song lyrics that don’t make sense

The other day I played the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette for my students. It’s a very good song to play at an Intermediate level. Lots of interesting vocabulary for that language level there. Among the many things that you can do, here’s one:

Write or display on the board or give a printed copy of these mismatched lines from the song (they are already matched here, just separate into two columns):

  • It’s like rain / on your wedding day
  • It’s a free ride / when you’ve already paid
  • It’s the good advice / that you just didn’t take
  • A traffic jam / when you are already late
  • A no smoking sign / on your cigarette break
  • It’l like 10,000 spoons / when all you need is a knife
  • It’s meeting the man of my dreams / and then meeting his wife

If you want the extra challenge, make it a bit more interesting and fun by removing the last word from the second column. In that case, ask the students to match the lines and also to try to predict what the last word might be. 

Once your students have rearranged the lines, play the song for them to check. This song presents the listeners with some ironic situations in life. But is it really irony what transpires from these situations or is it simply bad luck? Do these lyrics actually make sense? Watch comedian Ed Byrne slating Alanis Morisette and see what he has to say about it. 


Difficult as it is to understand if pitched at an Intermediate level, I would nevertheless play from 00:27 to 1:25 a couple of times and see what your students are able to understand (ideal for higher levels). They will, at least be able to understand the point he is trying to make.

This can get more interesting if you google “lyrics that don’t make sense”. This will led to some critical thinking and speaking interaction. Here are some lines that don’t make sense. Or do they? Well, it’s up to your students to decide. Do they make sense? Why? Why not? Can they explain why and elaborate on it?  Do they know or can they find any more lyrics that don’t make sense?

  • “Eight days a week I love you” (The Beatles, Eight days a week)
  • “I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain” (Prince, Purple Rain).
  • “I only wanna die alive” (Ariana Grande, Break Free).
  • “I’d rather have bad times with you than good times with someone else” (Luther Vandross, I’d Rather).
  • “Before you came into my life, I missed you so much” (Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe).
  • “I have a blue house with a blue window. Blue is the color of all that I wear. Blue are the streets and all the trees are too” (Eiffel 65, Blue).
  • “Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand why she walked like a woman and talked like a man” (The Kinks, Lola).


5 thoughts on “song lyrics that don’t make sense

  1. I’m going to use this task, thanks! As an extension, I’ll also ask them to come up with more ironic situations/ sentence pairs.


    1. I was just thinking that with my young A2 level students, I might try playing part of the song between the phrase-matching and the stand-up, as a way to be sure that everyone’s on the same page:)


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