8 popular songs that people don’t realize are totally creepy

Musicians are actually pretty screwed up people. I know, it’s hard to believe that an industry so closely tied to rampant drug abuse and degenerate sex scandals could be anything other than a sunshine and rainbow factory, but it’s true. If you don’t believe me, all you have to do is listen to the lyrics of some of your favorite songs. The melodies might be catchy but chances are you’ve been humming along to some pretty dark shit. So before you pick a song to dance to at your wedding, make sure that it’s not actually a depressing tale of depravity, and especially make sure that it is not one of these eight popular songs that people don’t realize are actually really screwed up.

Photo credit: YouTube/Outkast

8 ‘Pumped up Kicks’ by Foster the People

This song is catchy as hell, with a propulsive foot-tapping beat and a dreamy chorus. Naturally, it was a huge hit and it wasn’t that long ago that it felt like it was everywhere. The only problem is that, well, it’s about a school shooting. Yeah. That catchy chorus I mentioned earlier that you’re probably humming to yourself even as you read this? Here are the lyrics:

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, outrun my gun.

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,
You better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

The feel good hit of the summer!

7 ‘Do You Realize’ by The Flaming Lips

This dreamy song sounds beautiful and happy and uplifting and all that nonsense, which is why it was all over the place for a while, including in every other commercial on TV. And hey, it does sound hopeful and uplifting – at first. Then it just gets darker and darker until the idea that this was used to sell stuff becomes absolutely hilarious. Just take a look at the lyrics that start the song:

Do You Realize – that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize – we’re floating in space
Do You Realize – that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize – that everyone you know someday will die

Awww, he said she has the most beautiful face, isn’t that sweet? Oh and now we’re floating in space, that’s cool. What, she’s crying? Well, at least she’s happy and oh… oh, I see.

6 ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind

God, this song was everywhere. Everywhere. Radio, TV, movies… you name it and this song was in the background. Hell, Weird Al even did a parody version. It makes sense when you consider how poppy and upbeat the damn thing sounds. It makes less sense when you realize that the song is sung from the perspective of a meth addict. I mean, the very first line of the song gives it away:

I’m packed and I’m holding

From there, singer Stephan Jenkins goes on to sing about chopping lines and meaningless sex and all that other fun stuff, but let’s face it, no one has ever listened to the lyrics of this song. The only thing people remember is the chorus:

I want something else, to get me through this
Semi-charmed kinda life, baby, baby

And if you think about it, even that is pretty depressing. That still didn’t stop every drunk person from screaming it out at frat parties and bars back in the day.

5 ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast

This song was a monster hit, a ridiculously catchy and upbeat whirlwind that had everyone from your cynical best friend to your grandma dancing like an idiot. Which makes sense when you consider that the song is about the collapse of singer Andre 3000’s marriage. Wait… what? Indeed:

You think you’ve got it
Oh, you think you’ve got it
But got it just don’t get it
‘Til there’s nothing at all
We get together
Oh, we get together
But separate’s always better when there’s feelings involved
If what they say is “Nothing is forever”
Then what makes, then what makes, then what makes
Then what makes, what makes, what makes love the exception
So why you, why you
Why you, why you, why you are we so in denial
When we know we’re not happy here…
Y’all don’t want me here you just wanna dance

Like the man says, y’all just wanna dance.

4 ‘Possum Kingdom’ by The Toadies

This song sounds so romantic and sweet, especially with the famous chorus:

And I’ll promise you
I will treat you well
My sweet angel
So help me, Jesus

Awww, he’ll treat her well. Too bad he’s actually a rapist. Yeah, it’s true. Just think about the next line, in which over and over again he sings:

Give it up to me
Give it up to me
Do you wanna be
My angel?

Still don’t believe me? Aside from the above lyrics that everyone actually remembers, here’s how the song starts:

Make up your mind
Decide to walk with me
Around the lake tonight
Around the lake tonight
By my side
By my side
I’m not gonna lie
I’ll not be a gentleman
Behind the boathouse
I’ll show you my dark secret

So yeah, it’s totally romantic and sweet. If you’re a complete sociopath.

3 ‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen

The Boss’ most famous song has been used in everything from commercials to political campaigns, most famously by Ronald Reagan, which is hilarious when you consider that the song is basically a withering takedown of the Vietnam War and everything that Reagan stood for. Just check out the lyrics:

Born down in a dead man town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A…

The meaning isn’t even mistakable. It’s completely straightforward, which is why it makes it both so insane and so hilarious that everyone thinks it is some sort of patriotic anthem. Then again, maybe that was the whole point.

2 The Theme Song to ‘MASH’

Everybody knows this song – or at least the melody. It’s endlessly hummable. But what you probably don’t know are any of the lyrics – yeah, the song actually has some – which makes sense since the TV show never actually used them. Uh, there’s a reason for that:

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…
that suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

Yes, the theme song to MASH is titled “Suicide is Painless.” Suicide is Painless! Can you even imagine the top rated sitcom of today having a theme song called “Suicide is Painless?” Then again, I am thinking of suicide whenever The Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men are on so…

1 ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police

This song has to be number one if only because somehow, someway, it has become one of the most popular wedding songs out there. I mean, it makes sense. On the surface it just seems romantic. Kinda. I guess. The only problem is that it takes only two seconds to realize this is a song about stalking someone, which makes it absolutely hilarious that people choose to dance to this at their wedding. Again, let’s let the lyrics tell the tale:

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you.

My favorite interpretation is that the song is actually about Jesus watching over the true believers which makes the following stanza really fucking funny:

Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace.
I dream at night, I can only see your face.
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace.
I feel so cold, and I long for your embrace.
I keep crying baby, baby please…

Any questions? There is no way that this song, beloved by so many for hilariously bad reasons, is about anything but a stalker. But hey, if that’s how you want to start your marriage, by all means, dance away. Just remember that Sting will be watching you, even when you’re pooping.

(Previously published on May 14, 2013.)