An Absurd Medley of Mondegreens: Misheard Lyrics Through the Ages

More

In The Information, James Gleick writes that a mondegreen, a popular mishearing of a lyric or line of poetry, is a modern phenomenon. We've always heard and remembered lines incorrectly, but only thanks to "a modern level of linguistic self-consciousness and interconnectedness" can we recognize recurring, universal examples -- and the process is accelerating. "Like the printing press, the telegraph, and the telephone before it, the Internet is transforming the language simply by transmitting information differently," he writes. What happens when you add the rise of pop music and YouTube to the mix? You get the mother of all mondegreen mashups.

"She's got a chicken to ride," "hold me closer, Tony Danza," and "the ants are blowing in the wind" all make appearances in this viral video by the music collective cdza. The mashup is performed by Ryan Melia and Loralee Gayer with backup from Evan Shinners on piano, Allan Mednard on drums, and Michael Thurber on bass. It's goofy, sure, but polished -- cdza brings together Juilliard graduates and New York pros to produce the hits on their YouTube channel. History of Misheard Lyrics was also a collaboration with the website KissTheGuy.com, which aggregates funny examples of the genre. 

This isn't the first of their inventive "histories" looking back at a musical oddity over the years. Don't miss History of Whistling, a mashup of 100 years' worth of whistling in pop songs:

History of Lyrics That Aren't Lyrics is also packed full of favorite non-word lines:

For more by cdza, visit http://www.cdzamusic.com.

Jump to comments

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In