We’ve all done it – sang along to a song only to realize we’ve gotten the words all wrong. It happens to the best of us. My husband has had two notable experiences with misheard lyrics. The first was when he was but a boy beginning to fall in love with Stevie Ray Vaughn. While listening to the song “Cold Shot” he thought it was odd that Stevie was singing about “going shopping” but ignored it until he later discovered “let’s go shopping” was in fact “that’s a cold shot babe”.
I am not immune, though. While my husband was listening to Iron Maiden (a band I will admit I despise), the song “Can I Play With Madness” came on. I had no choice but to ask about what I was hearing; questioning why a big tough metal band like Maiden would be asking permission to play with matches. He laughed. He laughed hard and he laughed a lot. When he calmed down, he told me I was not hearing “can I play with matches” but “can I play with madness” which made a lot more sense.
With these experiences in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the ten best misheard lyrics of all time to share them with you. Each song name links to a video on YouTube. If you don’t know the song, click the link and give it a listen. See if you can hear it to. Enjoy the garbled words of some of the worlds greatest (or in some cases, worst) songs.
10. Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer (from the 1986 album “Riptide”)
- Misheard Lyric: Might as well face it, you’re a dick with a glove
- Real Lyric: Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love
According to the person who posted this on kissthisguy.com, they believed the song was about Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, who had apparently done nothing to anger Robert Palmer. I listened to the song a time or two and couldn’t hear where this came from, but I imagine someone at some point sang it in jest, someone heard and repeated it and somewhere along the line, it became ‘true’.
09. Like a Virgin – Madonna (from the 1985 album “Like A Virgin”)
- Misheard Lyric: Like a virgin – touched for the thirty-first time.
- Real Lyric: Live a virgin – touched for the very first time
Considering Madonna’s reputation, I think we can understand how this one came about. I’d imagine the legend was both much as the legend was both for Robert Palmer’s song.
08. Africa – Toto (from the 1982 album “Toto IV”)
- I guess it rains down in Africa (what I thought the lyric was)
- I left my brains down in Africa
- I felt the rains down in Africa
Real Lyric: I bless the rains down in Africa.
This one gets a list and a funny little story about me. Until right this second while researching this article, I had no idea I’ve been getting the lyrics wrong for, well, my entire life. There are many, many different versions of this floating around out there, but these three are by far the most popular.
07. Boom Boom Pow – The Black Eyed Peas (from the 2009 album “The E.N.D.”)
- Misheard Lyric: Gotta Kit Kat
- Real Lyric: Gotta get get
- Misheard Lyric: Textin’ ladies extra longer
- Real Lyric: Sexy ladies extra longer
A little something for younger readers. I must confess that I heard this one too the first time I listened to the song. The more I listen to it, the more I hear it. Sorry if I ruined the song for anyone, but really, BEP have so many better songs out there. Check out the “Bridging the Gap” album – music magic.
06. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams (from the 1984 album “Reckless”)
- The Misheard Lyric: I got my first real sex dream
- The Real Lyric: I got my first real six string
I’d like to say I believe this one simply because of how funny the first verse of that song becomes with the misheard lyric. Let’s review: “I got my first real sex dream – bought it at the five-and-dime. Played it ‘til my fingers bled. It was the summer of ‘69”. It really makes the song take on a whole new meaning.
05. Blowin’ In the Wind – Bob Dylan (from the 1963 album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”)
- Misheard Lyrics: The ants are my friends, they’re blowing in the wind.
- Real Lyrics: The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind.
Bob Dylan is one of my favorite musicians but it isn’t always easy to decipher the words to his musical poetry. This is just one example. I could likely have made this list with Dylan songs alone. Maybe next time.
04. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana (from the 1991 album “Nevermind”)
- Misheard Lyric: I wasn’t what I confessed, and for this gift I feel blessed.
- Real Lyric: I’m worst at what I do best, and for this gift I feel blessed.
- Misheard Lyric: Pop is stupid and contagious/Help the stupid, they’re contagious
- Actual Lyric: I feel stupid and contagious
- Misheard Lyric: A mosquito, not a beetle (dozens and dozens here, but this actually sounds more close to what Kurt sings than the real lyric)
- Real Lyric: A mosquito, my libido
I’ve loved Nirvana since the first time I saw the video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Sometimes I feel as if that video and everything it represented in the music scene changed my life as much as it changed the face of music. With that said, Kurt Cobain produced some of the most completely unintelligible lyrics the world has every seen. He keeps good company on this list. I could go on for pages with misheard lyrics from Nirvana songs, but we’ll stop with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for now.
03. Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival (from the 1969 album “Green River”)
- Misheard Lyric: There’s a bathroom on the right
- Real Lyric: There’s a bad moon on the rise
- Misheard Lyric: “Whoa, now, you stinkin’ foreigner.” (Not kidding – check out the video. The line is at the 1:49 mark. You really have to listen, but you can definitely hear it)
- Real Lyric: “One eye is taken for an eye.”
- Misheard Lyric: “There’s a bad man on the right.”
- Real Lyric: “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
So common is this mishearing that John Fogerty (of CCR) has actually sang that line while performing “Bad Moon Rising” in concert – always with a little gesture to the right. There are many great CCR misheard lyrics though it was nearly impossible to pick just one. I think a top ten list of the best misheard CCR lyrics is in order.
02. Blinded By the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (from the 1976 album “The Roaring Silence”)
- Misheard Lyric: “Wrapped up like a douche, another rumor in the night.”
- Real Lyric: “Revved up like a Deuce, another runner in the night.”
This one is legendary in the world of misheard lyrics. There was a “Kids in the Hall” sketch dedicated to it. For those that are undoubtedly asking themselves how exactly the real line makes any more sense than the misheard one, the Deuce being referenced is a Deuce Coup – as in the car. So it basically means, the guy has his engines revved up and he’s ready to go. This song has nothing to do with feminine hygiene products. Worth noting, though – the song was originally performed by Bruce Springsteen. His version didn’t sound nearly as douchy – pun intended.
01. Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix (from the 1967 album “Are You Experienced?”)
The quintessential misheard lyric and what changed this article from a story about the best cover songs ever recorded to the greatest misheard lyrics of all time. Jimi has some great ones, but this one is legendary.
- The Misheard Lyric: ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy.
- The Real Lyric: ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
From a song about a little man on man affection to a song about getting high, “Purple Haze” set the standard to which all misheard lyrics are measured. But those aren’t the only Jimi Hendrix lyrics to lose a little something in the translation, but maybe we’ll save the rest for next time.
So that’s it for this list, folks. Make sure you check out the links and listen for yourself. I know I missed a lot of songs on this one, but in my very humble opinion, these are some of the best. If this article does well, I’ll do a few more – maybe one a week if time allows. You know what that means. If you want another one of these, you need to ‘Like’ this post on Facebook, share it with your friends on Twitter and most importantly – comment. What do you think of the idea of dedication a list to specific artists? Is there any artist you think should be included on the next list? The comments section is there for a reason. Put it to use!