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Heeeaay! That's a James Brown lyric. He wrote that shit! He's writing a song and, "I need a word in here... Heeeaay! That's good!"
Eddie Murphy, Delirious.


A Lyrical Tic is an odd, toss-in sound found in a song that a particular singer or a band seems to make in a whole lot of their songs. Sometimes when they're used, it seems the singer is just being enthusiastic and so makes some sort of "Whoo Hoo" or "Yeah!". Other times, Lyrical Tic is used in "Oh Crap, I've forgotten the next line" moments. Whether the use of a nonsenical, random sound rather than an actual lyric makes a song better, or breaks the rhythm and the mood, is a matter of opinion.

A musical variant of Verbal Tic. See also Scatting.

Examples of Lyrical Tic include:


  • James Brown may very well be the Most Triumphant Example of this trope. He was famous for going "ow!". He was also famous for variations of "Hunh!", "Heh!", "Whoa", "Ooh", and (as noted in the page quote), "Hey!"
    • A short-lived Twitmeme, "Radio 4 Minus One Letter", defined "From Our Ow Correspondent" as "a series of reports from across the world delivered by our reporters, interspersed with their impressions of James Brown".
    • The original version of the prank known as "blasting" involves driving up behind an unsuspecting pedestrian, cranking the stereo to full volume and playing the "ow" from the beginning of "I Feel Good".
  • Bob Marley had many, mostly involving Scatting, repeating words, saying "oooh yeah", "well" and "whoa". A good example is So Much Things To Say, which starts off laid back and quickly gets out of time because he's trying to fit so many words and noises into each line.
  • Joan Jett is a serious abuser of this trope- nearly every one of her songs includes her "OW!". Earlier songs from her time in the Runaways include a lot of moaning and sex noises.
  • Shania Twain is famous for her gratuitous "woo!" and "uh uh" noises.
  • Keith Urban has one that sounds like a mix between "ooo" and "mmm".
  • Michael Jackson's "Whooo!", often accompanied by him grabbing his crotch. Also his "Eeee-hee" and "Ja-mawn-eh!", and "Chk-uhh, chk-uhh".
  • John McCrea from CAKE says "all right" somewhere in nearly every song. Often extended to "Aw! Yeah! All right!". There's also the occasional "Yah!", shouted as though he were cracking a whip.
  • Tom Waits' screaming.
  • The Used's Bert McCracken often makes "mm"s "pow"s and "chk-chkow"s, some of which are reminiscent of Michael Jackson.
  • Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam makes quite a variety of sounds, the most common are probably "Mmmm", "Unh-huh" and "Oooooo".
  • The Cure's Robert Smith seems particulary fond of making meowing noises in a number of their songs, mostly the upbeat tracks such as 'Lovecats' and 'Mint Car'.
  • Dave Chappelle immortalized Lil Jon's "YAA-EE-AAH!" "OKAY!" and "WHAT!"
  • DMX makes frequent use of growls, barking, "uh!", and "come on!" in his songs.
  • Eminem also makes a habit of this trope, albeit it's usually the "Bow Wow Wow" thing.
  • Beyoncé trills her notes. A lot. You can sometimes pick her songs out of a crowd just on the basis of this Lyrical Tic.
  • Little Richard loves his "Whooooooh!"s and "Ah Hoooooooo!"s.
  • The early The Beatles were fond of "Whoo!", in imitation of Little Richard.
  • Aimee Mann is fond of tossing the word "baby" into her songs at random.
  • Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant had his easily recognizable array of wails and high-pitched screams, along with his randomly inserted "Oh baby"'s.
  • James Hetfield is well known for ending phrases with "-AH!" "All Nightmare Long" has this hilarious line at the end of the chorus: "But your luck! runs! out-AH!" He's also well known for "Yeaah-aaah!" and the occasional "Go!" as a new riff or portion of a song kicks in.
  • Japan's ridiculous debut album Adolescent Sex has David Sylvian saying "whoa babe" and "dancing" a lot.
  • Regina Spektor goes "tsk-tsk" to the beat of the music a lot. It's often accompanied by snapping.
  • It seems sometimes that Will Smith can't begin a song without a "Whooooo!", "Uhn!", or "Ha ha!". For that matter, he doesn't seem able to end a song without one, either.
  • Buddy Holly had the glottal stop, as in "We-eh-ell, the little things you say and do, make me want to be with you-uh-oo."
  • Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing almost always pronounces an additional vowel at the ends of words which end stanzas. It's rather unusual at first, but eventually, you can't imagine Soul Coughing music without it. "When you were languishing in rooms I build to file you in-ah, and when the wind set down in funnel-form and pulled you in-ah."
  • Wynonna Judd uses a lot of "Uhn" in her songs, and sometimes actually hisses" in her songs. No, really, she hisses. Like a snake.
  • The Misfits have been fond of various "Whoa's" and "Oh's" in all incarnations.
  • Roy Orbison's signature cat growl. "Rrawrr!" In the liner notes for a song in which it was sampled, it was referred to as "the Mercy growl". Guess his other (less frequently used) tic.
  • Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes threw a lot of "So sexy"'s in random places on the Cruel as Schoolchildren album.
  • Boyz II Men had a sound that can only be described as "Meeeeeeeyoooooo".
  • Immature had "Yeyeh".
  • Glenn Gould was a classical pianist who involuntarily hummed along to the music. On many of his recordings, his humming is audible; many critics complained that it ruined many otherwise fine performances.
    • Maurizio Pollini has done the same thing.
    • Keith Jarrett fits too, with added grunting.
  • Jazz musician Phil Harris had a habit of tossing in the occasional "Oh", "Hey", "Tell me" and "Yeah, man" on every song he sang. He would also make sounds that mimicked the music that was backing him (like going "ba-pa-pa-ba-dah" to accompany a trumpet flourish).
  • Mark E. Smith of The Fall is known for adding an "-ah" at the end of lines in a way similar to the Mike Doughty example above. It's not quite after every line, and generally seems to be his way of emphasizing certain lyrics. It's particularly rampant in "Repetition" - "Ah-we dig-ah, Ah-we dig-ah repetition-ah!".
    • British comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer labelled this The Club Singer Style after inept singers in working mens' clubs, and took it to a particularly incoherent extreme on their Shooting Stars spoof game show.
  • Redman always starts his songs (or at least his own verse when rapping on someone else's track) with one or more "Yo's".
  • Legendary actor/singer Benjamin "Scatman" Crothers got his nickname("Scatman") because of this trope. He'd toss in nonsense sounds and "Hey, man"s into every song he sang. As with Phil Harris, a lot of the sounds he made duplicated the music being played behind his vocals, a technique known in jazz as "Scatting".
  • The Kaiser Chiefs seem to like going, "Wooooaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!"
  • Bono likes his "ohhhhhhh"s.
  • Ronnie James Dio was fond of "Lookout!"
  • Till Lindemann of German band Rammstein usually rolls his R's. Also, when he sings "ach", it sounds like a growl.
  • Matisyahu never fails to drop a "Yaiyo!" or "Yiggi yiggi yo!" or two into his songs.
  • Steven Tyler of Aerosmith seems to favor the "Weeeaooows".
  • Less so in later years, but on System of a Down's first album, Serj Tankian was notorious for this. The song D Devil is a good example.
  • Michael Stipe would often go 'hoooh' or 'whoa' in the early R.E.M. songs, for instance in "Harborcoat" and "Just A Touch". He would often stretch these noises over the melody for harmony purposes. Another one, which he still does, is shout some of the words in a particular line rather than sing them (for instance in "Just A Touch" and "Discoverer").
  • New artist Awolnation (a.k.a Aaron Bruno) enjoys randomly screaming "Yeah!" or "Hey!" between verses, the beginning of the song 'Soul Wars' being a prime example.
  • Stray From The Path's Drew York does this a lot with "Bleagh".
  • David Draiman of Disturbed is known for a guttural, animal-like sort of growl/scream, which opened 'Down With the Sickness', Perfect Insanity and 'Stricken', among others.
  • Christina Aguilera throws Woo Hoo's, Hoo woow's, aha's and WOOOH into her tracks!
  • Billy Idol is rather fond of "ow!"
  • Lady Gaga likes stuttering syllables in whatever phrase is the hook - "puh-puh-puh-poker face", "stop telephoning me-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh-eh", "Judas, Juda-ah-ah!", "Muh-muh-muh-marry the night"...
  • Broke NCYDE go 'bree bree', a high-pitched piggie-squeal noise, which expresses adolescent rage, presumably. This was common for Crunkcore bands when they started doing it, but they continued long after others realized how awful it was, and named their pig mascot 'Bree'.
  • Brazilian singer Samuel Rosa, from the band Skank, is an expert in Scatting. His most repeated one is "Ehhhhh!".
  • In the case of Evanescence Amy Lee uses AH AH AH rather a lot on their 2011 album.
  • Imogen Heap was rather fond of "Da da ooooom" in her early years. It seems to have carried on in the Frou Frou cover of Holding Out for a Hero and in Speak For Yourself's Loose Ends, albeit with the "oom" changed to "dum" and with more "da da".
  • David Lee Roth has many, including "OH YEEEAAAH" and "woo!".
  • Say Anything's lead singer Max Bemis tends to use "woah!" as a filler -- played with in the song "Woe".
  • Shaggy: "Shut it!"
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