Just < Not the same as it was

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I listened to this Harry Styles song dozens of times on the radio, and every time I heard him sing "You know it's just the same as it was" over and over:

It was only after watching the video and reading the subtitles that I realized he was saying "You know it's not the same as it was".

Beware:  listening to this song can cause a serious earworm.


Selected readings



  1. Laura Morland said,

    June 2, 2023 @ 5:20 pm

    @VHM – I find your love of pop music so adorable! First Taylor Swift, and now Harry Styles.

    (And no, I was not confused by the mondegreen.)

  2. M. Paul Shore said,

    June 2, 2023 @ 8:48 pm

    Maybe this type of mondegreen, where the misperceived meaning is not just different from but is in fact the opposite of the intended meaning, could be called a “neergednom”.

  3. cliff arroyo said,

    June 4, 2023 @ 10:32 am

    To me his diction is very clear and I'm wondering how you heard 'just' instead of 'not'….

    Maybe it's because of the title of the song? If you heard the song called "As it was" you might assume the chorus is indeed singing of a situation that is the same as it was and so you slot 'not' as 'empty word that's there just to fill out the meter of the line' and 'just' works fine there.

    The negative is a salient enough point that if I think if I didn't know what the song was called and just heard it a few times I would assume it was 'Not the same as it was', that is I expect a song about a negative to have the negative in the title…

  4. Victor Mair said,

    June 4, 2023 @ 11:21 am

    @cliff arroyo

    The title of the song is "As It Was".

    I listened to the song dozens of times on the radio. I heard what I heard: "You know it's just the same as it was". I didn't really know exactly what the song was about since I only casually listened to it while driving. It was only when I saw the subtitles to the video that I was stunned to find that it was "You know it's not the same as it was".

  5. cliff arroyo said,

    June 4, 2023 @ 12:39 pm

    Do you still hear "just"?

    Years ago a friend (fellow native speaker of GAE) were listening to a broadcast about children of migrants.
    At one point a person working with them said: ."..because they travel so/too much"
    I clearly heard "so" and my friend clearly heard "too" and there was no way either could be convinced we were wrong. I had been recording on VHS (like a said a long time ago) and replaying the section multiple times did not help us to resolve the issue….

  6. Victor Mair said,

    June 4, 2023 @ 2:39 pm

    Yes, I still hear "just". I can't bring myself to hear "not".

  7. John Swindle said,

    June 4, 2023 @ 7:33 pm

    Try slowing it down to half speed. YouTube gave me that option in "settings" (the gear thingie). I wasn't sure, but when I slowed it down to half speed it was clearly "not".

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