Monday, February 23, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

About a year ago, Radio Lab broadcast a show entitled Musical Language discussing how the brain processes language and music along with the similarities between music and the spoken word. Dianna Deutch, the psychology professor whose work is the focus of the first segment, also works in auditory illusions and phantom words.

Phantom words occur when listening to unstructured and/or unfamiliar noise. In the absence of a familiar pattern, the brain constructs words from the sounds, even if those words don't exist in the noise. It happens all the time: whispers of a name are heard in running water, the hum of a copier murmurs "please, not me" over an over again.

In music, it's especially common when deciphering lyrics. In the days before Google, we couldn't hear a song, grab hold of a couple of words and type them into our trusty search engines to discover the actual lyrics. We cave dwellers had to press our ears to the speakers and, once the feverish wait was over (and the DJ had heard our sweaty telepathic requests) Duran Duran would play and we'd work out "The Reflex is a Lonely Mind, it's waiting by the car/The Reflex is in charge of finding treasures on the porch."

My god. What could that MEAN?

Last night, Jai Ho! (from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack) took home the Oscar for best song and is written and performed in (mostly) Hindi. Of course, I have no way of telling what they are actually saying because, like all good Americans, I am hopelessly uni-lingual.

Be that as it may, my brain still tries to find English versions of the words it's hearing. None of them make sense, but when I'm riding the bus down Lake Shore Drive, these are the words I hear. Behold, the broken English nonsense lyrics to Jai ho!...which, for a long time, I thought was Tally Ho!

(For the record, I love this song.)



Chorus of men:
Tally Ho!
Tally Ho!
Tally Ho!
Tally Ho!


Guy:
Oughta Oughta Ginger Charmin
Yanni Get away,
Does anybody need me? Is Armani getting laid?

Tally Ho!

Hottie Hottie Shin guard
Charmin Yanni get away
Does anybody need me? Is Armani getting laid?

Tally Hooooooo
(Tally Hooooooo)

Tally Hooooooo
(Tally Hooooooo)
Tally Hooooooo
(Tally Hooooooo)
Tally Hooooooo
(Tally Hooooooo)


Lucky Lucky Sexy maybe John has a boy’s head
Magic Magic Cory Lopez all to the noise eh?
Uppy Uppy move the men who look and say you like me
Any Anybody money Hindu leaves a line hey!

Girl:
Never ever hint at Sean and Annie getting weighed
Does anybody need me? Is Armani getting laid?

Shapiro!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Comedy!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Parody!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Hey Boogie!
(Tally Hooooooo)


Children:
Walla Walla!

Uhura Tomato You badda badda boy
Oh yes the tea is for mojitos
Those are problems for the sea.

Salut! Walla Walla

Tally Hoooooooo
Tally Hoooooooo
Tally Hoooooooo

Guy:
Jacelyn, Oh, Jacelyn
Yay raw dishes of head do iiiit!
Jacelyn! Jacelyn,
Oh, build it
Billy are Julie here?
Jacelyn
Got it,
Got it
Got it
Dana
Cory
Holla
Jog to
Hello

Gotta ,
Gotta
Gotta
Dana
Cory
Holla
Jog to
Hello

Jogging Jogging Shin guard
Charmin Yanni get away
Does anybody need me? Is Armani getting laid?

Tally Ho!
Tally Ho!

Tally Hooooooo!
Tally Hooooooo!
Tally Hooooooo!
Tally Hooooooo!

God forsake, Oh God Forsake
Joe left better keys Hey
Gaga day, oh Gaga day, oh gaga day
Of your wife could you give it away!
Gaga day!

Is it?
Is it?
Lotion
I’ll Keep,
Lotion
Don’t go
Heat it.
Ketchup


Oughta Oughta Ginger Charmin
Yanni Get away,

Girl:
Does anybody need me? Is Armani getting laid?

Shapiro!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Comedy!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Parody!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Hey Boogie!
(Tally Hooooooo)

Children:
Walla, Walla!

Etc….

7 comments:

joe g said...

You may enjoy this then:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH8gtrD4_C4



...this phenomenon you describe is also what convinces people they can hear ghosts talking to them in the static between radio stations...

Erica said...

This post makes me really happy. You are a genius.

That's a damn long song and I'm impressed you had lyrics for all of it.

Now all we need to do is find a non-vocal version and record these lyrics!

Is that disrespectful?

Tally Ho!

Jan Smelk said...

I am forced to comment even though I haven't thought through my response to Tally Ho because my word verification is:
hylaros: drunk and hilarious. Dang, that guy is HYLAAAAAAROS!

The original song makes me nervous. Hindi puts me off my dinner a bit. Sorry. But I am interested in Giorgio Armani's sex life. Some how THAT'S ok.

-j-j- said...

We can record the New Tally Ho, E., when we do our Disarrono Commercials!

Jan, I'm trying to make it out there in March...once in your vicinity, I plan to get Hylaros.

Joe...What the SHIT was that? I think I popped something, I laughed so hard...now I'm friggin' haunted.

Joel said...

AMAZING!

i have no idea what they are actually singing but it couldnt possibly be as interesting as "is armani getting laid"

Anonymous said...

According to my calculations, you and I were each watching Moskau for the first time, at the same time, with no knowledge of our respective watchings.

I am your sister.

dencoman-person, neither friend nor relative, with whom one must share living space out of economic necessity. "Yeah, Josh is cool, but Leonard's only here because he answered the ad so he's really just a dencoman."

Anonymous said...

You'll be delighted/horrified to learn that The Pussycat Dolls are set to release an English version of Jai Ho.

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1605695/20090224/the_pussycat_dolls.jhtml

Cheers!
Abbie

 
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