It seems that it's easy to mishear a lyric in almost any song out there. But some songs, and some singers, show up much more than others. Here are some of the songs that just come out as one big mumble. Call them songs in the key of slur, or maybe nominees for the misheard lyrics hall of fame.
"In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," Iron Butterfly.
Yes, it's 17 minutes long. And yes, the lyrics are really pretty simple once you know it's either "In the Garden of Eden" or "In the Garden of Venus," according to whichever story you buy into. And how awesome was "The Simpsons" episode where Bart has the elderly church organist play it (till she passes out!) under the guise of it being a hymn called "In the Garden of Eden" by "I. Ron Butterfly"?
"Louie, Louie," the Kingsmen.
Oh, the endless naughty lyrics that were associated with this so-simple tune. Snopes.com has both the real lyrics and a version of the dirty ones (warning, don't click if you don't want to read the fake sexual lyrics). And yes, the FBI actually wasted years investigating the lyrics, because apparently there weren't enough real crimes to keep their attention back in the 1960s.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana.
Kurt Cobain could be difficult to understand on his best days. But "Teen Spirit" is probably the song that most people get wrong. The title was sparked when Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill wrote "Kurt smells like Teen Spirit" on a wall, referring to Teen Spirit deodorant. And as for the lyrics, well, I don't think I understood them until I heard the Tori Amos cover.
On the misheard-lyrics site AmIRight.com, "Teen Spirit" has the second-largest number of misheard lyrics submitted, behind only "Blinded by the Light." And I'd say it might have some of the funniest ones ever. Here we are now, in containers! A mosquito, ate my Cheetos! Amaretto, in a needle! I'm with Kato, in a Beetle!
Weird Al Yankovic smartly skewered how slurry the song is with his parody, "Smells Like Nirvana." Two classic moments include "It's hard to bargle nawdle zouss / With all these marbles in my mouth," and "The lyric sheet's so hard to find / What are the words? Oh, never mind." Truly a misheard-lyric classic.
Other songs are confusing because the lyrics come out rapid-fire and are often pretty random. On that list, I'd include:
"We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel.
Like all list songs, "Fire" trips listeners up with its sheer torrent of names and phrases, especially when the age groups singing it aren't familiar with topics such as Dien Bien Phu and children of Thalidomide. A few choice mishearings include: "Chocolate in the sewers" ("Trouble in the Suez"), "Gretchen's in Afghanistan" ("Russians in Afghanistan"), and "British beat Romania" ("British Beatlemania").
"It's the End of the World as We Know it," REM.
Sometimes it's the listy part of the song that trips people up ("Lenny Bruce in birthday pants," instead of "Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs"), sometimes it's just the chorus ("It's the end of the world, Eskimo it!").
"Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen.
Truly a classic, but it's got some awesomely misunderstood lines. "Wrap your hands 'round my INCHES?" "The highway's jammed with broken GYROS?" "CHUMPS like us, baby we were born to run?"
Plenty of other songs are just made for tripping us up. "I Am the Walrus," and "Stairway to Heaven" come to mind right away. You can still share any misheard lyrics in the comments, but especially note any songs that seem to be written in the key of slur.