The Biggest Grammatical Mistakes In Songs We Love To Sing

Songwriters provide the soundtracks to our lives and have a knack for saying exactly what we are feeling that, of course, we didn't know how to express ourselves.

But, even their superior rhyming skills and penchant for translating the human condition into beautiful lyrics doesn't mean they always pronounce everything perfectly. Your favorite playlist is probably as full of simple spelling mistakes and hilarious grammatical errors as it is beloved hit songs.

So, we've rounded up the iconic pop songs that leave us scratching our heads, even as we're happily singing along ...

"Lay Lady Lay" by Bob Dylan

The use of lay versus lie confounds many people. Both lay and lie can be used in the present tense; however, lay technically requires an object. You can lay down a book or lay down the law, but if you're talking about a person, they lie down.

Here's where it gets even more tricky: people do lay down sometimes, but only in the past tense.


WATCH: Two Nerdy Steps To Take To Improve Your Vocabulary


A number of great pop songs actually get this one wrong, including Bonnie Raitt's "I Can't Make You Love Me" ("Lay down with me / Tell me no lies") and Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" ("If I lay here / If I just lay here").

Bob Dylan knew that "Lie Lady Lie" just wouldn't have the same ring to it. No hard feelings, Bob.

"Fergalicious" by Fergie

In 2006, Fergie's hit song "Fergalicious" taught the world how to spell delicious and tasty. There was only one small problem with the song's spelling lesson: it spelled "tasty" ... wrong.

The lyrics include rapper will.i.am chanting: "T to the A to the S-T-E-Y, girl, you're tasty." Tasty is spelled sans E.

As Fergie told Time in a 2014 interview:

That was perfect. I called him on it right away, but then he was like, “No, let’s spell it wrong on purpose! It’s great! It’s better!” It messes it up a little bit. I don’t like anything that’s too perfect.

They'd already invented the word Fergalicious, so why not put their own creative spin on other adjectives as well?

"What Goes Around ... Comes Around" by Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake is an innovator. He's come up with new dances, new sounds, and even some new words. In his 2006 smash hit "What Goes Around... Comes Around," he cleverly croons: "When you cheated, my heart bleeded."

The correct word to use in that phrase would, of course, be bled, but he needed a good rhyme. Plus, he was likely still blinded by his heartbreak after splitting up with Britney Spears. You do you, JT.

"Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones

It's one of the most iconic song lyrics of all time: "I can't get no satisfaction." Of course, any grammar nerd can immediately recognize that those lyrics don't quite follow the rules.

Technically, can't get no is a double negative, and the song should say, "I can't get any satisfaction." But, would it really be rock and roll if they followed all the rules? The Rolling Stones were rebels, and in this case, their rule-breaking ways paid off with a timeless hit.

"I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole

In the theme song for the late 1990s teen drama Dawson's Creek, songstress Paula Cole sacrificed perfect grammar for the sake of a good rhyme. Her 1996–97 pop classic "I Don't Want to Wait" includes the line: "So open up your morning light / And say a little prayer for I."

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The correct pronoun in that lyric would be me, not I. But "Say a little prayer for me" doesn't rhyme with the first line of the verse, nor does it rhyme with the next two lines: "You know that if we are to stay alive / Then see the love in every eye."

Whether or not any of those lyrics make sense is another issue entirely, but Paula Cole stuck to her own version of the grammar rules, and it paid off.

"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police

"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" has one of those great, explosive choruses that makes it impossible not to sing along, but it's for grammar nerds not to cringe as you arrive at the lyric: "Everything she do just turns me on."

In that sentence, the verb do should be does, and Sting had plenty of room there to sing: "Everything she does just turns me on." This seems like it may have been a style choice, rather than a mistake—and a a magical one at that.

"Exercise Yo' Game" by Coolio

The rapper Coolio's stage name suggests a penchant for inventing new words. But, in his 1995 song "Exercise Yo' Game," he took creating new words to a whole new level when he misspelled the word exercise as "E-X-C-E-R-I-S-E."

A typical misspelling may have included a Z, as in exercize, or added an extra C, like excercise. But Coolio can't misspell words like just anyone!

He took a difficult word to spell and made it entirely his own. For that, we have Aretha Franklin levels of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, although Coolio may prefer to spell it R-E-S-C-E-P-T.

"Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga

In the case of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," could it be that misuse of objective pronouns is what made the love go sour?

Lady Gaga sings: "You and me could write a bad romance," when, as your schoolteacher will quickly tell you, it is properly you and I.

This is one of those tricky grammar rules that trips many people up, but there's actually an easy way to know which pronoun is correct. Simply remove the you and from the sentence and see if what's left makes grammatical sense. "Me could write a bad romance?" No. I could write a bad romance.

This one can't really be chalked up to an issue with syllables or fitting the lyrics to the beat, since I and me are both short words. It's just that in colloquial speech, which pop music often imitates, we commonly say you and me.

"Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Jr.

In the timeless Ghostbusters theme song, Ray Parker, Jr. asks over and over again, "Who you gonna call?" The answer, of course, is the Ghostbusters, which are a group of people.

Since the Ghostbusters are a group, they'd be described using the pronoun them, and that means their theme song should technically ask, "Whom are you going to call?"

That said, being haunted doesn't leave a lot of time for considering proper grammar. Plus, nobody speaks like that. So, if there's something strange in your neighborhood, don't worry about pronouns. Just make the phone call!

"I'll Never Break Your Heart" by the Backstreet Boys

Grammar-minded boy band fans have probably been seething about this Backstreet Boys song since it came out in 1995. At one point in the song "I'll Never Break Your Heart," band member A.J. McLean actually sings: "As time goes by / You will get to know me / A little more better."

Since better is a comparative adjective that already means something is "more than good," putting more in front of it is kind of redundant.

Luckily for The Backstreet Boys, millions of adoring fans were willing to overlook the mistake and still get to know them ... a little more better, making them one of the most successful pop acts of all time.

"Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys teamed up with Jay-Z to pen this absolutely perfect ode to New York City. There's only one real flaw in the song, and that's the fact that they refer to New York as a "concrete jungle where dreams are made of."

Wait, what? Let's break that down. New York could be called a concrete jungle. It is the stuff of dreams, as well as a place where many people's dreams are made into reality. But somehow, when all of those points are combined into one sentence, it makes almost no sense.

And yet? It's strangely just right. We don't even have an improved lyric to offer. Pardon us while we belt out these nonsensical lyrics in the shower from now until forever.

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