It’s called a “mondegreen”: When someone mishears a word or a phrase. The word originated from a line of a 17th century song, The Bonnie Earl O’Murray that says, “…And laid him on the green,” but was often mistaken as “…and Lady Mondegreen.”
Mondegreens happen to the best of us. You’re in the car with your friend, singing along to the song on the radio when they abruptly stop you to ask, “What did you just say?” And that was when you realized that the words to Purple Haze really weren’t “Excuse me, while I kiss this guy,” they’re “Excuse me, while I kiss the sky.” You’re not the only one who thought those were the words, so don’t feel bad. A recent poll conducted by Blinkbox Music in the UK listed the famous Purple Haze line as the 9th most misunderstood lyric in all of music. Hendrix was also listed as the 8th hardest to understand musician in the same poll.
Jimmy Fallon recently featured a segment on The Tonight Show where he asked viewers to Tweet him their most commonly misheard lyrics. The immediate response put the hashtag into the most trending worldwide topics within a half hour. So, we've scoured the internet to compile a list of the 12 funniest misheard lyrics.
12 Tiny Dancer - Elton John
Actual lyric: Hold me closer, tiny dancer…Misheard lyric: Hold me close, young Tony Danza
The lyric to Elton John’s classic 'Tiny Dancer' is usually misheard as “Hold me closer, Tony Danza.” There was even a book on misheard lyrics published called Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza And Other Misheard Lyrics. But who can ever forget Phoebe Buffay’s rendition on the pilot episode of Friends?
11 When The World Is Running Down - Sting
Actual lyric: You make the best of what's still around...Misheard lyric: You the best homemade stew around...
Sting is a man who knows two things: how to play the bass like a demon and a good bowl of stew. At least, according to the people who have misheard 'When The World Is Running Down' all this time. The line tops the UK Daily Mail's list of most misheard lyrics at number one.
Another Sting lyric that often gets mistaken is the line in 'Message In A Bottle' that says, "A year has passed since I wrote my note," which often gets confused for "A year has passed since I broke my nose."
10 Love Shack - B52's
Actual lyric: You're what? Tiiiiiiin roof, rusted.Misheard lyric: You're what? Daaaaandruff, crusted.Misheard lyric: You're what? Caaaaamera, rusted.
The most memorable line from the kitschy song 'Love Shack' almost seems like it was written to misunderstand. What does a tin roof rusting even mean? Well, according to legend, it's in reference to a girl getting pregnant by accident. This popular karaoke selection almost always gets butchered when people get to that part of the song and realize that they have no idea what the words are.
9 Like A Virgin - Madonna
Actual lyric: Like a virgin, touched for the very first time...Misheard lyric: Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time...
8 Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr.
Actual lyric: Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!Misheard lyric: Who ya gonna call? Those bastards!
Did you know that Ray Parker’s theme for the movie Ghostbusters just narrowly missed winning the Oscar for Best Original Song in a movie? It was edged out by Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. But did you also know that a lot of people apparently don’t really know that the person you’re supposed to call if there’s something strange in your neighborhood are actually the “Ghostbusters” and not “those bastards!” The misheard lyric was featured on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show segment and listed as 75th in the top 100 of the kissthisguy.com most frequently misheard lyric list.
7 Dancing Queen - Abba
Actual lyric: See that girl, watch that scene, diggin’ the dancing queen…Misheard lyric: See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen…
A lot of people seem to think that the queens of disco were pretty angry under all those sequins. The Dancing Queen line was ranked as the number one most often misheard lyric by the Blinkbox poll and is listed third on kissthisguy.com’s top 100 list.
6 We Will Rock You - Queen
Actual lyric: Kickin’ your can all over the place…Misheard lyric: Kickin’ your cat all over the place…
Queen’s 'We Will Rock You' is synonymous with sport events and pep rallies. Everybody knows the famous stomp-stomp-clap beat that goes with the tune, but not everyone knows the words. The “kickin’ your cat all over the place” lyric ranked second on the Blinkbox poll of most often misheard lyrics, leaving a lot of people wondering “What did the cat ever do to you, Freddie?”
5 Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Actual lyric: There’s a bad moon on the rise...Misheard lyrics: There’s a bathroom on the right…
The best part about this misheard lyric is that when CCR’s front man, John Fogherty learned that his lyric was often misconstrued as directions to the bathroom, he actually just went with it. Mental Floss reports that Fogerty often sings the wrong lyric on stage intentionally, while pointing in the direction of the bathrooms.
4 Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Actual lyric: Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango…Misheard lyric: Scallaboosh, scallaboosh, will you do the banned tango…
3 Livin’ On A Prayer - Bon Jovi
Actual lyric: It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not…Misheard lyric: It doesn't make a difference if we’re naked or not…
It won’t make a difference if Bon Jovi is naked or not? There are a whole lot of women in New Jersey out there, with some mighty big hair who would completely disagree. The 'Livin’ On A Prayer' line ranked third on Blinkbox’s poll and number one in the hearts of Jersey Girls everywhere.
2 Blinded By The Light - Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
Actual lyric: Wrapped up like a deuce, another runner in the night…Misheard lyric: Wrapped up like a douche, another rumor in the night…
So, it’s not really “wrapped up like a douche?” We’re sure about this? Like, one hundred percent sure? Because a lot of people really think that it’s douche, not deuce. That’s why 'Blinded By The Light' made it to number two on World Of Female’s top 10 misheard lyrics list and 24th on kissthisguy.com’s poll.
1 Bennie And The Jets - Elton John
Actual lyric: B-b-b-b Bennie and the Jets...Misheard lyric: B-b-b-b Bennie's got Tourette's...Misheard lyric: B-b-b-b Bennie and his guests...Misheard lyric: B-b-b-b Bennie I detest...Misheard lyric: B-b-b-b Bennie in a dress...Misheard lyric: B-b-b-b bang him in the chest....
Actual lyric: She's got electric boots, a mohair suit....Misheard lyric: She's got electric boobs, a mohawk, too....
Does anyone actually know all the words to Bennie And The Jets? If so, that’s pretty impressive because most people jumble at least a few. But that’s all part of the charm of Elton John’s classic hit, making the 'Bennie And The Jets' bar scene from the film 27 Dresses much more popular than the movie itself. Because, really, who hasn’t belted out a wrong line or two to this song on purpose?