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File:Pearls-bernstein 764.png

Five including "that's", "great", and "it".[1]


"We bankrupt all invaders, we sell them souvenirs

We ner ner ner ner ner, hner ner hner by the ears

Er hner we ner ner ner ner ner

Er ner ner hner ner, nher hner ner ner (etc.)

Ner hner ner, your gleaming swords...:

You know that song that you know all the words to? This is not that song.

This is that song where the lyrics move so quickly or are so garbled that you know only the one word or phrase that is shouted very clearly.

The name of the trope comes from "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" by REM. It begins "That's great! It starts with an earthquake..." and then (aside from the Title Drop in the chorus) your guess is good as ours until the only part of any of the verses that anyone knows properly: "LEO-NARD BERN-STEIN!" So attempts to sing along to usually go "something something Leonard Bernstein".

Any and all foreign songs with a token English word when listened to by a person only fluent in English will often fall into this as well. For instance, Japanese songs with Gratuitous English.

Compare Mondegreen, Second Verse Curse, Chorus-Only Song, Refrain From Assuming and Single-Stanza Song. Related to Indecipherable Lyrics, the point here being that there is at least one word or phrase that everyone will know and shout out with gusto to make up for not knowing the rest. This phenomenon is often caused by the Perishing Alt Rock Voice.

Note, it's not being able to decipher the lyrics rather than not being able to remember them. Also, if you're going to put in an example, put down what the one special word or phrase that everybody absolutely gets is. If you can't do that, then put it in Indecipherable Lyrics.

For the record, the lines immediately preceding in "It's The End Of The World As We Know It" are "The other night, I tripped a nice continental drift divide, Mount Saint Edelite"[2] It was difficult even for R.E.M. - Michael Stipe didn't finally memorize the lyrics to the song until around a decade after it first appeared on an album. He brought up a lyric sheet to do the song live before that, and there are several instances where he lost the sheet and had to make do... until he got to Something Something Leonard Bernstein.

Examples of Something Something Leonard Bernstein include:

  • The Trope Namers as covered by Canadian folk band Great Big Sea is, believe it or not, even worse for the confusion; the speed is upped about 30% and a number of additional instrumental tracks (like the fiddle) are added. And it's so much fun!
    • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Homer the Moe", where R.E.M. makes a guest appearance (already without Bill Berry at the time) and Homer further Mondegreens their song:

 Leonid whats-his-name, Herman Munster Motorcade

Birthday party, Cheetos, pogo sticks and lemonade

You symbiotic stupid jerk, that's right, Flanders, I'm talking about you!

  • Agnhsgaksvbaoisbvasdfkavgbabfbaeubkjbkhbkjnjena EEEEEEH MACARENA!
  • Great Big Sea, mentioned above, also produced the following version of the traditional Scottish folk song "Mari-mac", already a tongue-twister; until you actually read the words it sounds like "Marimacmorramarrymemarrymorresmakingmemarrymarimac, wellimgonnamarrymariformewennamarrytakingcarrime; weelallbeferrinmerrywerrymarrymarimac!" ...and that's just the chorus. Add in the violins, the group singers, the yelling and the fact that they perform accelerando, and the whole thingjustpilesupanfallsonyurheadmoreaspirinpleasevicar.
  • "Battery", by Metallica. "Da da da da da da du du da da da da, dadadada BAT-TA-RAY!"
  • Led Zeppelin's "Carouselambra" is so instrument heavy that it's difficult to understand Robert Plant at any point in the song, save for his recurring wails and "but guard the seed" (he even complained that the vocals were mixed too low). It doesn't help that the whole thing is made of Word Salad Lyrics.
  • "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana - Most people can only pick out "here we are now" and something about "stupid and contagious" (and maybe the endless repetitions of "hello") Despite the lyrics being quite clear on the verses, no one seems to know them.
    • The Weird Al Yankovic parody, Smells Like Nirvana, lampshades and notes this by having a section where Weird Al deliberately mumbles garbage while on the video subtitles go from translating it into actual words to translating it to "bargle nawdle zouss" before finally descending into "???". Then he continues with "with all these marbles in my mouth"... spitting out said marbles.

 Sing distinctly? We don't wanna!

Buy our album! We're Nirvana!



 Well I'm yelling, and we're playing,

But I don't know what I'm saying!



SHVINGA SCHWER SHVINGA DINGA HUMBA. ("Where women glow and men plunder/chunder")

KIPPA LOOP DIPPA DOPP DA DOOPA. ("Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?")

LOOK AT ME WITH A BRAND NEW HYUNDAI. ("You'd better run, you'd better take cover")

    • There's also Peter's Christmas album. Among others, he mangles one line from "Little Drummer Boy" into "I brought these gifts for you, they're up in my bum."
    • Peter does the exact same thing as the Trope Namers. It Makes Sense in Context since he had a stroke on the left side of his body and might be able to sing it normally if he wasn't in such a condition.
  • "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen: The fact that no one could understand anything except "Louie louiiie" launched a Congressional investigation into the possibility of dirty lyrics. The general assumption that the slurred lyrics were something dirty inspired a number of covers, including Iggy Pop's downright profane version.
    • Which makes the fact that it almost wound up the state anthem for Washington State even more hilarious. Ask some state residents and you'll find more than a few who think it really is the official anthem, rather than the fan preferred version.
    • "Louie Louie" is famous for this, and is often picked on for it by Dave Barry. There was also a commercial in the late '90s which featured the song and scrolled nonsensical gibberish in place of actual lyrics to parody how difficult it was to understand the song.
      • Animal House also lampshades the difficulties when Bluto teaches the freshmen frat members a more obscene version of the song. To their credit, though, the soundtrack actually has a well-sung — even comprehensible! — version sung by none other than Mr. Belushi himself!
      • Bloom County did a Sunday strip during the 1988 Presidential elections where each of the candidates (George Bush, Michael Dukakis, and Bill the Cat) translated the song based on what they could understand, as if it would tell the public something about them all. Since the ad was sponsored by Bill's people, it takes jabs at Bush ("Iran-Contra thing makes me phlegm") and Dukakis ("Kitty she leads me everywhere") while saying Bill's translation, which isn't even legible English half the time, "revealed a simple honesty".
  • "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam - "Oooooeeeeeeyeeeeeahahhhhhh... da da da da da da something concrete". And most of their other songs, but this one gets made fun of the most once people realize they don't know it.
    • Most would contend that "Yellow Ledbetter" is the more quintessential garbled Pearl Jam (not that there is a dearth of selection, mind you) as illustrated by this slice of hilarity
      • Unsurprising, as Eddie Vedder was making up the words as he went along on the recording.
    • "Go" makes "Even Flow" sound totally understandable in comparison - "Wamsbesamsubaeoh, naybeedesham, movenososwifly, wessubsheson, apubegodosubahem, should've pulled the alarm!". Uhh...what?
  • In the "foreign song with lone English word" category is the Mai Ha Hi song, officially Dragostea Din Tei aka Numa Numa. The alternate names come from basically the only foreign words people can make sense of. If you speak English and you haven't memorized one of the many Mondegreen videos like these, singing along will go something like "Mai Ha hi, Mai Ha ha, Hello, Salut, mbmmblmblmbmlfmblfml Picassooooo". In Japanese, Numa Numa sounds like Noma Noma meaning "Drink! Drink!" so it became popular as a drinking song. Considering how much alcohol that implies, remembering the lyrics is going to pale next to the problem of remembering your own name.
    • Brazil has a weird twist on this song, since the garbled lyrics might be mixed with a raunchy Portuguese version which became popular (sometimes phonetical: "verchyra" became "orgy").
    • Ameliorated (somewhat) by the fact that the same group also produced an English version of the song, although it's still no miracle of clarity. Possibly justified by the singers' fairly heavy accents.
  • Snow's "Informer". "Informer, something something something something something, a licky boom boom down..." Let's just put it this way: MTV ran it with subtitles.
    • Jim Carrey sang a parody/cover back when he was "the white guy on In Living Color" called "Imposter". Go ahead and YouTube it.
    • The style Snow was using, dancehall complete with a Jamaican-esque accent, also causes problems with other artists using that same style. If someone claims they know the lyrics of a Sean Paul song just from listening? Odds are they're lying. "We be burning... da da da da."
  • Family Guy ranted about this that you can understand only the last three words of Sting's songs - It's funny because it's true? You decide.
  • "Technical Difficulties" by Julien-K, from the first live-action Transformers movie. "We are/ something technical/ something" a few times, and then "Nothing is working, please stand by." The rest of the song is lost not in fast delivery, but electronic distortion and very little contrast.
    • And to some, Kick the Bass by the same group is worse - "Great song, and I only know the first line." It's apparently about girls and parties, but good luck figuring that out with the mushy audio and the lyrics not fitting in with the overall feel of the song.
    • The first first Transformers movie had an entire soundtrack full of this.."
  • "She Drives Me Crazy" by Fine Young Cannibals; if the high falsetto alone didn't make it near impossible to sing along to, there's also the fact that the only bit you'll get is part of the chorus: "She drives me crazy and I can't help myself."
  • The Covered Up of Traffic's "Feelin' Alright" by Joe Cocker. Can't understand anything but "Feelin' Alright, not feelin that good my self..."
  • "Telephone Call From Istanbul", along with many other Tom Waits songs.


  • The infamous cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Most people think can only pick the title out of "She was blinded by the light, revved up like a Deuce, another runner in the night" due to the enunciation of many of the lyrics.
    • Made even more irritating by the fact that the original lyric is "Cut loose like a deuce." Apparently Mann couldn't figure out the lyrics to the song he was covering, in a cross between this trope, Adaptation Decay, and Did Not Do the Research.
    • It doesn't help that the way Mann's singer sings "deuce" makes it sound like "douche".
    • This troper grew up convinced the lyrics were 'a douchenary roller in the night' and spent many years wondering what a douchenery was.
      • Canadian comedy troupe The Vacant Lot had a sketch about just this situation, including that same misheard lyric.
  • The song "Valerie" by Steve Winwood. A combination of a lot of treble in the mix and a high-pitched male vocal in the original song tends to result in soprano gargling in the verses, and a chorus which can approximated thus: imaeer... onauuhhon... val-er-IEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE...callme...val-er-IEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... callme... cumandCEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... imsemohboyteusetapeer.
    • Notably, the Eric Prydz song "Call on Me", which sampled the chorus of "Valerie", inadvertently lampshaded this trope — in that Prydz sampled the lyric "Call on Me" as pretty much the only lyric that was understandable from the original song. And even that isn't recognized perfectly: see the "Colony" fad on YTMND.
  • "Auld Lang Syne" is a difficult one because the original poem was in Scots which made it too hard for the Sassenach to ken its meaning apart from the first line "Should auld acquintance be forgot...". So then people tried to make English versions but more than one were made so nobody knew the same version and since the only time you sing it is when you're drunk at 00:01 on New Year's Day, in a large crowd of people who all have different versions with the only guy who really knows it being that one really keen Scottish guy, you never actually learn any of those version and just stick to "ouagh aaugh AAAUGH Aaughu AAUUGH AAUGH".
    • Though, on that note, O Flower of Scotland usually receives the same fate at rugby matches: "OH FLOWER OF SCOTLAND RAWR RAWR RAWR RAWR~ RAWR RAWR RAWR RAWR~!"
      • There's even a middle verse that never gets sung because few people know it even exists, let alone the words to it.
  • The chorus of "Stayin' Alive", by The Bee Gees. "muttermuttermuttermuttermuttermuttermuttermutter STAYIN' ALIVE! STAYIN' ALIVE!" The falsetto doesn't help either.
  • Non-Spanish speakers sing the opening line of "La Bamba" as just "a-la-la-la la bamba" or "Bala bala ba La Bamba" rather than "Para bailar la bamba." Weird Al Yankovic didn't help there.
    • British comedian Bill Bailey has a minor sketch based around that song where it is described as a "Karaoke black hole".
  • Made even worse in the Raving Rabbids version, which is delivered about an octave above its usual pitch. Meaning that half the words can only be heard by your dog.
  • And an oldie along the same lines: Does anyone know more of the lyrics to "La Cucaracha" than simply the title phrase?

  "La cucaracha, la cucaracha! Enchilada blah blah blah!"


  La cucaracha, la cucaracha, dunnanunnanunnanuh!

    • Being a traditional song, it has several versions that differ from the 4th line onward:

 1: La cucaracha, la cucaracha /la kuka'ratSa, la kuka'ratSa/ The cockroach, the cockroach

2: ya no puede caminar /ja no 'pweDe kami'nar/ cannot walk anymore

3: porque no tiene, porque le falta /'porke no 'tiene, 'porke le 'falta/ because it doesn't have, because it's lacking

4a: la patita principal. /la pa'tita prinsi'pal/ its main leg.

4b: las dos patitas de atrás. /las dos pa'titas de a'tras/ its two back legs.

4c: una patita para caminar/una pa'titas pa'ra ca'min'ar/ a leg to walk with.

4d: marihuana pa' fumar. /mari'wana pa fu'mar/ marijuana to smoke.

  • Raise your hand if you ever figured out the rest of the chorus besides "MMMBop". Didn't think so. (It's Scatting.)
  • Richard Thompson's website Q&A has arguably the funniest invocation of this. The poor man can be forgiven; the song's in Renaissance Italian.
  • The theme song to The Big Bang Theory by Barenaked Ladies is centred around a sped-up description of... everything, so it's hard to catch all but the beginning and the end, leading to "Our whole universe was in a hot dense state--mumblemumblemumble WE BUILT THE PYRAMIDS!"
    • That line is also sung as a gang vocal, so even though anyone who's watched the show since the beginning should have been able to pick up all the lyrics by now, most viewers will still only sing along with that part, and the "BANG!" at the end.
    • That's not nearly as bad as "One Week" by the same band: "It's been one week...sorry...tiny nuts...Harrison week..." Most people (well, non fans) remember it as the 'Chickety China, the Chinese Chicken' song.
  • And once again Weird Al Yankovic steps in. Is it any wonder that his alternate lyrics so often end up eclipsing the original words to songs nobody can decipher/remember? After all, he has to enunciate or the jokes would fall flat.
  • If you hear Hoagy Carmichael's "The Monkey Song" and don't understand most of the lyrics, you're hardly alone. This was demonstrated on The Stan Freberg Show.
  • "Nothin' to Lose" by Josh Gracin. It's hard to get anything but "Oh yeah, by the way she moves" in the chorus, or anything in the verses. The bridge is at least a little slower.
  • "I Want You" by Savage Garden comes close, since the words go fast, you can barely comprehend them, all except for the last few words of every line, one of which is "Chik-a-cherry cola", which is sometimes a nickname for the people who don't know the real name of the song.
  • Australian singer James Reyne is notorious for his indeciperable strine accent, often rendering the lyrics of his songs completely unintelligible. He was regularly parodied in Australian media for this, to such an extent that his old band Australian Crawl are still widely known as Australian Drawl. Classic examples include the Australian Crawl songs "Errol" and "Things Don't Seem", as well as his first solo single, "Fall of Rome".
    • It Got Worse with "Boys Light Up", with one part that sounds like gibberish... and actually is: the word "dorsetted" was made up solely so he could rhyme "corseted".
    • James Reyne didn't actually sing "Errol": Guy McDonough did the vocals for that one. But really, the best example for James Reyne's indecipherable singing has got to be "Beautiful People" — if it weren't for the fact that it's the title of the song, there's no way anyone would understand what the hell that lyric was supposed to be.
  • Buckethead's "We Are One" is nigh impossible to comprehend, thanks to guest vocalist Serj Tankian's rapid-fire lyrical delivery. The only clear part is "Do you know, that we are one..."; the rest sounds vaguely like scat singing punctuated by drum beats. And that's just the first part...
  • Most people familiar with Neutral Milk Hotel can tell you that The King of Carrot Flowers Parts Two & Three starts off with Jeff Mangum bellowing "IIIIIIII LOOOOOOOOVE YOOOOOOU JEEEEEEEESUSSSSSS CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIST," but... not that much past that point.
  • Here's a site for deciphering Elton John's lyrics if you're stuck. "She's got electric boots, a mohair suit, you know, I read it in a magazine".
    • "you know a yaddayaddayaddayaddaeIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIaaaa oh....B-B-B-Bennie and the Jetssssssss....."
      • From 27 Dresses:

 Hey, kids shake it loose-- a lemon

Gotta make a feather

You're gonna heara handsome music

So the walrus sounds

Say, Penny's no longer in a cement jet

Ooh, but you're so laced down

Buh, buh, buh, buh Bennie and the Jets

Oo, in the wind and the waterfall

Oh, baby, she's a revocaine

She's got electric boobs

And mohair shoes

You know I read it in a magazi-ine!

Oh, oh, buh, buh, buh Bennie and the Jets

  • The beginning of Nightwish's Fantasmic basically goes "Wish upon a star, nwlasfjdkcldnsfcnsal, take my ham, nwsdlkjncklcxfndskjl..."

 "Wish! Upon, a star, believe in will, the realm of the king, of fantasy, the master of, the tale-like lore, the way to kingdom I adore, where the warrior's heart is pure, where the stories will come true", repeat.

    • Oh, that's nothing. Wait till part 3.

 Welcome to my bee, fsdakfnwkalfjewlksdlkfnckldsnflkwdhjlfkndslkfndskl succubi, lskdmlkafnkdlsnslkdnclglksdfnvclsdnflk Brundlebee

Well, yeah, that one's a wordgasm about the Disney Animated Canon sung in stereotypically unintelligible "I'm-a twenty-years-trained real-life opera-singer", so it also fits under Indecipherable Lyrics for two distinct reasons, and Word Salad Lyrics, which thus also makes it Troperrific, which fits. They're 'good'.

  • Aaron G., who frequently does vocals for Naoki's songs in Dance Dance Revolution, has a talent for really fast rapping. The lyrics to Dynamite Rave scroll quite fast on DDR 3rd Mix's karaoke lyrics, and later games removed the lyrics display altogether, so for most people singing along, the rap section's lyrics might as well be "Techno rave, mumblemumblemumble mumblemumblemumble mumblemumblemumble... DYNAMITE RAVE mumblemumblemumble..." It helps that the Title Drop is in all caps in the official lyrics.
  • Persona 3's main battle theme, "Mass Destruction" has rapping. Fast rapping. Other songs in the game sung in English by Japanese people, like the opening theme song "Burn my Dread" are an example of this too, but not as bad as this:
    • It happened again in the sequel- although 'Reach Out To The Truth' is a much better battle theme, it's almost impossible to make out any of the lyrics other than "I face out, I hold out, I reach out to the truth of my life" and "can you let me out, can you let me out, can you set me free from this dernernerIdunnotherest".
    • In the same game, the theme of The Hub, "Backside of the TV." Aside from "Duhduhnana, duhduhnana, FEEL NO PAIN" from the intro, and "Somethingwhatever, cantunderstand, WHATCHU GONNA DO" in the rapping segment, the song is fairly incomprehensible without looking up the lyrics.
    • Continued again in the remake of the first game, though with singing instead of rap:

  Save me from that blooooody destiny! How do feel said jeema ahfewjfhweiulehwf like this!

    • And yet again in Persona 3 Portable, with the rapping back.

  Demolition! Wiping all out! I want nose! Davewfwbefjwawaevaeipwhzc!

  • System of a Down's "IEAIAIO" was made for the sole reason of taking this trope to eleven, so as a result, the original REM song sounds really clear and articulate in comparison.
    • "Fighting crime/with a partner/Lois Lane/Jimmy Carter"? The only easily intelligible word is the "WHY?!" at the end of each line.
    • Probably their most famous example is the opening verse of "Chop Suey" which is pretty much made of this. While most of the song is fairly slow and easy to make out, the most that most people can get from the opening is "WAKE UP! DunnernunnernunnernunnerMAKE-UP! HusserfussermusserfusserSHAKE-UP! HajamajhajafajaTABLE! Heemamummaheemamumma(somethingthatrhymeswith)ABLE!" and then the whole thing again with "YOU WANTED TO" at the start of every line. (The actual lyrics are surprisingly easy- "Wake up/Grab a brush and put a little make-up/Hide the scars to fade away the shake-up/Why'd you leave the keys upon the table?/Here you go create another fable.")
    • This happens with a LOT of System Of A Down's music, actually.
  • Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come on Eileen." Aside from the title, the rest is largely unintelligible, as the backing vocals frequently overlap with the singer's words: "Come on Eileen, swear la la means, la la la means everything, pretty white dress, la la la la-ness, la la la la... toora loora toora loo-rye aye!"
  • Maximum the Hormone's "Chu Chu Lovely Muni Muni Mura Mura". The title is the first four lines, followed by garbled (Japanese? Engrish?) words (Purin purin boron nururu rerorero/Pudding pudding boron drip-drip lick-lick) and "VINYL VINYL VINYL VINYL VINYL VINYL SEX!!" Remember to shout extra loud on 'sex'.
    • Another good example from Maximum the Hormone: "What's Up People?" See if you can remember any of the words aside from "Hey Hey", something that sounds like "ravenga".
    • The word is ningen, which is Japanese for human, but most people probably heard it as the N word.
      • This is a rather interesting case since the only lyrics people think they understand are probably 'Hey, hey ningen sucker *japanense gibberish* ningen fucker'. Turns out it's actually 'Hey, hey! Ningen sanka ai nige ningen fuan ka?' This was most likely intentional Mondegreen.
    • Another nother good example from Maximum the Hormone, Zetsubou Billy - "Kira! Even a Kira! My name is Kira!..."
  • Duran Duran's "Hold Back the Rain", being a mishmash of decent enunciation and indecipherable mushmouthery (and the lyrics don't make a lot of sense in the first place, further confounding efforts), is full of this. Like the end of the chorus: "Na da gerroh so help me, please... hold back the rain!"
  • While much of Gucci Mane's I'm a Star is easy to decipher, the second verse absolutely murders any sense of lyrical comprehension. Good luck understanding anything without the assistance of subtitles.
  •'s Bill Simmons did a running diary of WrestleMania XXVI and demonstrated why rapping and wrestling don't mix.

 0:01: For our first match, tag-team championship belts are on the line: R-Truth (a rapper/wrestler) and John Morrison (an entertaining Jim Morrison ripoff) challenging the champs, The Big Show and The Miz (carrying two belts apiece, for some reason). R-Truth came out prancing and singing his hit song, "What's Up?" The lyrics go like this: "Shshshn cnbcnsbdb fhdehsh fhdhs dhdhan dbdjdndjd dbdbdbdbdb shshsnhs ffrhdhhjs xbcxbbffgfhhj WHAT'S UP? WHAT'S UP? WHAT'S UP? WHAT'S UP?" I don't think he wrote that one with Burt Bacharach and Carly Simon.

  • Blur's "Song 2" goes, "WOO-HOO!" The rest of the refrain consists of semi-distorted English-sounding rambles. The verses are slightly easier to understand, but it's not like anyone knows those anyway. Considering the refrain was used nigh-everywhere in adverts and the like, especially in America, it gets this treatment a lot.
    • The irony is this song was written with the sole purpose of taking the piss out of grunge, and it ended up becoming an archetype for it.
  • "Prisencolinensinainciusol," by Adriano Celentano - mostly because aside from a few Title Drops and the occasional "all right," "baby," and one carefully enunciated "girls," it's complete Word Puree Lyrics.
    • Um, that was completely intentional. He just wanted to duplicate what English sounded like to native Italian speakers—i.e. nonsense.
  • According to Eddie Izzard, the United States National Anthem is this to most Americans.
      • "It's because we're human. We only like to learn a little bit of a song. I mean, above that, the words could be anything — but then they hear that bit, and people go berserk at that point. You have people running in from other rooms. FIVE GOLD RINGS!!!"
  • GOLD RUSH from Beatmania IIDX 14: GOLD. Thanks in part to the fact that the lyrics are entirely in English but sung with a thick Japanese accent, about the only two discernable phrases are "Make it! Make money!" and "TWO DEE ECKS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!!!" The remix used in Pop'n Music also adds "SENGOKU RETSUDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!" to the list.
  • "Rap is a Man's Soul". It's almost impossible to make sense out of the verses (even if you know the words). However, most of the people here know the chorus.
    • "Libera Me (from Hell)" is worse, unless you're fluent in Latin.
  • Song 10 by Zebrahead. Even worse that the band never put the lyrics in with the album, claiming the lyrics don't exist. The only words everyone can agree on are "YEAH! WESTSIDE!"
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld series has this in-universe - the official anthem of the City of Ankh-Morpork has a first verse and a chorus, but the second verse...

 We bankrupt all invaders, we sell them souvenirs

We ner ner ner ner ner, hner ner hner by the ears

Er hner we ner ner ner ner ner

Er ner ner hner ner, nher hner ner ner (etc.)

Ner hner ner, your gleaming swords...

    • And those are the official lyrics, based on the logic that nobody remembers the second verse of a national anthem anyway.
  • The band Tool is an interesting variant, in that whilst the words would be quite comprehensible on their own, they do not boost the volume of the vocalist as much as other bands do, leading to a more instrumental experience. For instance, in the song "Vicarious", "Vicarious" is about the only word anyone picks out of the song, though attempts to sing along end up with "Vicarious! mumble mumu-umble" ("Vicarious I live while the whole word dies"), for three reasons: 1) It's the title, 2) The singer near-shouts the word 3) it comes at an instrumental lull.
    • Somethingaboutalienscomingdownandcalmingaguydownwithadrinkandanorangesliceandtellingme you are the chosen one. - "Rosetta Stoned"
  • Lampshaded in Argentinian comic strip Mafalda:

 Manolito: How can you like The Beatles if you don't understand a word of what they're saying?

Mafalda: So? Many people like dogs and nobody understands what "woof" means.

  • The pre-chorus of "Always" by Erasure, made famous from Robot Unicorn Attack seems to go "When it's cold outside, da da da da daaay, HOLD ON THE NIGHT, THERE WILL BE NO SHAME!"
    • Andy Bell's occasionally cryptic lyrics, high tessitura, and penchant for jamming words into awkward spaces make this sort of thing relatively commonplace in Erasure songs.
  • Sinbad pointed this in one stand-up show where he used "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty By Nature (the one where the chorus involves chanting "Hey! Ho!" and waving your arms) as a sort of theme song. At one point when the song is playing, he stops to remark "Y'all don't know the other words, do you? It's like, 'Ma-namanamanamana (hereitcomes) HEY! HO!'"
  • Pere Ubu, a weird band to begin with, have a song call "Street Waves," in which the only comprehensible words are "I ride a street wave." As they don't ever release their lyrics, no one's even sure about this part.
    • "Street Waves" aside, at least 95% of Pere Ubu's oeuvre is indecipherable due to David Thomas' squawking, blubbering vocal delivery and the band's bizarre, often esoteric lyrics.
      • For added fun, track down a Pere Ubu record, try writing down what you hear, then go to their website and look up the lyrics. Compare results.
      • Not so. I recently bought their album New Picnic Time, which has the lyrics in the liner notes.
  • Dave. Effing. Matthews. Usually only one or two words in his songs are immediately understandable, and they're almost always the title (example: Iiii'm the kinguh the caaaastle, ammonia and glass oh crash in to me and more slurring than that helps keep people from realising what Crash Into Me is about. Another example: And all the little ants are marching, reh uh ah and en uh waaaaving...). Admittedly, the Dave Matthews Band covered Louie Louie as well.
  • "El Mañana" by Gorillaz: "Do da faaaaaaaiiiii. Maybe in time, you'll want to be mine. So ma gaaaaay..."
    • "Re-hash": "It's the sweet sen-sation, oh bah de dop/ a lot of situations, doh bana stop. It's the crash spots, oh boy/ it's' the money an' stuff....
    • (From the B-side of Demon Days) "Spitting Out the Demons": "Spitting out the demons-Demons!/ Popping outta holes (Good Times)/ Spitting out the demons/ (incomprehensible slurring)"
      • "Feel Good Inc" is this to a lesser degree. After the initial 'City's breaking down on a camel's back' people tend to go silent til the chorus.
      • "Punk" has only two discernible words, "shut up".
      • Damon's verses on "Do Ya Thing" contain such lines as "You got a folding chair, and you don't know what to do".
  • Lady Gaga (well, technically Colby O'Donis, but still): When I come through on the dance floor checkin out that catalogue. Can’t believe my eyes so many women without a flaw. mumblemumblemumble--JUST DANCE, GONNA BE OKAY.
  • Christopher Durang's Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge has a number of people at a bar attempting to sing "Good King Wenceslas": "Da da da da... moon that night, though the frost was cruel! Da da da da... came in sight... something... Christmas gruel...?"
  • Clear Mind by Masaaki Endoh has a ton of English pieces in it; some pronounced well, some not. Mots of them, like "Keep on Burning Soul" or "Crazy Keep on Driving", make no sense; so even if you hear the lyrics correctly, you may second-guess your understanding of them.
  • The 'Singular-English-line' variant appears in the Rammstein song Amerika, with growled German lyrics for the majority of the song, and the chorus "We're all living in America, America, it's wunderbar."
  • "Dr. Feelgood" by Motley Crue. The rapid-fire, nasally vocals are non-stop, and most people give up and sing along to the guitar riff for the chorus: "Nananananananana FEEL GOOD! Nananananananana ALL RIGHT! Nananananananana FEEL GOOD! Something something FRANKENSTEIN!" How bad is it? Vince Neil himself is having troubles performing it live, and ends up singing like this. No shame using a teleprompt, Vince.
  • Radiohead at times. Karma police[3], I-dont-know-the-words, this is what you get, this is what you get...
    • "Myxomatosis" makes "Karma Police" sound like a sparkling triumph of enunciation. "Zmugma cafkeebone, owning half a head. To see it to shut up, towallis noofow frehhh. He said I benawaiyawaaaa. Asleplyfoolala.[4] She ate me up for breakfast, she screwed me in a vice."
    • Pyramid Song. If you can understand anything after the first line or two then congratulations. "Awehaahwetehwenemelaohboy" [5] indeed.
    • "I'm a creep, amawanooow."
    • No Surprises, and the only part you understand, you understand it because it's the Title. "Mumblemumblemumble No Surprises mumblemumblemumblemumble No Surprises Please"
    • Apparentely, Feral has lyrics. I have never been able to make out anything past the Title Drop and even that is debatable.
  • "They're Red Hot" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. The first time you listen to it, you'll probably only be able to make out the occasional "red hot", if you're even that lucky.
    • The original version by Robert Johnson is somewhat slower and easier to understand.
    • "By the Way" is pretty fierce, too, except for the chorus.

  STEAK KNIFE, CARD SHARP, CON JOB, BOOT CUT, kisifsifdfaiiisfdsavagccgdifhsuvdfajgeiraghgioaewkigdhauhfjdlv, DOG TOWN, BLOOD BATH...

    • Usually pretty much all of their older songs fall in this trope, really. Try understanding anything in "Fight Like A Brave" except the chorus for example.

  The fire in your brain willghafjafjafinsainn, yuweaheaejk, enebenebmenegheinn, so don't ghebeda, afahafweweqwainakekweainqwiewieqwain blahblahblah FIGHT LIKE A BRAVE...

  • Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady". Utterly lyrically incomprehensible.
  • Phoenix's 1901. Try understanding any lyrics besides "Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey" or "Folded Folded Folded Folded." Even they could be difficult to decipher.
  • The Red Dwarf theme song for some people. "Nananannananaanaaa MANGO JUICE!"
  • Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People". Most people only know the words "The beautiful people, the beautiful people".
  • Disturbed singer David Draiman's style has a way of doing this for three reasons:

 1. He's rather well-known for his rapid-fire delivery.

2. His voice is weird-sounding to most first-time listeners.

3. His style involves Scatting to create a vocal melody to work best with the song then applying lyrics later, making him occasionally mumble the lyrics since this is how he first experienced it (which created the scat section in "The Game").

    • For the most part, just about the entire discography could count (though "Voices", "Sons of Plunder", "The Night", "Asylum" and "This Moment" are particular stand-outs).
  • The song "Born Slippy .NUXX" by Underworld may be one of the most recognizable dance songs of the 90's, and is especially popular in England. However, it features heavy echo/reverb effects over the vocals, and most people are only able to pick out the word "boy" at the end of a few lines, as well as the famous "Shouting 'Lager, lager, lager lager'" bit.
  • In-Universe example for the animated adaptation of Horton Hatches The Egg:

  Horton (singing): Rise, and shine, and so on and so forth...

  • This was Bernie Mac's response to Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" when he hosted the 2001 Billboard Music Awards.

 Y'all don't know any of the words, you just like the "It Wasn't Me" part.

  • MIA has had a number of songs that fit this trope. There's "Paper Planes": "I fly like peppah get high like planes, if you catch me on the corner Ima meesim mihmah nay / if you come around hey- I'm naked all day / I get one dom inna simpah neffa way..."
  • The Doobie Brothers has, at the very least, "China Grove", which this troper admits to not even understanding the refrain of for years: "Well the people 'n' the peep, noo joo me cross[6] / they are the talk of the town... People are some kind the strange / damn Mrs. Perkins again[7].... WOAH-HO, CHINA GROVE!"
    • One way you can pick out someone from San Antonio is that they know a bit more than the above lyrics in said song, because "China Grove" is a song about a community called China Grove in south San Antonio. There's a bit about "old San Antone" and another one about "they just keep on lookin' to the East" in the song that refer to S.A. and is thus instantly pick-uppable for S.A. natives. Oh, and it's "dear Mrs. Perkins' a game".
  • Talking Heads "Burnin' Down the House": "What's that?/ Ching fanna army naftah!/ Who's there?/ Dee fellow party's over!/ I'm in... ordinary high! BURNIN' DOWN THE HOUSE!
    • The big problem here is that the line before the title drop is "I am an ordinary guy" and there is no one on Earth who can understand why David Byrne would say that about himself.
    • "Something something OH OH, got some Wild Wild Life, something something something OH OH, got some Wild Wild Life." Problematic because the song has multiple choruses, with "Wild, Wild Life" being the common thread lyrically for all of them - mixing up pieces from each chorus is common.
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun has one of these in-universe. The first verse of their mission song is:

 Across the void we come a warping

Across the fields of stars we soar

We pledge to land and something something

Dum da da da dum da da da SPACESHIP!

  • Every patter song ever written! Gilbert and Sullivan? To begin with, the Major General song and It Really Doesn't Matter, in which they actually lampshade it--the line "this particularly rapid unintelligible patter isn't generally heard" is repeated several times! [it should be noted here that, theoretically, while the actors are singing, for the most part the characters aren't supposed to be, rendering this line even more amusing] Admittedly, the singers in this sort of situation are generally of a degree of skill such that they do enunciate every word clearly, but at that speed? And even if you can hear and understand it (not a given in a theater!) that doesn't mean that you know the words; most people likely can't recite much of the Major General song beyond "I am the very model of a modern major general"!
    • Well, most people who aren't trained actors or singers. The Major General song is a standard speech exercise during training because it's so difficult to do.
  • The average Italian-speaker probably can't remember/recite more of Mina's Brava than the occasional phrase. She sings really fast, and at some impressive pitches!
  • SASKATCHEWAN by Les Trois Accords. The song is probably insanely easy to sing along to in French, but all English singers can do is SasKATchewaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
  • "99 Luftballons" (which translates to 99 Air Balloons, NOT 99 Red Balloons, but that's a whole different issue), is sung entirely in German except for two words.

  da da da da, CAPTAIN KIRK.

  • Stephen Foster's "My Old Kentucky Home" is Kentucky's state song that is sung before the Kentucky Derby. Most Kentucky schoolchildren know few of the lyrics other than "My Old Kentucky Home" and "... gay...", which they of course shout at the top of their lungs.
  • "Get Free" by The Vines - The verses are perfectly intelligible, but once it gets to the chorus, you're most likely only going to be able to make out "come in, come in, come in" and maybe "you know you really oughta". The excerpt of it in Weird Al Yankovic's "Angry White Boy Polka" does make things a lot clearer.
  • The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated". "Munnnananana nana munnananuna munnabunnanunna something else in gibberish, nunanuna ma na, na, na, Bum, bum, bum-bum, bum-bum, bum, bum-bum I WANNA BE SEDATED!!" And that song is one of their most intelligible. Unlike, say, "Let's Keep Up"... er, "Blitzkrieg Bop".
    • Since Punk Rock doesn't put a very high value on diction, many of its songs fall victim to this. For instance, Black Flag's "Rise Above": "Something something something something bla bla bla...RISE ABOVE, WE'RE GONNA RISE ABOVE!"
  • Due to the fast pace and Irish accents, no one knows the verses in The Rocky Road to Dublin. For the most part you can get the chorus, but it still sounds something like "One, two, three, four, five! Huthehaandturnum, down the rocky road and all the way to Dublin. Whackfaloldida!" (Well, that last bit is just noises.)
    • "Hunt the hare and turn 'er down the rocky road: all the way to Dublin. Whack-fo-lal-de-ra." (Those 'noises' are called lilting.)
  • Todd in the Shadows declares this on Flo Rida.

 Every Flo Rida song is basically just gibberish 'til the chorus anyway. Nobody cares! "Bah bah bur rur, Leonard Bernstein...." Whatever!

    • And The Rap Critic calls this on Mystikal (even comparing him to Yosemite Sam), saying the only line he understood was "I came in here with my dick in my hand!".
  • To those who don't know Swedish, "dance-a ????? clap-a ?????? ????? Caramelldansen!"
  • "Pudding Time" by Primus starts off with "Munipapa ganibaba teddebepa baidu paypaypaypay oooooooooo", which apparently means "You can have a lollypop/ a candy bar, a jelly bean/ I'll buy you a rainbow/ to hang above your door". Whoda thunk it?
  • "Jesus Built My Hotrod" by Ministry, throughout the entire song. Doesn't help that some of it is gibberish.
  • Wet Wet Wet. My god. Wet Wet Wet. So much of their music revolves around this. For example, Sweet Little Mystery, in which it is impossible to make out the lyrics other than, "Sweet Little Mystery, that makes me try, try, try, try!" Even if you grew up listening to their music, you will still struggle.
  • Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire". When singing in concert, Billy has said that if he forgets a line he just looks over to one of his bandmates who is always mouthing the lyrics to himself. For this song the guy just shrugged and told Joel he was on his own. His own band can't remember the words! For the 3 of you who haven't heard it, it's not so much that the lyrics are mumbled, but that they go by so fast that by the time you've deciphered one line, 2 more have gone by. The chorus is the only part that everybody knows.
    • In the song's favor though, at least the words are understandable. Plus, it has an overarching theme (although that doesn't help at all either).
  • Inverted with the Speed Test. It's the same thing over and over and starts out fairly slow, but start at 5:10 and see how many words you can make out.

  MOVING ON! Garblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarblegarble Trevor Grayden.

  • Manamana hole in the ceiling/Bagibasef to you from the essence of my being/And I sing to my God songs of love and feeling/Mawansheownow
  • Into the woods nuhnuhnuhnununuhnuhnuhnhunh, Into the woods nuhnuhunhunuhunuhunuhunh journey!
  • The lyrics to MC 900 Ft. Jesus' "I'm Going Straight To Heaven" are delivered so low and distorted that the only clearly audible lines are the Title Drop and the repeated refrain that precedes it ("everybody shut up and leave me alone"). (Actually the video provides the first two verses, but beyond that, you're on your own, kid.)
  • Thanks to the "Leekspin" video, all most international listeners can recite of the Finnish-language standard "Ieva's Polka" is the scatting section just before the final verse. However, things get twisted around two points: first, that section isn't even part of the actual song, having been added by the group Loituma for their version; and second, due to the improvisational nature of Scatting, the "words" to that part are never the same from one performance to the next.
  • The World Without Logos, also called LOGOS Naki WORLD, confuses almost everybody who hear it, thinking they just can't make out Yasushi Ishii's accent. As it turns out, it's because the lyrics mean literally nothing. Observe...
  • The chorus of the theme song to DuckTales: "DuckTales! Woohoo! Beh beh beh beh, beh beh beh beh, DuckTales! Woohoo!" In fact, even the Finnish-to-English soramimi lyrics on YTMND might be better known than the real English lyrics.
    • It's not the fact that the lyrics are hard to understand, but the fact that the stupid "DUCKTALES! A-WOO HOO!" is such an Ear Worm its hard to remember anything else around it.
  • Duh nah nah nah nah HOLLY-WOOOOOD! Da na na na na HOLLY-WOOOD! dun na na ba dah dah dah... Hooray For Hollywood's most famous song (which does have full lyrics), is a severe case of this. You either know none of the lyrics or that one part with the Hollywood.
  • The Beatles have several examples of this trope,including most of the rooftop concert:
    • "All these jugmumble been mumble water been mumble cos nobody told me, all they've been looking for is somebody who looked like you"
    • "Jojo was a man who thought mumble mumble[8], but he knew it couldn't last, Jojo left his home mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble[9] grass."
    • And, of course, "I Am The Walrus"- "mumble bumble mumble pornographic priestess...". Though that was total nonsense.
    • Parodied in a skit on Saturday Night Live with the fake commercial for J-Disc Presents: Ten Beatles Classics You Kind of Know the Words To. Sung by the Kind of Know the Words To Singers.
  • Most people only remember the refrain to "Mr Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan ("Hey Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me" and so on), and not the far more intricate verses that intersperse it (not helped by the far more well-known cover version by The Byrds which ommits the first verse altogether).
    • Also applicable to "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" (off of Bringing It All Back Home, just as "Mr Tambourine Man"). "Sometimes even the president of the United States has to stand naked" is the only line of the rather long and complex song audiences in the 60's really bothered to remember. This is probably because most people were still looking for clear anti-establishment messages in Dylan's lyrics, unable or unwilling to see that he'd moved on from straight-up protest songs to much more abstract beat poetry-influenced lyrics.
  • From the unofficial Homestuck Christmas Album, the lyrics to The Squiddles Save Christmas seem to literally be "Squiddles, Squiddles, Squiddles, something Squiddles."
  • Lampshaded in Sesame Street's "What's the Name of that Song?", "La de da de dum, la de da de dum, what's the name of that song...?" through "La de da de dum, la de da de dum, something something nice, la de da de dum, la de da de dum, I think it repeats itself twice..."
  • From Britney Spears: "One, two, three, nidamean youandme, oneminadagree, And I'm caught in between."
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni's ending. "Yami wo kirisaku, OH DESIRE! Something something something something..."
  • 'Round Christmas time, Fairytale of New York becomes this, if only because most people who are singing along are almost always drunk.

 mhmhmhmmhmhmhmhmhmmhmhmhmmhmhmhmhmhmmh, AND THE BELLS WERE RINGING OUT, FOR CHRISTMAS DAY!


  "The first line is 'it was Christmas Eve, babe', but from that point on... I'm not sure that the man who first sang it is entirely au fait with the words himself."

  • Interpol in "Say Hello To The Angels" - "When I'mfeelinglafhllgtwawgeguyseweuawiocomesblrghargawygrerhhwaioeawerhjhfme INTO MY AIRSPAAACE, MOVE INTO MY AIRSPAAACE"
  • Moxy Fruvous' Johnny Saucep'n - My name is Johnny saucep'n aklflhslkkljlkgjijismmfkldsjmunstersdkflskflskfdkldsjfkldkscabbage and the crawfish claws
  • "Take On Me" by A-ha is basically 50/50, between understandable and not (primarily due to the fact that the band is Norwegian).
  • J-Pop/Rock band The Pillows do this, featuring a few songs that have Japanese verses and English lines within the choruses. Sometimes English words are thrown in randomly for kicks.
  • Done deliberately in the Expository Theme Tune of Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness:

 He lives and he trains and he fights with the Furious Five

Protects the valley something something something something alive


  • The song "If I Should From Grace With God" by the Pogues featured in this car commercial is damn near indecipherable. About the only lyrics that can be clearly heard is the title of the song itself and "Let me go, boys..." The Pogues could be this trope for several songs.
  • Sephiroth's Leitmotif from Final Fantasy VII. Something indecipherable, probably Latin, something something something SEPHIROTH!
  • Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina", specially for those who don't speak Spanish (or a similar language) is a Chorus-Only Song where the chorus is "something something gasolina!" eight times.
  • Letter's To Cleo's "Here And Now" has a chorus that's mostly unintelligible due to Kay Hanley going into Motor Mouth mode: "ah huh huh ba ba, ba ba ba ba ras ababa ska, ah huh huh ba ba, ba ba ba ba sherbanowa sherbanowa HERE AND NOW! HERE AND NOW-OW-OW!"[10]
  • OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass", due to its Wall of Sound-like orchestration and heavy echo effects on the vocals, is largely indecipherable except for the resounding chorus of "WHEN THE MORNING COMES!"
  • "Hilikus" by early Incubus, due Brandon Boyd's fast rapping: "History has a tendency to blohkkadappappaladopeppelisaboutbaddelissadogoodta, fordehqwyegqwamme[11] syllables irhqwmehiqwaebdatto, webbeeaeguyeawguheddoteieaeibm[12] to it, GO!"
  • In theory, the theme to The Neverhood has lyrics. In reality, it sounds like this:

  Numauhauamunu - haunauamuanum, at the NEVEEEERHOOD! NEVEEEEERHOOD!

  • Unless you are a German-speaker or a singer, the only line you probably remember from Franz Schubert's setting of Goethe's "Der Erlkönig" is "Mein VAAAAAATERRR! Mein Vaaaterrr!"
  • One of the ghosts in Osohe Castle in Mother 3 sings his own version of the song that the ghost at the piano is playing, admitting that, while he likes the song, he doesn't quite have the lyrics down.
  • Angelspit's "Bullet Proof". The first line is perfectly understandable, but mostly it just sounds like "Lechers, with nametags, incomprehensible, incomprehensible, incomprehensible. Are you ready? Bullet proof, baby!"
  1. Six if you dissect "that's" into "that" and "is".
  2. Or "The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide, mountains sit in a line", as it appears in Rock Band
  3. arrest this man, he talks in math, he buzzes like a fridge, he's like a de-tuned radio
  4. The mongrel cat came home, holding half a head. Proceeded to show it off, to all its newfound friends. He said I've been where I liked, I slept with who I liked.
  5. I give up
  6. Well, the preacher and the teeacher, Lord, they're a caution
  7. The lyrics are different, though, as the first verse says, "The people of the town are strange, / and they're proud of where they came", and the second verse says, "They say that the father's insane, / and dear Mrs. Perkins' a game."
  8. he was a loner
  9. in Tuscon, Arizona, for some California
  10. translation: the comfort of the knowledge of a rise above the sky above could never parallel the challenge of an acquisition in the here and now, here and now
  11. block out the popular beliefs about the leaders of the time, so glisten with my
  12. and ponder the thought, maybe they should have had to dedicate more