We Built this City On Sausage Rolls: The Most Misheard Song Lyrics
There’s nothing funnier than hearing someone miss-sing the lyrics to a song on the radio. There was this one time that I overheard my dad while singing along to Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets”, sing, “She’s got electric boobs, a bowl of soup,” with a straight face. That was eight years ago, and it still makes me laugh every single day.
Today, we pay homage to all the dads, moms, friends, and coworkers who have unknowingly miss-sang the lyrics to a song and have been justifiably ridiculed ever since. And maybe, by highlighting some of the most misheard lyrics in the music biz, we’ll save some sorry music fan a lifetime of embarrassment.
It’s time to drop the needle on the most misheard song lyrics of all time!
We Built this City On Sausage Rolls
It just wouldn’t be right if we started this list off any other way.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Nobody built any city on sausage rolls. That would be impossible. But to be fair, nobody built a city on Rock N’ Roll either, but that didn’t stop Starship from writing a song about it.
Starship released their iconic song “We Built This City” in 1985, and it’s been tormenting the public at large ever since. Some misheard the lyrics to great embarrassment. Others are just trying to forget that the 80s ever happened.
Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy
Now, the 60s were certainly a time for free love and slashing cultural norms. Even still, mishearing Hendrix’s iconic line in “Purple Haze” left more than a few people scratching their heads.
The track effectively vaulted the career of the Jimi Hendrix Experience into the stratosphere. And it’s easy to see why. Gritty guitar solos, aggressive vocals, thumping drumbeats; it’s a masterpiece.
But, after all these years, it’s time to finally clear the air. Hendrix is actually singing “excuse me while I kiss the sky”, not “excuse me while I kiss this guy.”
Feel the Beat from the Tangerine
If you’ve ever grown up in the world with a mom, then it’s safe to say you’ve heard this song. ABBA was, and still is, a sensation. Hailing from Sweden, the band invaded the North American pop charts, largely off of the back of their uber-catchy dance track, “Dancing Queen.”
Maybe it’s there subtle Swedish accents, maybe it’s their hypnotizing good looks, or perhaps most fans are too focused on dancing to actually pay attention to the lyrics. Either way, what should have been heard as “feel the beat from the tambourine” is commonly misheard as “feel the beat from the tangerine.”
A poppadom (or papadum) is a delicious crack-like dish and a popular staple of South Indian cuisine. Although they may be a popular addition to your upcoming potluck, I doubt that they’re tasty enough to inspire Madonna to put pen to paper. The song is actually called “Papa Don’t Preach,” and much to my dismay, it contains no veiled references to Indian snacks.
Poppadoms don’t even make an appearance in Kelly Osbourne’s strange version. But, the less said about Kelly Osbourne singing Madonna, the better.
Carry a Laser
Now this one I completely understand. I mean, how is anyone supposed to know that Mr. Mister’s frontman is actually singing “Kyrie Eleison” and not “carry a laser.” Mr. Mister’s popular 80s era track, “Kyrie” hit the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in March of 1986, misheard lyrics be damned.
Fun fact, Kyrie Elieson is actually a Greek phrase that roughly translates to “Lord, have mercy.” Hold that one tight for your next pub trivia night.
I absolutely adore Adele. Her gritty voice, poignant lyrics, and unrivaled vocal ability never ceases to stop me in my tracks whenever I’m hopelessly searching my memory for that one thing that I was supposed to get at the grocery store. But girl, you’ve really got to work on that diction.
Adele’s smash hit, “Chasing Pavements” was the second single off of her whirlwind debut record 19. And, even though the popularly misheard lyrics are actually in the title of the song, people still think she’s singing about penguins.
I’m Farting Carrots
Ahem, excuse Ms. Gomez. I think you have some explaining to do.
Upon further investigation, Selena Gomez doesn’t, in fact, utilize her chart-topping hit “Good for You” to inform the world about the gassiness of root vegetables. So, before you embarrass yourself at karaoke night, Selena Gomez is actually saying “I’m fourteen carats” and not “I’m farting carrots”.
Dyslexics on Fire
Caleb Followill, lead singer of the international powerhouse rock group Kings of Leon, doesn’t care about diction. That much is clear. He’s more concerned with looking cool and, you know, selling millions of albums. Although he may have had his troubles with alcohol in the past, I doubt he’s ever been drunk enough to encourage the masses to set dyslexics on fire.
No, the lyrics are “your sex is on fire.” I mean, it’s right there in the song’s title!
Saving His Life from this Warm Sausage Tea
Queen has graced Western culture with a full catalog full of anthemic, sing-along rock operas. And, the undisputed champion of that catalog is, without a doubt, “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Big, bold, unique and… confusing? Apparently so.
I’ve never seen it in person, but apparently, someone somewhere heard the popular lyric not as “Saving his life from this monstrosity”, but as “saving his life from this warm sausage tea”. I mean, warm sausage tea sure sounds monstrous, but it certainly isn’t a life or death situation.
Sweet Dreams are Made of Cheese
One of the few glam-rock hits to make it out of the 80s unscathed is “Sweet Dreams” by the British music duo, Eurythmics. The song has been covered countless times across multiple musical genres. Thankfully, none of those coverers broken-telephoned their cover to include this silly misrepresentation.
Sweet dreams are made of THESE, not CHEESE. Unless, of course, we’re talking about some sort of jam encrusted cheese spread. Then, dream away.
All the Lonely Starbucks Lovers
It wouldn’t be out of character for Taylor Swift to talk about angry lovers or even Starbucks for that matter. Swift, for all her songwriting acumen, knows her audience and constantly gears her lyrics accordingly.
In this case, though, the lyrics in Swift’s international numero uno “Blank Space” have been grossly misunderstood. How the actual lyric of “I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers” was heard as “all the lonely Starbucks lovers” is anyone’s guess.
Personally, I blame the Starbucks marketing team.
Then I Saw Her Face, Now I’m Gonna Leave Her
It’s time to clear the air! No, The Monkees weren’t describing a horrific blind-date scenario. Though I’m sure they could have made even that a hit.
With their 1966 release of “I’m a Believer,” the Monkees set out to tell the romantic tale of unlocking the secret of true love in an instant. The lyrics, when heard on a hi-fi with stereo sound, actually say “then I saw her face, now I’m a believer”.
Here We Are Now, In Containers
Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” shook the very foundation of rock music. Gritty, volatile, revolutionary. Cobain’s lyrics are also, to borrow a line from the great 20th Century philosopher Lisa Simpson, an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in a plaid shirt.
What I’m trying to say is that I can understand the person that heard, “here we are now, entertain us” as “here we are now, in containers.” I may be able to forgive those people, too. As long as they repent, of course.
Hold Me Closer Tony Danza
Last, but certainly not least, is one of the most popular misheard lyrics of all time. This one comes by way of the popular 90s sitcom Friends.
To be fair to Pheobe, who wouldn’t want Tony Danza to hold them closer? After all, to know Tony Danza is to love him.
Sadly, Elton John was actually asking his Tiny Dancer to hold him closer. Which is not nearly as much fun.