You and I – Even Lady GaGa Can Get It Wrong…

Lady GaGaIf you like modern music, then perhaps you have already heard the sometimes outrageous performer, Lady GaGa, sing her song, You and I. I don’t usually listen to this kind of music, but a friend pointed it out to me as an example of bad grammar. That made me check it out.

I have to confess that while I have certainly heard of Lady GaGa, I could not remember hearing her sing, so I had no idea what she sounded like. She is actually a very talented performer, definitely someone with more than just a modicum of musical ability. I have to confess I rather like her singing style. I actually listened to perhaps a dozen or so of her hits and concluded that You and I is one of her better offerings.

Unfortunately it uses bad grammar…

Yes, there are plenty of cases where it is correct to say, “You and I,” but not in this song, unfortunately. If she had said something like, “You and I are in love,” that would have been fine. If you split that sentence you get, “You are in love,” and “I am in love.” That’s good grammar in both cases and it works just fine.

However, there is a line in the song that goes, “There’s something between, baby, you and I.” That is not good grammar. If we remove the word “baby” we can see it better. This does not change the meaning in any way. It just allows the sentence to be seen more clearly. So, “There’s something between you and I,” is the sentence. Let’s split it and see what happens…

I think you can already see where this is going. Yes, it’s right to say “There’s something between you,” but it is not right to say “There’s something between I.” The sentence in the song should have been, “There’s something between, baby, you and me.”

Would this change have affected the song in any way? Would it have made the song come over as less exciting, or less artistic in some way? I don’t think so. However, it’s still a good song and I am not prepared to quibble about it. If I could get paid what Lady GaGa gets paid to write bad grammar, I would definitely write bad grammar – all day long!

There are actually plenty of other examples of bad grammar in songs. Sometimes it has been done deliberately for effect. One of the best examples of this is the song, “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby.” It’s certainly bad grammar, but we all know what is meant by the title, and it’s so bad that it actually is good in a way.

Louis Jordan first recorded that song in 1944 as the B side of a single that had “G.I. Jive” as the A side. Since then the song has enjoyed enormous success, and has been recorded by such luminaries as Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Dinah Washington, B.B. King and many others. It was featured in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, and as recently as 2009 it was featured in a movie starring Robin Williams. Yes, I would happily spend my days writing bad grammar to enjoy that kind of success. Perhaps you and I could do it together…

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