January 02, 2005


Rose and I went to our local bar to sing karaoke with friends this evening, as we sometimes do, but this time I made an effort to document some of the mistakes that appear in the undercopyedited karaoke lyrics. In the Beatles' "Across the Universe", for instance, the chorus ("Jai guru de va om") was rendered as "Hagaroo dayrah ohhh". I mean, yes, it's an odd-sounding phrase, but...the lyrics to Beatles songs are not hard to look up.

One delightful piece is misinformation appeared in the notebook in which one browses for songs to sing. For the song "Time Warp", the artist was given as "Rocky Mountain Horror Picture Show".

The main offender, though, was Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up". I had sung it once before and been amazed at its many lyrical errors. Having long intended to come back and attempt to transcribe the screwed-up lyrics, this time I finally remembered to come prepared. I printed out three copies of the lyrics, double-spaced to leave room for Rose and our friends to note where the karaoke lyrics diverged from reality. I also brought pencils. Anyway, here are the real lyrics, and here is what was on the screen:

I've been a dude who lurks
Ending in dirty looks,
List'ning to the Muzak,
Thinking 'bout this 'n' that.
She said that's that.
I don't wanna chitter-chat.
Turn it down a little bit
Or turn it down flat.

Pump it up when you don't really need it.
Pump it up until you can feel it.

Down in the pleasure center,
Hell bent or heaven sent,
Listen to the propaganda,
Listen to the latest Santa.
There's nothing underhand
That she wouldn't understand.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

She's been a bad girl.
She's like a chemical.
Oh you try to stop it,
She's like a narcotic.
You wanna talk to her.
You wanna talk to her.
All the things you bought for her,
Could not get a temperature.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

Out in the fashion show,
Down in the first tier,
You put your passion out
Under the pressure pier.
Fall into somethings,
Hit-and-run transmission.
No use wishing now for any other sin.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

There may have been a few more tiny discrepancies that went by too fast to catch, but that covers all the real howlers. (My favorite is the seasonally appropriate "Listen to the latest Santa.") I also recall a karaoke session a bunch of years back with my then-coworkers at Who Wants to Be a Millionaire that featured an extremely dubiously transcribed set of lyrics to R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It", which I'd love the chance to reread at leisure.

Posted by Francis at 01:37 AM | TrackBack

The real lyrics to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Who'll Stop the Rain" are here.

But it always sounds like they're singing:

"Caught up in the fable, I watched the tower grow.
Bobby plans to nuke you, wrapped in golden chains."

Posted by: Eileen at January 2, 2005 08:11 PM

That site seems to be down at the moment, but here are the actual lyrics, for the curious:

Caught up in the fable, I watched the tower grow.
Five year plans and new deals, Wrapped in golden chains.

Posted by: Francis at January 2, 2005 10:45 PM

From the "All in the Family" theme song:

"Didn't need no welfare state
Everybody pulled his weight
Gee - I owe Rick's salary! Great!"

Actually that last line should be "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great!"

Posted by: Eileen at January 3, 2005 07:49 PM