You’ve been singing that song you love for years. Repeating the lyrics – over and over. But, do you actually know the meaning behind what you have been listening to? The results may surprise you!
“Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind
The upbeat nature of the song and the heavily edited radio cut has made many people miss out on the sneaky hidden message in the song – namely all the hidden drug references that hint towards crystal meth addiction.
“Every Breath you Take” – The Police
Think this is a classic love song? Think again – essentially the song is about a possessive and controlling stalker. Even Sting himself has called the song “very sinister” and “ugly”.
“Slide” – The Goo Goo Dolls
Once again, this sounds like a love song – but actually isn’t. According to frontman John Rzeznik “Slide” is about a teenage girl, raised in a Catholic environment, who has become pregnant. The girl and her boyfriend are debating about having an abortion or getting married.
“Closing Time” – Semisonic
It’s blared out of many pubs and clubs to signify – you got it – that they’re closing, but the song is really about singer Dan Wilson’s impending fatherhood. Wilson disguised the real meaning as he knew his bandmates would get sick of playing a song about his children.
“Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler
At face value, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is a love song – but songwriter Jim Steinman has admitted it was a vampire love song, originally titled “Vampires in Love”. If only Twilight had been around then.
“Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Green Day
The video for this song made many people believe it had hidden connotations about the war. Actually, however, the song was written in memory of lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s father, who died when he was a child.
“Like A Virgin” – Madonna
Forget the song title – “Like a Virgin” is not about losing your virginity. In fact, the song, written by Billy Steinberg, was about how he was left “emotionally battered” after a failed relationship but then ended up in a new relationship that made him feel all shiny and new.
“Harder to Breathe” – Maroon 5
It sounds like another song about “Jane” (Adam Levine’s ex, who was the muse for Maroon 5’s first album), but “Harder to Breathe” was actually penned after the record label put pressure on the band to write more songs. The song is a frustrated retaliation – but hey, it all worked out for the best in the end.
“Waterfalls” – TLC
The song is definitely not about chasing waterfalls, for anyone that thought it was. While the chorus is supremely catchy, the song’s lyrics (particularly the verses) tackle issues such as promiscuity, HIV/AIDS, and the illegal drug trade.
“I Don’t Like Mondays” – The Boomtown Rats
If you take the song based on the title most of us would agree – Mondays are the worst. However, the song is actually about a teenager named Brenda Ann Spencer, who went on a shooting spree at an elementary school in San Diego in 1979. Her unapologetic reasoning? “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”
“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster the People
The jaunty tune of “Pumped Up Kicks” can actually be quite misleading. However, if you do listen to the lyrics closely enough, you can tell it’s another song written about a school shooting. Lyricist Mark Foster explained that the song came about after he read some shocking statistics regarding the growing trend in teenage mental illness. In writing the song he wanted to get inside the head of a “isolated, psychotic kid” and raise awareness about the issue of gun violence amongst young people.
“Poker Face” – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s songs aren’t exactly black and white at the best of times. After numerous different accounts of what the song really meant, Gaga herself has admitted that “Poker Face” was written about her personal experience with bisexuality – where she was with a man, but fantasizing about being with a woman, hence the poker face.
“Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams
Most people originally believed the song was reminiscent about the year 1969. However, Adams himself has admitted it’s really about sex. Not a huge plot twist if you take into account Adams would have only been 10 years old during the summer of ‘69, hence they were probably not the “best days of his life” just yet.
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – The Beatles
Although this song is commonly referred to as being about LSD (or at least written while on LSD), John Lennon actually said the song was about a painting his son Julian made in art class, featuring his friend Lucy…in the sky with diamonds.
“Hotel California” – The Eagles
The lyrics may spin a fictitious tale of tired travelers checking into a luxury hotel. However the song is really about self-destruction and greed in the music industry. Lead singer Don Henley described it as a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream.
“Turning Japanese” – The Vapors
There’s been rumors surrounding this song for years that it’s a reference to masturbation. However, songwriter David Fenton did say the song was about angst and “turning into something you didn’t expect”.
“Paper Planes” – M.I.A.
This song is believed to be about drug dealing. This song is actually a satire of immigrant stereotypes. This song is close to her heart, having been denied a visa, herself, in 2006.
“Ticket to Ride” – The Beatles
According to John Lennon, this song isn’t about trains. This song refers to health cards carried by Hamburg prostitutes to show they were STD-Free.
“Fire and Rain” – James Taylor
This song was originally believed to be about a woman dying in a fiery plane crash. However, this song is a three-part biopic on Taylor’s life. The first part refers to a childhood friend who committed suicide, the second part refers to Taylor’s battle with addiction and depression, and the third part is him looking back on his success.
“Blackbird” – The Beatles
This song is about a black girl dealing with “Jim Crow” racism in the 1960s.