8 Hidden Sounds That Made It Into Famous Songs

Listen closely. (Because a sound engineer didn’t.)

1. Somebody says “fucking hell” in “Hey Jude.”

James Grebey / Apple / Via teresa-beatlesforever.blogspot.com

About halfway through “Hey Jude,” there seems to be a “whoa” sound followed by somebody saying “fucking hell.” Geoff Emerick, The Beatles’ longtime sound engineer, wrote in his memoir Here, There, and Everywhere that it was Paul McCartney reacting to a botched note. Emerick claims that John Lennon insisted they leave the swear buried in the final mix. “Paul hit a clunker on the piano and said a naughty word,” Lennon said. “Most people won’t ever spot it … but we’ll know it’s there.”

2. Sting sits on a keyboard and laughs at the beginning of “Roxanne.”

James Grebey / A&M / Via ali1386.altervista.org

There’s a faint piano chord about four seconds into The Police’s “Roxanne,” courtesy of Sting’s butt. Sting said he only meant to lean against the piano to relax, but didn’t know that the lid was up, resulting in the out-of-place notes. He laughed at his clumsiness, and both the piano and the laugh made it into the final version of the song.

3. The sound from Christina Aguilera’s headphones spills over in “Beautiful.”

James Grebey / RCA / Via ebay.com

Throughout the song, there’s a faint rhythm whenever Aguilera sings. The music is spillover from her headphones, as the microphone she was singing into picked up the rhythm track she was listening to. The sound engineer who mixed “Beautiful,” Dave Pensado, explained that he left the mistake in because it added to the honesty of the song.

4. An amazed musician yells “holy shit” at the end of “Oh Comely.”

James / Grebey Merge Records / Via analogrevolution.com

Neutral Milk Hotel guitarist Jeff Mangum played his part in the nearly nine-minute-long “Oh Comely” in one take, prompting a stunned band member to yell out “holy shit” in admiration. His shout can be faintly heard just before the song totally fades out, as it was left in to commemorate this musical feat.

5. A phone rings during “Stephen’s Last Night in Town.”

James Grebey / 550 / Via store.livenation.com

Ben Folds recorded his 1997 album Whatever and Ever Amen in a house rather than a studio. It wasn’t the most sterile environment to record in, so a few random noises made it into some of the songs. The biggest goof occurs at 2:56 in “Steven’s Last Night in Town,” when someone’s phone rings. The band ended up liking the timing of the ring, and opted to keep it — and bassist Robert Sledge’s laugh — in the song.

6. Brian Eno complains about the timing of the clapping in “Strawberry Swing.”

James Grebey / Parlophone / Via caratulas.com

In an interview with MTV, Chris Martin and Will Champion explained that you can hear producer Brian Eno’s voice just after the 20-second mark in Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing.” Eno provided the handclaps in the background of the song, and he can be just barely heard complaining about the tempo. Martin claimed Eno was calling it “fast,” but many fans think he was saying another word that starts with “F”…

7. The sound engineer is instructed to “keep rolling” during “Someday.”

James Grebey / RCA / Via sidmashburn.com

During the bridge in The Strokes’ “Someday,” somebody calls out what sounds like instructions. It’s hard to make out, but the shouter either says “keep rolling” or “keep going,” and it made it into the finished song. Listen for it around 1:46.

8. And Kurt Cobain screws up, starts a verse early in “Polly.”

James Grebey / DGC / Via rewind-it.de

This one is pretty hard to miss. Cobain starts singing the third verse of Nirvana’s “Polly” earlier than he’s supposed to before catching himself. Apparently the band liked the way the mistake sounded, so they kept it in.

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