Hilariously Misheard Lyrics: The Curious Phenomenon Of Mondegreens

Next time you're listening to La Isla Bonita and think Madonna says 'last night I dreamt of some bagel', you're not going mad. It's a Mondegreen.
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Brit-pop band Blur had never really been my bag, I personally found them bland, inoffensive and dull. But I really got on with the Gorillaz, largely because of the soul bearing intensity of the lyrics. When Damon Albarn sang the lyric 'this dick in me is far too long' on the track Tomorrow Comes Today from the first album I thought wow, he's going a bit Kurt Cobain; tapping into a dark but ultimately truthful vibe. Damon was singing about the pain of life and it won my respect... The problem is Damon didn't actually sing that lyric. What he actually sang was: 'it's taken me far too long'.

I had, it turns out inserted an ultimately better lyric in my own head. Respect lost Damon Albarn, respect lost.

A Mondegreen is where you mishear the words in a song or poetry that can dramatically alter the meaning of the sentence; it's a common phenomena when listening to music. If when listening to Bob Dylan you hear 'Dead ants are my friends; they're blowin' in the wind' instead of 'The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind' then that, my friend is a Mondegreen.

I expressed a minor outrage when Miley Cyrus sang 'you rape me' over and over again while swinging naked from a huge ball and necking a sledge hammer. Of course what she actually sang was 'you wreck me'.

When speech perception gets blurred we as human beings search for environment alternatives, changing the unfamiliar into something more plausible for mental wellbeing. It’s psychologically uncomfortable not to understand something so our brain kind of make stuff up as it goes. The peculiar thing with Mondegreens is once you have misheard the lyric, chances are your brain will misinterpret it that way again and again, even when you know it’s not the true lyric.

It happens a lot to me at live gigs when I don't really know the band. Recently at a gig I thought a singer was crooning about how much he loved lettuce, turns out it was something about love letters. Almost all Mondegreens are more implausible than the original. 'My love has got no money, he's got his trampolines' (strong beliefs). Autotune also seems to be another big trigger.


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In one of Rihanna's songs she sings 'we found love in a HOPELESS place' but I will always hear 'We found love in a HOMELESS place' or even 'I found love in a HOMELESS FACE' (although the song features Calvin Harris so that makes sense to me right?)

When Nick Cave sings 'Sweetheart Come' I always hear SWEET HOT CUM although knowing the cheeky Nick Cave this could have been done on purpose.

Here's some examples of Mondegreens:

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody – ‘Beelzebub has a devil for a sideboard’ should be ‘Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me’.

The Beatles - ‘The girl with colitis goes by’, should be ‘The girl with kaleidoscope eyes’.

Elton John, Benny and the Jets – ‘She's got electric boobs, a mohair too’ should read ‘She's got electric boots, a mohair suit’.

The Bee Gees - ‘A bald headed woman’ or ‘four legged woman’ should be ‘more than a woman’.

Billy Joel - ‘You made the rice, I made the gravy’ should be ‘You may be right, I may be crazy’.

Dire Straights – ‘Money for nothing and your CHIPS for free’ should be CHICKS for free.

It turns out that most of us hear Mondegreens from time to time, and we don’t really understand that much about them, largely because they are such a modern phenomenon and have only really came to light since the birth of the radio. So next time you hear 'I'm Your Penis' instead of 'I’m your Venus` when your listening to the radio, don’t worry, it’s probably just a Mondegreen.