A pedantic vivisection of everyone from the Beatles to Lady Gaga.
I can’t believe it took me almost five years to write this list. At some point my two loves — shooting fish in a barrel and pedantry — should’ve intersected like this. Somehow it never happened. I came close with lists like 11 Most Hilariously Awful Rhymes In Music History, but never hit the bullseye.
So here is a long overdue collection of 11 painful grammatical errors in song lyrics. (Paula Cole’s “Say a little prayer for I” and Fergie’s Fergalicious are exempt because I already covered them in the awful rhymes list.) I tried to focus on lyrics that seemed to make the mistakes unintentionally rather than artistically. All are encouraged to scold me for the grammatical mistakes I’ll inevitably make throughout the list.
1 | Bad Romance and You and I by Lady Gaga
In Bad Romance, she sings “You and me could write a bad romance” when it should be “You and I could write a bad romance.” Then in You and I she sings “Yeah, something about, baby, you and I” when it should be “you and me.” She lost two “I/me” coin flips on two hit songs. The group of pop writing computers who statistically piece together marketable Lady Gaga lyrics should be sold for parts. Who needs a bunch of Iomega Zip drives?
2 | Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani
So she bit Fiddler on the Roof… but screwed up the grammar. She took the lyric “If I were a rich man” and turned it into “If I was a rich girl.” You don’t see the Jews writing musicals with lyrics like “I are walking in a spiderweb.”
3 | Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers
The double negative in the title (and repeated throughout) completely changes the song. Colloquial slang notwithstanding, technically he’s saying there IS sunshine when she’s gone. Which is probably true in a literal sense, unless she dumped him during the winter in Iceland.
4 | Hungry Eyes by Eric Carmen
He went with “I feel the magic between you and I” so he could rhyme “I” with “eyes.” So he sacrificed grammar to rhyme a word with itself… almost? That’s worse than rhyming Homer with Homer.
5 | Play Me by Neil Diamond
“Song she sang to me, song she brang to me” is hard to hear, even in a smooth, seductive baritone voice. This entry also encompasses Justin Timberlake’s “when you cheated girl, my heart bleeded girl” and everyone who’s ever used the word “conversate.”
6 | The Way I Are by Timbaland
Yes, there are a few moments in the song where the lyrics go, “I like you just the way you are”… but there are a plenty where the lyrics go, “Can you handle me the way I are?” He also loses points in this song for shouting out the red American Express. Who shouts out the red American Express? That’s like bragging because you have a Playstation One.
7 | Two Less Lonely People In the World by Air Supply
Should be “two fewer lonely people in the world.” See, THIS is why Air Supply should stick exclusively to break up songs; they have no idea how to handle happy couples.
8 | I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
The lyric I’m nitpicking here is “Lay down with me, tell me no lies.” It should be “Lie down with me, tell me no lies.” Of course, that would mean the line starts and ends with “lie,” but couldn’t that be construed as clever structure?
9 | Whip It by Devo
One would “whip it well,” not “whip it good.” And he gets so close to correcting the grammar problem as it comes along when he sings “It’s not to late to whip it, well whip it good.”
10 | Ticket to Ride by The Beatles
They’d get a pass on “she’s got a ticket to ride,” but pairing that with “she don’t care” is just too much. I’d understand that from the Shitty Beatles, because they suck, but not the regular Beatles.
11 | Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
There’s all sorts of stuff wrong with the lyric “concrete jungle where dreams are made of.” (And by “all sorts of stuff” I mean two things.)
TANGENT: The first several times I heard the song I thought Alicia Keys was singing “concrete jungle, wet dreams, tomato.” Even though I know the right (and, as this list points out, wrong) lyric, I still picture “concrete jungle, wet dreams, tomato.” It’s my own personal “blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche.”