An Absurd Medley of Mondegreens: Misheard Lyrics Through the Ages

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.

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.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

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

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Video

Just In