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When bad grammar happens to good songs (Episode 2)

Are you ready to rock the grammar world with our follow-up collection of good songs and bad lyrics? Here’s another eclectic mix of musical treasures that are as catchy as they are grammatically wrong. Learning by singing has never been more fun – so turn up the volume and improve your English one awesome song at a time:

1. Frank Ocean: “Super Rich Kids” (feat. Earl Sweatshirt)

We’ll both be high, the help don’t stare. They just walk by, they must don’t care.”

We’re not going to discuss the mind-altering substances in the song, but the brain-hurting grammar. Even if you’re super rich, you need to follow a few basic grammar rules. Like, the fact that it has to make sense: Dear Mr. Ocean and Mr. Sweatshirt, I agree, they must don’t care because they were probably incredibly confused. You can either say, “They don’t have to care” or simply, “They don’t care.” (Remember that must not means to not be allowed to. And while we’re at it, the help doesn’t stare, of course.)

2. Pink Floyd; “Another Brick in the Wall

“We don’t need no education”

Even if you don’t know who Pink Floyd are, you probably know the chorus of Another Brick in the Wall. English does not use no double negatives: Instead of “We don’t need no education,” the line should say, “We don’t need any education.” But that is less memorable – and, the fact that a line about the need for education is wrong is most probably an ironic comment on the actual state of education. At least that’s the explanation we’re going with.

3. Timbaland: “The way I are” (feat. Keri Hilson, D.O.E., Sebastian)

Can you handle me the way I are?”

No, Timbaland, I cannot handle you the way you am. Not only do you rhyme are with are in the chorus, but you do not give grammar the respect it deserves. And we’re talking basic, non-ironic verbs. If you started rapping about the way I am, then we’d probably be back in business.

4. Eric Clapton: “Lay Down Sally” or Bob Dylan: “Lay Lady Lay

Lay down, Sally, and rest you in my arms” or “Lay, lady, lay, lay across my big brass bed”

Depending on how young you are, you have no idea who Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan are. We recommend you look them up because they are pretty influential dudes, and it’s always easier to remember grammar when you can put a face to the mistake. (No matter how wrinkly that face may be.) Lay and lie are tricky – especially in the past tenses. But we’re yoloing it right now and focus on the present: You lay something down, and people (including Sally and the ladies) lie down themselves. So, Eric should ask Sally to lie down, while Mr. Dylan’s lady is kindly invited to lie on his big brass bed.

5. Peter Bjorn and John: “Young Folks

“Usually when things has gone this far, people tend to disappear”

Of course, people tend to disappear with all of this problematic grammar. One would think that either Peter, Bjorn, or John would have noticed that the subject (things) and the verb (has gone) have to match in number. So, usually, when things have gone this far, people tend to disappear – because the grammar work is done.

6. Ariana Grande: “Break Free

Now that I’ve become who I really are” and “I only wanna die alive”

As much as we love Ariana Grande’s Bambi eyes, her luscious hair, and her angelic voice, “Now that I’ve become who I really are” and “I only wanna die alive” make no sense at all. You cannot become who you really are and you cannot die alive. It’s science. One could think that we shouldn’t come to expect anything else from a pop star, but apparently, she’s fully aware that the two sentences are just plain wrong – rumor has it, she argued extensively with her producer who thought it’s fun to ignore grammar completely. (What kind of twisted humor does this producer have? Grammar is no laughing matter!) We salute you, Ariana Grande, for defending grammar! And for breaking free from all logic to create an incredibly successful song.

7. Ray Parker Jr.: “Ghostbusters

“Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!”

Just in time for the remake/sequel of the Ghostbusters movie, we pick a bone with a theme song that is oh-so-catchy. We get it, when there are ghosts involved, grammar is not important, but since you’re going to call them, the Ghostbusters, the questions should be, “Whom you gonna call?” Well, actually, it should be “Whom are you going to call?” (And the double negative, 50 seconds into the song, didn’t have the ghost of a chance to remain unnoticed.)

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