When you sing along to the new Taylor Swift song, "Blank Space," are you belting out "all the lonely Starbucks lovers?" How about Rihanna's 2011 song "We Found Love?" You do know the love was found in a "hopeless place," not fallen into in an office space, right?
"Mondegreen," the word for misinterpreting a song lyric came from an essay writer, according to PRI. Sylvia Wright misheard a line from a Scottish ballad. Instead of the correct line ("They hae slain the Earl o' Moray, And laid him on the green."), Wright heard, "They hae slain the Earl o' Moray, And Lady Mondegreen."
As it happens, scientists have looked into this one too. When we hear something, sounds are partly responsible, but coupled with what we hope to hear. A study published earlier this year studied the phenomenon of the mondegreen and even mentioned the wittiness of misheard lyrics as a potential perpetuator.
Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, echoed that idea when he told PRI "when we understand what someone says, it's always at least partly a hallucination."
"There's a piece of what we understand that comes from the sound that comes in our ear," Liberman told PRI, but "there's a piece of what we understand that comes from the expectations in our brain."
If your brain doesn't process what was said, or it was just hard to hear, the brain translates the jumbled information as something that makes sense. "And, of course, songs tend to have lyrics that are a little bit unexpected or unusual," Liberman told PRI. "It's what makes songs interesting."
The website Kiss This Guy, named for the often misheard "excuse me, while I kiss this guy," line from Jimi Hendrix's song "Purple Haze," is devoted to absurd mondegreens.
Some more gems:
R.E.M. "Losing My Religion"
Mondegreen: "Let's pee in the corner. Let's pee in the spotlight."
Real line: "That's me in the corner. That's me in the spotlight."
Robert Palmer "Addicted To Love"
Mondegreen: "Might as well face it, you're a d**k with a glove."
Real line: "Might as well face it, you're addicted to love."
ABBA "Dancing Queen"
Mondegreen: "See that girl. Watch her scream. Kicking the dancing queen."
Real line: "See that girl. Watch that scene. Dig in the dancing queen."
What are your favorite misheard lyrics?