13 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do Bands/Musicians
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13 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

Here's a list of songs whose meanings we completely miss because we either don't listen to lyrics properly or we just take the song at face value, ignoring any origins or intent of the artist. Or we just don't even realize what the lyrics really are. Then, one day, your world breaks down. The real meanings of these popular songs will shock you.

Everything you knew and loved about these songs is about to turn out to be a lie because that songs you thought were innocent and sweet are often actually about the opposite. Think "Born in the USA" is a patriotic anthem? Think again.

Hopefully, learning the truth about these popular songs doesn't shatter your world too much, though it will certainly make you think twice at the next karaoke night.
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  1. 13

    White Wedding by Billy Idol

    Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli played this song at their wedding, and since that has been documented as the world's perfect love match, we can imagine that even great guitarists fail to listen to the lyrics. If he had, it'd be pretty obvious to him how inappropriate that song was for such an occasion. But hey, it's an awesome song, and their marriage is over now anyway.

    Hey little sister what have you done?
    Hey little sister who's the only one?
    Hey little sister who's your superman?
    Hey little sister who's the one you want?
    Hey little sister shot gun!

    From the lyrics and video, we get the notion that the speaker in the song, is watching someone he cares about being forced into marriage after he's been gone away. "Shotgun!" is cried three times in the song, leading to the possibility that it's a shotgun wedding - quite the opposite of a white wedding - and there are additional dark lyrics that make the song not exactly appropriate for weddings or similar affairs of the heart.

  2. 12

    Every Breath You Take by The Police

    The sweet tenderness of this tune makes the song seem like it's just another love song we can all snuggle up and croon to. However, if you look at the lyrics for even a moment you'll realize there is something far more sinister afoot here than your typical romance.

    Every breath you take
    Every move you make
    Every bond you break
    Every step you take
    I'll be watching you
    [...]
    Oh can't you see
    You belong to me
    How my poor heart aches
    With every step you take

    As you can see from the above lyrics, this song is not about the simple joys of love but rather from the perspective of a possessive lover who must be vigilant, if not in control, of his (or her) lover's actions. Down to the air they breathe. Talk about overbearing. Even the songwriter, Sting, agrees, "I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle, little love song."

  3. 11

    (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party) by by The Beastie Boys

    Without question "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party)" is one of the greatest party anthems of all time. Everyone gets pumped by mumbling their way through the verses, before shouting the refrain with such ferocity. After all, what is more important than one's ability to have a good time?

    Regrettably, that was never what it was intended to be. In fact, it was written as a parody to mock all the play hard party songs that inundated the 80s, such as Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock" and Motley Crue's "Smoking In The Boy's Room." After all, it's about high school kid, and no matter what Hollywood may tell you: 15 year olds are rarely - if ever - that hardcore.

    So, despite the fact that it is without a doubt the band's most well known song, the mass majority's inability to get the joke has been a cause of distress for the band, leading them to scarcely play it live and although it appears in their greatest hits - Sounds of Science -  Beastie Boys member, MCA, says little about the song other than "it sucks" in the liner notes.

  4. 10

    Material Girl by Madonna

    So you think "Material Girl" is about a gold digging wh*re? Well, that's not exactly correct. Although the video directly alludes to Marilyn Monroe's gold digging anthem, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," the song is actually about a working girl who is looking to get into a relationship with a guy who is also successful... and working.

    She doesn't want someone who doesn't have enough on his plate and is so wholly devoted to her because she can't be devoted to him in kind. One of those "unevenly yoked" kind of deals. Basically, she wants to date a man she doesn't need to give constant attention to.

    In a 2009 Rolling Stone interview, Madonna said this about "Like a Virgin" and "Material Girl": "I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person, and I certainly wasn't a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words, I thought they were clever. They're so geeky, they're cool."

  5. 9

    Ben by Michael Jackson

    This song is particularly interesting because it was not originally intended to be performed by Michael Jackson, but by Donny Osmond. Osmond, however, was on tour so 14-year-old Jackson received the honor and his first number one as a solo artist. Which is pretty cool, but kind of crazy when you learn what the song is really about.

    Ben the two of us need look no more
    We both found what we were looking for
    With a friend to call my own I'll never be alone
    And you my friend will see you've got a friend in me
    (you've got a friend in me)

    Ben you're always running here and there
    (here and there)
    You feel you're not wanted anywhere
    (anywhere)
    If you ever look behind and don't like what you find
    There's something you should know you've got a place to go
    (you've got a place to go)


    Although it is a song about unconditional love and friendship, as can be expected with lyrics like "You've got a friend in me" and "I used to say 'I' and 'me'/Now it's 'us' now it's 'we'." But what you may not know is that the friendship in question is between a boy and (wait for it) a rat named Ben. And not just any rat, but the gang leader of a group of killer rats. That's right, this sweet and tender ballad is the theme to a film about killer rats.

    Coming from the film of the same name, Ben is the sequel to the film Willard (based on Stephen Gilbert's Ratman's Notebook), which also starred Ben and his band of murderous rodents. Although the sequel tries to present Ben ahd his band as protectors of the lonely boy Danny, they still manage to cause several deaths. Imagine it to be Let Me In, but with rats rather than vampires and less sex (thank goodness).

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