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I get the odd night when I'm halfway through "Don't Look Back In Anger" when I say to myself. "I still don't know what these words mean!" I'm thinking what the... what the... "stand up beside the fireplace". Why?
Noel Gallagher of Oasis

Some songs are very lyrically direct. Other songs, however, are the musical equivalent of Word Salad Title. They might have some kind of symbolic meaning, the songwriter went for the feeling associated with the words rather than the direct meaning or maybe he/she just strung together a bunch of lines that sounded cool. Either way, the results are incomprehensible. Can also extend to the title (often so weird it isn't in the lyrics). Common results when listening is hearing the lyrics wrong or not even bothering to make up words.

A special case is Japanese music. A lot of apparently incomprehensible Japanese lyrics are actually puns or other wordplays based on alternate translations of the kanji used, similar-sounding words, or (most often) both. Much of what may seem gibberish even in the original Japanese, is actually clever and/or silly puns or Double Entendre for those who know their kanji well enough. Of course, a lot of the "alternate reading" wordplays are just as incomprehensible as the main readings. See the Azumanga Daioh example below.

Lyrical Shoehorn (which in literature is known as Dada Poetry) where words are used exclusively for their sound, cadence, and alliteration; with no concern for meaning.

See also Surreal Theme Tune, Scatting, Word Salad Title, Word Salad Philosophy, and The Walrus Was Paul. Not to be confused with Listeners Are Geniuses, where lyrics are loaded with literary, mythological, or pop-cultural references that are confusing only to non-geniuses.

Examples of Word Salad Lyrics include:



 Take me through the centuries to supersonic years

Electrifying enemy is drowning in his tears

All I have to give you is a love that never dies

The symptom of the universe is written in your eyes

    • Word of God that this song had a deep meaning when he wrote it, then he came down and forgot.
  • System of a Down does this sometimes. "DDevil" and "Vicinity Of Obscenity" are good examples.
    • "Banana banana/ banana terracotta/ banana terracotta/ teracotta pie./ Do we all/ learn defeat/ from the whores/ with bad feet?"
      • Ah, but there actually is a meaning behind Vicinity Of Obscenity. The common theory, at least, seems to be getting an STD from a whore who claims to be 'clean'.
    • Don't forget I-E-A-I-A-I-O. The verses consist of toungue twisters and the chorus consists of lyrical vowel sounds, but the best part comes toward the end. Knowing System Of A Down, there could very easily be a meaning, or maybe not.

 "Mine delusions acquainted,

Bubbles erotica,

Plutonium wedding rings,

Icicle stretchings,

Bicycle shoestrings,

One flag, flag everyone,

Painting the paintings of the alive!

      • -->One flag, flaggy, but one
    • How about Pictures?
      • Parachute your chocolate soul
  • Deftones have a few of these, such as "Engine No. 9":

 This ain't no motherfuckin' stick up just pick up the stick up

And watch it roll real close rolling out of my hand 'til

It cracks to that fucking dome living off the curb

That peels you from the curb a lick rest off

Do you dig many in '93 been making them fools 'bout

Round bumping around me you'll want to run from

Underground at the best walk the live from the verb

On the beats I won't see you fuckin' head

  • DragonForce. Their lead singer, ZP Theart, has admitted that the band's lyrics only have to sound cool and have the right number of syllables.
    • Possibly lampshaded in The Last Journey Home:

 Sever the soul from the forgotten sickness, escape this lie

Challenge the dream before the long departed, a mindless rhyme

  • Every single song by the Caliornian Doom Metal band Om. Every single one of them.
  • A lot of European Death/Black/Doom/Folk/Viking Metal can sound like this when the non-English-speaking musicians try to sing English lyrics; particularly when they're loaded with mythology or literary references.
  • Before they commercialized their sound in the late 1970s and wrote about partying, leather, Intercourse with You, and Ambiguously Gay imagery, Judas Priest of all bands wrote lyrics like this. Of course, this was the '70s, so songs like "Dissident Aggressor" are probably really about drugs.

 Through cracked, blackened memories

Of united dispersal

I face the impregnable wall

Stab, brawl! Punch, crawl!

Hooks to my brain are well in

Stab, brawl! Punch, crawl!

I know what I am, I'm Berlin


    • Even more so than their earlier work, more recently 'Judas Rising' has genuinely set a standard of bombastic meaninglessness, and it is awesome.

 White bolts of lightning

Came out of nowhere

Blinded the darkness

Created the storm

War in the heavens

Vengeance ignited

Torment and tempest

Attacks like a swarm

Forged out of flame, from chaos to destiny

Bringer of pain, forever undying

Judas is rising



 Well sweet little sista's high in hell cheat'n on a halo

grind in a odyssey holocaust heart kick on tomorrow

breakdown agony, said "ectasy" in overdrive she come a

riding on the world - thunder kiss'n ... 1965 - yeah - wow!

  • Rammstein's "Laichzeit" qualifies. Some fans think it's about sex because, well, many of their songs are and some parts of it can be explained this way, but most of it can't. It's more-or-less random words strung together or maybe real lyrics with every second word replaced by something else.
    • Similarly, from another Neue Deutsche Harte band, Eisbrecher, we have "This is Deutsch", which is a hilarious (if you speak German) parody of Gratuitous German. If you don't speak German, the song just sounds cool.
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan can be pretty damn confusing even if you somehow find out what their screaming about. Often their lyrics just sound like a variety of sentence fragments.
  • Heavy metal music is parodied by Brazilian satirical band Mamonas Assassinas in their song "Débil Metal" (a blatant throwback to Sepultura at that), sung in incoherently put-together English phrases:

 Walking in the dark, now there's just some cookies

Which is not for you, I know it's not yet

I just can't explain, it melts in my mouth

Dying to me now is popcorn

    • However, the chorus more than clarifies the song's message:

 Can't you understand?

Can't you understand, boy?

So shake your head

So shake your head, sucker


 Nervous flashlights scan my dreams

Liquid shadows silence their screams

I smile at the moon chasing water from the sky

I argue with the clouds stealing beauty from my eyes

    • Part 3 of "Octavarium" has shades of this as well, since it is just Mike Portnoy mashing up the titles of his favourite songs/bands etc., while keeping to the song's theme of "everything ends where it begins".

 Sailing on the seven seize the day tripper diem's ready

Jack the ripper owens wilson phillips and my supper's ready

Lucy in the sky with diamond dave's not here I come to save the

Day for nightmare cinema show me the way to get back home again

  • Not really sure what category Pure Reason Revolution falls under, but their lyrics certainly qualify. They seem to tell something... but not... quite... I equate it to a splash of red on a painting to represent an apple.
  • Melvins' lyrics frequently seem to consist of equal parts words that sound cool together, sentence fragments, and nonsense syllables. This is further compounded by their trademark sometimes unintelligible growled vocals, and the fact that they've only ever included printed lyrics to a few songs in their liner notes. "Hooch", the only song on the Houdini album to have it's lyrics printed, appeared on an episode of Beavis and Butthead, and amusingly Beavis' mondegreens made slightly more sense than the official lyrics. Compare "Exi-tease my ray day member half lost a beat away" to Beavis' "Exit is my raging member, band on a TV".
    • Given the absurdist leanings of the band to outright lie in interviews and have their main website designed to give absolutely no information, they're probably Lyrical Shoehorn material.
  • Annihilator's "Word Salad" from their 1989 album Alice In Hell.
  • Sonata Arctica have the Song My Dream's But A Drop Of Fuel For A Nightmare, which is about, well, dreams and dream imagery. It contains this beautiful part:

 Now I'm a target, I'm hot and frozen,

stormy rain I'm stuck in an elevator

wet from the muddy water,

breathing hot air, winds convey me...


the number talks and I cry in my own Hell....


Wide awake, I'm asleep, see a friend as a ghost

I'm skating with a seal,

the tarantula, the fly, the broken ring

the dusty little flea

an ugly giant, a disappointed child

here comes a rabid snake

the broken violin, a wild ballet

Shakespeare and company

refuse to kill the kitten scratching me...

  • Dio, "Holy Diver".

 Shiny diamonds

Like the eyes of a cat in the black and the blue

Something is coming for you...

Holy diver

You're the star of the masquerade

No need to look so afraid...

Ride the tiger

You can see his stripes but you know he's mean

Oh don't you see what I mean[1]

    • Dio is famous for this trope as a whole.
  • A feature of many Marilyn Manson songs, as exemplified in the following excerpt from "Doll-Dagga-Buzz-Buzz-Ziggety-Zag" (the title is one long line about pot):

 All the goose step girlies with the cursive faces and

We know it's all Braile beneath their skirts

I'm bulletproof bizzop and swing heil and

I don't really care what gentlemen prefer

    • Later in the same song, you get:

 Trumpet-mouth junky-saints go

Silver tongue marching down the stairway to substance

Cocaingels and asses give me opiate masses

Fill up your church porn preachers and we'll fill up our glasses

  • Metallica lyrics sometimes seem like a sequence of short, cool-sounding phrases, such as "The End of the Line".
    • It's a lot more prevalent on St. Anger and Death Magnetic than the 'classic' Lightning/Puppets/Justice albums, but a LOT of their less well known songs are essentially word-salad riffs on the theme of the song name.
      • And in fairness they never even really tried to go with deep, meaningful songs anyway instead opting for the infinitely less pretentious 'sounds badass to sing' approach.
  • Bruce Dickinson's Tears of the Dragon. The song is about being scared of the future;


I throw myself into the sea[2]

Release the wave let it wash over me[3]

To face the fear I once believed[4]

The tears of the dragon for you and for me[5]

  • Since Bruce was mentioned, when Iron Maiden isn't straightforward they get as wordy and trippy as possible. Their Filk Song "Brave New World" has many sentences which hardly have anything to do with Huxley (opening line: "Dying swans, twisted wings, beauty not needed here").
  • Dethklok's "Blood Ocean."

 Time. Lies. Trapped. Inside

Dark. Minds. Concubines.


Crickets. Cry. Shriek. The night.

Trapped. Ticks. Rule. The mind.


  • Faith No More, "Epic". It consists largely of contradictory references to an unspecified "it". Actually, most of Mike Patton's lyrics for his various projects would qualify.
    • "Epic" makes sense when you consider that it's about auto-fellatio.
    • "Land Of Sunshine" does this almost literally, since the lyrics are almost entirely taken from fortune cookies and a Dianetics questionnaire. The results almost make sense if read as a sarcastic parody of cults and self-help movements though.
    • Just about any of Chuck Mosley's lyrics qualify for this.[6]
  • "Abigail" by Fair To Midland contains this:

 If there's a nurse that takes your ears in rations

sets a plate to feed the stifled steel

if there's a nurse that feeds you germ-soaked dinners

on a tray of bones and orange peels


 For nature hates virginity

I wish to be touched

Not by the hands of where's and why's

But by the Oceans' minds.

  • Pretty much everything Fates Warning wrote in their early days.

 Flame is burning, center of a fountain yearning

Water springs eternal, spiritual water, physical fire

Above center is sky, cold, cold neverness

Just vastness filled with stars upon stars

In the four corners of life are the golden mirrors

Reflecting what you are and what you are to be

In the first is a young boy, white dove in his hand

In the second is a warrior in armor

In the third is an old man, gold watch in his hand

Fourth and last, no reflection at all

No reflection at all!

  • Dave Wyndorf, lead singer of Monster Magnet, admits that when he gets stuck on the lyrics to a song, he just writes something about volcanoes, because volcanoes are "always cool".

 From Silver Future...

You know the truth and you're so put together

Baby I could stick you on the lip of forever

Even a volcano has a price to pay

    • Not that he isn't perfectly capable of producing word salad lyrics without talking about volcanoes.

 From Negasonic Teenage Warhead

I can tell just by the climate and I can tell just by the style

That I was born and raised on Venus and I may be here a while

Cos every supersonic jerkoff who plugs into the game

Is just like every subatomic genius who just invented pain

I will deny you, I will deny you baby

  • A lot of material from Dance Gavin Dance.

 From Swan Soup

Another sucker punch,

You were late for dinner, I was late for lunch.

You wanna know the truth?

I eat a lotta soup

What’s it like to punch a drum,

So belong and hold it tightly son.

You wanna know the truth?

I eat a lotta soup.

  • Diablo Swing Orchestra, an eclectic avant-garde metal band, has lyrics that seem to exist purely to accentuate the (operatic) singer's voice. For instance, the first verse of Bedlam Sticks:

 In a place where long lost souls are led astray

A penny is a cheap price to pay

We play those poke'em in the nostril games all day

Oh the fun! Oh the joy! They all would say

Ode to tranquil meant to soothe

Head riots, all them bells in my mind in high pursuit

In love with a spine, I try to stroke it most of the time

I wish they could, I wish they would

Leave us alone

  • Black Metal band Bethlehem definitely qualifies, especially with lyrics like this from the song Luftstehs'Ibläh (Lingering Fart):

 yeah, what is it then?

Stinky-Cunt puked once in awhile

In a bucket of cats

And Satanic Sewing-Machines

The Evil Sausage sinking


When Childish Greasy Pizza

picks at their hair

Fussy struggle horn and having a flat chest

To cause irrevelant blows of mayhem

When foul-toothed Dirk stinks out of his mouth

Biting flesh in the Land of Vertical


Hellchrist Evil and Painfulness Kiss

master of the six silver strings of hell

as well was a little bit unimportant

Sturmbas, the great countess of Eva

wanted to stay in the bar in the little asshole

  • Ministry usually made lyrics from sampled speeches or relatively sane lyrics, but apparently had some Word Salad pent up in their system. The result of getting it all out was the staggeringly incomprehensible "Jesus Built My Hotrod".

 Soon I discovered that this rock thing was true. Jerry lee Lewis was the devil. Jesus was an architect, previous to his career as a prophet. All of a sudden I found myself in love with the world, so there was only one thing that I could do: Was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long...



  • Just about any song by Bush, especially "Little Things".
  • The Shins and, by extension, Broken Bells, the collaboration between The Shins' singer and writer and DJ Danger Mouse.
  • "Walking Contradiction" by Green Day.
    • The meaning of the song is in the title itself, basically.
  • A substantial fraction of lyrics by Jason Molina (Songs:Ohia / Magnolia Electric Co.) is WSL. Here's the beginning of one of his better known songs:

 They come in sorry for the second vanquisher

To have so much to pretend

Themselves not so against

Though overtaken

This we'll survive, surviving those...

  • Anything by Cocteau Twins...basically. Vocalist Elizabeth Fraser went on to guest spots on albums by the Future Sound of London, Craig Armstrong, Massive Attack, and a few soundtracks, with much the same lyrical style.
    • Fraser herself has been fairly elusive regarding whether or not any of her lyrics and invented words have meaning. She has stated that she possesses a special dictionary of sorts that contains the words she sings, but despite acknowledging the use of an invented language, has described the basic effect of her words as thus: "They don't mean anything, though, that's the thing. You know all the transcendent sounds. It's all sound all the way through."
    • Or you could call them Word Puree Lyrics, aka Singing Simlish.
    • Subverted on Heaven Or Las Vegas where she confessed a lot of the songs were about her newly-born daughter.
  • Most of Beck's songs qualify as this, but he actually has stories behind almost all of them. A prime example is "Loser":

 Forces of evil in a bozo nightmare

Banned all the music with a phony gas chamber

'Coz one's got a weasel and the other's got a flag

One's on the pole, shove the other in a bag

With the rerun shows and the cocaine nosejob

The daytime crap of the folk singer slop

He hung himself with a guitar string

Slap the turkey neck, and it's hanging from a pigeon wing

    • Of course Beck is known for making up his own words in his songs. This was of course lampshaded on his appearance on Futurama with his "Becktionary".

 Beck: You know, when I'm upset, I write a song about it. Like when I wrote Devil's Haircut, I was feeling really... what's that song about?

Bender: Hey, yeah! I could write a song! With real words, not phony ones like "odelay."

Beck: "Odelay" is a word! Just look it up in the Becktionary!

    • Here's another gem from "Hotwax"

 I can't believe my way back when

My Cadillac pants going much to fast

Karaoke weekend at the suicide shack

Community service and I'm still the Mack

Shocked my finger, spicin' my hand

I been spreading disease all across the land

Beautiful air-conditioned,

Sitting in the kitchen

Wishing I was living like a hit man

  • One of the more interesting examples has to be They Might Be Giants' "On Earth My Nina", whose lyrics are Mondegreens from playing TMBG's "Thunderbird" backwards.
    • They Might Be Giants songs in general. They seem to mean something, but good luck figuring out what.
      • Except for "The Statue Got Me High", which they've basically admitted is about a guy who's looking at a statue and then his head explodes.
      • Linnell has stated that the music for "Don't Let's Start" was written before the lyrics, and the lyrics were chosen mostly because the words fit the number of syllables for the melody. When asked about the meaning of the song, Linnell simply stated it was about "not let's starting."
    • Their "Crystal Fortress" song is about Strong Bad, asking for him to "come down from his crystal fortress". Strong Bad not only doesn't get the lyrics, but openly mocks the singer in the background.
    • The Stone Roses did something similar to "On Earth My Nina" with "Don't Stop": They basically played along to a backwards recording of their song "Waterfall", then wrote new lyrics based on mondegreens of the backwards vocals. Resulting in things like "Pain, blue singer / he's pain, just a guitar"
  • "One Week", by Barenaked Ladies, although they do stuff like that for fun in a lot of their songs.
    • The "One Week" example is lampshaded in "Testing 1,2,3" off the following album (The music video is more obvious about it, highlighting the next point), which is a Take That at the people that don't understand their lyrics.
  • The Flaming Lips do this often, with lines such as "Once in a while/the zebras run/to the spaceman and his gun/in the spider's web" or more infamously "I was born/The day they shot a hole in the Jesus egg", which became the title of a compilation of their earlier work.
  • "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. definitely qualifies.

  Birthday party, cheesecake, jellybean, boom!

    • Jellybeans were Ronald Reagan's favorite food, so it's probably a reference to his administration.
    • Most songs from Murmur are like this; Michael Stipe states a lot of his early lyrics were written more for the sound of the syllables than their meaning, hence puzzling lines like "deal the porch is leading us absurd" or "up to par, Katie buys a kitchen-size, but not me in".
      • Guitarist Peter Buck admitted this in a late 90's interview, saying that "Murmur is such a lyrically dense album that I don't think people will ever get it all. And some of it's not there to get. Certain bits are just words that sounded good strung together."
      • Never forget "See could stop stop it will red."
      • "Orange Crush". Word of God declares it to be a commentary on the Vietnam War, with the title being a reference to Agent Orange.
    • The R.E.M. song "Losing My Religion" also has bizarre lyrics; Word of God declares it to be a song about obsession and unrequited love, although good luck figuring that out by listening to it.
    • "Charades, pop skill. Water hyacinth, named by a poet. Imitation of life." Just about any R.E.M. song qualifies.
      • Well, more like 2/3 of them. "Everybody Hurts" being the most obvious aversion.
    • "Stand".
    • "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight". What is the sidewinder? Mike admits the lyrics are in fact meaningless. Ditto "Drive" from the same album.
      • A sidewinder is a kind of snake. And its title is probably a Shout-Out to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".
    • The End of "Daysleeper" gets a bit like this: "The ocean machine is set to 9 / I'll squeeze into heaven and valentine / my bed is pulling me / gravity..."
    • "Have you ever seen the televised St. Vitus subcommittee prize/investigation dance? Those 'ants in pants' glances/Well look behind the eyes/It's a hallowed hollow anesthetized/Save my own ass, screw these guys/smoke and mirror lock down."
  • Brazilian band Engenheiros do Hawaii uses a lot of these, though none of them flying as fast as one would expect from some cases seen in this trope.
  • The Presidents of the United States of America do this often, usually for comedic purposes. On example, "Twig," starts like this: "Some weepy creepy willow pillow boggy shit....," and descends from there.
  • Most of Queen's songs, such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Another One Bites The Dust (although the latter does have the underlying thread of street gangs).
  • 75% of Nirvana's songs. Which was, of course, parodied by Yankovic, too.
    • A particularly glorious example is "On a Plain":

 Somewhere I have heard this before

In a dream my memory has stored

As a defense I'm neutered and spayed

What the hell am I trying to say?

  • While there might be a meaning behind it, Alanis Morissette's "Thank U" has verses that qualify in this trope:

 How 'bout gettin' off of these antibiotics?

How 'bout stoppin' eatin' when I'm full up?

How 'bout them transparent danglin' carrots?

How 'bout that ever-elusive kudo?

  • Radiohead have been known to write some of their lyrics by pulling random phrases out of a hat, particularly on Kid A.
    • This is, perhaps, excusable, as Thom Yorke was notoriously obsessed with Dadaism during this period and wrote the lyrics to some of the songs on Kid A following Tristan Tzara's instructions for writing a Dada poem.
      • Lyrical Shoehorn plays enough of a role in their songwriting period that this features on all of their albums, to some degree. "I'm teetering on the brink / Of honey sweet / So full of sleep", anyone?
  • Shaun Ryder, the lead singer of Happy Mondays, is known for writing incomprehensible drug-induced stream-of-consciousness lyrics.
    • "You're twistin' my melon, man!" must have been written while he was on the KFC.
  • The Manic Street Preachers are another example. Not only have they mashed together various words into lyrics ("Cos reality for TV is Disney not King, Rodney" in Dead Yankee Drawl for an early example), but they have also included references to people and concepts not immediately accessible to the listener, leading to an unofficial website that tries to decipher most of the references. This may also be a Listeners are genius example. While many of Nicky Wire's lyrics are just plain incomprehensible, Richey Edward's songs do have meanings... They're just composed of insanely obscure and complicated references.
  • Many Soul Coughing songs seem to just consist of cool-sounding nonsense. Which may possibly be explained due to the lyricist's fondness for...recreational pharmaceuticals.

 I'll scratch you raw, l'etat c'est moi

I drink the drink and I'm wall to wall

I absorb trust like a love rhombus

I feel I must elucidate

I ate the chump with guile

Quadrilateral I was, now I warp like a smile

    • The verses of "Casiotone Nation" consist of variants of "the five percent nation of (arbitrary noun)" or "The People's Republic of (arbitrary noun)", which the band would change every time it was played live.
    • Not to mention the refrain from "Down to This", which was assembled due to Doughty being a little hyper and repeating various other Ear Worm phrases while working the door at a local club. "You got the tickets/and I got the list" (which made sense in the context of that activity) eventually became the phrase "You get the ankles/I'll get the wrists.
  • Morphine's "Super Sex": it might be a collection of Gratuitous English seen and overheard while on international tour, or just a very impressionistic take on a late night out on the town, but:

 Automatic Taxi Stop Electric Cigarette Love Baby

Hotel Rock'n'roll Discotheque Electric Super Sex

  • James, due to their tendency to spawn everything out of jams and improvs and then let Tim just go nuts over the top. The Wah Wah album is the best illustration of this, and "Frequency Dip" is the Crowning Moment Of Bonkers, with its complete garbage about sediment layers, false hair-dos and "some kind of sink unit". "Of Monsters And Heroes And Men", from their latest album, is also deranged.
  • Many of Coheed and Cambria's lyrics sound like this. For example, from "Mother Superior": "Mother superior come catch the rabbit he runs (my how've you been), YOU'RE FRIGHTENED OF LEAVING THIS TRULY GONE FISHING AMALGAM (go fetch your gun)"
    • The capitalized lyrics were, for the first YEAR I had that album (No World For Tomorrow), a complete mystery. Until I did some dictionary work on amalgam. Basically, the line seems to refer to the narrator (probably Claudio, who shares the name with the songwriter/vocalist of the band, yet is not really a Self Insertion or Author Avatar) saying that he's confused and just kind of "out of it" (truly gone fishing), and he's either literally two people in one (Amalgam is a word meaning a mixture, I believe), or that he's simply split between several different decisions.
      • A lot of Coheed's lyrics start making more sense if you read the comics that the music is based off of.
  • Early Modest Mouse.
  • Weezer's "Dope Nose", which Rivers Cuomo has admitted has "no meaning whatsoever". It's not as extreme as some other examples, but it does feature a few baffling lines like "cheese smells so good on a burnt piece of lamb".
  • Pretty much anything by Robyn Hitchcock. One of the earlier examples is Leppo and the Jooves, in which the first stanza goes as follows:


Over the Andalusian extensions of the life and loves of Noddy

Through the windows of disgust

The teeth of Leppo and his managers awry

No time to cry

    • Peaked out in "Unsettled", e.g.:

 Got a heart exact tomato flourish

on a spike of greedy prongs

If a baseball dug moussaka Alan wraps the biscuit in a

Novel thongs accepted every turning bends away

Biting off a crust, the troubled hey do you ...

...but it should be noted that Quirky Hitch frequently reshuffles or reinvents lyrics on the fly when playing live.

  • The Pixies were masters at this. Most of their lyrics make no sense whatsoever. Some fans would say that's a part of the band's genius. I think the best example of this is "Mr. Grieves":

 Hope everything is alright

What's that floating in the water?

Oh, Neptune's only daughter

I believe in Mr. Grieves

Pray for a man in the middle

One that talks like Doolittle

    • Much like the Oasis example below, Black Francis claimed in interviews that during the Bossanova sessions he'd "write lyrics on napkins 5 minutes before recording". Thus earning the album an honorary mention.
  • The ending theme to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, "Lithium Flower" by Scott Matthew and Tim Jensen:

 she's so cold and human

it's something humans do

she stays so golden solo

she's so number nine

she's incredible math

just incredible math

    • The song makes complete sense, however, when listened to in its entirety: it's sung from the perspective of a man enamoured by an amazing surfer girl (In context: Motoko's ability to net dive. Cyber-surfing,) and trying to come up with crazy, made-up similes to describe how awesome she is ("So matador, so calm, so oil-on-a-fire"), before going on about her ability to surf ("wow, where did she learn how to surf/You know I've never seen the girl wipe out"). These types of lyrics are typical in many of Yoko Kanno's soundtracks, and none of it is because she's Japanese. She speaks, reads, and writes fluent English, among other languages.
  • Bjork's "Pagan Poetry"

 On the surface simplicity

but the darkest pit in me

is pagan poetry

pagan poetry

  • The song "The Messenger" by Your Favorite Enemies, written for Dissidia Final Fantasy is a bit more normal by the standards of some of the other songs here, but the lyrics still descend frequently into "what the heck does that mean" territory. For example:

 Shouting worship choked in a wave of silver

The offering's grief for Deceiver's pride,

Salvation man is a cup of fire

But hope is the star on a morning tide

    • or:

 The Pilgrims are gathering and the marching band, the marching band's howling

Compassion is the flag a righteous man, a righteous man will hold

    • It's not just "The Messenger." Their other, non-Dissidia songs are pretty confusing too.
  • Phish does this often. Some songs, like "Cavern" or "Stash," feature vivid imagery worked into a narrative that makes no rational sense, whatsoever. As a taste, here's the first verse of "Chalk Dust Torture":

 Come stumble my mirth, beaten worker.

I'm Jezmund the family berzerker.

I'm bought for the price of a flagon of rice.

The wind buffs the cabin

You speak of your life

Or more willingly Locust the Lurker.

    • Subverted in their song "Down with Disease," which mentions jungles, head-dwelling demons, and a thousand barefoot children, but which is actually about hallucinating while ill.
  • Train's "Drops of Jupiter". It definitely seems to have some sort of meaning, but it's so wrapped up in abstract similes and such that it's incomprehensible.

 Now that she's back in the atmosphere

With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey

She acts like summer and walks like rain

Reminds me that there's room to change, hey, hey

Since the return from her stay on the moon

She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey.

  • Syd Barrett's lyrics started changing from psychedelic fairy tales to word salad towards the end of his tenure with Pink Floyd, and this continued through his solo work. The ultimate example being "The Word Song", with lyrics that consist entirely of a non-rhyming list of unconnected words ("Stained, glaucous, glycerine, gold, goat, clover...")
    • Leading up to the chorus of "Rats" Syd goes progressively (regressively?) deep into word salad, peaking with (what else?) a list of words, or pretty much so: "Bam, spastic, tactile engine, heaving, crackle, slinky, dormy, roofy, wham, I'll have them, fried bloke, broken jardy, cardy, smoocho, moocho, paki, pufftle, sploshette moxy, very smelly, cable, gable..." Not entirely unconnected though (some are linked by sounding similar, for example).
  • Brazilian band Skank sometimes has this. Helped by usage of Gratuitous English, Gratuitous Spanish, and inane singing ("Beat it laun, daun daun, Beat it, loom, dap'n daun, Beat it laun, daun daun").
  • The band Falling Up does this with a whole album, Fangs!. Some of the tracks: "Exit Calypsan", "Goddess of the Dayspring Am I", and "The Color Eotopian"
  • Some of Five Iron Frenzy's songs fit this trope, especially "Heat Stroke" and the original live version of "Fistful of Sand" (they hadn't written lyrics for it yet, so the singer made up gibberish on the spot).

 The phone of Zanzibar, mighty needs I ever come,

mandolin feeding devils, see the fool I am!

Feels like nothing, kills like something, don't you take my life away,

don't it take my life away, shown by killing me!

Feels like nothing, Heaven goo!

Kills like nothing, Heaven deed!

Feels like nothing, kills like something, gonna take my life away!

Feel somebody peel some Coke but (five syllables of gibberish)!

  • Many of the songs on Panic at the Disco's newest album Pretty.Odd. are examples of this trope, most notably perhaps "Mad as Rabbits" which opens with the following verse:

 Come save me from walking off a windowsill

Or I'll sleep in the rain

Don't you remember when I was a bird

And you were a map?

And now he drags down miles in America

Briefcase in hand

The stove is creeping up his spine again

Can't get enough trash


 Oh let me tell you 'bout the sad man

Shut up and let me see your jazz hands

Remember when you were a mad man

Thought you was Batman!

And hit the party with the gas can

Kiss me you animal!


 Kill me romantically

Fill my soul with vomit

Then ask me for a piece of gum.

Bitter and dumb

You're my sugarplumb.

You're awful, I love you!

  • A milder example from Chiodos (from I Didn't Say I Was Powerful, I Said I Was A Wizard)

 Sightings of shape shifting

Dissolved into the darkness

A final opinion is of less value

Than an appreciation of,

And tolerance for obscurity

  • Pick a Red Hot Chili Peppers song at random, and chances are it'll probably be a word salad song. A good example is "Can't Stop":

 Knockout, but boy, you'd better come to

Don't die, you know, the truth is, some do

Go write your message on the pavement

Burning so bright, I wonder what the wave meant?

    • Or "Give it Away":

 Realize I don't wanna be a miser

Confide with sly you'll be the wiser

Young blood is the lovin' upriser

How come everybody wanna keep it like the kaiser

    • A repeated section in "By The Way": Each time, four two-word phrases are said, different for each of the four times this section appears. They don't appear to be significant in any way to anything.
    • "Especially In Michigan":

 Life is my friend, underwater violins

Order now from Ho Chi Minh

A porcelain that comes in twins


 She's got a sword in case though this is not her lord in case the one who can't afford to face her image is restored to grace. Disappeared. No trace. Musky tears. Suitcase. The down turn brave little burncub bearcareless turnip snare rampages pitch color pages...down and out but not in Vegas. Disembarks and disengages. No loft. Sweet pink canary cages plummet pop dewskin fortitude for the sniffing black noses that snort and allude to the dangling trinkets that mimic the dirt cough go drink its. It's for you. Blue battered naval town slip kisses delivered by duck muscles and bottlenosed grifters arrive in time to catch the late show. It's a beehive barrel race. A shehive stare and chase wasted feature who tried and failed to reach her. Embossed beneath a box in the closet that's lost. The kind that you find when you mind your own business. Shiv sister to the quickness before it blisters into the newmorning milk blanket. Your ilk is funny to the turnstyle touch bunny whose bouquet set a course for bloom without decay. get your broom and sweep echoes of yesternights fallen freckles...AWAY!!!

  • The Hombres' 60's garage rock novelty "Let It All Hang Out" was deliberately written to be as nonsensical as possible, as a parody of Bob Dylan's lyrical style. One interview does reveal some lines at least had some basis in private jokes among band members, however. Amusingly, the line "Hot dog, my razor broke!" came about because the singer suddenly exclaimed it to the guitarist while they were trying to brainstorm for lyrical ideas - He had been shaving at the time and his razor did in fact fall apart.
  • T. Rex's "Rip Off," apparently written to appeal to Americans. If you ever wondered about Dylan's influence on the world...well, "the president's weird, he's got a burgundy beard"...
  • Clutch loves this trope. The best example may be "10001110101":

 Ribonucleic acid freakout, the power of prayer. Long halls of science and all the lunatics committed there. Robot lords of Tokyo, smile! Taste kittens! Did you not know that the royal hunting grounds are always forbidden?


  I saw a lion, he was standing alone with a tadpole in a jar


  Oyster boys are swimming for me/Save me from the deathlike creature

    • That song is kind of an Updated Rerelease. The original lyrics are from a previous song called "Subhuman" on the Secret Treaties album. For Imaginos, they remixed it and added the parts about joining the Cult. Nonethless, even though they are may favorite band, I still don't know what the hell most of their songs are about.
      • It should be noted that the "Oyster boys" line is also present in the original "The Subhuman".
    • Their album covers used to include an address that you could send a SASE to for copies of their lyrics, but you'd be sorry if you did.
  • Scott Weiland has a fondness for this with some of his bands' songs. "Big Bang Baby" by Stone Temple Pilots and "Slither" by Velvet Revolver are a few examples of his often nigh-incomprehensible lyrics.
    • "Interstate Love Song" doesn't seem to have anything to do with either love or an interstate.
  • Electric Six's weird ballad "Jimmy Carter" references politicians, the Backstreet Boys and Slouching Towards Gomorrah without any logical connection between the themes whatsoever:

 Like Harry Truman dropping bombs out of the air / like any self-respecting multi-billionaire

This is who you are / five dancing teenage boys who sing their way into our hearts

Backstreet’s back


    • The majority of Electric Six's work is like this.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel have such moving yet surreal lyrics as "Blister please, with those wings in your spine/Love to be with a brother of mine/How he'd love to find/Your tongue in his teeth/In a struggle to find/Secret songs that you keep/Wrapped in boxes so tight/Sounding only at night as you sleep".
    • "Rubby Bulbs". Choice line: "I need to fill your lungs with smallpox." Pleasant dreams.
  • Rogue Wave, with such gems as this from "Stars and Stripes":

 Never had a false alarm

Softer than a baby's arm

All hands are right

    • Occasionally you can hear a line or two of something meaningful, but Zach Rogue has a tendency to mumble a bit, so it's never quite coherent.
  • "Love Underground," by Robbers on High Street. Extremely catchy... and really nonsensical.
  • Although he has a Dylanesque sophistication to him (and this Troper is, admittedly, one of his biggest fans) anything by Dan Bejar aka Destroyer, also of The New Pornographers. He also is infamous for referencing not only others' lyrics, but HIS OWN ones as well. There's an entire wiki dedicated to analyzing his lyrics.
  • Also: "The Geeks Were Right," by The Faint. Catchy? As hell. Logical? Not the least. Thought it does seem to have a pseudo-Green Aesop in it of sorts. At the very least, it states for one line that Humans Are Bastards... and then ignores it.
    • That's not even their worst example. Try "Forever Growing Centipedes". The lyrics are just as bizarre as the title. My best guess is that it has to do with chaos theory and anarcho-primitivism, but really, will we we ever know?
  • The Eels' "Hidden Track" (yes, that's the actual name of the song, and it's not even particularly "hidden") consists of drummer Butch sing/speaking lyrics like "Jacuzzis and bunnies / A broken fondue set / Kool G is in the outhouse / you can be my Mr French". The official story to it is that there was an online contest for song titles, then the band just ended up putting a bunch of them together to use as lyrics. However, it seems that no one in the fan community remembers any such thing, so it was probably just written to sound like that was what happened.
  • JJ72 - "October Swimmer" especially
  • Animal Collective's Feels. All of it.
  • Some of King Crimson's works, especially "The World is my Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" which also fits World's salad title wax museum... w...wait...what did I just say?
    • That particular song's actually a rather clever sort of word salad-- it's a bunch of overlapping phrases, along the lines of Wheel of Fortune's "Before and After" category.
  • Yes. For a real treat check out the lyrics for "Tales from Topographic Oceans" by Yes, which starts out: "Dawn of light lying between the silence and sold sources / Chased amid fusions of wonder / In moments hardly seen forgotten / Coloured in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of challenge / Amused but real in thought / We fled from the sea / Whole..." and goes on like that for another 79 minutes or so. Like the R.E.M. example above, this partially comes about because Jon Anderson treated the vocals as another instrument, prioritizing how the words sounded over whether they necessarily made sense.
    • This is actually a songwriting technique designed to move a writer's focus away from lyrics which are completely logical but a pain in the neck to easily sing or listen to. It's a way of adding "danceability" and earwormishness.
    • One of the best-known songs by Yes is Roundabout, which features the extraordinary lyrics, "In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there"[7].. How extraordinary are those words? Well, a history of Progressive Rock, written by Will Romano (available on Amazon) is entitled, "Mountains Come Out of the Sky".
      • Roger Dean's cover art for the live Yessongs set actually includes, among other things, images of - you guessed it - mountains coming out of the sky and standing there. Upside down.
    • "Close to the Edge" one-ups that with "A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace / And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace...."
    • Also "The time between the notes relates the colour to the scenes"
    • "Yours Is No Disgrace" off their second self-titled

 Yesterday a morning came, a smile upon your face.

Caesar's palace, morning glory, silly human race,

On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place,

If the summer changed to winter, yours is no disgrace.

      • Interestingly, a later lyric in the same song about a "shining flying purple wolfhound" is often singled out as a demonstration of their word salad lyrics, but is actually one of the few lines that make literal sense. A "Purple Wolfhound" is the nickname for a kind of British fighter jet, so it's perfectly reasonable for one to be shining and flying. "Yours Is No Disgrace" is meant to be a Protest Song about the Vietnam War, although it is a very obtuse one.
    • "The Gates of Delirium" has "Power spent passion bespoils our soul receiver / Surely we know!" One has to wonder what Jon Anderson's grocery lists look like.
    • Starcastle, a band that built its career on soundling like Yes, took this to its ultimate extreme:

 Rolled in velvet crystal

Broken reds with scarlet

Hand-me-down of sundry seas

Melting golden flesh is cracked in garden circles grown

Of me

    • Yes also influenced the style of neo-prog band IQ, whose songs are equally confusing. (Zero Hour for example,)

 Yesterday is up for auction

Souvenirs are in demand

In the rooms where rocking horses

Carried us on moonlit strands

Thunder crash and flash of lightning

Storms of metal raining down

Little hands that cradle ashes

Little eyelids heavy, head run aground

  • The Mars Volta embodies this trope, with lyrics like "Trackmarked amoeba lands craft/Cartwheel of scratches/Dress the tapeworm as pets/Tentacles smirk please/Flinch the cocooned meat..."
    • And no discussion of TMV's word-salad lyrics is complete without the infamous line "The kiosk in my temporal lobe is shaped like Rosalyn Carter!"
  • A lot of Porcupine Tree's early material is like this. "Jupiter Island," the first song on their first real album, starts things off and it stays that way up until "Signify," and even on that album you have songs like "Sever."
  • Prog rock group Emerson Lake and Palmer had its fair share of incomprehensible lyrics including "right before your eyes, we pull laughter from the skies and he laughs until he cries, then he dies, then he dies"
    • That's when they worked with former King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield.
  • Gorillaz songs are usually blunt and poignant, but there's a few incomprehensible doozies in there as well, like the chorus to 19/2000:

  "Get the cool~ Get the cool shoeshine (lalalalalalalaaa) Get the cool~ Get the cool shoeshine!"

  • "Incense & Peppermints" by Strawberry Alarm Clock.
    • They even Lampshade this in the lyrics: "Incense and peppermints, meaningless nouns."
  • The lyrics for Brian Wilson's Smile project, written by Van Dyke Parks: "Columnated ruins domino" indeed. One of the main reasons The Beach Boys didn't complete it in 1967 was that Mike Love started complaining that he didn't understand the lyrics, and even got in an argument with Parks over them.
    • Most of Van Dyke Parks' lyrics qualify as word salads.
  • The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus" is one of the most famous examples of this trope.
    • "Yellow matter custard dripping from a dead dog's eye!"
      • To be fair, much of the apparent "salad" had actual meaning for John Lennon, and the line "Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe" was added specifically to confound attempts at literary analysis.
      • When dogs are euthanized, one of the indicators of final death is a thick yellow leakage from the animal's tear ducts, so this lyric is colorful but comprehensible.
    • "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is another Beatles example, although not quite as nonsensical as "Walrus".
    • "Come Together" is another one. It's not completely word salad, as the sentences are at least syntactically correct. However, I don't think anyone knows what toe-jam football is.
      • "Word salad" is by definition syntactically correct, but nonsensical. It's a psychiatric condition resulting from damage to a certain area of the brain.
      • Although, if your early warning tells you you have muddy water, a mojo filter might be a nice thing to have.
    • "Glass Onion" is another example, full of Shout Outs to earlier Beatles songs of this type.
    • And, of course, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?. And "Sun King".
      • You might have noticed all of the above songs were by John Lennon.
    • Parodied (like everything else in the Beatles' career) by The Rutles, with such ditties as "Good Times Roll" and "Piggy in the Middle".
    • The infamous Mondegreen "Some day monkey won't play piano song."
    • Because opens with the lyrics "Because the world is round, it turns me on". It only makes less and less sense as the song goes on.
  • David Bowie often writes this, sometimes using the Burroughs "cut-up" technique. A prime example of this would be his song "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" from the album Reality.
    • "Life On Mars?"

 Sailors fighting in the dance hall

Oh man! Look at those cavemen go

It's the freakiest show

Take a look at the Lawman

Beating up the wrong guy

Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know

He's in the best selling show

Is there life on Mars?

      • "Life on Mars?" is about the isolation of a young girl who escapes her unhappy home life at the cinema, so the chorus is probably referring, montage-style, to the endless parade of movies she sits and watches to forget reality. "The best-selling show" is just a popular film, and the title phrase can be an extension of how badly the protagonist wants to get away.
    • A better example would be "Little Wonder," which Name Drops the seven dwarfs, but otherwise is mostly random nonsense.
  • Frank Zappa does this a lot, particularly in a song called "Ya Hozna" which further confuses things by playing all the lyrics backwards.
  • It's been pointed out that many of Peter Frampton's lyrics are just a bunch of random lines stuck together with no attempt at a narrative or thematic concept. "Show Me The Way" is a particularly notable offender.
  • The Band's "Chest Fever": "'She's stoned' said the Swede/And the Moon Calf agreed/But I'm like a viper in shock/With my eyes in the clock." The lyrics were reportedly made up on the spot.
  • "Blinded by the Light" by Bruce Springsteen (or Manfred Mann)
    • Really, most of the lyrics from Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ fit this trope. Of course, that was during his "next Bob Dylan" phase.

 Wizard imps and sweat sock pimps, interstellar mongrel nymphs...

  • No mention of Bob Dylan? "Jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule."
    • Bob Dylan invented this trope in music. His lyrics, which were influenced by surrealist poetry, prompted John Lennon and Mick Jagger, among others, to step up their songwriting, and generally introduced the idea that rock/pop lyrics didn't all have to be "Love Me Do".
    • Dylan's use of this trope could be called "Word Garnish Lyrics", because while he used surreal wordplay, usually the songs themselves have a fairly straightforward meaning. "Visions of Johanna", the source of that line about the jewels and binoculars, is ultimately a song about lost love.
    • Word parsley! (Hey, that'd be A Good Name for a Rock Band.)
    • Dylan's style was parodied in Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story; during his 'Dylan' phase (where he is blatantly ripping off Bob Dylan in every facet of his life), Dewey performs a song called 'Royal Jelly', the lyrics of which two of his band members find completely incomprehensible ("Mail boxes drip like lampposts in the twisted birth canal of the Coliseum..."). The third immediately snarls that they're idiots, and that "this song is very deep." Another one, 'Farmer Glickstein', embraces this trope to such a degree that even the singer ends up admitting in the song that he's got no idea what he's singing about.
  • Paul McCartney was prone to this trope on occasion. His most prominent example is probably "Junior's Farm".

 You should have seem me with the poker man

I had a honey and I bet a grand

Just in the nick of time I looked at his hand

I was talking to an Eskimo

Said he was hoping for a fall of snow

When up popped a sea lion ready to go

    • If anyone can explain what "Jet" is supposed to mean, I'm all ears.
  • Most Oasis songs. As the page quote shows, Noel Gallagher, writer of the majority, has admitted sometimes even he doesn't understand the lyrics. An excerpt of "Champagne Supernova" (which he also doesn't understand) frequently enters lists of Worst Lyric Ever ("Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball/Where were you while we were gettin' high?").
    • Some other examples include:
      • I Hope, I Think, I Know:

 "I hope I think I know

If I ever hear the names you call

And if I stumble catch me when I fall

'Cause baby, after all

You'll never forget my name"

      • Shakermaker (although intentionally written as a psychedelic/insane kind of song):

 "I've been driving in my car with my friend Mr. Soft

Mr. Clean and Mr. Ben are living in my loft

Aaaaaaaaaa-ahhh, Shake along with me"

      • Some Might Say:

 "The sink is full of fishes

She's got dirty dishes on the brain

All my dogs been itchin'

Itchin' in the kitchen once again"

    • Honorable mention goes to "Supersonic", which was written in the half-hour before its recording, so it wouldn't make sense anyway.
    • All of the forementioned songs were written by Noel Gallagher while high as a kite, which should make up for an explanation.
  • Al Stewart's "Red Toupee" song: "To Catalina in a fishing boat/They call it Henry Cisneros/We got no money but we still stay afloat/The jellyfishes don't scare us...In your Red Toupee".
  • Shudder To Think went for this fairly frequently, a couple of the most surreal examples being "Shake Your Halo Down" ("Stick a fish in a tattoo gun/ see what color ink comes out") and "Hit Liquor" ("Party of mouths/ a finger fan courtship / The case of her bones are softer than loose meat"). The latter may just be an incredibly cryptic version of an Intercourse with You song though.
  • "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden. Chris Cornell himself admits that have little real meaning...

 In my eyes, indisposed

In disguise as no one knows

Hides the face

Lies the snake

The sun in my disgrace

Boiling heat

Summer stench

Neath the black the sky looks dead

    • Many Soundgarden songs are like this. The lyrics to "Outshined":

 I got up feeling so down

I got off being sold out

I've kept the movie rolling

But the story's getting old now

I just looked in the mirror

Things aren't looking so good

I'm looking California

And feeling Minnesota


 There's Winston Churchill dressed in drag,

he used to be a British flag, plastic bag, what a drag.

The frog was a prince, the prince was a brick, the brick was an egg,

the egg was a bird.

(Fly away you sweet little thing, they're hard on your tail)

Hadn't you heard?

(They're going to change you into a human being!)

Yes, we're happy as fish and gorgeous as geese,

and wonderfully clean in the morning.


Feel your body melt;

Mum to mud to mad to dad

Dad diddley office, Dad diddley office,

You're all full of ball.

Dad to dam to dum to mum

Mum diddley washing, Mum diddley washing,

You're all full of ball.

  • The Whitlams' "No Aphrodesiac"

 Forty, shaved, sexy, wants to do it all day

With a gun-totin' trigger-happy tranny named Kinky Renée.

Tired teacher, twenty-eight, seeks regular meetings

for masculine muscular nappy-clad brutal breeding

while his wife rough-wrestles with a puppy

all aquiver on a wine-soaked strobe-lit Asiatic hall of mirrors and a dash of loneliness

There's no aphrodisiac quite like it.

    • Sounds hot.
    • And then they intentionally tried to top themselves on "Chunky Chunky Air Guitar".

 She came from the Cocos Islands

With a limp and a snow-shaker huh

Hocked by a fine Arabian Ginger Monsignor

He said you ain'ts gets nothing

Cause nothin' gets made by Koreans

He had dubbin in his hair

And he played the tamborine.

  • "This Is A Call" by Foo Fighters. The chorus is pretty straightforward, but the verses seem to just consist of cryptic wordplay, the strangest line being "Seems that all the cysts and mollusks tend to barter".
    • Dave Grohl admitted that most of the lyrics in the album were scribbled 20 minutes before he recorded the songs, and that "a few of them aren't even words".
    • Or "All My Life":

 All my life I've been searching for somethin'

Somethin' never comes, never leads to nuthin'

Nothin' satisfies, but I'm gettin' close

Closer to the prize at the end of the rope

All night long I dream of the day

When it comes around, and it's taken away

Leaves me with the feelin' that I fear the most

Feel it come to life when I see your ghost

  • A recent example is Bowling for Soup's "I Gotchoo", especially obvious since their lyrics are generally witty, not that it detracts from the song.

 Waves hit rocks and folks get wet,

I was gonna say somethin' but now I forget,

Chocolate covered cherries with the milk on the side,

I'll meet you at the party if I find a ride,

Helicopters fly and birds like to nest,

Elvis or The Beatles,

Who care's who's the best, (the Beatles)

Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina,

Peanut Butter sandwich with some Aunt Jemima

  • Like a lot of other prog rock groups, Jethro Tull is susceptible to putting out Word Salads. Despite such extended examples as "Thick as a Brick" and "Baker Street Muse", their most egregious example is probably "Cold Wind to Valhalla".
  • A lot of songs by Half Man Half Biscuit don't even try to make sense, but most of Four Skinny Indie Kids sounds like the singer randomly flipping through a dictionary.
  • Some of 16 Horsepower's early material qualifies. Individual stanzas and verses make sense, but they don't fit together into a cohesive song; the overall effect is like David Eugene Edwards exploded a hymnbook and pasted the page scraps back together at random.
  • Every single Guided by Voices side project name (example: the Moping Swans), album title (example: Self-Inflicted Aerial Nostalgia), song title (example: Bright Paper Werewolves) and 80% of the lyrics (example: -from Jabberstroker "Cling to the sides, brain-boy we lost our numb-er selves in jail leaving a groovy wit matter on a sailing sky, alive and jabberstroking"). Bob Pollard lives for Word Salad Lyrics. Must be all the beer.
  • Linkin Park's High Voltage pretty much consists of these kinds of lyrics.

 I've been digging in the crates ever since I was living in space

Before the rat race

Before monkeys had human traits

I mastered numerology and big bang theology

Performed lobotomies with telekinetic psychology\\

    • "High Voltage" was written back when they were a more purely hip-hop group (under the name Hybrid Theory) and Chester Bennington hadn't yet joined the group. The songs they wrote afterward averted this trope.
  • In the fadeout of "Seven Stars" by Uriah Heep, David Byron apparently got tired of repeating the numbers 1-7, and started running down the letters of the alphabet.
  • Sparklehorse lived on this trope. Example: The Knives of Summertime.

 A flock of knives

Cut the sky

And buried in my black eyes

And the clouds they bled

In my head

And autumn rain soaked the dry beds

And the hurricane

Of her eyes

Wailed away the knives

The knives of summertime


 Peppermint, miniskirts, chocolate candy,

Champion sax, and a girl named Sandy.

There's only four ways to get unraveled:

One is to sleep, and the other is travel, da-da!

One is a bandit up in the hills;

One is to love your neighbor 'til...

His wife gets home.

    • Christ, it's hard to describe just how weird that song is. For reference, these are the lyrics. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
  • Interpol loves this trope, e.g.:
    • Slow hands: "We spies, intimate slow hands, killer for hire, you know not yourself, we spies, intimate slow hands, you let the face slap around yourself;"
    • Narc: "Touch your thighs, I'm the lonely one, remember that last sweat 'cause that was the right one;"
    • The Heinrich Maneuver: "How are things on the West Coast? I hear you're moving real fine, you wear those shoes like a dove, now strut those shoes, we'll go roaming in the night;"
    • PDA: "Yours is the only version of my desertion that I could ever subscribe to, that is all that I can do, you are a past winner, the last dinner, I'm raping all around me, until the last drop is behind you [...] sleep tight, grim rite, we have two hundred couches;"
  • Tom Petty (minus the Heartbreakers, on "Full Moon Fever") in "A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own": "Well the man out to end us had a hurricane business / He'd raise them from babies all by himself / But his teen-age accountant had become surrounded / He drank up the party and everyone left." There's also random mentions of Brooker and Micanopy, are/were two suburbs of Gainesville (Petty's hometown).
  • Everything Else's "What Can't Be Seen". Lampshaded with the line "You don't know what I mean."
  • Primitive Radio Gods' "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand" seems to be trying to say something profound...until the last line of the third verse: "And bathe yourself in zebra flesh".
  • The Cardiacs' lyrics were always purposely surreal so as to allow fans to make their own interpretations of each song. I still have no idea what to make of stuff like "The Duck and Roger The Horse" though.


  • It seems a lot of Aqua songs take after this trope; and if not this, then there is definitely some Simlish being sung.
  • "Oh Industry" by Bette Midler, lyrics to which may be found here. Great song, but... "the mud's prophecy"? "Hydrogen fuel, it burns so clean; throbs in the veins, a mother lovin' machine"? Whaaa?
  • The Look by Roxette. This was their breakthrough hit in the US and UK, despite having lyrics that weren't even supposed to be kept, let alone make sense. Tasty like a raindrop!

 Per Gessle: "Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer"... the first two verses are guide lyrics, words just scribbled down to have something to sing. Couldn't come up with anything better, so we kept them. Everybody gets lucky sometimes...

    • Perhaps recognising a winning formula, they later had a massive hit with Joyride, which if anything was even sillier.
    • In fact, pretty much the entire discography of Roxette can be listed here, though at least a few of the ballads are relatively coherent.
  • The song "She Amazed Me" by German power-pop band Rivo Drei. Scott Adams wondered one day about how hard it would be to write a hit song, so he asked his blog's readers to submit lyrics that SEEMED to ALMOST make sense, then gave them to the band to arrange into a song.
    • Just so you can see how this turned out, here's the first verse:

 She had runaway eyes, and marshmallow kittens

My heart heard a dream like ten-thousand mittens

Woah-oh-oh, a tear in her hand

She spread deja vu all across the land

She spins round and round with a frog in her ear

Whispering fountains, and rocks she couldn't hear...


 Martha planned to make a movie, movie made in stereo

Then she went to California, winded up on radio

Round about the Navy ballroom, get the man in gabardine

Kiss him once and kiss them all and send me cards on Halloween

  • chorus*

Monday up to Saturday, you kick yourself from 9 to 5

Sunday's always wonderful, you wander on the TV line

Love is not a silly notion, love is not a monorail

Love is like the way you love a candle in a hurricane

  • Tanita Tikaram typically pens word salad lyrics.
  • David Sylvian: a mismash of mythology (Krishna, Orpheus, Shaman, Alchemy), Meaningless Meaningful Words ("I am far from the future and ambush the world"), and Purple Prose ("the room of sixteen shimmers"), best served with a hint of violence (bullfighter; boy with a gun, man who skins rabbits).
  • The Argentinian humor group Les Luthiers has several songs specifically created to sound as foreign language songs, but they really have nonsensical lyrics, usually in Spanish. Among these are Oi Gadoñaya (presumably Russian, but really absurd Spanish) and Gloria Hossanna, that's the question (nonsense yuxtaposed Latin words). They even have an instrumental song, Miss Lilly Higgins sings shimmy in Mississippi's spring which includes a section of "scat-like" sounds. They really are (again) nonsensical Spanish phrases:

 Papa, batata, batata dirán

tanta pavada taraba a un titán

Vida para tribu,

estúpido bidet se traba.

Tipa brava dura daba prioridad.

Tapa pava hervida,

probará varón tu piba.

Trampa obtura entrada,

vivir a pan.

  • "Prisencolinensinainciusol" by Adriano Celentano is perhaps better classified as Word Puree Lyrics; the lyrics are an Italian speaker's imitation of what English sounds like, and are thus complete gibberish.
  • A lot of Tori Amos's songs. The explanations behind them are often even weirder.

 Lemon pie, he's coming through

He's our commander still

Space dog.

    • Lyrics like "tuna, rubber, a little blubber in my igloo" make perfect and complete sense to her.
    • Boys for Pele was even panned for its incomprehensible lyrics. Her fans consider it one of her trademarks, and they like to interpret her songs. Although a lot of the time, you need Tori to explain what her songs are about, since her lyrics are that cryptic. For example, Tori alludes that "Riot Poof" is about homosexuality (which would explain the "poof" in "Riot Poof"), but the lyrics just don't make any sense.

 this alliance you say

'i'm on the threshold of greatness girl'

so you burn your pagoda

through the congo till there's

a broken bond

on the birth of the search

white trash my native son



 you know what you know

so you go chain her to your flow

she bites through your dried

lean meat as she's

going to the movie show

in a bath of glitter and a tiny shiver

she crawls through your java sea

black sahara i'm stepping in

to your space oddity

  • Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping. The whole album. The fact that it's basically an (incredibly disjointed) hour-long single doesn't help. Earlier songs have Word Salad Lyrics to a degree, but none even come close to this album.
    • The lyrics make slightly more sense if you know that Skeletal Lamping is a concept album about a middle-aged black transsexual who lives in Norway. His name is Georgie Fruit, and he has issues to work through. Lots of issues. (The second half of the previous album, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is also focused on the singer's alter-ego.)
  • The English version of "Twister", the theme song of The World Ends With You, is definitely one of these. Many of the lyrics appear to be intentional Mondegreens of the Japanese lyrics.
    • Needs more candy canes...
  • Lemon Demon's "Word Disassociation" is pretty much this in its purest form.
  • Almost every song by Cincinnati's electro indie pop band The Seedy Seeds.
  • Ricardo Arjona sometimes goes too far into "post-modern metaphors", so they decided to create this.
  • Several of Shakira's songs can fall into this. The best example is "Eyes Like Yours." "Crossed a river of salt/Just after I rode/A ship that's sunk in the desert" springs to mind.
  • Although the rest of the song is relatively straightforward, the first line of Duran Duran's "New Moon on Monday" is "Shake up the picture with the lizard mixture".
  • "Burning Down The House" by Talking Heads.
    • And then there's "I Zimbra" which is adapted from a Dadaist poem by Hugo Ball:

 Gadji beri bimba glandridi

Lauli lonni cadori gadjam

A bim beri glassala glandride

E glassala tuffm I zimbra

  • The Cars were fond of using a series of disconnected images as lyrics. "Moving in Stereo" is a good example.
  • Plastic Bertrand's "Ça Plane Pour Moi". The lyrics make absolutely no sense, even in the original French. (There was a French genre called yaya that had Word Salad Lyrics as a defining aspect.)
  • Morning Musume's song "Koi wa Hassou Do The Hustle" is like this.
    • "Koi no Dance Site" as well. It makes even less sense if you look up the translated lyrics.
    • Other Hello! Project examples include Hana wo Puun, Seishun Bus Guide ("I want to be reborn as a microphone"), Edo no Temari Uta II (which only makes sense if you know something about the Edo period), Robokiss, Konnichi pa...
  • Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown writes lyrics based on sonority of the words, even if they don't make sense (a translated example: "Wheels in G, songs in C, A Brazilian, ô An entire form, ô, You, you, you").
  • And then there's Albus Dumbledore's Richard Harris's "MacArthur Park". The chorus is thus:

 >MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark

All the sweet, green icing flowing down

Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it

'Cause it took so long to bake it

And I'll never have that recipe again

Oh no!

    • The rest of the song makes considerably less sense. Perhaps they made a good choice casting Harris as Dumbledore.
    • There was a story about somebody interviewing him about all the symbolism in that imagery, and he said that no, it was really about a cake in the rain.
  • Madonna's "Candy Perfume Girl"

 Rush me ghost you see

Every center's my home

Fever steam girl

Throb the oceans

  • This is Girls Aloud's entire shtick. "Love Machine" is their most famous example. More recent ones are "Sexy! No No No..." and "Miss You Bow Wow".

 We're only turning into tigers when we gotta fight back

Let's go, Eskimo

Out into the blue

  • Spandau Ballet, frequently. "True"'s "Take your seaside arms and write the next line" is just the start. The most blatant example (it even hangs a lampshade on it) is "Instinction", which starts:

Cheap bed, in the red

Sleep the words out of your head

Cold floor, nice and raw

Eat the meat that's on the floor

    • ...and keeps going in the same vein (the most quoted line being "Stealing cake to eat the moon", and if you think it probably makes sense in context, go look it up on YouTube). A lot of their other hits also lean heavily on lyrics that just sound good rather than making any actual sense, but worthy of particular mention is "Lifeline", which on first hearing not only sounds like it makes sense, but even like it might have a proper storyline. Until you try to work out what the story actually is...
  • Lady Gaga's "Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)."
  • Elton John's "Grey Seal" is pretty word salady. But nothing beats Solar Presitge A Gammon. It almost sounds like he's singing in French, but half of it is random English and the rest of it is gibberish.
  • "I Want You" by Savage Garden. Human... cannonball?
    • Interestingly, the second verse of "I Want You" compares "the time of talking using symbols using words" to "a deep sea diver who is swimming with a raincoat," implying that words have become entirely inadequate for expressing his feelings, which may result in this. "Human cannonball" aside though, it mostly makes sense.
  • Michael Nesmith's 1967-68 Monkees songs, which also usually had inscrutable titles that appeared nowhere in the lyrics: "Daily Nightly", "Auntie's Municipal Court", "Tapioca Tundra", "Writing Wrongs", "Circle Sky."
  • "The Na-Na Song" by Sheryl Crow.
  • The lyrics to "The Riddle" by Nik Kershaw are, in the words of the artist himself, "nonsense, rubbish, bollocks, the confused ramblings of an 80's popstar".
    • This was really the lyrical equivalent of Lorem Ipsum that escaped as the result of over-eager executives at the label. Running out of time before the recording session, he cobbled together some nonsense to fit the melody and laid it down as a vocal, and then struggled to write the proper lyrics. Before he could break the bad news, someone had decided to release the single as it was and promote it with a competition to decipher the lyrics.
  • The Magnetic Fields occasionally make use of this, particularly in their early work. From "Living in an abandoned firehouse with you":

 Take me out to the beach and I'll tell you my secret name

Take me under the sea and we'll derail the trains

Let's run away into the caves I still love you I still love you baby

You're in your own little box with ribbons in your hair

And there's dust in your mouth and worms in the air

Hideous city of unknown words...

That's where I live when I go to sleep

In an abandoned firehouse with you.

  • Pink's "Feel Good Time". It's pretty unusual for her, but once you learn that Beck was a co-writer [8], lines like "paint our money black, spend it on the enemy" seem a little less odd.
  • Train's music, particularly "Hey, Soul Sister" - not particularly made better by the fact that Pat Monahan was writing about what he thought Burning Man would look like.


  • How about "She's My Kind of Rain" by Tim McGraw? A very rare example of word salad in country music:

 She's my kind of rain

Like love in a drunken sky

She's confetti falling down all night

She sits quietly there

Black water in a jar

Says, "Baby, why are you trembling like you are?"

  • Big & Rich did this on occasion as well, most notably on "Real World". This one is made even weirder in that its melody and orchestration sound like a countrified "Bohemian Rhapsody":

 Green, green grass and a rubber Russian bimbo

No one's got a name for the brain in a scarecrow

How can he believe what he sees on the TV

Nothin' but extreme over-executed fantasy

Happy dancin' feet down the street, down the corner

Some, they say he's silly, some, they say that he's a loner

How can you explain, he's got a name, nobody knows it

Did anybody ever stop and offer him a Prozac?

  • Faith Hill's "Red Umbrella". Something about your love being like a red umbrella that you can see on her face, collecting tears in a bottle made of gold, and God crying. The writers tried to justify this at The 9513 by claiming that they were inspired by "Strawberry Fields Forever".
  • Lyle Lovett is a fan of this. "Cowboy Man" is a good example:

 She said, I got a 40 gallon Stetson hat

With a 38 foot brim

We could dance outside the outside, baby

Till we both fall in

And you can rope me on the prairie

And you can ride me on the plain

And I will be your Cinderella

If you'll be my cowboy man



  • Half of Fluke's Risotto album is instrumental, but the half that's lyrical is definitely this.
  • Scooter. To be fair, they're German guys singing in English, but does that really excuse lines like:

 I want you back so clean up the dish

By the way, how much is the fish?

  • Squarepusher's F-Train has the following for its chorus:

 Axis discrepancy reveals hexagons beyond control anomaly,

Mutilation colony reflects no triangular energy,

Asynchronous matter avoided by a diagram invisibility,

Subtle methods symmetry uncovered by a diagonal telemetry.

And that's not even getting started on the verses.

  • Underworld lyrics generally seem to emphasize setting a mood over having any literal meaning. "Born Slippy (Nuxx)" for instance - one kind of gets the impression that it's about a night of debauchery gone wrong from a handful of more direct lines, but it's full of passages like "Random blonde bio high density rhythm / Blonde boy blonde country blonde high density".
  • "Fireflies" by the musical project Owl City, featuring such gems like "Cause I'd get a thousand hugs/From ten thousand lightening bugs/As they tried to teach me how to dance." Then again, pretty much anything by Owl City fits this trope.
  • Crystal Castles' song Air War:

 Bronze by gold heard the hoofrons,

steelyringing imperthnthn thnthnthn.

Chips, picking chips off rocky thumbnail, chips.

Horrid! And gold flushed more.

  • "Hot Limit" by John Desire, especially because it's a Translation Train Wreck of a TM Revolution song.
    • Many other Eurobeat songs are this as well.
  • The Young Punx' "Rock Star (Understand)" is a particularly interesting case of this. The song is a cover of Asian Kung Fu Generation's "Understand", and like the above-mentioned theme from The World Ends With You, the lyrics were chosen to sound like the original Japanese while still making some vague semblance of sense in English.
  • Angelspit love this trope! From "100%"

 Dip my tail in blood ink

Write it down in red

Scribe the words "Happy meal"

Right across your head

    • From "Vena Cava"

 Empty, Heiress, Tantrums

Psycho, with a gun

Finger heresy

Clean out the poison when you cut out your tongue


 Get down on your knees

Get a good head on your shoulders

If it's for your guys

Go to the end of the earth

Do what you think, give it with dedication

I'll put out your misery

You made a mess

For Christ sake, this rotten world

Shit out of luck

Go with my vision

Light up the fire, right on the power

Weapon...I have it all

    • Granted, some of the lyrics could vaguely reflect some aspect of Revy's life.
      • When you've got the lyrics, the song makes sense. Deciphering them from the song, though...
  • "Elektrobank", by the Chemical Brothers:

  "Who's this, doing this type of synthetic alpha beta psychedelic funking?"

  • "Fireball" by Ken Martin.
  • HORSE the Band. Their songs are either A. About video games, or B. complete randomness. There is no C. Here's a sample.




I am locked in his black hole gaze...


I eat moons

  • Skinny Puppy. As if their music wasn't freakish enough. Exhibit A, "Convulsion":

 heaven's trash fixation

turning mass direction

having a relationship without guilt



 mass direction

off and away

hazy circles round the eyes

how long



 heaven's trash

it's a vacant

scathing vapor

ancient role play


 I cannot be sure I see the future

In my head, in my head

Why make myself for all I need help for

In my head, in my head


Experimental Rock

  • Deerhoof. They seem to have gone through the "deliberately ridiculous", ironic and post-ironic forms of this trope, and are now making songs about pandas, flowers, pickup bears and seeing the duck because those sound like awesome things to write songs about.
  • "Eleven Saints" by Jason Webley with Jay Thompson.
  • Pick a Captain Beefheart song. Any Captain Beefheart song.

 Shish sookie Singabus,

Snored like a red merry-go-round horse!

And an acid gold bar swirled up and down,

Up and down, in back of the Singabus.

And the panataloon duck, white goose neck quacked:

Webcore, webcore...

    • Of course, Don Van Vliet, in both his music and painting, is a living incarnation of True Art Is Incomprehensible.
    • Van Vliet would probably sincerely tell you that all of those lyrics make perfect sense. He's really that eccentric, and seems to speak a language that nobody else does. At any rate, his lyrics are more about creating images than establishing a narrative.
      • Indeed, he's prone to making that claim. And in a way, those lyrics do paint a picture that makes sense to a person in a certain frame of mind, who also speaks Venusian or whatever language he uses. His delivery has a lot to do with it.
  • The opening theme, "Logos Naki World", from the first anime of Hellsing. It doesn't help that it's never been clarified what the actual lyrics are, prompting many fans to make their own guesses, none of them anywhere near making sense.
    • The OST has liner notes which contain lyrics to the song, just as expected the lyrics are still quite opaque:Don't be cool vibration/Revlofantasy
  • Brian Eno, period. When he's not doing spacey ambient electronic music, he has lyrical Rorschach tests like this one from "Backwater" (complete with lots of gratuitous AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle)

 There was a senator from Ecuador who talked about a meteor

That crashed on a hill in the south of Peru

And was found by a conquistador who took it to the emperor

And he passed it on to a Turkish guru

  • Many of Faust's lyrics fit this trope. For example "Meadow Meal":

You are a fruit fork

And the money you look up

And the madame you look up

And the middle you look up

A wonderful wooden reason

To stand in line keep in line

  • Robert Wyatt's lyrics are often word salad, at least under a generous interpretation of "word".

 Burlybunch the water mole

Hellyplop and fingerhole

Not a wossit, bundy, see?

For jangle and bojangle.

  • Pretty much everything by The Legendary Pink Dots. Won't you dance with me, my little pickled herring?
  • Architecture in Helsinki. Really, you could just say their name and be done, but specific songs spring to mind pretty quickly: "Do the Whirlwind", "Heart it Races" (which also has an incomprehensible title), and "The Owls Go". (Attic in a basement with a knife serrated, I'll forget you.)
  • Many of The Residents' earlier songs, especially "The Laughing Song":

 A boiled old egg with a red peg leg

Thought a porcupine was his daughter

He soon found out that she had the gout

And she often would wrinkle underwater

    • For another example try this verse from "Walter Westinghouse":

 Eat exuding oinks upon

And bleed decrepit broken bones

At caustic spells of hell!

He sees the threads of worn-out treads

And calls his color true.

(Also pretty scary)

Me, I cried out "God!"

You dared me in the dark,

I felt the hush fall quietly from my spark.

So now I hide in piles of princely orange peels.

It feels the way you told me how it'd always feel.


Folk / Folk-Rock

  • Leo Kottke, "Bungle Party":

 Great big pigs earthquake, but mainly they oink

Ambulance bread trucks line up on your head,

Got mashed potatoes, ain't got no bread.

  • Wes Carr's single "Love Is An Animal." Especially a bridge.

 Yeah, the doors have ears

But they don't have eyes

So you do not have to present disguises

And the walls have mouths

But they do not listen

They seem to bite you when you're not welcome...

  • Turin Brakes. Just Turin Brakes.
  • "Flickr" by Jonathan Coulton has lyrics describing randomly selected photos from Flickr that had Creative Commons licenses. The first verse or so kinda makes sense before descending into randomness.
  • America, the band responsible for the lyric "Alligator lizards in the air." In the chorus. And "Ventura Highway" overall makes much more sense than "Horse With No Name" (which actually tells a story) or "Tinman." Beautiful harmonies, though.
    • There was a comedian who used to say that in an age of rebellion, America were rebelling against grammar.

  where there ain't no one for to give you no pain

    • and

  there were trees and birds and rocks and things


 There will be no hunting season,

this year,

all the hunters have been poisoned

by an old beer.

And in the cities and the towns

all the banks are closed down.

The bankers have all gone home

to make love to their wives like they were twenty-five.

And if you lie down by the roadside,

leave some kind of sign by the roadside.



  • Pick a song written in Latin, any song in Latin. They almost always sound really awesome, but are, when translated, revealed to be a random mix of grammarless, half-connected words. Sometimes the tense doesn't even stay constant. Then again, Latin is a dead language so it's not like the majority of people would know any better anyway.
    • Well-exemplified by the music for the world-view portions of Rome: Total War; it won several awards, but the lyrics are just random Latin words with no particular relevance to anything.
    • Enya's "Afer Ventus" (from the album Shepherd Moons), penned by Roma Ryan, is exactly this. Likewise "Cursum Perficio", which is a fair bit closer to intelligible Latin but is still filled with weird phrasings and apparently random grammar.
  • The opera Four Saints in Three Acts. The lyrics were written by Gertrude Stein, well known for her Word Salad Poems.

 "Let Lucy Lily Lily Lucy Lucy let Lucy Lucy Lily Lily Lily Lily Lily let Lily Lucy Lucy let Lily. Let Lucy Lily."



  • "Feel Good Inc" by Gorillaz. Whether this is also an example of Indecipherable Lyrics is debatable, because the lyrics aren't that poorly enunciated, but they're so bizarre that they sound like a Mondegreen and throw off attempts to decipher them that way.

 You've got a new horizon, it's ephemeral style

A melancholy town where we never smile

And all I wanna hear is the message beep

My dreams they've got to kiss because I don't get to sleep, no...

    • Actually, the "message beep" part makes perfect sense if you notice that right before the chorus, there's a noticeable bleep, and the song changes pace from the dark, somewhat monotone sound to a blissful chorus, that gives a sensation of being filled with bright sunlight. The whole song relies more heavily on the music rather than the lyrics. Damon Albarn himself gives this for a reason why he doesn't put lyrics in the booklets for his albums: "If you didn't get it from the sound, then you've already missed the point".
  • Chip Tha Ripper's S.L.A.B. Freestyle contains some pretty impenetrable metaphors, to the point of internet notoriety.

  Interior crocodile alligator/I drive a Chevrolet movie theater

  • This song from Busdriver.
  • Before they became more well known for instrumental hip hop, The Avalanches' music included rapping that largely fit into this trope. "Rap Fever" for instance:

 Untraceable calculators with electronic eyes

Rap fever!

Paisley-striped animal collisions

Rap fever!

    • Of course, their most famous song "Frontier Psychiatrist" doesn't make much sense either.

 Did I ever tell you the story about Cowboys!

Midgets, the indians and, Frontier Psychiatrist

I felt strangely hypnotised

I was in another world, a world of 20.000 girls

And milk! Rectangles, to an optometrist, the man with the golden eyeball

And tighten your buttocks, pour juice on your chin

I promised my girlfriend I could... violin violin violin violin...


 Horrified jelly worms with electric infantago,

Dinosaur crybabies cookin' shrimp in San Diageo.

Full moons mean nothing without your roller skates,

When the water runs dry and blood fills the great lakes.

  • Kool Keith has done this on most of his albums, but took it to legendary heights under his "Dr. Octagon" psuedonym.

My vomit fluctuates, covers your skull like protoplasm

Lightning bugs turn pink, on my tongue catches spasms

Green elephants, I battle streets with a zebra

My mechanism is more than Dionne's psychic voodoo

African beads, snakeskins, cold script through you my medical passes

You can't see, with greedy glasses

Carbon dioxide, pour right through 'em with gases.

  • Nearly everything by Aesop Rock. Though at least some of it is comprehensible, it's hard to separate it from the more bizarre parts.

 You are dealing with a reborn icicle age poltergeist,

Uprock, sidewalk cycles stuck at the bus stop.

Wookie foot must not sleep under the invaders, no batteries, no jumper cables.

  • WreckdoM's "Gallows Hill", which was recorded for a song fightcompetition, has lyrics that were written by way of playing mad libs with that site's forum members. Thus explaining lines like:

 Gallows hill is a Goomba I've found

It's a tumultuous table, and there's no coconut syrup around

So if you've got the Chinese apple, then let's make a plan

To masticate away

so you can hold my rectum


 Got the DNA of gothic lemons

Shredded thirteen times out of eleven

Your bad ideas are the ATM

Shed my skin, leave it for the homeless to sleep in



  • The '40s swing tune: Mairsey Dotes.
  • Almost any Steely Dan song. Go ahead, pick one. (The effect is spoiled if you get the references though.) One example in particular, "Throw Back The Little Ones":

 Lost in the barrio

I walk like an Injun

So Carlo won't suspect that something's wrong here

I dance in place

And paint my face

And act like I belong here

Throw back the little ones

And pan fry the big ones

Use tact, poise, and reason

And gently squeeze them



  • "Ça Plane Pour Moi" by Plastic Bertrand: It shares a near identical melody and arrangement (and the same backing musicians) as "Jet Boy Jet Girl" by Elton Motello. However, "Jet Boy Jet Girl" is a peppy tune about a jilted, possibly homicidal, underage gay boy and his relationship with an older man, while "Ça Plane Pour Moi" is French (and occasionally Gratuitous English) word salad. One of the English phrases included is "I am the king of the divan!" for example.
  • Wire are notorious for this trope, or rather for very subtly subverting it: Quite often, their least comprehensible lyrics are actually loaded with meaning. "Outdoor Miner", for example, sounds like utter gibberish, but is actually about a chlorophyll-eating insect. And it's really catchy.
    • Doubly subverted with "The 15th", which is a passionate song about... nothing, really.
    • "Kidney Bingos" plays this one pretty straight, although there is an implied theme, and it can be read as a very abstract List Song. The chorus alone is "Money spines, paper lung, kidney bingos, organ fun"...
    • "German Shepherds" makes this scary.
  • The Dead Milkmen have also been known for word salad lyrics, most notably on "Smokin' Banana Peels," in which such phrases as "Mites are living in your eyelashes" and "Dip your breasts in shimmering lip balm" are interspersed among the more coherent lyrics. Other examples include:
    • "I Am The Walrus"

 I sold my niece to Edwin Meese

And I wonder what life's about

I talked of tires while your dog caught fire

And I wonder what life's about

    • "Where The Tarantula Lives"

 Jim Bakker got eaten by wombats

The fever's spread to town

Ol' Doris Day has been taken away

Has anybody seen my downs?

  • Glassjaw is certainly fond of this trope, with Word Salad Titles thrown in for good measure.

 It's a shame that our messiahs move their pawns

from different mountains

And we're left to dance these bodies 'round the fountain

If a leader preaches worship to the sheep within the valley

Who'll be riding in a tank that says 'just married'

  • Don't forget At The Drive-In, the band which eventually spawned TMV. The song lyrics for that band are also way out there, though for both bands, the lyrics are heavy on metaphor and DO have meaning. Either Cedric Bixler-Zavala thinks on a higher plane than most people, or he just doesn't think like us.
  • And Also The Trees (even their name is wordsalad) have tons of these. examples include "i could live in the space between his heartbeats" , "while all around him wallpaper dies" from the aptly named "wallpaper dying" and "She moves painless, slow and flowing Across the wild and trembling path and the headless clay woman's motionless beauty shines" from headless clay woman. though one can't help but feel like it's all just symbolism you fail to grasp.
  • Pretty much anything by early 90's post-punk group Drunken Boat (though not the currently active, entirely different band going by that name). Taken to extremes towards the end of "Spin Around", where suddenly two overdubbed tracks of the lead vocalist come in, babbling like Talkative Loons about two entirely different things ("trolley... car... c-cable car? c-c-cable car"), and eventually having a cryptic conversation with each other:

 Go to the government.

I went to the government office.


I demanded my piece of the pie

What pie?

This will get results...

  • On the self-titled debut by That Petrol Emotion--when they were still post-punk--a wildly-varied (but great!) profusion of styles were attempted: unified, primarily, by loud guitars and killer hooks. More of a head-scratcher, "Cheapskate" knelt before the altar of The Fall:

 And double-breasted

A pretty serious dude

Commits an iceberg

To hum those blues

  • Melt-Banana's lyrics (and name) are of the "sounds, not meanings" variety, to the point that most of the time, none of the (rapidly shouted, heavily Japanese-accented) words are decipherable even in isolation — it's pretty much only about their rhythmic/percussive qualities. (Yasuko Onuki actually seems to be pretty good with English but, of the uses it can be put to, "communication" doesn't make the list when she's in a studio.)
  • The secret track on NoFX's album Wolves In Wolves' Clothing has Fat Mike singing either this or outright Singing Simlish to the tune of various songs the band made. This was (if I recall) because the lyrics to those songs had not actually been written yet at that point.
  • This and Lyrical Shoehorn are the defining tropes for a lot of Goth music. Bands are pretty evenly split between those who will admit to this (eg, Bauhaus), and those who insist that there is a deeper meaning that listerners are too dense to understand (eg, Sisters of Mercy). Examples:
    • Bauhaus' "Terror Couple Kill Colonel". The title was taken from a tabloid headline.

 And as he lay there

Playing games with his pain

He felt his choice of jobs

Was such a mistake

He could have been a doctor in a soft easy chair

Instead he chose three stars

A territorial affair

    • Sisters of Mercy's "Dominion/Mother Russia"

 In the light of the fact

On the lone and level sand stretched far away

In the heat of the action

In the settled dust

Hold hold and say

In the meeting of minds

Down in the streets of shame

In the betting of names on gold to rust

In the land of the blind

Be...King, king, king, king

    • Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Songs From the Edge of the World"

 Let the fire fall in

The footsteps we leave

Painted on the ground

We'll watch the stars

Come crashing down

Upon our heads

Like a madding crown

  • A few early Wildhearts songs. Assuming that the words to If Life Is Like A Love Band I Want An Overdraft have actually been deciphered correctly, any guesses what "fists, gists and communists, I feel like a log, it's a dog in onyx" is meant to mean?
  • Wilco's "Born Alone" is, according to Word of God, entirely made of this trope. The lyrics are a mishmash of random words found in a book of 19th-century poetry that Jeff Tweedy was looking through as he wrote the song.
    • There's also Billy Bragg and Wilco's "Hoodoo Voodoo", which actually had lyrics written by Woody Guthrie. Justified because Guthrie was just writing a silly song to entertain his kids:

 Jinga jangler, tinga lingle, picture on a bricky wall

Hot and scamper, foamy lather, huggle me close

Hot breeze, old cheese, slicky slacky fishy tails

Brush my hair, kissle me some more


 Why can't strudel bitch and pout?

Why won't bicycles put out?

What's this stupid song about?


 A riboflavin travesty

Goes up and down the tapestry

That graces my new haggis tree

By cowlight and bi-nightly


 The voice of my thermostat cut through the night

Like a fat Presbyterian licking a kite


  Can Malibu Barbie get a part in the next Sharon Osbourne docu-drama bout left-handed Ukrainian mambo enthusiasts who find themselves suddenly expurgated in coleslaw?


Internet Original

  • Ghost from True Capitalist Radio seems to be keen on inventing his own songs with rather surreal lyrics including
  • Bad Lip Reading, a Youtube artist who specializes in taking music videos or political ads and redubbing them with nonsense lyrics/dialogue.
    • Take for example Dirty Spaceman, assembled using clips from the Nicki Minaj and Will-I-Am music video "Check It Out".

 Tonight I'm leaving, though I'm bleeding

Now you know me as

Dirty spaceman, yeah

And now I'm leaving, got that spaceman head

And now I'm leaving

Now I'm leaving

Angelmouth ate my jedi jello

Now she feels the burn

Now she feels the burn

And now I'm feeling extra angry

I'm the dirty spaceman

    • Or take, as a more recent example (and one which was not ultimately taken down due to copyright challenge), Morning Dew, a mash-up of Bruno Mars, Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga.

 A midget said "Speak with an accent"

So I did

Just so I could steal his porsch

While he was tied to a stake

In the rain


 Ice cream. That is cheap. Fact.

And then I suspended Marsha off this bridge, and took a virgin heifer nightriding for a while; we never got a dead spirit. We hated it though. It's disgusting.

Someone had a grade-A lungfish decorate their home for a merry fool's function.

What's good is to get these goats for our computer industry!

I'm bored by famine. I cannot wait for a medieval cookie, a cinnabon, hot yellow cool-aid, and save a pretzel for the gas-jets!

Some do the olympics; and some defy the titans. Ice cream.

You know, I had this girl, who was too ugly to ride; and we were bitter. This princess-and-the-mustache, one-size-fits-all, everybody-hookup? Babe.

You can borrow my CDs, but not one every day! You could try my Kwanzaa CDs; but they're not yours, and you don't have to take any of them.


 I'm not sorry.

I ate my pony

Please don't go aw-ay

You know that old donkey?

potatoes are itchy!

The fridge is my best friend

(I am a brony!)


Non-music examples:

Anime and Manga

  • Motteke! Sailor Fuku!, which is quite appropriate considering it somewhat parodies shows with songs exactly like it.
    • It doesn't help that what the song actually says changes depending on who you're talking to. Is the second line about being wrapped up in a sailor uniform, a school uniform being wrapped in the person wearing it, or rapping in a sailor uniform? It's so confusing!
  • The Team Dai-Gurren theme from Gurren Lagann (technically called "Rap is a Man's Soul", but more often called "Raw Raw Fight The Power") is mostly a Hot-Blooded anthem about going Beyond the Impossible, but then there's the second verse...

 Second-best, dedicates to the real peeps

What we got to say is so real thing

Cuz, revolution ain't never gonna televise

Kicking the mad flow, microphone phenotype

Open your third eye, seeing through the overground

I'm about to hit you with the scream from the underground

Whole city is covered with the cyber flavor

"G" is in your area, one of the toughest enigma

  • From Dragon Ball: Sparkle sparkle, the galaxy's a POPCORN SHOWER!
  • The anime Weiss Kreuz has image songs for all the major characters. "Spiritualized", the song for psychic Schuldig, is like this, likely to illustrate the chaotic feeling of touching unshielded minds.

 Goodbye, my mars

I shot your pigs

Goodbye, strange fruits

Get higher, get higher

  • On the other side of the Pacific, the composer J.A. Seazer has produced the most thick metaphorical songs for the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena. All lines typically devolve into one of two categories: word salad invoking a barrage of relevant imagery, or obtuse commentary. Then again, only in Japanese is it possible to eloquently sing:

 I am a imaginary living body come to its end (Watashi hatenaru kuusou seimeitai)

    • Looking at the translations, JASEAZER is a Refuge in Audacity. He can get away with writing a song that basically names off all of the components of an ornamental crest (I Am All the Mysteries in Creation) or a song that lists geological eras (Palezoic in My Body) and [i]have them work[/i].
  • All of the English songs on the Soul Eater OS Ts, as well as the French one. "Step Up" in particular comes to mind.

 Times I get into it they're appealing from the dirt

White spot so easily cursed by the rose mary's flirt

  • Azumanga Daioh's OP, "Soramimi Cake," is a great anime example of a word-salad song.

 LU LA LU LA The piano is a melody in the world's field of blooming dreams

Believe in the broken clock and who's side will time be on?

Why is my heart waiting so much for that tender-hearted someone?

Tell me a wonderful future MOONLIGHT, MOONLIGHT SLEEPIN'

LU LA LU LA The girl of awakenings will kiss the apple of memories and

In a book opened with sorrow and longing, the bell meant for the two of us will ring

Because I want to hold you tight my dear one

Don't cry any more GOOD BYE SADNESS

The words on the mysterious door read "Soramimi Cake"

WONDERLAND! Welcome, to you FAIRYLAND! It's the magic of love

LOVE'S ALL WAY! Every day, the temptations of wheat, so fluffy

CAKE FOR YOU! Eat, for tonight is TEA FOR YOU! A tea-party in the constellations

The chorus of angels at the window is to you, just your ear playing tricks?

The voice saying "I love you, I love you"

    • Somewhat justified, in that much of the lyrics are odd puns and wordplays in the original Japanese. For example, the song title, "Soramimi Cake", which is pronounced "soramimi keiki" and is usually translated "Fancy Hearing Cake", sounds a lot like "sora mimikaki". "Sora" is typically translated as "sky", and the kanji used to write it is also translatable as "air" or "empty". "Mimikaki" is a device for cleaning out earwax, and the two kanji used to write it can be translated as "ear" or "edge", and "scratch", "scrape, or "noise" respectively. So with a slight twist, the title becomes "Empty Ear Noise".
  • Most of the Suzumiya Haruhi Image Songs (and indeed, most Image Songs in general) are designed to make sense, as they're written to give depth to the characters. Not Nagato Yuki's. As we don't really understand what's going on in her head, some of her image songs get nigh-incomprehensible. "Under Mebius" (which actually means "Moebius") starts out with English word salad, then segues into the kind of equally nonsensical Japanese you'd hear from a human computer:

 Under section, might Mebius

Replay play play Mebius

Land wake but our Mebius ring the ring

Existence, past, present, local time difference

Amendment, improper, restartable

Selection, comprehension, junction search, manual



  • "Can You Picture That?" by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, from The Muppet Movie.

Live-Action TV


  • Parodied in the Hancock's Half Hour radio eisode "The Poetry Society" where Hancock trues to ingratiate himself with a group of snobbish intellectuals by attempting to imitate their word salad verses. Naturally they immediately denounce him as a fraud, but when his idiot friend Bill tries it they hail Bill as a fellow genius.
  • The song "Whackit on the Dram" from the Hamish & Dougal episode "Fame Idol" is a string of random Scots words and just plain gibberish, concluding "Hi-ho! For the open road!"


  • 'Exquisite Corpse' from Hedwig & the Angry Inch.

 A random pattern with a needle and thread

The overlapping way diseases have spread

to a tornado body with a hand grenade head,

and the legs are two lovers entwined.

  • Some of the lyrics from Jonathan Larson's unfinished play Tick Tick Boom can tend this way, in particular Actions Speak Louder Than Words, which seems more concerned with what sounds pretty than what makes sense.

 Cages or wings?

Which do you prefer?

Ask the birds.

Fear or love, baby?

Don't say the answer

Actions speak louder than words.


Video Games

  • Deadpool's theme from Marvel vs Capcom 3 is pretty nonsensical, appropriate to the man himself. Here's just the first verse:

 Do the walk, do the talk, don't be fool, go to school

Do the watch, do the touch, do with all the thing you have

Do the club, do the bed, don't be shy, do the lie

Do the cry, do the shout, do it do it never do it

    • Don't you understand what I mean when I say so?
  • Big the Cat's theme from Sonic Adventure. Here are the lyrics.
    • Some lines make sense, but... some of them definitely don't. Lines like "Happy, Happy Muy Amable", and "Okay, all you have to do is sit up, look left, right, up, and down" make me wonder what Ted Poley was smoking...
    • And from the same game, we have "My Sweet Passion (Theme of Amy Rose)". Or at least, one line of it.

  The Sphinx was so cute, I had to shave it.

      • It's possible it's talking about a breed of hairless cat known as the Sphinx, but if so... WHY?!
      • Some fans assume this was some form of innuendo
    • While we're on the subject of Sonic, many songs in that series don't make sense. Cashell's "Un-Gravitify" from Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity makes such little sense that any attempts to find a meaning in it are futile at best. There are even several sentences that are just plain gramatically incorrect!
  • "Daikenkai" from Pop N Music and Dance Dance Revolution. Here's a translation of the refrain (and let's not talk about the rest of the lyrics):

  Nonsense from a spinning head, high tension, and a strong beat / From a five-match janken game comes tactics for big opinions/

    • Another from Pop'n Music and DDR is "CURUS". It's obviously got a vague love theme, but...some lines make absolutely no sense. Take for example the beginning of the extended version of the song (note - lyrics may not be 100% accurate):

 Think you slip away

While I make my doing through you

So I wonder how

You picked me up to this real

Make me so far grown

How I'm daring to respect

That's so off my pain

Sometime, someplace, everywhere

  • "And Then To CODA", the main theme of Solatorobo, has nothing to do with the game's plot or setting, aside from a few token mentions of the sky and winds.
  • Several songs from the Armored Core series. Composer Kota Hoshino's engrish makes the lyrics up to interpretation to say the least.

 I'm a thinker, I can break you know

I'm a shooter, trust me baby

Aztec jumper, feel it in the wind

Crafting power in peace now with me

See Seabiscuit running forward

All are as you're seeking hour

Outer space and someone waits there

Sounds of mechs that play in the fallout


Web Original


 Llama llama

Cheesecake llama

Tablet brick potato llama

Llama llama

Mushroom llama

Llama llama


    • The verse is even worse:

 I was once a treehouse

I lived in a cake

But I never saw the way

The orange slayed the rake

    • Or this little gem:

 Is that how it's told now?

Is it all so old?

Is it made of lemon juice?

Doorknob, ankle, cold.

  • The Mondegreen version of the Tamil song "Kalluri Vanil" by Prabhu Deva, commonly known as "Benny Lava" among Internet-faring English-speakers.
  • Jon Lajoie parodies this in "WTF Collective" with MC Confusing:

 Yeah you're whack, cause everybody understands what you say

But when I get on the mic, I make milk outta clay

And I play air guitar with a tube of toothpaste

And I say karate pencil case and put it on tape

    • And again in "WTF Collective 2":

MC Confusing back in this bitch

With a parking sandwich and chicken ticket

I got a liquid face lift from a a fig with big tits

And my wrist got twisted by a Brit with fig spit


 Ain't no chicken from China I'm blastin'

I'm grabbing a routine vaccination

With chicken and sweet carp on the side

  • Songs to Wear Pants To's "I Empty My Baby": A fan sent Andrew some already pretty silly lyrics for him to use in a song, and added that the lines didn't necessarily have to be in the same order. Andrew took the Literal Genie approach, and changed the order of every single word. Thus:

 I empty my baby out my pockets to make me feel just right

I sweat dry anti-fungal cream every day and every night

You know my eye drops you every time I look for you

Get out my feet you at me

eyes get really so get so every my start time you don't me

At look and

  • Some songs by Jonti Picking (a.k.a. The Weebl) tend to have those lyrics at least in some portions of the looping song.
  • Every song subtitled by Buffalax or in the style of him ends up like this, given that the subtitles are just what the foreign singing sounds like, rather than a straight translation. Still, there's no doubt that lines like "Who put the goat in there? The yellow goat I ate!" and "In your yard I am the Ferengi man, very odd and chunky!" qualify.
  • In the webcomic Quantum Vibe, Chari and Prebakar take this trope Up to Eleven

Western Animation

  • Phineas and Ferb make a song with meaningless lyrics in the episode "Flop Starz"

 Chicka chicka choo-wop

Gitchi gitchi goo means I love you

    • Most songs in the series end up like this. A delicious example is "Dance, Baby" from "Candace Disconnected". The moment the song is sung is random and silly, and the lyrics top it off:

 Dance, baby, dance, baby, shake your hips

Go down to the pier and get some fish and chips

Groove, baby, groove, baby, motivate your limbs

Never eat a cactus if you're out of practice

  • In The Weekenders, the in-universe band Chum Bukkit' have a song called "Suffused Elephant Quaff Winces Exasperating" with lyrics consisting of notes whose original meanings were mangled by Carver's lack of penmanship.
  • "Killer Tofu" by the cartoon rock band, The Beets
  • The second song in Imaginaria, Anything Is Possible Now, seems to literally try to form some cohesion to footage obviously edited together from multiple shorts. It manages to pull it off for the most part.
  • Most likely unintentionally, Patrick's song he wrote in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode Sing a Song of Patrick has some pretty nonsensical lyrics.

 This song is over, except for this line.

You win this round, Broccoli!

  • Winx Club transformations, namely the 'Enchantix' theme song, get this. It sounds like they just threw a bunch of semi-relevant words in.
  • There's a lot of singing in Adventure Time. Most of the time, the lyrics make zero sense.
  • "Glen Belt"'s song in I Am Not an Animal: "Why do you reject me? / You know I'm full of diseases / Quattro formaggio / Pizza made with four kinds of cheeses". It Gets Worse.
  1. I'm afraid we don't.
  2. Throw yourself into a situation you don't know the outcome to. Relevant.
  3. And accept the consequences of the previous line.
  4. Because whatever's out there probably isn't that bad.
  5. Ok...what?
  6. Lead vocalist for the band's first two albums.
  7. band members have said that the song was inspired by the mountains of Switzerland, so tall they seem to "come out of the sky," making this line a relatively reasonable metaphor
  8. In fact, it was originally going to be a collaboration between Beck and William Orbit for a solo album the latter was working on. Then someone got a hold of the demo and wanted to use it in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle; Beck didn't want to be associated with the movie himself, but didn't mind letting someone else sing the song