Recording music is an incredibly painstaking process- delivering a killer performance is the easy part. Between the producer, recording engineer, mix engineer and mastering, it’s almost as if a performance has to make it through an increasingly fine set of filters to make it to the finished recording. OK, no, it’s exactly like that. Which makes it spectacularly unlikely that a huge mistake in a vocal would make it out of the artist’s lips, past the producer and onto the tape, through the arduous mixdown process onto the master recording, and onto thousands of pressed recordings in Walmarts across the land.
Yet… here we are.
6. Bring The Noise – Public Enemy
Maybe it’s just because Chuck D could sound like the voice of unimpeachable authority while reading his grocery list, maybe it’s because it’s during a quick passage; either way, fans of Public Enemy and attention to detail were hitting rewind on their cassette players (it was the 80’s) like crazy the first time or two they heard the classic “Bring The Noise”. It wasn’t their imagination, Chuck flip-flopped a couple words and it had somehow skated through onto the finished version of one of the greatest rap songs ever.
“He can cut a record from side to side, so what / The ride, the glide / Should be much safer than a suicide”
“He can cut a record from side to side, so what / The ride, the glide / Much should be safer than a suicide”
The mistake was corrected on the 1991 remake with thrash pioneers Anthrax (and the line rapped by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian), though Chuck has never publicly acknowledged the error, probably because nobody ever called him out on it for fear of getting their ass kicked.
5. Eminence Front – The Who
“Eminence Front” only reached #68 on the Billboard chart, but received heavy play on MTV with a live video captured during a rehearsal. The song features acerbic lyrics about the bullshit facades of the rich and coked up, penned by Pete Townshend- who was more than a little familiar with the subject, and performed a rare lead vocal on the track. The error that made it onto the album version wasn’t so much a matter of the wrong words as the timing of Daltrey’s backup vocal.
“Behind an eminence front”
“Behinna ninna emma nemma ninni fruh FRONT!”
The incredibly, undeniably wrong syncopation of the backing vocal only happens once- the first time- but it’s so obviously a mistake that one must wonder how fucking high everybody involved would have to have been for it to end up on the recording. Needless to say, the error wasn’t repeated in the live video version, and was fixed on the 1997 remastered CD.
4. Louie Louie – The Kingsmen
Since the lyrics to this song are so slurred as to be unintelligible, interpretations of said lyrics vary wildly. Unfortunately for the FBI, it turns out the lyrics are not “pornographic“, just really hard to understand. So how do we know there’s a flub?
Who the fuck knows? We’re talking about “Louie Louie” here.
The singer comes in way early after the guitar solo.
You might think he’s just warming up to start a-singin’ again, but the vocal inflection is identical to how the next verse starts. It’s one of those things that you can’t un-hear once you’ve heard it, but since this is quite possibly the sloppiest rock and roll song ever this side of the White Stripes, nobody gave a shit and the error stayed.
3. Tell Her No – The Zombies
The Zombies were a pretty fuckin’ sweet English rock band that had the misfortune of being active in almost exactly the same time frame as the Beatles. Their single “Tell Her No” was a number 6 U.S. hit in 1965; the gist of the song’s lyrics is, “My girlfriend is kind of a slut. I’m telling you right now she will probably hit on you, and asking you to please not fuck her.”
“Don’t take her love from my arms”
“Don’t loving dump from your arms”? We’re honestly not sure.
Singer Colin Blunstone has admitted that he was half asleep during the recording of this one. The result is an intriguing, alternately detached and pained vocal; this does not explain the failure of the producer to call to Colin’s attention that his mouth had shat all over the track on chorus two. On a side note, we think it fortunate that Colin decided he wanted to be a rock singer and not an airline pilot.
2. You’re Driving Me Crazy – Frank Sinatra
In all of popular music there are few more confident vocalists than Sinatra in his prime. His recorded rendition of the standard “You’re Driving Me Crazy” is typically rollicking, and the casual listener might pass the mistake off as Frank engaging in a little shoobity-doobity…
“You are the kind / Who would hurt me, desert me / When I needed you”
“You are the kind / Who would hoyt- uh / hurtmedesertme when I needed you”
The ol’ throat just kinda seized up on Frank. After mangling the word “hurt” there’s a brief pause before he wrapsupthenextfewwordsreallyquick and falls back in on time. Apparently nobody thought it was a big deal, least of all Sinatra, who didn’t really think anything was a big deal as long as he had his case of Scotch and executive suite at the Sands.
1. Fear Of A Black Planet – Public Enemy
Chuck D began the list, and Chuck D will end it with the most egregious flub we think we’ve ever heard. On the title track to PE’s classic 1990 album Fear Of A Black Planet, Chuck goes to deliver the line that sums up the entire song’s message of racial harmony and understanding. With utter conviction, he fails. So hard.
“All I want is peace and love on this planet / Ain’t that how God planned it?”
“All I want is peace and love on this planet / Ain’t how that God planned it?”
Just another simple flip flop. At the climax of the song, with the beat dropped out for added impact. On the title track. Of one of the greatest albums of all time.
But, you know, whatever. Good enough!