Heavy metal lyrics can be hard to decipher, difficult to hear over screeching guitars, and sometimes even the lyricists themselves don’t put a whole lot of thought into them. Still, the lyrics can be insanely important to a song and when we don’t know what we’re hearing, let’s face it — we make shit up.
According to a new study by Wordfinder on the concept of “mondegreen,” or the phenomenon when a “word or phrase results from a mishearing especially of something recited or sung,” Metallica‘s titanic single “Enter Sandman” is the most commonly misheard song in the U.S.
Honestly, that may seem like a shock to most metal fans, given the absolutely incessant ubiquity that “Enter Sandman” has had since its release in 1991. Go to any metal show and belt out “Exit light” and after the incredulous stares, someone’s sure to respond with the rest of the lyric, which isn’t “end all nights,” by the way.
Researchers said they have more than 1,000 Americans listen to a variety of tracks and access to an online dictionary and a word hub before having them choose what they thought the lyrics were out of a list of four potential choices. What they found was approximately 70% of participants got “Enter Sandman” wrong, thinking the words were “Eggs and light / End all nights.”
I mean, what?
The data goes even further, taking generation into consideration. Apparently, “Enter Sandman” was misheard the most by Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z.
Interestingly enough, “Enter Sandman” was the only metal song listed in the top 40 most misheard songs. Other songs included Nirvana‘s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” where people thought “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous, Here we are now, entertain us” was really “With the lights out, it’s Las Vegas, Hear me all now, entertainers.”
In the grand scheme of things, getting a group’s lyrics wrong doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy the music. Still, it’s funny to see how our minds work and what we get wrong. You can check out the full study over on Wordfinder.