The Reigning Queen of Mondegreens: My Misheard Lyrics

Despite my love of literature and music, and despite my aptitude for both subjects, I am laughably terrible at deciphering verbal words, whether spoken or sung. Mumbled speech or not looking directly at a person’s lips while they are speaking leads to hilarious misunderstandings. And, as you’ll see in the following blog post, trying to decipher sung lyrics from a song can result in awesomely bad mondegreens.

Definition of a Mondegreen


mondegreen: a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard. (Origin: 1954; coined by Sylvia Wright, U.S. writer, from the line “laid him on the green,” interpreted as “Lady Mondegreen,” in a Scottish ballad.)

Some Examples

Song: “Shotgun” – Jr. Walker and the All-Stars; tune video to about 0:25

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“Shoot ‘im ‘fore he run now” “Shoot up Orville Redenbacher”

Upon hearing this song for the first time as a 10-year-old, I turned to my dad and asked, in this horrified voice, “Why do they wanna kill the popcorn man?!” LOL

Song: “Mickey” – Toni Basil; tune video to about 1:45

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“I’ll take it like a man” “I’m kinky like a man”

…My lyric makes sense, doesn’t it? Kinda…sorta? 😛

Song: “Hungry Eyes” – Eric Carmen; tune video to about 1:00

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“Hungry eyes” “Come three eyes”

Okay, okay, in my defense, I was 3 when I first heard the song… xD

Song: “Devil with the Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly” – Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels; tune video to about 2:05

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“See Miss Molly rockin’ in the house of delight” “See Miss Molly rockin’ in the house with good light”

And this is why you enunciate your words when you sing! Otherwise, people can hear all sorts of strangeness. 😛

Song: “Jesus Loves Me” – traditional Christian children’s hymn; tune video to about 0:34

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“They are weak but He is strong” “They are weak but He is JOAN!”

I never heard my Nannie laugh so hard as when I sung my version of “Jesus Loves Me” on the way home from Sunday school one morning. I think there’s a rather incriminating tape of this lying around the house somewhere… xD

Song: “You Sexy Thing” – Hot Chocolate; tune video to about 0:18

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“Where ya from, you sexy thing?” “What is wrong, you sexy thing?”

Until about two weeks ago, I thought my hearing of the lyric was correct. My boyfriend, whose ears seem to be incredibly accurate lyric-picker-uppers, corrected me. 😛

Song: “You Really Got Me” – The Kinks; tune video to about 0:33

Actual Lyric The Lyric I Heard
“You really got me!” “You really got mad!”

I went around singing this as a little kid, completely oblivious to my mishearing, till all the adults in the room busted out in big ole laughs. 😛

BONUS: Mondegreens from Mom and Dad

Apparently, I get this “talent” for mishearing lyrics honestly. Here are some of the mondegreens Mom and Dad have come up with over the years:

Song: “Five O’Clock World” – The Vogues; tune video to about 0:20

Actual Lyric The Lyric Mom Heard
“It’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows” “It’s a five o’clock world and the wind’s so cold”

Song: “I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)” – The Rolling Stones; tune video to 0:10

Actual Lyric The Lyric Dad Heard
“I can’t get no girl reaction” “I can’t get no gut reaction”

Song: “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” – The Beatles; tune video to about 1:00

Actual Lyric The Lyric Mom Heard
“I can’t hide” “I get hives”

Song: “Dance to the Music” – Sly and the Family Stone; tune video to about 1:05

Actual Lyric The Lyric Mom Heard
“I’m gonna add some bottom” “I’ve got a handsome bottom”

Song: “Black Water” – The Doobie Brothers; start video at beginning

Actual Lyric The Lyric Dad Heard
“I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin'” “I built me a refuge, she’s ready for clover”

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