Have you ever listened to a song you’ve loved for ages and then suddenly found yourself head-bopping to a song that is actually really dark and quite disturbing at times? Sometimes you don’t even notice it yourself and someone else has told you about it. I love complicated songs, and I’ve always loved finding the hidden meaning in them, and so here is a list of ten songs with dark meanings.
10. The Stone Roses – Elizabeth My Dear
Treason and murder
Ok, so let’s start off short and simple, here are the Stone Roses with Elizabeth My Dear, a song that is quite clearly about dethroning our Queen and then killing her. In 59 seconds Ian Brown managed to capture the thoughts of thousands of people across Britain, especially in the lines “My aim is true/ my message is clear/ it’s curtains for you/ Elizabeth, my dear”.
9. Cab Calloway – Minnie The Moocher
Until this was pointed out to me I had no idea how many drug references this song had. The song is based on the 1927 song ‘Willie the Weeper’, a song about a man who had a drug habit. And Minnie The Moocher is about a girl who had a drug habit “she messed around with a bloke named smokey/ she loved him though he was cokey/ he took her down to China town”, it’s subtle but the hints are there if you look for them.
8. The Lemonheads – Baby’s Home
Crime of passion
This one is one of my favourite songs on the list, and the least subtle with it’s dark meaning. The song is basically about a man who suspects his wife of cheating, so when he secretly stays at home he awaits her lover and kills them both, one with a shot gun and one by bashing their brains in. “Think about me when he calls around three/ cause get what you’re baby’s home/ I’ll cut you in half with a double sharp blast/ and I’ll pound on his head with a stone/”.
7. Lead Belly – Pick A Bale Of Cotton
This is an old slave song, that was criticized for being racist as the original lyrics used derogatory slurs for black people. But when Lead Belly recorded it, he changed the words ever so slightly but still gave the message loud and clear. “You’ve got to jump down/turn around/ and pick a bale of cotton”.
6. Rocko ft Rick Ross – You Don’t Even Know
Rick Ross was forced to give a half arsed apology after the media got a hold of the lyrics that glorified rape and drugging girls “I put molly all in her champagne/ she ain’t even know it/ I took her home enjoyed that/ she ain’t even know it”, the song had Reebok drop Ross from their sponsorship.
5. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
It’s pretty upbeat, and catchy, so many kids were singing it when it came out but the miss-leading pop-py element to the song hides a darker meaning all together. Mark Foster (who wrote the song) was looking into the rising mental problems that teenagers have, and he wanted to raise awareness about the issues of gun violence among teens “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks/ you better run better run/ outrun my gun”.
4. Frank Zappa ft. Captain Beefheart – The Torture Never Stops
“Holdin’ spears by the iron door/knives and spikes and guns and the likes/of every tool of pain/a sinister midget with a bucket and mop/where the blood goes down the drain” – Zappa got straight to the point here when he wrote a song about the tortures of being in prison, and the torture that prisoners face everyday.
3. FUN – Some Night
If you’ve had a pulse in the past five years, you will have heard of FUN. Some Nights was one of their more popular songs, and another catchy tune it is with a more sad meaning behind it. After fame had hit Nate Russ began having an existential crisis, which is heard throughout the song. “So this is it/I sold my soul for this?/Washed my hands out for this?/I miss my mom and dad for this?”.
2. Lou Reed – Perfect Day
I am under the impression that every knew this was about Heroin, it’s even in Trainspotting if you had managed to miss the message in the song, but apparently some people have no idea that this haunting tune from the legend that is Lou Reed, is about Heroin. The song is just an ode to Reed’s Heroin addiction; “Oh it’s such a perfect day/ I’m glad I spent it with you”.
1. John Lee Hooker – Boom Boom
We’ll finish the list with a song that has lyrics that are obvious, but it’s one of those songs you just have on in the background, so you never notice it’s dark message. It’s simply put in the first verse “I’m gonna shoot you right down/right off your feet/take you home with me/put you in my house”.