These Artists Changed Their Original Lyrics And This Is Why We Have Trust Issues
In almost any song you hear on the radio or on iTunes, there’s going to be multiple drafts that are much different than what you’re hearing. Some songwriters will even go as far as to say that there are over ten different versions of the song, that they went back and forth on.
Sometimes the album versions of song lyrics aren’t finalized, or are considered the “secondary lyrics.” Other times, artists will change the words to their song during live performances to reflect what they’re going through at the time. Miranda Lambert changed lyrics to throw shade at her ex-husband while performing at the 2019 ACM Awards and it was brilliant and awkward all at the same time. These artists switched up their lyrics, too. Did you catch it?
“Enter Sandman” Was Going To Be Very Dark
Metallica lead singer James Hetfield had written the song “Enter Sandman” to be very dark. The lyrics “off to Never Never Land” was actually supposed to be “Disrupt the perfect family” which was going along with the theme of the song: sudden infant death syndrome.
Producer Bob Rock and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich were able to convince Hetfield to change the lyrics because it would be much less depressing and more accessible.
Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” Was Going To Be Dark
After Smash Mouth posted a photo of the original lyrics to this classic, one small scribble hilariously changed the tone for the entire hit. There was one part in the song that was scratched out and the lyric change was shocking.
Before it was “only shooting stars break the mold”, they had decided to write the lyrics as “wave bye-bye to your soul” which was very dark. Who knows if the song would be the cult classic it is today.
Meghan Trainor’s Radio Disney Cut
The audience at Radio Disney is much younger and more innocent than radio stations across the world. Because of this, artists with catchy songs will have to change their risque lyrical moments specifically for Radio Disney.
Meghan Trainor’s smash hit “All About That Bass” needed some tailoring in the first verse. She changed, “I got all that boom-boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places,” to, “I got them smooth moves, they say I look great, Yeah, I’ll be the stat on all them big stages.”
Miranda Takes A Shot At Her Ex-Husband
During the 54th Academy of Country Music Awards, Miranda Lambert performed her song “Little Red Wagon” and changed the lyrics to swipe at her ex-husband Blake Shelton who was in the audience.
The song typically says, “I live in Oklahoma” but was changed onstage to “I’m getting the hell out of Oklahoma” which is where Shelton and Lambert built their home. It was a pretty gutsy thing to do considering Blake was in the audience with his current girlfriend, Gwen Stefani, at the time.
CeeLo Might Want To “Forget You”
Most people who listen to the radio will have no idea that CeeLo Green’s song “Forget You” had a much more rated-R past. Bruno Mars and Green came up with a firey attack track called “[Expletive You” (I’ll let you fill in the blanks).
They knew it would struggle for airplay so they ended up having to change the name and the words in the song from the original lyrics. It was an absolute smash hit for CeeLo in 2009.
Mrs. Robinson? More Like Mrs. Roosevelt
The director of the film The Graduate set his eyes on Simon and Garfunkel to come up with a brand new song for the movie’s soundtrack. Simon was too busy traveling around to actually sit down and write anything, but he was tinkering with a song called “Mrs. Roosevelt,” a tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Nichols didn’t actually care that the song lyrics had nothing to do with the movie, but he really wanted Simon to change it to “Mrs. Robinson” because it had a better ring to it.
Twenty One Pilots Are A Little Self Deprecating
Twenty-One Pilots basically became a household name in 2016 when their hit “Stressed Out” shot to the top of the Billboard charts. But, the band is actually pretty hateful about their song.
In fact, during a show in Cleveland, they changed the words while singing their number one hit on stage to, “I wish I wrote a different song no one’s ever heard/I wish my mom would just admit she’s sick of every word/Overplayed, overstayed, it was a smash hit/Funny how overplayed songs sound like crap/I was told our true fans don’t like this song/But I hope they sing along/I hope they sing along.”
Lennon Moves From Hippie To Psychological
In John Lennon’s 1973 hit “Mind Games”, he moved away from his hippie roots to some more psychological rhetoric. The published lyrics in the song are: “We’re playin’ those mind games together. Pushing the barriers, plantin’ seeds.”
He originally wrote the song to be more breezy and light-hearted with the lyrics reading, “I want you to make love, not war. I know you’ve heard it before.” This lyric change represented a lot of the transformation that Lennon was going through at the time.
Green Day Throws Punches At The President
Green Day has never had to be shy about getting political with their lyrics on stage. But, it’s only ramped up since President Donald Trump was elected. In fact, they throw some aggressive shade his way on the daily.
In some performances of their song “Holiday”, singer Billie Joe Armstrong changes the lyrics from “pulverize the Eiffel Towers” to “pulverize the Don Trump Towers” which is certainly creative and punchy. You know what you’re going to get at a Green Day concert.
The Clash Made A Political Statement
You might not remember the band The Clash, but there was a time when they were an important band (Sorry The Clash fans). They released a classic anti-American diatribe with “I’m So Bored With The USA,” but the song didn’t start off political at all.
Mick Jones was the pop-singing rock star of the band, and Joe Strummer was much more of a political punk. Jones played strummer a song that was intended to be about a breakup but Strummer wanted to make it political. The original lyrics were “I’m so bored with you” but Strummer changed them to “I’m so bored with the USA.”
Paul McCartney Got Dirty With A Little Help From His Friends
It’s weird to think that the Beatles song “With a Little Help From My Friends” used to have some pretty dirty lyrics. Okay, just kidding, this entry is actually about the song “I Saw Her Standing There.”
McCartney wrote the whole song and originally had the lyrics “She was just 17. Never been a beauty queen,” which made John Lennon laugh and tell him he needs to change it because it needed to be a little dirtier. So the published lyrics are “She was just 17. You know what I mean.”
“War Pig” Almost Had A Deeper Satan-Vibe
It’s not all that surprising that Black Sabbath every once in a while would turn to the underworld for inspiration while writing “War Pigs” (and everything else in terms of their music).
The original title for “War Pigs” actually paid homage to the pagan holiday Walpurgis. It’s kind of like a Satanist holiday. When they brought the name of the song to the record company, they were forced to change to a less Satanic meaning.
Any Cover By Kidz Bop
Some songs never have to get changed to suit the audience it’s intended to, but that’s almost never the case when Kidz Bop singers cover a hit. They always adjust song lyrics to get the adult content out and make the words more kid-friendly.
Sometimes the changes can be unintentionally hilarious, like when they changed the Macklemore line “it smells like R.Kelly’s sheets” in “Thrift Shop” to “it smells like my baseball cleats.” This is why we love Kidz Bop.
Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse Of The Heart Was Originally Vampires In Love
Lyricist Jim Steinman hoped the ballad of “love in the dark” could raise the dead in Bonnie Tyler’s song “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. Steinman said that he wrote the song originally to be a vampire love song and the original title was going to be: “Vampires In Love” because he was working on a dark musical at the time.
The song lyrics actually sound very vampire-like. It’s all about darkness and the power of darkness.
Billy Joel Turned Sexual Lyrics Into Sincerity
Before Billy Joel was marrying all the hottest women in the 80s or crashing his car into houses, he had a song called “Honesty.” It’s a heartfelt ballad that originally had a very different tone.
The original song title was going to be called “Sodomy” and the lyrics read: “Sodomy. It’s such a lonely world” but they eventually changed it to “Honesty is such a lonely world.” This was thanks to Billy’s drummer who begged him to make it more appropriate.
“Gary’s Girl” Didn’t Have A Ring To It
Rick Springfield’s career-making crush anthem “Jessie’s Girl” is autobiographical, but it does stray away from the original lyrics. While Rick was in his 20s, he fell for a girl in his stained-glass class (naturally). The problem was that she had a boyfriend and his name was Gary.
Rick became friends with Gary and Gary’s girl, but when it came to pumping out a hit song, the name “Gary” just didn’t have a ring. He changed it to “Jessie” after Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Ron Jessie.
Radio CACA, To Radio Ga Ga
Queen drummer Roger Taylor’s toddler son Felix was the inspiration to one of the most iconic songs in music history. While listening to the radio, Felix blurted out “radio CACA” which inspired his dad to write the song “Radio Ga Ga”.
He turned a song condemning the radio into one praising it in order to get some extra airplay. It’s safe to say that Lady Gaga (who got her name from the song) would’ve had a different life (and name) if they would’ve kept Felix’s version.
Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” Was Actually A Cover
Interestingly enough, Pat Benatar’s hit song “Heartbreaker” was actually a cover. It was first recorded by English singer Jenny Darren in 1978 and was full of British slang like “from A to zed,” and “(you’re a) moonraker” which is slang for someone who would try to rake the reflection of the moon off of a lake like cheese.
Benatar loved the idea of the song but thought that it needed some changes to the original lyrics to make it appeal to an American audience. The biggest change was adding “heartbreaker” instead of “moonraker”.
‘Lola’ Almost Got Banned For ‘Coca-Cola’
If the lyrics: “I met her in a club down in old Soho where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca Cola,” bring back memories, you’ve heard the radio version of the Kinks song “Lola”.
They weren’t allowed to say Coca-Cola on the single version, so instead, they say “cherry cola” in order to abide by the BBC Radio rules that don’t let anyone have any product placement in their songs. Ray Davies had to fly from America to England two times in as many days in order to change the lyrics.
Old Macdonald Was Written For Ohio
This isn’t a rock and roll song, but it’s probably the most popular jingle in this article. According to the early recordings and writing based on a 1917 songbook, “Old Macdonald” had a much different feel.
The classic farmer is actually named “Old Macdougal” and he’s super proud of his Buckeye heritage. The original lyrics were written, “Old Macdougal had a farm in Ohio-i-o/ And on that farm he had some dogs in Ohio-i-o.” There’s no real reason for the change in lyrics other than it was passed down and skewed through time.