Songs 16 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do  

Molly Mahan
1.9M views 16 items

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.
back to page 1

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

"Like a Virgin" isn't about a sensitive girl, and 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 of going through the emotional ringer in the past, and how 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

Says Steinberg, "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."

Artist: Madonna

Albums: Like a Virgin

see more on Like a Virgin

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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.

Artist: Sixpence None the Richer

Albums: Sixpence None the Richer

see more on There She Goes

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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?

Artist: The Knack

Albums: ... But the Little Girls Understand, Get the Knack

Also Ranked

#5 on The Greatest Pop Songs by One-Hit Wonders

#3 on The Greatest Songs by One-Hit Wonders

#5 on The Greatest One-Hit Wonder Songs of the 70s

#10 on The Best Songs with a Girl's Name in the Title

see more on My Sharona

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

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, 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, as he did not support Ronald Reagan at all.

Artist: Bruce Springsteen, E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Albums: Born in the U.S.A.

see more on Born in the U.S.A.