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The opposite of Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics - an instrumental tune never intended to have lyrics is given some, often for humorous or ironic effect.
Gaining popularity on the Internet (e.g. Brental Floss of Screwattack with Nintendo game themes, and That Guy With The Glasses doing it to 1980s cartoon themes), but the practice has been around for a while - e.g. The Two Ronnies once did it with a big-band performance of In The Mood.
- The Cantonese Hong Kong dub of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind added lyrics to the ending theme. With a male chorus. It actually sounded really cool. The rearrangments and the lyrics made it a National Anthem kind of song, if you know what the chrous translates into:
With you we prospect
and new paths we'll pave
May it shine, this new light and spirit
together we create the glorious and resounding!
- Charlie Chaplin added lyrics to his theme for A Countess from Hong Kong to make the Petula Clark hit "This Is Your Song."
- The film My Fellow Americans has both the rival ex-presidents admitting to coming up with their own lyrics for 'Hail To The Chief'.
- Kevin Kline in Dave also has fun with 'Hail to the Chief' while showering: "Hail to the Chief, he's the one we all say hail to..."
- This very NSFW song, set to to the main theme from Jurassic Park.
- When Marvin Hamlisch adapted Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" for the movie The Sting, either he or his lyricist added lyrics. "Now the curtain is going up / The entertainer is taking a bow"
- On his blog, Lawrence Miles, fandom personality and writer of Doctor Who Television Tie In Novels, has a sidebar giving lyrics to some instrumental themes from the show:
The Words to Well-Known Doctor Who Themes: Although the location-footage music in "City of Death" is instrumental, everyone who hears it instinctively knows that the words are, "Running through Paris, we're running through Paris, we're running through Paris, we're running through France"...
- There's more - for example, the lyrics to "The 'Mysterious TARDIS Energy' Theme" are "De-e-e-us ex ma-chi-na..."
- What about the main theme? Doctor Who~ooo, how are yo~ooou? How do you do the things you do~ooo?
- Craig Ferguson created his own lyrics for the Doctor Who theme for the 11/16/10 cold open, which wasn't used due to Executive Meddling. Here's the "lost" cold-open.
- For a non-comedic example, the last season of Roseanne added lyrics to what had been an entirely instrumental tune for all past seasons.
- The theme tune to The X-Files was a victim of this. Allegedly the words go: "The X-Files is a show ... with music by Mark Snow..." Whistle it, and be doomed to forever have it in your head.
- Similarly, this clip from the Stargate SG-1 DVD commentary track includes tongue-in-cheek lyrics.
Stargate -- it's a crazy trip.
You can go quite far,
And you don't need a car
Or even a ship.
- In This Island Earth, an incidental tune plays as the flying saucer's viewscreen returns to normal view. When featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie:
Nor-mal view, nor-mal VIEW, nor-mal VIEW, nor-mal VIEWWWWWW!
- Fun fact: This tune bears a striking resemblance to the Renaissance motet Crucifixus II, by Antonio Lotti.
- This trope was a Running Gag on the series; ie. Fugitive Alien and The Girl in Lovers Lane ("With Jack E-lan, not Jack La-lanne...")
- "Puma Man, he flies like a moron!"
- The Beast of Yucca Flats: "Coooooolemaaaaan Fraaaaanciiiis...Cooooolemaaaaaan Fraaaaanciiiiiiis!
- Gamera Vs. Guiron: "They're gonna ride their bicycles, / they'll disappear into the woods, / it will be days before they're found, / Corn Job will be blamed."
- Hobgoblins: "It's the 80s, do a lot of Coke and vote for Ronald Reagan." They spent the same episode coming up with lyrics trying to figure out just what one song actually said.
- Final Justice: During the instrumental music over the closing lyrics, Tom and Crow devolve into "Eat eat eat eat, eat eat eat eat, munch munch munch munch, chew chew chew chew, gorge gorge gorge gorge, burp burp burp burp -- stuff lotsa food in your ... fancy face! Oh yeahhhhh"
- Escape 2000: pretty much every piece of background music was given lyrics containing the phrase "Leave the Bronx". Even the end theme, in which Mike was nearly driven insane by Tom singing "Leeaaaave Bronx, baby leeeeaaaave Bronx..."
- Fugitive Alien: "This is the song written for the train chase/This is the chase, Rocky and Ken/He TRIIIIIED TO KILL ME WITH A FORKLIFT!"
- The theme from Star Trek: The Original Series has lyrics, which have never been used. This was not for humorous effect, but because of the way royalties for songs work in Hollywood. Roddenberry discovered that if a song had lyrics, the lyricist got royalties every time the song was used, even if the lyrics weren't. So, he whipped up some silly romantic lyrics for the theme, made them official, and received a little extra money for every airing of the original series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the movies, and... yeah. This understandably pissed off composer Alexander Courage and caused him to leave the series.
- Roddenberry didn't discover this, Hanna-Barbera did.
- In The Young and The Restless, a version of the theme song with lyrics is sung by Gina.
- For some reason, the French version of the opening theme for The A-Team has lyrics, whereas the original was instrumental only (save for the opening narration). The lyrics did work though - even though they're definitely eighties.
- They did the same with Inspector Gadget, along with the German version.
- In a Taxi episode, Reverend Jim is set up on a date with Marcia Wallace of The Bob Newhart Show, and regales her with the lyrics he's composed for the show's theme: "Here comes Bob and Carol/His wife, Emily, really likes him/He has five people in his group..."
- The sitcom Buffalo Bill featured Dabney Coleman as the titular Bill, who hosts a morning TV talk show. In one episode, he decided to "spice up" the show by adding his own lyrics to the theme song:
The people 'round here do some talking;
Turn on your T.V. set,
Turn on your T.V. and see!
- Bill Murray did this with the main theme of Star Wars on SNL
- Star Wars, nothing but Star Wars...
- The Star Wars Holiday Special had Carrie Fisher sing the Life Day song to the tune of the Star Wars theme...
- In one of the Academy Awards, Will Ferrell and Jack Black added lyrics to the song played when a speech gets overtly long.
- Eddie, from the late 90's sitcom Malcolm & Eddie, came up with a get rich quick scheme that involved invoking this trope. One theme he added lyrics to was the Sanford and Son theme.
- "Live show, it's a Thirty Rock live show. It's 30 Rock live!"
- And for the west coast: "Let's talk about sushi. Portland, Vegas, Glendale, this is 30 Rock!"
- Some fans of Game of Thrones have come to associate these lyrics to the incredibly catchy theme song:
Time to watch, Game
Game of Throoooones...
- According to Joss Whedon on one DVD commentary track, the theme song to Angel goes "Angel iiis a vampire/Who fiiights criiime with hiiis friends..."
- The Megas is a band devoted to this; particularly the classic Mega Man 2 games. Their album "Get Equipped" covers all the songs from Mega Man 2, and they are working on some songs from number 3. Oh, and both the lyrics and music are actually very good.
- The series itself did this in the third Mega Man Star Force game, where the theme song, Shooting Star, was given lyrics that were sung during one of Sonia's concerts. Sadly, it only showed up in text form and wasn't actually sung...
- The Adventures of Duane and BrandO is in the same vein as The Megas, though with more of a focus on the protagonists than the villains. They are most well-known for their youtube videos for such games as Final Fantasy and Mega Man 2 (over a million hits for FF!). They're damned good.
- In Flanders and Swann's "Ill Wind," the singer laments the theft of his French horn to the tune of a Mozart French horn concerto.
- This is, more or less, the entirety of the genre of vocalese. Manhattan Transfer's version of "Birdland" (an instrumental composition by the jazz fusion band Weather Report) is a good example.
- Barbershop example: the Gas House Gang ('93 world champs) did this by putting a plot summary of Mozart's The Magic Flute to the much-more-well-known tune of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Ju-urassic Park, Ju-urassic Park,
where the dinosaurs are free-ee
- Hoagy Carmichael originally wrote "Stardust" as an instrumental--and a ragtime piano solo, at that--and the lyrics were added later by Mitchell Parish. Nowadays, the words and music are generally regarded as having always been together.
- Pianist Floyd Cramer wrote "Last Date" as an instrumental. In 1960, Skeeter Davis and Boudleaux Bryant wrote lyrics, and Skeeter recorded the lyrical version as "My Last Date with You". Later on, Conway Twitty wrote his own lyrics as "Lost Her Love on Our Last Date", which was later Covered Up by Emmylou Harris as "Lost His Love on Our Last Date".
- E.S. Posthumus's first album was fully instrumental. Their second album included lyrics in a Latin derivative.
- Stevie Wonder wrote "The Tears of a Clown" as an instrumental but couldn't come up with any lyrics. Smokey Robinson thought it sounded like a circus, and obliged.
- It's more rap than singing, but Sweetbox's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" was Bach's Air on the G String turned into R&B.
- Sheldon Harnick, Broadway lyricist best known for Fiddler On the Roof, was commissioned to write lyrics to Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" in the late '50s, but his lyrics(known as "The Man with the Sign") were all but forgotten. The theme of his lyrics, that the freedom to express unpopular points of view is important to a Democratic society, may have been too controversial for the era of Joe McCarthey. His lyrics tell about a lone protester carrying a sign, and how the singer, while vehemently disagreeing with the protester's views, supports his right to protest, since it means he is free. You can read (most of) the lyrics here.
"But the man with the sign's a friend of mine
All alone in his proud endeavor
And as long as I fight for this man's right
That's the glory of the stars and stripes forever.
Yes, the man with the sign's a friend of mine
All alone in his proud endeavor.
For the sign says to me, "This man is free!"
That's the story of the Stars and Stripes Forever."
- Singer Helmut Lotti has written lyrics to several classical music pieces.
- Duke Ellington: It's reported that the Signature Song "Take the 'A' Train" was originally written with lyrics, but the earliest recordings of the song were completely instrumental and the lyrics were apparently lost or discarded. The Delta Rhythm Boys ended up recording a version of the song with their own lyrics. Independently, the 17-year-old Joya Sherrill also came up with lyrics for the song; when she sang them for Duke, he was so impressed that he hired her as a vocalist and adopted those lyrics.
- Orbital: The Box EP ended with a vocal version of the title track, with Grant Fulton and Alison Goldfrapp singing.
- "A Lover's Concerto", which is sung to the tune of "Minuet in G" by Johann Sebastian Bach.
- Bob Keeshan, AKA Captain Kangaroo, narrated a children's record of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite". Lyrics telling the story are given to each piece. For example, the famous "March" comes on when the toys (mostly stuffed animals) come to life; it begins with: "Dogs followed by cats and kangaroos/all marching along in step by twos..."
- The Brian Setzer's Orchestra's "One More Night With You" provided lyrics for a swing arrangement of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King".
- The Beastie Boys' joke song "The Biz Vs. The Nuge" samples the first half-minute of Ted Nugent's "Homeward Bound", with Biz Markie singing along to the guitar riff.
- A common treatment to previously instrumental trance anthems, such as Darude's "Out of Control(Back For More)"(featuring Tammy Marie), Tiesto's "(Sub)Urban Train"(featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw), Rank 1's "Breathing(Airwave 2003)" and "It's Up to You(Symsonic)"(both featuring Shanokee), and Armin van Buuren's "Shivers" (featuring Susanna, originally "Birth of an Angel").
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra frequently does this. Notable example, "Christmas Canon", based on Pachabel's "Canon in D".
- Straight No Chaser's "Christmas Can-Can", to the tune of The Galop from "Orpheus in the Underworld" features these lyrics:
"Come, let's all do the Christmas Can Can,
If you can't, can't dance then that's okay.
(Not gonna do the kickline)
All you need are a tree, some lights,
About a thousand presents, wrap them up and pray for snow.
- Ditto for "Kick the Can" by Bus Stop and "Can Can World" by Makkeroni.
- TV's Kyle wrote lyrics for the music from Super Mario Bros. 2, found here.
- Ferry Corsten produced a lyrical version of his previous single "Punk" titled "Junk", with rapper Guru. "Galaxia", an early production by him under the alias Moonman (later remade under his own name), also had a vocal version.
- Energy 52's "Cafe del Mar", their sole song of note, was lyricized by Fragma as "Man in the Moon".
- Calexico, at some of their live shows, would take their instrumental "Frontera" and perform it with the lyrics from their song "Trigger".
- Edge and Christian were fond of this, with a kazoo no less. Most famously (or infamously), Chris Benoit's theme before "Our Lady Peace" added lyrics.
- Screen to Stage Adaptations of movies from the Disney Animated Canon often contain new songs written by using some of the original film's main themes as vocal bridges. Examples include "If I Can't Love Her" from Beauty and the Beast and "Shadowland" from The Lion King.
- "Schroeder" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is this to Ludwig Van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
- "Omoide wa Okkusenman!" (aka, the BGM for Dr. Wily's level from Mega Man 2, given lyrics by a still yet unknown individual) is one of the most memetic examples of this -- Even JAM Project's gotten in on it
- The arranged soundtracks for 9 and 10 have vocal versions of each game's ending theme. The one for 10 ups the ante by arranging the three Special Stage themes into a single epic vocal piece.
- Touhou Project is a game of stage music and boss music and can not avoid this. The sheer amount of lyrical remixes to themes has rewarded its fans with such things as:
- Done by Taku Yoshioka Squad, "It's Kill or Be Killed" is a remix of the main theme of No More Heroes, "N.M.H.", with lyrics added. Originally done for the Dark Side remix album, the song was used in the game's sequel. Another remix of the song with lyrics, a Japanese punk rock song "NO MORE RIOT," was also made for the album and used in the sequel.
- The albums Final Fantasy: Pray and Final Fantasy: Love Will Grow give lyrics to instrumental themes from the series.
- Pig With The Face Of A Boy took the Tetris theme and put the history of the USSR to it. Though, to be fair, the original folk song (Korobeiniki) did have its own lyrics. Still counts, though!
- Okami has beautiful music, but except for the ending song, it's all instrumental. However, one video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I Fw 8 ba QS Aww) has Vocaloid singer Gakupo adding lyrics to arguably one of the most beautiful tracks in the game.
- The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim's musical composition started with Todd Howard calling up Jeremy Soule and saying he wanted the traditional Elder Scrolls theme "as if it were sung by a barbarian choir". Throw in some lyrics in Draconic sung by said barbarian choir and you have the main theme music for Skyrim.
- YouTube user Goldentusk has a series of videos giving lyrics to movie theme tunes such as Jaws, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, The Terminator, Halloween, Batman, Superman, Back to The Future and Lost.
- YouTube user Hyadain2525 has an entire profile on this, crafting new songs out of familiar tunes. What gets really creepy is that he apparently provides all the voices through vocal modulation -- even the female song parts. Further searches on YouTube can easily provide English subtitles for these songs. In some cases, it's an improvement to know the lyrics. Others, not so.
- YouTube user Tobuscus has a series of videos titled Literal Trailers in which he adds lyrics to trailers that are nothing but explaining what's going on on the screen. Many of these videos have more total views than the trailers they parody, and have made him into a featured performer at gaming conventions.
- Moosebutter's tribute to Star Wars, most widely known through Corey Vidal's lip-synched video.
- The Legend of Zelda by Joe Pleiman (not System of a Down).
Link, he come to town
Come to save the Princess Zelda
Ganon took her away
And now the children won't play
But they will when Link saves the day
I'm going to play Majora's Mask
And I'm gonna suck at even the smallest task
But I know you guys
Probably won't seem to mind
So I'd better get off my behind
My behind, my behind, my behind now
- Chester A. Bum is known to do this at the end of certain movie reviews, including his Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and 'X Files: I Want to Believe' reviews. Hilarity Ensues, even though they're usually only two lines long.
- This has since become a regular feature of the site, the aptly named "Songs That Don't Need Lyrics But I Added Them Anyway HA!"
- Spoony and Linkara also mocked Alone in The Dark`s overly long prologue crawl by singing (to the tune of the Star Wars theme) "Boring, this is so boring, this is so boring, get to the show!"
- A number of video game tunes have been given lyrics by the remixers at OverClocked Remix: "Dreams Come True", "Permutation", "Tororian Love Song", "The Incredible Singing Robot", "Summertime", "The Place We Know", "Forever Until Tomorrow" and Darkness Dawning are among the results.
- "This is not Roy's Castle" is a version of this for the Super Mario World castle music, and is surprisingly catchy.
- The Theme from the Dark World song (by the same maker as the Roy's Castle song)
- And, of course, the rawest version of the Forest Maze theme from Super Mario RPG.
- The song the letter Y sings in the first Charlie the Unicorn is sung to the tune of "Clarinet Polka".
- I Can't Believe It's Not AVGN, a series of commentaries about The Irate Gamer, added lyrics to the show's theme tune:
Irate Gamer's not a gamer
Irate Gamer sells to people
Crappy DVDs and T-shirts
Irate Gamer is a pee-hole
- At the end of the Zero Punctuation review for Guitar Hero World Tour, Yahtzee included an Easter Egg consisting of him adding lyrics to the theme tune of Deus Ex, highlighting all the pros and cons of the game, and adding a few Take Thats at Ion Storm.
- While they already have lyrics, it's become something of a minor meme on /m/ to come up with English versions of various Humongous Mecha Anime Theme Song lyrics. Original thread is archived here. The GaoGaiGar one at the beginning is particularly epic.
- Final Fantasy's "Chocobo Mix" gets lyrics in this Final Fantasy Tribute.
- YouTube user Brentalfloss has a series of With Lyrics songs put to various video game melodies.
- "Comic Bakery" by C64 tribute band Press Play On Tape turns the (instrumental) opening theme of the Commodore 64 game Comic Bakery into a Boy Band song.
- The main theme to Rad Racer became the main theme to the 20X6 anime from Homestar Runner.
- The Newgrounds short "Indiada Jodes", an attempt to summarize Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2 1/2 minutes, ends with a lyrical version of the Indiana Jones theme. ("Indiana/Freakin' Jones!/Indiana/Freakin' Jones kicks ass!")
- In The Simpsons episode "Homer's Barbershop Quartet", the auditions for the titular group include Jasper singing made-up lyrics to the Theme from A Summer Place (which actually does have a rarely-heard set of lyrics).
Theme from A Summer Place
From A Summer Place
The theme from A Summer Place
It's the theme...
- Yakko's "Nations of the World", to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance, would count here...
- As would most of the songs in Animaniacs. "Wakko's America" and "The Presidents Song" being the ones as big as the one above.
- "Kill Da Wabbit Kill Da Wabbit" - a subversion, as the rid of the Valkyries (as well as everything else that's sung in that number) does have sung parts; however, Elmer and Bugs are singing the instrumental lines. Its predecessor, The Rabbit Of Seville, is a more representative example, there being no words at all during Rossini's famous overture.
- For the same song, from The Emperor's New School: "Kuzco Allegiance, Kuzco Allegiance, Kuzco Allegiance, day is today!"
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers has a Public Domain Soundtrack, with lyrics added to various classical pieces.
- Sleeping Beauty has a more serious application of this, with many of Tchaikovsky's ballet dances turned into songs.
- Two Saturday morning cartoons from the 1980s, The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show and Shirt Tales, added lyrics to their theme tunes between seasons.
- The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode "Sonic's Song" had Catty Carlyle singing a lyrical version of the show's theme song.
- The familiar theme song to The Flintstones started off as a piece of background music during the show's first two years, before it eventually became the theme song itself. Prior to that, though, a version of the song with completely different lyrics appeared on an album released during the show's second year.
- At the end of the first Robot Chicken Star Wars episode, there's a musical called "Empire on Ice" with various music from The Empire Strikes Back in song form.
- The second special repurposed the famous Cantina music as a potential jingle for "Akbar's Fishsticks".
- Do the Mario!
- A tribute to the themes of composer John Williams, "John Williams is the Man", applies Star Wars-themed lyrics to several of his scores, none of which were written for Star Wars to begin with.
- During DVD commentary on Superman: The Animated Series, producer Bruce Timm joked that this is a requirement with the Man of Steel. You can't give him a theme song that doesn't want to make you sing Superman along.
- One episode of King of the Hill features an irritating client of Strickland Propane (loosely based on George Bush) singing made up lyrics to the Dallas theme (badly off-key, we might add).
- JR, JR, he's a really bad guy! He lives on a ranch with his mom!
- "Leftover Goulash" from Arthur, which is mainly sung to the tune of "The Toreador's Song" from the George Bizet opera Carmen, but also contains other classical pieces as well, like "Ein Klein Nachtmuzik" ("Nothing brown/or nothing soupy...") and "Beethoven's 5th Symphony" (DW complaining about things tasting like fish).