- 1“ I love telling people what this song is about, and now, you will too. The greatest part is seeing unsuspecting singers choose it for karaoke and balk at the lyrics as they appear on the screen. Somehow we don't know typically understand what this song is about, even though the story is right in the lyrics. It's used in some daytime TV commercials and places all around in this fun, light-hearted manner when it is quite literally a song about slave rape.
There's no metaphor, no euphemism.
The lyrics tell you straight that this song isn't a love tribute to a beloved African American woman and it is most definitely not something about the sweetener that brings us all chocolate chip cookies.
The song is about white plantation owners raping their African slaves.
Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in a market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright
Hear him with the women just around midnight.
Ah, brown sugar how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar, just like a young girl should
So not only is it about slave rape here, but about the kind done to young girls.
Drums beating, cold English blood runs hot,
Lady of the house wonderin where it's gonna stop.
House boy knows he's doin alright.
You should have heard him just around midnight.
So when the plantation owner's wife finds out about what's happening she's appalled, not being able to wait for it to stop. For some reason another one of the house hands appreciates/enjoys this whole thing, too.
It's one twisted, insane song to be the opening track for the album Sticky Fingers. In a Rolling Stone interview (get it?!) Jagger said: "God knows what I'm on about on that song... All the nasty subjects in one go... I would never write that song now... I'd think 'Oh God, I can't. I've got to stop. I can't just write raw like that."
Just like a proper English gentleman should. It's interesting that Mick Jagger has almost gotten to old for himself.
So next time you see someone singing this happily at karaoke, watch out for a nearby Klan rally.
Here's a fun, lighthearted commercial starring this wonderful, wholesome song.
- 2“ You probably heard this song a lot as a kid, just like you probably watched Mrs. Doubtfire as a kid and didn't think much of it. Well, re-watch Mrs. Doubtfire now that you've gone through middle school and give this record a spin and listen to the lyrics.
If you did that, then you'll realize that the song is all kinds of rough. Not only is it about some guy getting it on with a girl, but multiple girls--Sue and Daisy--and they both "know what to do" (so they're very experienced) and they all drive him crazy.
Also, the repeated hook of "Tutti frutti, aw rooty" was not the original lyrics of the song, before it got picked up to be recorded.
When performing live, Little Richard sang the following:
Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy.
The lyrics were then changed in studio to "Tutti Frutti, all rooty" (all rooty was slang at the time for "alright") so that the rest of the song didn't make sense, making it more marketable. Yes, that's right. The song you more than likely danced to like an idiot when you were three and didn't know better was originally not just about sex, but anal sex. You're welcome. „
- 3“ No matter what Quentin Tarantino's characters might tell you, "Like a Virgin" isn't about a girl who "likes big dicks", nor is about a "sensitive girl." Sure, that's what it sounds like, but it is, in fact, not about a girl at all.
Lyricist Billy Steinberg explained in an interview with the LA Times that he did not intend for a woman to sing the song, and that the song was about his personal experiences on how, although he had gone through the emotional ringer in the past, he felt new and unhurt the next time he fell in love, as if he had never been hurt before. Like a virgin.
I was beat, incomplete
I'd been had, I was sad and blue
But you made me feel
Yeah, you made me feel
Shiny and new
Like a Virgin.
Touched for the very first time.
Like a virgin (when your heartbeats next to mine)
"I was saying ... that I may not really be a virgin – I've been battered romantically and emotionally like many people – but I'm starting a new relationship and it just feels so good, it's healing all the wounds and making me feel like I've never done this before, because it's so much deeper and more profound than anything I've ever felt" „
- 4“ This is actually a cover of a song by British rock band The La's from their eponymous album. Although the song initially seems to be about a woman, if you look closely at the lyrics, the "she" in question is actually heroin and the song tells of the rush of using the drug and how fleeting the high is.
There she goes again
Racing through' my brain
And I just can't contain
This feelin' that remains
There she blows
There she blows again
Pulsing through' my vein
And I just can't contain
This feelin' that remains
Additionally, the song has stylistic similarities to The Velvet Underground's "There She Goes Again," a song with overt references to prostitution and potentially references to drug abuse, as well. „
- 5“ Yes, so we all probably know that "My Sharona" is about sex or trying to get laid, but how about sex with underaged girl?
Maybe not. In the tradition of "Young Girl" by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, the song is about a man's serial lust for a girls several years his junior.
In this case, the song is about Doug Fieger, the band's drummer, and his relationship with Sharona Alperin, who he met when he was 25 and she was 16. They dated for four years and she appears on the single's cover. Nevertheless, the lyrics are quite raunchy and rather uncouth in kinder circles:
Such a dirty mind, always get it up
For the touch of the younger kind...
When you gonna give it to me
Give it to me
It's just a matter of time Sharona
As far as songs about underaged sex go, though, My Sharona takes the cake... And robs the cradle? „
- 6“ Only the Boss could make an anti-war song sound like a jingoistic rock anthem that most people use as a pro-America anthem. The song narrative follows a working class American who, gets into some trouble at home and so he goes to Vietnam to fight in the war. When he returns, he is unable to find work and is shunned by the community at large, kind of like in real life.
Springsteen's lyrics and message were so cleverly masked, that Ronald Reagan's staff tried to get the song to be the official song for his re-election campaign (which is exactly how well they did their research), but The Boss politely declined them, as he did not support Ronald Reagan at all. „
- 7“ Probably best known for the repetitive chanting of "I want my MTV" by Sting, the song is often believed to be an anthem for the MTV generation.
In most MTV tribute montages you've seen throughout the years as the network fell deeper and deeper into a pop culture coma, producing nothing but flatulence and occasional blips of signs of life, this song serves as the soundtrack.
"I want my MTV" even became a tagline, a slogan for the generation of people who grew up believing in these music videos and that entire phenomenon.
But the 4 and half minute song is, in fact, a criticism of the music scene of the 80s -- especially glam metal which was in its hey-day. In fact, bassist Nikki Sixx claims the song is specifically about his band, Motley Crue.
Told from the perspective of a blue collar worker, the song contains lyrics that discredit and dismiss the musicians and their ability such as "See the little f*ggot [a word which is used liberally and with absolutely no hesitation throughout the song, by the way, which according to the song writer is actually part of the 'point' of the character that sings the song] with the earring and the make-up" and comments on how their music "ain't working". Still, he laments their ability to get "money for nothing, and their chicks for free." In the end, he decides that maybe he should learn how to play guitar.
After all, they're all talentless hacks anyway, right? So anybody should be able to do it.
This song is not so much a celebration of that scene, but it was a condemnation, then a hesitant joining of it which in of itself becomes insulting -- since joining it requires no mind, talent or heart. Money for what the songwriter saw as quite literally "nothing". „
- 8“ Misconstrued by eBay and many others as an anthem for consumerism (thanks no doubt in part to the music video), "Semi-Charmed Life" is actually about a drug users dark descent into crystal meth use and the sexual acts he performs while trying to find that "something else".
"I was taking sips of it through my nose [...]
Doing crystal myth, will lift you up until you break"
"You're the priestess, I must confess
Those little red panties they pass the test
Slide up around the belly, face down on the mattress "
Of course, it's no wonder that many of us either don't know or don't catch the song's lyrical content. In addition to the upbeat sound and the references of lewd activities coming at you a mile a minute, the song was also drastically edited to be a playable single for TV and the radio.
The original song is 3:07 minutes long, but when edited for the radio, nearly a whole minute was taken out to make it playable, and the words "crystal meth" is often covered up by use of backmasking (you know, just like all the references to Satan in Led Zepplin songs supposedly are).: „
- 9“ 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 and so 14 year old Jackson received the honor and his first number 1 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
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 WILLIARD (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 God). „
- 10“ 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 golddigging anthem, "Diamonds Are A Girl's Bestfriend," 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. She wants to date a man who is headed in a similar direction as her--who has goals of his own--who 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."
Hipster Madonna was geek chic before it was cool.
So there you have it. Nobody should ever write a sarcastic song ever again -- because they are always misunderstood. There's got to be some satisfaction in having the song you performed condemning a certain part of our culture become their anthem, just in knowing they're inadvertently making fun of themselves; but it seems like when it comes to such huge hits, something gets lost in translation (and that "something" is the meaning of pretty much any song ever, which is why most people writing pop music today probably don't even bother). „
- 11“ 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.
Additionally, Mike D is said to have once lamented: "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight for Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them." „
- 12“ Here is another song I love bursting people's bubbles with, since the sweet tenderness of the 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 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.
And, in the off chance, you think I'm just using my fancy liberal arts degree to over analyze and destroy your favorite song, here's what Sting, the songwriter himself, has to say about it from a BBC interview. "I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle, little love song." He also claims when people tell him how much they love it, and used it as the main theme for their wedding, he scoffs and says "Well, good luck." „
- 13“ Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli played this song at their wedding, and since that is documented as a 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 (which is awesome!), we get the notion that the speaker in the song (be it Billy himself or someone else), 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 lend for the song to not be appropriate for weddings or similar affairs of the heart.:
"There is nothin' fair in this world
There is nothin' safe in this world
And there's nothin' sure in this world
And there's nothin' pure in this world"
Nevertheless, there is a positive element to the song. It ends on an optimistic note of starting again and looking for something worth having and living for. Just as the video ends with Billy saving the bride from her would be tragic wedding.
"Look for something left in this world
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again." „
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