Mishearing Song Lyrics: Why We Hear Taylor Swift Sing About “Starbucks Lovers”
by Maddy Abel
There’s a phrase in Taylor Swift’s new song “Blank Space” that has been collectively misheard by listeners. Does Ms. Swift croon about “Starbucks lovers” or does she really sing about her “long list of ex-lovers”?
We often mishear song lyrics, morphing them into something quite different from their original phrasing. Think, for example, of the Eiffel 65 song from 1998 where “I’m blue, da ba dee da ba di” somehow became “If I were green I would die” (and your elementary school class would fill with giggles because being green was just so silly!).
This tendency to create stories out of song lyrics that are not really there is called a mondegreen. Webster dictionary defines a mondegreen as “word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung”. In 1954, Slyvia Wright, an American writer, published a piece in Harper’s where she explained the origin of the term “Mondegreen”.