Swedish Art Director Translates Pop Lyrics Into Bureaucratic English

By Kyle O'Brien 

Swedish art director Oskar Pernefeldt has completed a project that nobody asked for, but many will be pleased with the silly results. His “Bureaucratic Translations of Popular Music” project has taken lyrics from numerous pop artists and made them into a dry humor poster series.

The Bureaucratic Translations of Popular Music display at Match Stick Palace in Stockholm. Credit: Emil Fagander

Pernefeldt, who works full-time as an art director in the Swedish advertising industry, currently for Oatly, was obsessed with the idea after he started walking around his apartment, live translating songs into formal English. As he tried to bring the concept to life, he had to be patient and persistent.


After translating around 20 songs, negotiations began with 11 different music publishers to obtain rights to reproduce the lyrics. After a whole year of approval processes with brands including Sony Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing and Warner Chappell Music, Pernefeldt has now launched eight posters, with more on the way.

“Ironically, there is a lot of bureaucracy behind these bureaucratic posters. But it is important to me that the project is done correctly and that the songwriters will get their fair share,” Pernefeldt said in a statement.

The poster series contains hits like, ”Surprisingly enough, I am responsible once more” by Britney Spears (“Oops, I did it again”), ”Support yourself financially” (“Work”) by Rihanna and “Refrain from Interference” (“Let it Be”) by The Beatles.

A translation of Madonna’s ‘Material Girl.’

Other artists found in the series are Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Sting and Elvis Presley. The project also has an accompanying Instagram page.

“I would love for everyone to be able to find their favorite artist in the series. I’m working on getting more lyrics approved as we speak,” said Pernefeldt.

Pernefeldt also runs The International Flag of Planet Earth Organization which advocates for Earth having its own flag, and sits on the board of his alma mater, Beckmans College of Design.