaven or Las Vegas" especially counts since it's basically incomprehensible to first-time listeners (and even then the actual lyrics listed in the notes are fandom guesses as to what the lyrics are):
Pullrun ummmaha, tojerry sooo umeeeh, noteGod ate four new, for new thangs errr, noteSinging up a famous treeeeee, ahhh toorararararuhree noteMinus it's Heaven or lust Vegas, but shihfjfjdbdjfnjdndfjsdn TO MEEEEE note
- Many of Haim Saban and Shuki Levy's theme songs from their 80s heyday could count, mainly because of frequent singer Noam Kaniel's thick Israeli accent. The theme tunes to Heathcliff & the Catillac Cats and The Get Along Gang are the worst offenders (in fact, the closed captioning on some Heathcliff episodes can't tell if one line is "The gang will reign supreme!" or "The king will reign supreme!")
- Scorpions' Signature Song "Rock You Like A Hurricane". The only lyrics anybody can make out are "Its early morning...", "He's licking his lips, he's ready to win / On the hunt tonight for Love at First Sting...", and the chorus.
- Coal Chamber's "Loco" is infamous for this, mainly on the account of Dez Fafara's Motor Mouth delivery of the lyrics and the effects used on the vocal track.
(GO!) STEAMROLLER ROLLIN' THROUGH MY HEAD JEEEEE ATTACHEDTOROLLPOWOWWORORO noteTO THE SYSTEM UP TO THE FAHREHSAY GORORORAHDADEDA noteFUNK DOWN TO CHILI RIDDY RIGHT MAN SHUHSHDUFHFUSHSITSABIGTIME noteFULL POWER UP TO THE POINT MAN D'OH, DON'T HIT WITH MAY! note
- The song "Famous" by Kanye West isn't a song where the lyrics are particularly intelligible, it's just that one lyric "I think Taylor Swift and I will have sex, I made that bitch famous" is so infamous that people tend to forget to Rihanna is featured on it.