Middle Eastern Music Mondegreens
Middle-Eastern Music Mondegreens
Mondegreens, those mis-heard lyrics we've all experienced
(google it for more info),
are probably more common when the song isn't in the
same language you speak.
Your brain tries to make sense of what it hears.
So we English-speaking fans of Middle Eastern music often
have this experience, of thinking we hear English words in the middle
of some Arabic, Turkish, Greek, or other Middle Eastern song.
The Rising Phoenix Dancers
presented some of their favorites at
Oasis Dance Camp to discover what
everyone else was hearing. It was interesting
how many different ways people would interpret the
same sounds, often with amusing results.
Since posting this web page, we've received many
more excellent examples of mis-heard lyrics in
Middle Eastern songs.
Some contributors report that the "new" words make them
laugh so much they can no longer dance to the song.
So, here are some of the ones we've collected,
organized by artist.
I've found some of the CDs mentioned on amazon.com;
you can click on the CD images at right to go to them there.
There are some
for whom the voices seem to be providing
these are notated below by an image like the one at left.
- "Raks Zeina", from the "Magic of Belly Dance" LP.
Lyrics heard as
"Zeina, Zeina, one-legged Zeina"
(reported by Michelle (NC, USA) and others).
"Sahirrnee" from the CD "Belly Dance! The Best of George Abdo and his Flames
of Araby Orchestra" (or the old "Magic of ..." LP). Jaziri (WA, USA)
claims to have listened to this for many years and swears
he signals the end of the song with "Superman cannot be dead."
"Wadeelo Salamy", from the LP
"Belly Dancing with George Abdo".
Title lyrics variously
heard as "We deal salami" (reported by Shakira (OH, USA)),
or "What a big salami" (reported by Sasha (CA, USA)).
- "Monaya". Jen (Scotland, UK) advises:
"In the bridge, it sounds like he says 'Oh yeah, it's me - Bigfoot!'
Proof that Sasquatch exists if ever I heard it!"
- "Nar el Hob", heard as
"Not a Hope", reported by Robin (NY, USA) as describing her
Adam Basma Arabic Ensemble
- "Hadi Yensa Albou" from the Adam Basma Arabic Dance Ensemble CD.
Aziza Nawal (GA, USA) reports hearing this as
"Happy in the bedroom."
Hasani (WA, USA) reports that one of her students heard
"Ahhhhhh......... chubby legs, chubby leeeeggggggs."
Brothers of the Baladi
Sasha (CA, USA) reports that the female chorus seems to be
singing "Bugs on the highway, bugs on high..." and that even
many years later, some of her troupe members still refer to it as
the "bug" song.
- "Mastoom Mastoom".
Presumably this song is actually about
drinking, which might explain the injury that caused them to sing
"I need a Band-Aid, can't find a Band-Aid."
- "Amarain". Renee (WA, USA) reports that her husband
hears the opening lines as
"Woah, Mom and Dad, I'm a radio now" or
"Woah Mom and Dad, are you ready or not?"
Marisa (OR, USA) says her boyfriend swears the chorus
sounds like "A Marine - a Marine is what I need."
- "Ana Ayesh". Jen (Scotland, UK) tells us that he sings
"Ana a'ayesh iw mosh a'ayesh,"
which she was convinced was "I'm a radish, a mushy radish."
- "Bahebak Aktar".
This song has a Greek part by Angela Dimitriou, which, as reported by
Shadia al Shahar (AL, USA),
"The sexy body of the emu... uh-huh, uh-huh...
This kafta is pasta, it's pasta!"
She even gave a link so you can listen for yourself:
- "Habibi Ya Nour el Ain".
Reported by Robyn Friend (CA, USA), she couldn't remember the title but
as "that lovely rhumba-y song that was very popular a few
years ago (Georges Lammam taught it in his singing class at Mendocino camp a
few years ago)".
The song was later identified by Miranda.
Robyn said the refrain sounds like
"Habibi, habibi, habibi, I know you been lyin'".
Carolynn (CA, USA) hears it differently: "... a noodle in my eye."
- "Kallast Feek Kol Akalam". Jen (Scotland, UK) reports that
her dearly beloved is convinced he hears Amr singing
"Thou must defeat the Licky Lems."
He thought maybe a Licky Lem could be a kind of candy
and the song would make a good jingle.
- "Khafet Dhamon" (CD "Sif Safaa: New Music from
the Middle East"). Lyrics heard as "His feet don't move,
his feet don't move, oh what a shame his feet don't move."
- "Batalt Ahiboh", around 45 seconds into it, Nina Amaya (MD, USA)
reports hearing, ""Overlook the high low: oh what a bitch you were -yy."
Samer Issa et al
- Aimee (AL, USA) reports that she and her dance friends agree that in
the song "Ya Bahaia", from the CD of the same name,
"the man says 'I see dookie' (you know, like poop!) numerous times."
She adds, "It's hard for me to dance to this without a big grin."
- Title unknown, traditional song (can be heard on CD "Sahra Seadi"
cut #3). Lyrics heard as "Eat granola, diet granola."
- "M'hanni Lebled",
(CD "Where Africa Meets the Orient").
Lyrics heard as "Hide in a plant, you're ugly, hide in a plant;
hide in a plant, you're ugly, son of a gun."
"Ilvanhm" (same CD)
sounds like they're singing about "my stun gun, my stun gun."
"Weli Weli" (same CD)
sounds like "Willie Willie Willie, won't you go back home."
- "Blessings" from the Ahsas CD.
Aziza Sa'id (CA, USA) felt compelled to report that
her tribal troupe decided the lyrics go something like...
"I believe in mayonnaise".
Leslie Ellen Jones (CA, USA) adds
"I believe this is the one known among my classmates as 'The Owie Song.' Not
just mayonnaise--it's painful mayonnaise!"
"Bu Guce (Kir Zincirlerini)"
on his self-titled CD
sounds like a sad tale about a romantic dancing fool,
"Boogie Jane" or "Boogie Geoff" (the latter interpretation
courtesy of Fiona (England)).
- "Simarik" (the "Kiss kiss" song) makes me think Tarkan must
be a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" fan, because he occasionally
mentions "Tasha Yar."
My troupemates later decided this sounded more like
"Chop lotsa yarn."
This song inspires
Fiona and her group in England.
They are sure that in the song he says "arses, arses" and
they shake their butts at that point.
- "Alaamalek ya Sidy".
Lyrics heard as "We all wanna buy on eBay; buy, buy, buy on eBay"
and "Oh, I like your CD, I bought it on eBay."
- "Ya Leyl",
from the CD "Harramt Ahebak".
There's a part of
the song where she sings what sounds like "big hip circle, big hip circle".
This actually was very apt for a choreography taught by
- Title unknown. Lisa reports
"Our troupe has this folk number we do and I do not even know who does it...
but it has been dubbed in our class by the students as the
"wanna'" (want to) song. The first part sounds like the singer repeats the
phrase "I wanna', I wanna'" a number of times. And then when he gets to that
part of..I am guessing some type of refrain once again and now it changes to
sound like "ya' wanna', ya wanna'." So it is the "wanna'" song."
Want to find out the real lyrics to Middle Eastern songs?
Shira's site is a good source.
Got any mis-heard Middle Eastern music lyrics you'd like to share?
Send them to
sherezzah at beledy.net.
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