Listening to Reverse Lyrics

Are musicians placing hidden (often Satanic) reverse lyrics in their music? It's an old controversy, but also one that can offer an interesting psychological demonstration of the power of perceptual expectation. Which means, in plain English, that our brain makes our ears hear what it expects to hear.

Check out Jeff Milner's site devoted to backmasking. He has samples of popular songs. First play the songs forward. Then listen to them reversed. They probably sound like gibberish.

But next click the button to reveal the reverse lyrics that you're supposed to be able to hear and listen to the reversed music again. You should now be able to "hear" the reverse lyrics... because your brain is expecting to hear them. The British Psychological Society's blog writes:

Once the expectations for what to hear are in place, they can't be undone. You can't unhear the devilish lyrics once you know about them. This is a powerful demonstration of how our perceptual experiences are based not just on what is served up by our senses, but also on what our brains bring to the table.

My favorite reverse lyric was the one in Pink Floyd's Empty Spaces.
     Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 22, 2008
     Category: Music | Psychology

Well, I think Weird Al is known for doing that sort of thing deliberately.
Posted by Smerk on 08/22/08 at 11:24 PM
DFStuckey: Yes, they did, but they were not backmasked. When you listened to the record forward, the phrases were backward, and obviously so. As for why Mr. Roboto never gets played, my own opinion is because it's a dumb song (and I'm a huge Styx fan!).
Posted by BikerPuppy on 08/25/08 at 12:27 PM
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