“Lass frooby noo!” the interference of song lyrics and meaning on speech intelligibility.
This study examined whether song lyrics and their semantic meaning interfere with speech intelligibility. In three experiments, a total of 108 native Dutch participants listened to Dutch target sentences in the presence of three versions of the pop songs Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) (Experiment 1) or Hot N Cold (Experiment 2a and 2b) by singer Katy Perry at different signal-to-noise ratios. The versions consisted of the original English songs, the karaoke versions of the songs without lyrics, and anomalous versions of the songs in the fictional language Simlish, which was created for the video game The Sims. The songs were played in chronological (Experiments 1 and 2a) or in random order (Experiment 2b). Participants’ task was to type the target sentence they had heard. In all experiments, speech intelligibility was better in nonlyrical (karaoke) than lyrical music (English and Simlish). In addition, listeners performed better in lyrics without semantic meaning (Simlish) than with semantic meaning (English). Finally, speech intelligibility was better when the song in the background was played in chronological rather than in random order. These findings aid in understanding the mechanisms involved during speech-in-music intelligibility.
Publication typeJournal article