World’s Smartest Computer Can’t Understand David Lee Roth


You know those classic song lyric misinterpretations, like ‘Scuse me while I kiss this guy? They’re actually called mondegreens — yeah, apparently there’s a word for it — and they’re sort of like brain teasers for transcriptionists and translators.

Recently, the transcription website Verbalink ran a study where they pit one of their transcriptionists against IBM Watson, IBM’s super-intelligent data collection computer, to see who could better understand songs they were hearing for the first time. Among those tracks was one of your favorite semi-comprehensible songs, Van Halen’s “Running With The Devil.”

While we all know the lyrics to “Running With The Devil,” fans should check out the isolated vocal track (or just have fun with this soundboard) and hear just how ridiculous Roth sounds singing without accompaniment sounds. His singing’s so insane, in fact, that while the transcriptionist got the lyrics right, IBM Watson estimated them as the following:

I live my life lacked is

And no I’ve got. I.

The startled me truck bed though barlow

You have some live. N…N… Please start.

Jesus, those aren’t even remotely right. Nice going, Watson, you big nerd.

To be fair to this cruel, cold supercomputer, I don’t honestly believe Verbalink transcriptionist Colby has never heard “Running With The Devil.” It’s just too huge a song; he must have heard it at a party at least once or twice. Still, if you’re a massive data-collecting computer and you can’t beat some transcriptionist who works for a website, you need to step your game up.

An infographic of the full study, which also used Taylor Swift and Elton John songs, can be found below. Let’s hope it doesn’t piss off IBM Watson to the point where he Skynets us all to Hell.


Thanks to Ashley for filling us in on this study!

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