Everything is not as it seems. Maybe. Probably is though.
You know that moment when you’re singing along to ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen and you build up to that climatic finish?
“Weeee are the champions, no time for losers ‘cos we are the championsss…”, you belt out, and then the song ends.
No, of course it doesn’t. You round off with “of the worlddd”, with all the heart and soul of Freddie Mercury in full pomp. Except: Freddie never ended with that line.
I know, it can’t be. You’re rushing to your Spotify right now to verify this, but it really is true; Queen’s ‘We Are the Champions’ ends with those very lyrics, and nothing more.
This phenomenon, in which a large number of people misremember something, has come to be known as ‘The Mandela Effect’, inspired by the discovery that huge numbers of people remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the ’80s, when in fact he died in 2013, 23 years after being released.
The conspiracy theory has been around for a while, but it’s only come into the mainstream over recent years. With social media platforms and forums like Reddit, people across the world have been connecting with each other, discovering that the way they remember something isn’t so.
A number of famous Mandela Effects have been passed around over recent years such as the realisation that US children’s book ‘Berenstein Bears’ is actually the ‘Berenstain Bears’, or that Darth Vader doesn’t actually say ‘Luke I am your father’, but ‘No, I am your father’.
NME has one of its own – hands up who thinks it’s New Music Express? Nah. New Musical Express. Always has been, promise.
Now, this is where it gets a bit more daft. Some people believe these misquotes and mispronunciations are because we have accidentally travelled between universes, or that history has been deliberately altered and remnants of the true reality remain.
But some of the weirdest Mandela Effects occur in music lyrics and history. We’ve compiled six that have got people talking.
‘Ms Jackson’ by Outkast – the ’90s hit from the ’00s
This song has been a subject of debate and confusion in a number of online platforms, one reason being that people remember it being around in the ’90s, despite the fact it wasn’t released until 2000. One Reddit user recalled, “I was working mid shift at a communications facility, and needed to take some paperwork to another office. When I walked in, the music video by Outkast was playing on the TV. I remarked that I was surprised that the song would be remade so soon, as it was popular when I was in college back in 1992-1994.
“One of the girls working there said she didn’t think it was a remake, but,who knows? I tried looking it up on the internet in my office, but, I could only find the Outkast version online. My memories of the song were clear – my group of friends in college even had a joke about saying, “Forever, ever?” when someone mentioned the word “forever,” and sometimes would sing the falsetto “I am for real…” when trying to convey sincerity.
When they had the chance to ask college friends, four of them all agreed it was a popular song when they were in college, 10 years prior to the release of the song.
Another Reddit user commented: “My head teacher at primary school (I’m British) was called Mrs Jackson. I remember when this song came out and we used to sing “I’m sorry Ms Jackson” at her. I left primary school in 2000 and she had retired 3 years prior. Kind of freaking out about this.”
This thread also sparked a wider debate about whether the lyrics are “I apologise a thousand times”, when the lyric is actually “a trillion times“. Some have raised the point that the song has a recyclyed melody, so people have probably heard a different song which sounds like ‘Ms Jackson’. But it would seem there’s something shady going on with this song – maybe it was smash hit with the intergalactic aliens who were messing with our timeline.
Barbie Girl in ‘THE’ Barbie World
Arguably one of the easiest sing-along songs ever, it turns out we’ve been doing it wrong all this time. ‘I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world’ isn’t correct. It’s actually ‘in THE Barbie world’, as in, there’s only one Barbie world. We always sing this so fast and with so much cheese it’s unlikely anyone has ever stopped mid-song to scold their friends for assuming there’s more than one Barbie World. We’re probably still never going to sing it correctly.
‘Boom Boom Pow’ is a time-travelling hit
Another song that apparently isn’t constrained to a linear timeline, ‘Boom Boom Pow’ by the Black Eyed Peas appears to be popular in multiple universes, as people remember it coming out earlier than 2009, the official release date.
One Reddit user posted: “I distinctly remember the Black Eyed Peas song “Boom Boom Pow” being released in 2007. I know this because I saw the music video in a commercial, and I made note of the lyric “two thousand-late”, thinking to myself “Oh, it’s actually going to be 2008 soon.”
Another added: “Yea. Definitely 2008 at least. I used to make pizza for Pizza Hut and the radio wouldn’t stop playing it while I was at work. Quit before 2009.”
“A third said: There’s no way that song was released in 2009, I have multiple distinct memories singing this in my car on the way to high school. It was so significant because it was the around the beginning of my senior year (graduated May 2008). I even remember commenting to my sister how I was getting sick of the song. This is freaky shit.”
Some do disagree with this one, especially as many have found out the lyric is actually ‘I’m so 3008’ not 2008, which might have skewed memories. Others think the 3008 VS 2008 lyrics is a Mandela Effect in itself. But considering this is sung by the same person who performs her song ‘London Bridge’ in front of Tower Bridge, we wouldn’t be surprised if Fergie got the date slightly off by 1000 years.
‘California Dreaming’ — Pretend to Pray Vs Began to Pray
In The Mamas & The Papas song ‘California Dreaming’ there’s some debate about whether this is an actual Mandela effect or more of a ‘blue dress or gold dress’ type debacle. Numerous Reddit users claim to remember the lyrics ‘began to pray’ in the song, but found that when they listened years later it sounded like ‘pretend to pray’. Others claimed they could now hear both but distinctively remember it being one way. One Reddit user said: “The thing that trips me out is that now I can’t hear “began” at all!! And a month ago I could hear him singing “began” and the backup singers singing “pretend” . But now he clearly says “pretend” as well when I hear it. Not saying this is a Mandela but it definitely is trippy.” It turns out the The Mamas and The Papas have always sung ‘pretend’. Well, in this universe at least.
BeeGees ‘How Deep is your Love’ — mean to learn/ need to know
Many people who know and love the 1977 BeeGees track remember the lyric “I really need to know” but now listen and find it is ‘I really mean to learn”.
One internet user said: “‘I really need to know’. I completely freaked out a bunch of co-workers with this one.
“They all remember it as I do.”
A YouTube user commented: “This is a really good Mandela effect. I’m 33 and I feel like I always screw up the words of this song now I know why I learned it from a different timeline it was I really need to know.”
People also actually claim to find residue from alternative universes. A YouTube video shows Andy Gibb singing ‘need to know’. But maybe he just didn’t scrub up on the lyrics as well as his brother Barry. ‘I really need to know‘ also fits much better into our 21st century expectations of poppy love songs, because God forbid someone admit they ‘need to learn‘ in their relationship; it’s obviously you, not me.
One person commented: “I have chills right now, I’m 46 and listened to the BeeGees everyday in the 70’s and when someone on the Life Matrix brought this up, I asked every person I know, all said know. I’m so glad someone found him saying know, Yes Yes Yes !!!”
And you know what makes this theory extra convincing? The Bee Gees played at the Nelson Mandela Birthday concert in 1988 — coincidence? I think not.
Disappearing ‘The’ in band names
While this one can be explained by the context in which people mention band and song names in conversation, it’s still hard to get your head round when you discover that a lot of band names don’t actually start with ‘The’.
The Reddit user who brought this to the internet’s attention said: “I think this ME has an intergenerational conflict of timeline memories.”
He recalls remembering album covers to bands such as The Carpenters, The Eagles, The Ramones, The BeeGees, with a clearly printed ‘The’ on them. But on reflection, he found that the ‘The’ never existed. And when it comes to album names, Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd is actually The Dark Side of the Moon.
Some people raised the point that people just add or drop the “the” depending on what flows best in conversation. It would be a bit weird if someone exclaimed to you that they listen to ‘Eagles’. Do they mean real eagle noises? It can’t hurt to throw ‘The’ around if it saves us from seeming super weird for the sake of accuracy.