carry a tune
- (idiomatic) To produce music, especially to sing, with accurate relative pitch.
1903, Kate Douglas Wiggin, chapter 1, in Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm:
- Jenny is named for a singer and Fanny for a beautiful dancer, but mother says they're both misfits, for Jenny can't carry a tune and Fanny's kind of stiff-legged.
1922, Jim Tully, Emmett Lawler, page 209:
- Emmett burst forth in song, but his comrade punched him in the side and said, “Lord Sakes, shut up, you can't carry a tune in a bucket.