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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

The opposite of Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics - an instrumental tune never intended to have lyrics is given some, often for humorous or ironic effect.

Gaining popularity on the Internet (e.g. Brental Floss of Screwattack with Nintendo game themes, and That Guy With The Glasses doing it to 1980s cartoon themes), but the practice has been around for a while - e.g. The Two Ronnies once did it with a big-band performance of In The Mood.

Examples of With Lyrics include:

Anime and Manga


 With you we prospect

and new paths we'll pave

May it shine, this new light and spirit

together we create the glorious and resounding!



  • Charlie Chaplin added lyrics to his theme for A Countess from Hong Kong to make the Petula Clark hit "This Is Your Song."
    • Also, "Smile" (a standard popularized by Nat King Cole) was adapted from an instrumental theme from Chaplin's Modern Times.
      • It's also been covered by Michael Jackson as well.
  • The film My Fellow Americans has both the rival ex-presidents admitting to coming up with their own lyrics for 'Hail To The Chief'.
    • Kevin Kline in Dave also has fun with 'Hail to the Chief' while showering: "Hail to the Chief, he's the one we all say hail to..."
  • This very NSFW song, set to to the main theme from Jurassic Park.
  • When Marvin Hamlisch adapted Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" for the movie The Sting, either he or his lyricist added lyrics. "Now the curtain is going up / The entertainer is taking a bow"

Live-Action TV


 The Words to Well-Known Doctor Who Themes: Although the location-footage music in "City of Death" is instrumental, everyone who hears it instinctively knows that the words are, "Running through Paris, we're running through Paris, we're running through Paris, we're running through France"...


 Stargate — it's a crazy trip.

You can go quite far,

And you don't need a car

Or even a ship.


 Nor-mal view, nor-mal VIEW, nor-mal VIEW, nor-mal VIEWWWWWW!

  • The theme from Star Trek: The Original Series has lyrics, which have never been used. This was not for humorous effect, but because of the way royalties for songs work in Hollywood. Roddenberry discovered that if a song had lyrics, the lyricist got royalties every time the song was used, even if the lyrics weren't. So, he whipped up some silly romantic lyrics for the theme, made them official, and received a little extra money for every airing of the original series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the movies, and... yeah. This understandably pissed off composer Alexander Courage and caused him to leave the series.
    • Roddenberry didn't discover this, Hanna-Barbera did.
  • In The Young and The Restless, a version of the theme song with lyrics is sung by Gina.
  • For some reason, the French version of the opening theme for The A-Team has lyrics, whereas the original was instrumental only (save for the opening narration). The lyrics did work though - even though they're definitely eighties.
  • In a Taxi episode, Reverend Jim is set up on a date with Marcia Wallace of The Bob Newhart Show, and regales her with the lyrics he's composed for the show's theme: "Here comes Bob and Carol/His wife, Emily, really likes him/He has five people in his group..."
    • Nick at Nite used to do this in promos, for Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie too, though in at least one of those cases there actually were unused lyrics for the song..
  • The sitcom Buffalo Bill featured Dabney Coleman as the titular Bill, who hosts a morning TV talk show. In one episode, he decided to "spice up" the show by adding his own lyrics to the theme song:


The people 'round here do some talking;

Turn on your T.V. set,

Turn on your T.V. and see!

  • Bill Murray did this with the main theme of Star Wars on SNL
    • Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars...
  • The Star Wars Holiday Special had Carrie Fisher sing the Life Day song to the tune of the Star Wars theme...
  • In one of the Academy Awards, Will Ferrell and Jack Black added lyrics to the song played when a speech gets overtly long.
  • Eddie, from the late 90's sitcom Malcolm & Eddie, came up with a get rich quick scheme that involved invoking this trope. One theme he added lyrics to was the Sanford and Son theme.
  • "Live show, it's a Thirty Rock live show. It's 30 Rock live!"
    • And for the west coast: "Let's talk about sushi. Portland, Vegas, Glendale, this is 30 Rock!"
  • Some fans of Game of Thrones have come to associate these lyrics to the incredibly catchy theme song:

 Hey, it's

Time to watch, Game

Game of Throoooones...

  • According to Joss Whedon on one DVD commentary track, the theme song to Angel goes "Angel iiis a vampire/Who fiiights criiime with hiiis friends..."


  • The Megas is a band devoted to this; particularly the classic Mega Man 2 games. Their album "Get Equipped" covers all the songs from Mega Man 2, and they are working on some songs from number 3. Oh, and both the lyrics and music are actually very good.
    • The series itself did this in the third Mega Man Star Force game, where the theme song, Shooting Star, was given lyrics that were sung during one of Sonia's concerts. Sadly, it only showed up in text form and wasn't actually sung...
  • The Adventures of Duane and BrandO is in the same vein as The Megas, though with more of a focus on the protagonists than the villains. They are most well-known for their youtube videos for such games as Final Fantasy and Mega Man 2 (over a million hits for FF!). They're damned good.
  • In Flanders and Swann's "Ill Wind," the singer laments the theft of his French horn to the tune of a Mozart French horn concerto.
  • This is, more or less, the entirety of the genre of vocalese. Manhattan Transfer's version of "Birdland" (an instrumental composition by the jazz fusion band Weather Report) is a good example.
  • Barbershop example: the Gas House Gang ('93 world champs) did this by putting a plot summary of Mozart's The Magic Flute to the much-more-well-known tune of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

 Ju-urassic Park, Ju-urassic Park,

where the dinosaurs are free-ee

  • Hoagy Carmichael originally wrote "Stardust" as an instrumental--and a ragtime piano solo, at that--and the lyrics were added later by Mitchell Parish. Nowadays, the words and music are generally regarded as having always been together.
  • Pianist Floyd Cramer wrote "Last Date" as an instrumental. In 1960, Skeeter Davis and Boudleaux Bryant wrote lyrics, and Skeeter recorded the lyrical version as "My Last Date with You". Later on, Conway Twitty wrote his own lyrics as "Lost Her Love on Our Last Date", which was later Covered Up by Emmylou Harris as "Lost His Love on Our Last Date".
  • E.S. Posthumus's first album was fully instrumental. Their second album included lyrics in a Latin derivative.
  • Stevie Wonder wrote "The Tears of a Clown" as an instrumental but couldn't come up with any lyrics. Smokey Robinson thought it sounded like a circus, and obliged.
  • It's more rap than singing, but Sweetbox's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" was Bach's Air on the G String turned into R&B.
  • Sheldon Harnick, Broadway lyricist best known for Fiddler On the Roof, was commissioned to write lyrics to Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" in the late '50s, but his lyrics(known as "The Man with the Sign") were all but forgotten. The theme of his lyrics, that the freedom to express unpopular points of view is important to a Democratic society, may have been too controversial for the era of Joe McCarthey. His lyrics tell about a lone protester carrying a sign, and how the singer, while vehemently disagreeing with the protester's views, supports his right to protest, since it means he is free. You can read (most of) the lyrics here.

 "But the man with the sign's a friend of mine

All alone in his proud endeavor

And as long as I fight for this man's right

That's the glory of the stars and stripes forever.

Yes, the man with the sign's a friend of mine

All alone in his proud endeavor.

For the sign says to me, "This man is free!"

That's the story of the Stars and Stripes Forever."

  • Singer Helmut Lotti has written lyrics to several classical music pieces.
  • Duke Ellington: It's reported that the Signature Song "Take the 'A' Train" was originally written with lyrics, but the earliest recordings of the song were completely instrumental and the lyrics were apparently lost or discarded. The Delta Rhythm Boys ended up recording a version of the song with their own lyrics. Independently, the 17-year-old Joya Sherrill also came up with lyrics for the song; when she sang them for Duke, he was so impressed that he hired her as a vocalist and adopted those lyrics.
  • Orbital: The Box EP ended with a vocal version of the title track, with Grant Fulton and Alison Goldfrapp singing.
  • "A Lover's Concerto", which is sung to the tune of "Minuet in G" by Johann Sebastian Bach.
  • Bob Keeshan, AKA Captain Kangaroo, narrated a children's record of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite". Lyrics telling the story are given to each piece. For example, the famous "March" comes on when the toys (mostly stuffed animals) come to life; it begins with: "Dogs followed by cats and kangaroos/all marching along in step by twos..."
  • The Brian Setzer's Orchestra's "One More Night With You" provided lyrics for a swing arrangement of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King".
  • The Beastie Boys' joke song "The Biz Vs. The Nuge" samples the first half-minute of Ted Nugent's "Homeward Bound", with Biz Markie singing along to the guitar riff.
  • A common treatment to previously instrumental trance anthems, such as Darude's "Out of Control(Back For More)"(featuring Tammy Marie), Tiesto's "(Sub)Urban Train"(featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw), Rank 1's "Breathing(Airwave 2003)" and "It's Up to You(Symsonic)"(both featuring Shanokee), and Armin van Buuren's "Shivers" (featuring Susanna, originally "Birth of an Angel").
  • Trans-Siberian Orchestra frequently does this. Notable example, "Christmas Canon", based on Pachabel's "Canon in D".
  • Straight No Chaser's "Christmas Can-Can", to the tune of The Galop from "Orpheus in the Underworld" features these lyrics:

 "Come, let's all do the Christmas Can Can,

If you can't, can't dance then that's okay.

(Not gonna do the kickline)

All you need are a tree, some lights,

About a thousand presents, wrap them up and pray for snow.


    • Ditto for "Kick the Can" by Bus Stop and "Can Can World" by Makkeroni.
  • TV's Kyle wrote lyrics for the music from Super Mario Bros. 2, found here.
  • Ferry Corsten produced a lyrical version of his previous single "Punk" titled "Junk", with rapper Guru. "Galaxia", an early production by him under the alias Moonman (later remade under his own name), also had a vocal version.
  • Energy 52's "Cafe del Mar", their sole song of note, was lyricized by Fragma as "Man in the Moon".
  • Calexico, at some of their live shows, would take their instrumental "Frontera" and perform it with the lyrics from their song "Trigger".

Professional Wrestling



Video Games

Web Original


 Link, he come to town

Come to save the Princess Zelda

Ganon took her away

And now the children won't play

But they will when Link saves the day



 I'm going to play Majora's Mask

And I'm gonna suck at even the smallest task

But I know you guys

Probably won't seem to mind

So I'd better get off my behind

My behind, my behind, my behind now


 Irate Gamer's not a gamer

Irate Gamer sells to people

Crappy DVDs and T-shirts

Irate Gamer is a pee-hole


Western Animation

  • In The Simpsons episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", the auditions for the titular group include Jasper singing made-up lyrics to the Theme from A Summer Place (which actually does have a rarely-heard set of lyrics).

 Theme from A Summer Place

From A Summer Place

The theme from A Summer Place

It's the theme...

  • Yakko's "Nations of the World", to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance, would count here...
    • As would most of the songs in Animaniacs. "Wakko's America" and "The Presidents Song" being the ones as big as the one above.
  • "Kill Da Wabbit Kill Da Wabbit" - a subversion, as the rid of the Valkyries (as well as everything else that's sung in that number) does have sung parts; however, Elmer and Bugs are singing the instrumental lines. Its predecessor, The Rabbit Of Seville, is a more representative example, there being no words at all during Rossini's famous overture.
    • For the same song, from The Emperor's New School: "Kuzco Allegiance, Kuzco Allegiance, Kuzco Allegiance, day is today!"
  • Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers has a Public Domain Soundtrack, with lyrics added to various classical pieces.
  • Sleeping Beauty has a more serious application of this, with many of Tchaikovsky's ballet dances turned into songs.
  • Two Saturday morning cartoons from the 1980s, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show and Shirt Tales, added lyrics to their theme tunes between seasons.
  • The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Sonic's Song" had Catty Carlyle singing a lyrical version of the show's theme song.
  • The familiar theme song to The Flintstones started off as a piece of background music during the show's first two years, before it eventually became the theme song itself. Prior to that, though, a version of the song with completely different lyrics appeared on an album released during the show's second year.
  • At the end of the first Robot Chicken Star Wars episode, there's a musical called "Empire on Ice" with various music from The Empire Strikes Back in song form.
    • The second special repurposed the famous Cantina music as a potential jingle for "Akbar's Fishsticks".
  • Do the Mario!
  • A tribute to the themes of composer John Williams, "John Williams is the Man", applies Star Wars-themed lyrics to several of his scores, none of which were written for Star Wars to begin with.
  • During DVD commentary on Superman: The Animated Series, producer Bruce Timm joked that this is a requirement with the Man of Steel. You can't give him a theme song that doesn't want to make you sing Superman along.
  • One episode of King of the Hill features an irritating client of Strickland Propane (loosely based on George Bush) singing made up lyrics to the Dallas theme (badly off-key, we might add).
    • JR, JR, he's a really bad guy! He lives on a ranch with his mom!
  • "Leftover Goulash" from Arthur, which is mainly sung to the tune of "The Toreador's Song" from the George Bizet opera Carmen, but also contains other classical pieces as well, like "Ein Klein Nachtmuzik" ("Nothing brown/or nothing soupy...") and "Beethoven's 5th Symphony" (DW complaining about things tasting like fish).