Imagine watching a cover band singing the chorus to a song you like, and then just making up the rest of the lyrics. It goes from surprising to disappointing to comical. This is a travel story where that happened on my trip to Borneo. They didn’t expect there would be native english speakers that know the song.
I see the obvious challenge. Many of the world’s most popular songs are in English. However, most of the world are not native english speakers. I’m a little surprised it doesn’t happen more often!
Singer forgets the words on stage
Chinese New Year is a time for family, similar to Thanksgiving in America. For some reason I (ignorantly) had assumed it would be a party holiday (but I was wrong). I made great efforts to get out of a jungle and into a “major” city. Thus, part two of our Chinese New Year’s experience was in the city of Kota Kinabalu.
After walking the city, we found exactly one bar with more patrons than bar staff. There was a cover band there, but we quickly noticed they were consistently singing the wrong lyrics to nearly every song. Many people don’t know the obscure verses but eve the chorus as well.
The crowd didn’t seem to notice and even started singing along with what the singer was singing. When the lead singer noticed us at the bar, he suddenly looked visibly nervous, and would slur the words he was less confident on under his breath. Then in between songs he stopped by and asked us if we wanted to sing!
Lead singer invites us to help
This isn’t karaoke, and neither my friend Cameron nor I are singers. However the singer insisted. The next song was the Rage Against the Machine song, Killing in the Name of. However, he was all over the place, singing just about anything you could think of that rhymes with it the words. For a moment we even thought it was deliberate.
Imagine the band rocking out and belting the lyrics “Killing Where A Game Was” (huh?). I thought I just heard him wrong but then he did the hand motions to show different sports games.
As he handed the mic to us, we were faced with a question. Do you sing the correct lyrics, the lyrics he was singing, or get even more creative? Nobody seemed to notice either way. Hmm…
Words are important!
The song ends with “F*ck You I won’t do what you tell me!” In their version, it was a bit more submissive. “F U, well ok I’ll do what you told me!” Very obedient.
The rest of the evening repeated this pattern. It added a fun curiosity to what they’d actually sing for each song. It was a fun game deciding what we’d sing as guest rock stars for the evening!
Neither of us are good singers, so I apologize to the crowd from the bar!
Here’s the actual lyrics to Killing in the Name