Don't Forget the Lyrics! (U.S. game show)

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Don't Forget the Lyrics!
Created by Jeff Apploff
Directed by Ron de Moraes
Presented by Wayne Brady (Fox)
Mark McGrath (Syndicated)
Narrated by Mark Thompson (Fox)
Theme music composer The Doobie Brothers (Fox)
Opening theme "China Grove" by Rickey Minor (Fox)
Composer(s) David Vanacore
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons Fox: 2
Syndicated: 1
No. of episodes Fox: 57
Syndicated: 160
Executive producer(s) Jeff Apploff
Chris Coelen
Greg Goldman
Brad Lachman
Tony Yates
Production company(s) RDF USA
Apploff Entertainment
Distributor 20th Television
Original network Fox (2007-2009)
Syndicated (2010-2011)
Picture format 480i SD
720p HD
Original release July 11, 2007 (2007-07-11) – May 27, 2011 (2011-05-27)
External links

Don't Forget the Lyrics! is a game show that originally aired on Fox from July 11, 2007 to June 19, 2009, hosted by Wayne Brady and produced by RDF USA, part of RDF Media. It spawned the Don't Forget the Lyrics! game show franchise, and the launch of the show prompted NBC to move up the launch of their similar game show The Singing Bee.[1] The show's contestants compete to win $1,000,000 by correctly recalling song lyrics from a variety of genres.[2]

After a year off the air, on January 25, 2010, 20th Television announced the debut of a new syndicated version with Sugar Ray lead singer Mark McGrath as host in September 2010. Taping of the show's third overall season, and first as a syndicated show, began on June 15, 2010. The show premiered in daytime syndication and in primetime on VH1 on Monday, September 20, 2010. It premiered in primetime on MyNetworkTV on October 5, 2010. On March 24, 2011, the show was canceled along with Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? due to low ratings.[3]


In this show, a single contestant is prompted to complete song lyrics for increasing amounts of money. After each correct answer, the contestant can continue playing, risking what has already been earned, or quit the game and take home all the money he or she has already earned. If the contestant continues playing and correctly completes nine song lyrics, he or she will be given a lyric from a number 1 hit to complete. If the contestant completes the final lyric correctly, he or she wins the grand prize, which was $1,000,000 on the Brady version, and is set to be $50,000 on the McGrath version.

The primary difference between Don't Forget the Lyrics and other music-based game shows is that artistic talent (such as the ability to sing or dance in an aesthetically pleasing way) is irrelevant to the contestants' chances of winning. In the words of one of their commercials prior to the first airing, "You don't have to sing it well; you just have to sing it right."

The producers of the show are RDF USA, Apploff Entertainment, and Brad Lachman Productions.[4]


2007-2009 Fox Version

The structure of the show is similar to another FOX game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Lyrics's cousin game show. Contestants are given nine categories (such as "pop", "The Rolling Stones", or "divas"). Contestants pick one of the categories. They are then given a choice of two different songs. The contestant then chooses one of the songs and are told how many missing words they will have to provide. The band starts to play the song and the lyrics are displayed on large monitors in front of the contestant, who sings karaoke style. At some point, the lyrics are shown as blank spaces and the music stops. The contestant then fills in those blank spaces. They can then decide to "lock in" the lyrics (which is the same effect as saying "Final Answer" on Millionaire), choose one of the "backups", which are answer-assistance options that are similar to lifelines, or choose to walk away with the money they have won so far.

Correct song lines Prize Walk away Value Missed Answer Lyrics Value Amount at risk
1 $2,500 $0 $0 $0
2 $5,000 $2,500 $0 $2,500
3 $10,000 $5,000 $0 $5,000
4 $25,000 $10,000 $0 $10,000
5 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $0
6 $100,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000
7 $200,000 $100,000 $25,000 $75,000
8 $350,000 $200,000 $25,000 $175,000
9 $500,000 $350,000 $25,000 $325,000
10 $1,000,000 $500,000 $100,000 $400,000

2010-2011 Syndicated Version

The format is based on the syndicated changes to fellow Twentieth Television game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?. One contestant plays the entire show, with one song each from four different categories. They are then given a choice of two different songs. Each time a contestant answers a song correctly, he/she earns money; if he/she misses a song, except for the Encore Song, those winnings remain intact. There is also only one "backup"; the three lines, which may only be used once.

Correct song lines Prize
1 $1,000 (guaranteed if a contestant wins $10,000 but then misses the Encore Song)
2 $2,500
3 $5,000
4 $10,000
5 $50,000 (Top Prize)

Lyric Colors

  • Lyrics are initially filled in with yellow text.
  • As each lyric is locked in, the text changes to blue.
  • Lyrics then revealed to be correct turn green.
  • Lyrics that are incorrect turn red, which means the game ends on the Fox or the syndicated version (after ending final broadcast).

Sometimes a few words turn green at a time rather than all of them at once, creating suspense; this is often done if one or more words will turn out to be wrong, and the incorrect word or words generally will show up in the final reveal. If the words are all correct, the contestant's score increases to a higher amount, accompanied in the 2007-09 version by music previously used for a correct answer on Show Me the Money (a shorter version of that music accompanies a reveal of part of the lyrics, and the 2010 version uses a variation of the correct answer sound from Duel). Lyrics that turn red are incorrect will result in different situations depending on version. In the 2007-2009 version, that signaled the game ending, but correct words are still colored green. A contestant who locked in incorrect lyrics before hitting the $25,000 mark would end up leaving the show with no money; going for $25,000 after winning $10,000 is the last point in the game at which a contestant can leave with nothing. After passing the $25,000 mark, the contestant is guaranteed that amount; incorrect lyrics between the $50,000 and the $500,000 songs will knock the contestant's winnings down to $25,000. In the 2010 version, the contestant continues playing, with no money won or lost. In the 2007-2009 version, after nine correct answers, contestants can choose to go for the "Million-Dollar Song". In the 2010 version, regardless of the level they have reached, contestants can choose to go for the final song.

In celebrity games, the host is allowed to help the celebrity contestants out up until they reach the $25,000 level on the 2007-2009 version or the $5,000 level on the 2010 version.

Final Song

Identical to 5th Grader's Million Dollar or 5th Grade Bonus Question, the contestant that makes it to this level must decide whether or not to either attempt the song or play it safe and take the $500,000 they have won.

2007-2009 version

Contestants at the end of reaching the $500,000 level can risk the money for the Million Dollar Song. There is no other information on the song revealed to the player other than that the song is a #1 hit from one of the nine categories featured in their game. Also revealed is that if the player does go on, the $25,000 guarantee is immediately increased to $100,000 (this is not the case on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? because some contestants have already attempted the million-dollar question and lost, whereas no contestant ever attempted the million-dollar song; prior to January 2008, the contestant would drop down to the $25,000 mark with an incorrect answer to the million-dollar song; during this time, no one attempted it[citation needed]). Any remaining backups (excluding the backup singer) are revoked (taken away or out of play) after locking in the $500,000 song, and the other information is only revealed if the player decides to go for it. After the contestant sings, they can change it if they want but they have the option to lock in something or walk away. If the lyrics to the million-dollar song are incorrect or the contestant opts to walk away by not locking in the lyric, the contestant leaves with $100,000. If correct, the contestant wins $1,000,000.

No contestants won $1,000,000, but seven players reached the final level. Two decided to play for the million-dollar song and failed, while the other five (including one team) decided not to play the million-dollar song and walk away with $500,000[citation needed]. A different sound is used for locked-in incorrect lyrics on the million-dollar song[citation needed].

2010 version

The final song is referred as the Encore Song. If a contestant has sung all four songs correctly, the Encore Song will be worth $50,000 in total winnings, with a guarantee of $1,000 in case of a miss. If a contestant incorrectly sang any of the first four songs, any winnings up to that point will be doubled if the Encore Song is sung correctly, or lost if at least one lyric is incorrect. During celebrity games, the house minimum in all cases is $5,000. Again, the song is hit from one of the four categories. Any contestant who wins no money on the show leaves with a customized MP3 player[citation needed].


Similar to the "3 lifelines" concept from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, there were three answer-assistance options, or "backups", that the contestant can use for help if they get stumped:

  • "Backup Singer" - Allows one of the contestant's 2 friends or family members the opportunity to help them by singing along with the contestant. Afterwards, the contestant is given the choice of sticking with their own lyrics or going with their backup singer's lyrics if it is different. The contestant usually chooses to go with their backup singer's lyrics.
  • "2 Words" - Allows the contestant to choose any two of the missing words after they have answered but before the answer is locked in, and they will be told what those words are. When the player uses the "2 Words" backup after selecting a word that is incorrect or missing as one of the two, it will automatically be corrected for the contestant.
  • "3 Lines" - Gives the contestant a choice of 3 possible answers, of which one is the correct response. If the choices have common words within them, the lyrics will have the common words automatically turned green. This is the only backup to be kept for the 2010 version.

Each backup may only be used once, and while the backup singer will still be available for the Million Dollar Song (if it has not been already used) the other two backups will be revoked. Contestants may be required to use up their backups on the $500,000 song if they have not done so already, because there is a warning that, if a backup is not used on the $500,000 song when the backup(s) is/are available, the remaining unused backup option(s) will be automatically used (except for the backup singer) after the lyrics for the $500,000 song are locked in[citation needed].

The 2010 version only uses the "3 Lines" option, and after several episodes this became the GEICO Backup in a limited number of episodes[citation needed].


In its debut, Don't Forget the Lyrics! averaged 3.4 million viewers in adults 18-49.[5]

Since the show's debut, FOX had reordered two additional runs of 13 episodes each during the 2007-2008 television season.[6][7]

Over the Fox version of 57 episodes, a total of $10,735,000 has been given away, with $2.3 million being won by celebrity contestants for their charities.

Notable contestants

  • On October 11, 2007, Tony Gubelman became the first contestant to walk away with no prize money after he did not get the lyrics to the song "Piano Man" at the $25,000 level.
  • Dottie Harris became the first contestant to make it to $500,000 before she passed on the Million Dollar Song opportunity. The million dollar song remained unrevealed.
  • Shamari Berkley became the first contestant under the age of 18, as he was 11 years old when he played the game with the rules changed slightly, in that, an incorrect answer meant no lost money and the $2,500 level was simply given to him. Many of the songs dealt with something kids would know, such as Take Me Out to the Ball Game and the Hokey Pokey. He walked away with $350,000 (the largest prize ever won by a minor on a US game show). Shamari is also a child actor.[8]
  • Boyz II Men appeared as celebrity contestants, playing for charity, on an episode aired on February 21, 2008.
  • REO Speedwagon frontman Kevin Cronin appeared as a contestant on the March 27, 2008 episode. Like Boyz II Men, he ended the show with a concert, singing Roll With the Changes.
  • On May 1, 2008, Poison frontman Bret Michaels won $200,000. He donated $100,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and $100,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
  • On November 7, 2008, all four original members of R&B girl group En Vogue appeared to compete for the charities of their choice, winning a total of $350,000 for the Cancer Centers of America, St. Jude's, and RBI International (the $50,000 went to taxes).
  • On December 12, 2008, three Miss Americas, Kirsten Haglund (Miss America 2008), Heather French Henry (Miss America 2000), and Susan Powell (Miss America 1981) competed for the Miss America Scholarship Fund.
  • On January 16, 2009, Penn & Teller appeared on the show with Carrot Top as one of their helpers.
  • On May 22, 2009, Meat Loaf and his daughter Pearl appeared and got to $500,000 before opting to walk with the money and donating it to The Painted Turtle.
  • On October 5, 2010, four members of the Backstreet Boys appeared on the show. They won $10,000 for UNICEF and attempted to win the $50,000 prize but lost. Even though their loss reduced their winnings to $5,000, the group donated an additional $5,000 to UNICEF[citation needed].
  • On October 12, 2010, season four American Idol runner-up Bo Bice won the grand prize of $50,000 for his charity, the MusiCares Foundation.
  • On October 18, 2010, rap duo Kid N' Play appeared on the show. They won $5,000 to donate to The Red Cross fund for Haiti.
  • On October 21, 2010, actress Tia Carrere appeared on the show. She won $5,000 for her charity, After-School All-Stars Hawaii.
  • On October 22, 2010, comedian Margaret Cho appeared on the show. She won $5,000 for her charity, The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.
  • On November 3, 2010, singer Elliott Yamin appeared on the show. He won $5,000 for his charities, JDRF and Malaria No More.
  • On November 5, 2010, singer Blake Lewis appeared on the show. He won $5,000 for his charity, The Seattle Chilrdren's Hospital.
  • Actor and composer Alan Thicke appeared on the show. His appearance was notable as he did not know the tune to some of the songs and more or less quoted lyrics rather than sing. He was the first celebrity to miss a song but still won $5,000 for charity.

Guest appearances

Winners and Losers

Penultimate song correct

  • Dottie Harris (first civilian contestant to win $500,000)
  • Boyz II Men (February 21, 2008; first celebrity contestant to win $500,000)
  • Asia Craft (October 10, 2008)
  • Mark Weiser and J'Nae Fincannon (December 19, 2008; first team to win $500,000)
  • Meat Loaf and Pearl Aday (May 22, 2009)

Final song incorrect

  • Kimberley Locke (April 17, 2008) - You're Sixteen - Ringo Starr 1974
  • Diana Drake (May 15, 2008) - Blame it on the Rain - Milli Vanilli 1989

Top prize winners

  • Karina Buettgenbach (October 4, 2010[9])
  • Bo Bice (October 12, 2010[10])
  • Sandra Benton (October 26, 2010[citation needed])
  • Regan Rothery (December 31, 2010)
  • Felice Schaeffer (January 11, 2011)
  • There were also five wins on the French version (€100.000), two wins on the Polish version, including five for nonprofit organizations (4 in France, one in Poland).

International versions

In addition to the basic show in the United States, there were many affiliated international versions of the show in many countries including Australia, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Quebec (Canada), Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, Vietnam.

See also


  1. ^ Karaoke Wars: NBC Rushes 'Singing Bee' - Show moved up to beat FOX's 'Lyrics' to air. Retrieved on 24 June 2007.
  2. ^ Fox Announces New Game Show "Don't Forget the Lyrics". Retrieved on 24 June 2007
  3. ^ ""Don't Forget the Lyrics!" and "Fifth Grader" Canceled". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
  4. ^ Wayne Brady to Host Fox's Don't Forget the Lyrics! Trivia Game Show. Retrieved on 24 June 2007.
  5. ^ Media Life Magazine - Hot too: Fox's 'Don't Forget the Lyrics'
  6. ^ Don't Forget the Lyrics gets a second season - TV Squad
  8. ^ Shamari Berkley
  9. ^ "Don't Forget the Lyrics!: Karina Buettgenbach". Retrieved 2010-12-08.
  10. ^ "Bo Bice Wins 'Don't Forget The Lyrics'". 2010-10-16. Retrieved 2010-11-23.

External links

  • Don't Forget the Lyrics! at MyNetworkTV
  • Don't Forget the Lyrics! on IMDb
  • Don't Forget the Lyrics! at
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