5 Songs No One Actually Knows The Lyrics To

Say you’re taking off on a road trip with some friends. You have everything you need for a movie-montage worthy drive: cool sunglasses, a convertible, and, of course, an awesome soundtrack for the road. Your friend pops in CD number one and the first song starts to blare from the car’s fuzzy speakers. Suddenly, regardless of gender, all your friends transform into “WOOH” girls, screeching their love for the tune and singing along. You don’t know a single word.

We’ve all been there. Maybe it’s a new song that catches you off guard, or a classic that everyone supposedly loves but you’ve never heard before. Or maybe you’re the woman in that VW Passat commercial who is convinced that Elton John’s “Rocketman” is really about Provolone. Regardless, it’s a sticky situation. Do you try to learn as you go and pretend to sing along? Do you play the “I’m too cool for this song” card and roll your eyes? Do you fess up?

Luckily, there are a few songs out there that let us all off the hook. Not because they’re uncool or predictable, but because no one actually knows the words. Don’t worry; it’s still ok to love them. It’s even ok to “WOOH!” You’re just free to hum nonsensicals without judgment. Finally.

1. “Yellow Ledbetter“ by Pearl Jam

Ah, the classic that practically started the “misheard lyrics” website trend. With YouTube lyric interpretations boasting 6 million views, it’s hard not to wonder if anyone actually knows the words to this song, Pearl Jam members included. I do want to believe that this classic 90’s power rock ballad is not, in fact, about wizards and Bennigans and potato waves but honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever know.

Oh, and “Ledbetter?” I’m thinking even the TITLE might be misheard. Am I the only one who hears that and thinks, “bed wetter”?

2. “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

I first heard this song in college. I shared a dorm floor with a girl who, despite her college-level education, didn’t seem to know how to use her inside voice. Her laugh was loud, her hairdryer was loud, her phone conversations about what to text back to the guy whose pants she wanted to get into were loud. It fits, then, that she also didn’t believe in headphones. She loved this song. I didn’t really have a choice but to love it, too.

Even after all those agonizing replays, I’m not sure I know the real words. I think half the fun, though, is in creating the lyrics for yourself. I have fond memories of stomping in squishy rain boots through the gale that was Hurricane Irene singing “Come on IRENE,” which was mind-blowingly original, if I do say so myself.

3. “September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire

“Hey, you know that song, September?”
“Mmm… nope. Let’s listen to Ke$haaa!”
“You do too know it, it’s by Earth Wind and Fire.”
“Come on, it’s that song that’s in like a million movies. Here, listen…”
“WOO! Yeah, I love this song! BAHH DE YAAAA…”

…And so goes every discussion ever held ever between Generation Y members about Earth Wind and Fire’s “September.” I’m willing to bet my life, or at least exclusive rights to my lyrics to “Come on IRENE,” that the majority of people who “love” this song probably don’t even know the name of it. They simply recognize it from one movie trailer or another. Seriously, I just looked it up. It’s known for 63 soundtracks. That’s sixty-three TV shows and movies! I bet most of them don’t even take place in September.

4. “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies

If you can sing this entire song from memory, and are not an actual member of the Barenaked Ladies, I salute you. You are a very rare individual. It’s nearly impossible to keep up, even with the lyrics written in front of you.

I once spent an entire road trip listening to this song on repeat, trying to learn all the words. I finally got: “gotta-see-the-show-cause-then-you’ll-know-the-vertigo-is-gonna-grow-cuz-it’s-so-dangerous-you’ll-have-to-sign-a-waiver” by ear after about an hour and nearly side swept a mini-van in my excitement. I’ve never done karaoke before, but I’m determined that, if I ever do, this will be the song I sing. It’s going to take a lot more car trips before I have that down.

5. “The Numa Numa Song”

Wait, this song does have an actual name, doesn’t it? And an artist? Not that it really matters; “numa numa” is the only thing anyone knows from this Internet hit. That and the guy who dances to this song via webcam, pumping his fist in an entirely un-Guido fashion and raising an eyebrow to the beat. His You-Tube video has over 46 million hits. Take that, Pearl Jam and your potato waves. TC mark

image – Pablo Lobato


More From Thought Catalog

  • Confused Billiam

    I’m a huge BNL fanboy, so I do know… about 90% of that song just from memory.  

    Now, can I sing it well?  No, because it moves at a ridiculous pace.  But I do know it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/HayesJB Justin Hayes

    Don’t forget “Mmmbop”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9383035 Scott Muska

    I don’t make films, but if I did they’d have a samurai.

  • the talking bear

    Let us not forget Radio Free Europe by REM – no clue what’s going there…

  • Kenny

    What about Blue by Eiffel 65?

  • Trololo

    ‘It Wasn’t Me’ by Shaggy.

  • guest

    REM’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”… all that everyone knows is “it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”

    • http://robvincent.net Rob T Firefly

       Also “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by BIlly Joel.  99% of people know just enough to mumble along with “dededoodoobadaboobooMARILYN MON-ROE.”

    • Guestropod

      and “feeling pretty psyched” 

  • cass

    I used to know the entire BNL song.  beginning to end.  and I could almost keep up.  not so much anymore!

  • pornstar

    No “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy? Even at karaoke poople are all like “dubuh dubuh dubuh dubuh dubuh dub…. villa”

  • emma, stoned

    challenge accepted

  • Sooz

    5) I think it’s called Dragostea Din Tei

  • Laura

    Oh my God- so true about September. 

    I was thinking, “What on earth song is that?!” Youtubed it and of course I know it! 

  • DJ Yoyo

    afafkljefkjkaekjlvkadkaeij AAYYEE MACARENAAA !

  • Sara

    chickadee china the chinese chicken, have a drumstick and your brain starts ticking, watching x flies with the lights on, we’re dans la maison …. … aquaman!
    my trademark lyric from one week.

  • Susie

    ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind should be on this list. 

    I only say this because I know all the words when most people don’t and I like to shove it in those people’s  faces. 

    • Alexa

      it’s even funnier when they finally do learn the lyrics and realize it’s a song about meth….and sex

      • Emma

        probably has something to do with the fact that they awkwardly block out crystal meth on teh radio.

  • http://twitter.com/iamthe0nly Jordana Bevan

    hold it now and watch the hoodwink as i make you stop, think you’ll think you’re lookin at aquaman. i summon fish to the dish though i like the chalet swiss, i like the sushi cuz it’s never touched the frying pan………. IT’S BEEN ONE WEEK SINCE YOU LOOKED AT ME LALALALALLALALA

    now it’s stuck in my head all day THANK YOU!

    • Sweetpea9852


  • AllyMae

    I remember Dragosta Din Tei WAAY before it became “The Numa Numa Song”! Me and my Ukrainian friend used to love it!

    • guestpost

      it’s by o-zone and it’s a romanian song. also, it rocks.

      • Ana

        Moldavian. ex-romania:)

  • Alexa

    can’t forget the 1992 smash hit Informer by Snow. I dare anyone to correctly sing that song from start to finish
    “Inforrrrrrrrmer yanosdadiasnomeagoblaaaaaaaaaaaa, a licky boom boom down” – everyone who thinks they know all the lyrics

    • h-may

      I just looked up the lyrics to the song. They still make no goddamn sense to me at all.

  • GetBusy


    • Aelya

      You mean “Shana Paal” 

      • Alexa

        lmao for the longest time my friend was 100% convinced his name was Sean DePaul

    • yes

      As soon as I saw the title, I thought… Temperature!

    • Miss Kana Kana

      In 2004, I had to transcribe the first half of Get Busy in International Phonetic Alphabet.  It took three hours and I still have this song pretty much memorized.

  • Alexa

    ironically enough, my iTunes shuffle decided to play Even Flow by Pearl Jam, another one of their “misheard lyrics” gems
    others include (although they’re in german): Rock Me Amadeus by Falco and 99 Luftballons by Nena

    also, any song by shaggy or sean paul; I’m not sure those guys are even speaking english

  • http://twitter.com/akpersad Andrew Persad

    To this day I firmly believe no one knows the words to the Macarena.

  • ashley

    yeeeah… i decided to karaoke “come on, eileen” once. turns out that there are a lot of words in that song that aren’t “come on, eileen.”

  • Ana

    Dragostea din Tei, by the moldavian band O-zone. I’m romanian, so I know the lyrics. They make no sense whatsoever, you’re not losing much.

  • http://www.about.me/tanyasalyers Tanya Salyers

    I used to think ‘Paradise City’ was “prairie dog city.”  I was very much mistaken.

    • Morethanariver

      I thought I was the only one! My friends still give me shit for it…

      • http://www.about.me/tanyasalyers Tanya Salyers

        wow, I really thought I was crazy by how much shit I got for it! 

  • Amanda

    you forget “work it” by misy elliot.. most especially the chorus… i just googled it actually and it turns out it’s simply a reverse of the prior line.. who knew

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