Nonsense Syllable Songs

Previously, I wrote about the poignancy of song lyrics and how they can express something that touches you way down in the nether regions of your soul. Then there are lyrics that are simply fun.

Some of the most fun lyrics make no sense at all! As much as I love language, I also have a fondness for songs with nonsense syllables that are merely enjoyable to sing. This is different from scat – which is using syllables to mimic the sounds of instruments (Sammy Davis Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald were masters of scat).

What I’m talking about here is the world of shoo-bop and sha-na-na. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was often called doo-wop music. I looked for examples of particularly enjoyable ones and decided to share these more light-hearted lyrics for this Amaze-ing Words Wednesday. Enjoy the music, but see if you like the way the lyricists used nonsense words as well.

Sh-Boom by the Chords. The second verse is a perfect example in this song.

Witch Doctor by David Seville. With this 1958 song, Seville’s speeded-up voice in the chorus of “oo-ee, oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla, bing-bang” created the Chipmunks.

Blue Moon by the Marcels. The opening and background vocals of the Marcels’ version of “Blue Moon” are fabulous. Their nonsense lyrics really give this song zip!

Do Da Ron Ron by the Crystals. Okay, this is the version I included because it’s the original. But I grew up hearing the Shawn Cassidy’s rendition. (By the way, is it my imagination or did Shawn have Justin Bieber’s hair first?)

We Go Together by the cast of Grease. Who doesn’t love the Grease soundtrack? And this final song in the movie put together a great combination of nonsense syllables that will always go together – like Danny Zucko and Sandra Dee.

Rubber Biscuit by the Blues Brothers. The Blues Brothers were never meant to be taken seriously, and this song proves it. But Dan Akroyd’s syllabic stylings are brilliant!

De do do do, De dad a da by the Police. Sting writes profound lyrics for many of his songs, but this time he admitted that he got tongue-tied in love and hoped the do’s and da’s would convey what he felt.

Bad Romance by On the Rocks. Yes, I know that Lady Gaga’s version is the definitive one, but if you haven’t seen the version by On the Rocks, the University of Oregon’s men’s acapella chorus, check it out. The opening lyrics of “ro-ma, ro-ma-ma” mean nothing to me, but they are a nice nonsense addition to the song.

Sometimes we don’t need actual words to communicate our feelings of longing or merely a sense of fun. These songs make me smile.

What are some of your favorite nonsense syllable songs? Do you enjoy music like this?

24 thoughts on “Nonsense Syllable Songs

  1. Hi Julie. I like a lot of songs because of the way the words and voices sound rather than what they mean. I always get a grin at the idea of some stuffy business meeting discussing whether of not they’re going to sign an act that created such masterpieces as “oo-ee, oo-ah-ah, ting-tang, walla-walla, bing-bang”.

    After this weekends dip in British-isms, I’m impressed with your so innocent use of the phrase “nether regions” … but don’t mention it to Donna!


    1. Thanks, Nigel! I do wonder at times about all of those people being convinced that such songs will make it in the pop music world.

      (And what’s with Brits and their gutter minds?! LOL.)

  2. The only ones of those songs I know is the one from Grease and the one by the Police! So I’m guessing that must mean nonsense lyrics aren’t my thing. When I was in college doing very boring factory work, a friend and I used to keep ourselves awake by making fun of these “deep and meaningful” lyrics. 😀

  3. Oh my goodness, reading this brought back my past with a bang! And to think that I forgot what I did yesterday but I can sing along and remember the lyrics to most of these songs! What does THAT mean! Thank you, Julie.

  4. I do enjoy music with goofy lyrics and sounds… Grease comes to mind for me too. Although, despite the goofy lyrics, the lyrics also made sense to me too. Maybe all these goofy lyrics have made me crazy of the years? 🙂

    1. You can’t blame all the crazy on goofy lyrics, Tiffany! Ha, ha! You would have made a great cast member for Grease. Somehow I can picture that. 😉

  5. I love “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” by Otis Redding. He had the sexiest voice.

    I also like your examples here. Because I don’t listen to pop music I had never heard “Bad Romance.” 😀

  6. I have an intense need to watch Grease now.

    I think the “ro-ma, ro-ma-ma” ties in with the “romance” part of “Bad Romance,” but since she doesn’t really finish the word, it totally counts as a nonsense lyric. (And I love this version, too! I’m so glad you included it.)

    And “Rubber Biscuit” is just an awesome song – I have such good memories of it. My dad used to play it in the car before my chorus concerts so I wouldn’t concentrate on how nervous I was! It’s such a fun one to listen to.

    1. If “ro-ma” is the “romance” part, what’s “rah-rah”? Still, that makes sense, Karen! Your dad liked the Blues Brothers? How cool!

  7. I’m a lyric lover, too. Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls has some non-sense-making doozies. “Chicken man, hold my hand,” for example. (Could be referring to an odd imaginary friend, I suppose! ;))

    1. Yes, I guess you would be a lyric lover, August! You’re quite talented yourself. I love the Indigo Girls! I saw them in concert many moons ago, and the “chicken man” lyric made an appearance.

  8. I love all of these songs! Especially Sh-Boom because it’s in the movie version of Clue. Hearing it always makes me think of the scene in the movie and laugh.

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