An Absurd Medley of Mondegreens: Misheard Lyrics Through the Ages

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

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:

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

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

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