Oxford Comma

Album: Vampire Weekend (2008)
Charted: 38


  • The Oxford comma, also known as the serial comma, is the comma that comes before a grammatical conjunction (generally 'and' or 'or') in a list of three items. For instance "Paris, New York, and London" is written with the Oxford comma, while "Paris, New York and London", identical in meaning, is written without it.
  • In this number about linguistic imperialism, the New York band appear to be criticizing the 19th century English intellectuals that created and enforced such rules of language as the Oxford comma. As far as Vampire Weekend are concerned content should come before structure.
  • The lyrics refer to Lil' John, surely the only instance of a song about punctuation to reference the Atlanta crunk maestro. Singer/guitarist and lyricist Ezra Koenig admitted in an interview with Aversion to being a fan of Lil' Jon. The Vampire Weekend frontman said: "I love him. Well, I specifically like "Get Low" a lot. I like the dance where you point your hands to the window and to the wall. I don't dance a lot, but I did have a couple of experiences dancing to it."
  • Vampire Weekend have been criticized for producing "lifestyle music." Koenig told About.com this is a misconception, citing this song as an example. He explained: "With 'Oxford Comma,' to me it's very obvious that it's about elitism, and dealing with someone who thinks they're better than you, and who tries to criticize you in bulls--t ways. I know it's not the most straight-forward song in the world, but to me it's pretty obvious that that's the tone of it. But some people would say that by even naming a song 'Oxford Comma,' all we're doing is reinforcing elitism, because, in theory, only the privileged classes know what an Oxford comma is. That, to me, is a classic example of how people misinterpret our songs. Some people just hear certain words and think: 'these guys must think they're so smart!' But, my family history has pointed to the idea that you don't have to be rich to be educated, to care about books, to know obscure words."

Comments: 3

  • Tim from Pittsburgh, PaI found it ironic that steph misused a comma in posting her comment...
  • Jessica from Raleigh, NcActually, steph, it does. The Oxford Comma is not needed, most particularly in American English.
  • Steph from Cleveland, Oh"Paris, New York, and London" does not have the same meaning as "Paris, New York and London." The second, groups New York and London together within the already grouped three.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Bible LyricsMusic Quiz

Rockers, rappers and pop stars have been known to quote the Bible in their songs. See if you match the artist to the biblical lyric.

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie CombinationSong Writing

In 1986, a Stephen King novella was made into a movie, with a classic song serving as title, soundtrack and tone.

Gilby ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

The Guns N' Roses rhythm guitarist in the early '90s, Gilby talks about the band's implosion and the side projects it spawned.

Vince ClarkeSongwriter Interviews

An original member of Depeche Mode, Vince went on to form Erasure and Yaz.

Butch VigSongwriter Interviews

The Garbage drummer/songwriter produced the Nirvana album Nevermind, and Smashing Pumpkins' Gish and Siamese Dream.

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.