I remember seeing this on Nevermind The Buzzcocks (a British music quiz show) aaaaaaaages ago – Indecipherable lyrics.
I’ll let Mark Lamarr, the show’s host from 1996 to 2005, explain the rules: (please note, I find the video quite funny, but it may not be to everyone’s taste – you have been warned!!)
The episode I have burned on my memory featured Blur and Kate Bush:
The idea is to pick a song, or excerpt from a song, where the lyrics are pretty indecipherable (hence the quiz show round name), even to a native speaker. Here’s the procedure for the activity as in an English language lesson:
- Divide your class into two teams (or more if you have a lot of students) and explain that they are going to watch some music videos/excerpts from music videos
- Explain to your students that they will probably not be able to hear every word that is sung clearly. Instead of trying to get the exact words down, your students should write whatever words they think are being sung
- After watching the video, the teams should work together and produce their version of the lyrics
- Award points for the most accurate/funny/strange lyrics
- Hilarity will ensue! (possibly)
For some more songs with indecipherable lyrics, search on YouTube.
For the record, the first few times I heard Song 2 by Blur, I thought he was singing ‘Got my head checked, by a chamochay’ and that the chorus ended in ‘Is there any jam?’ 😉