16 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.

  • Electric Slide - Marcia Griffiths

    Electric Slide - Marcia Griffiths
    Video: YouTube

    "Electric Slide" has always been a multi-generational crowd-pleaser. Whether you're at a wedding or a bat mitzvah, chances are the song will be played and everyone will get up to do the line dance. Get ready to never want to dance next to your grandma to this song again, because the tune is about a vibrator.

    The song's original writer, Neville Livingston, allegedly confirmed the rumor, according to an unnamed source. 

    "I'm surprised it took people this long to figure out," Aazios's source alleges Livingston said. According to this close friend, Livingston wrote the song after a woman told him she didn't need him, since she had a sex toy she called the "electric slide."

    • Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones
      Video: YouTube

      Many an unsuspecting singer chooses "Brown Sugar" for karaoke and balks at the lyrics as they appear on the screen. Somehow (we don't know how) they 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.

      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. This 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

      • Artist: The Rolling Stones
      • Album(s): Sticky Fingers
    • Tutti Frutti - Little Richard
      Video: YouTube

      You probably heard this song a lot as a kid and didn't think much of it. Well, give this record a spin and really listen to the lyrics - you'll realize that the song is all kinds of rough. Not only is it about some guy getting it on with multiple girls - Sue and Daisy - 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 most likely danced to like an idiot when you were three and didn't know better was really... much more adult.
      • Artist: Little Richard
      • Album(s): Here's Little Richard
    • Closing Time - Semisonic
      Video: YouTube

      This memorable '90s track is about a bar at closing time, right? RIGHT? No. No, it's about something else entirely.

      According to Dan Wilson, Semisonic lead singer, it's about being "bounced from the womb." As in, your mama's belly. In the above video he points out a lot of lyrics that make you go, "oh, yeah, I guess it is about the birth of a baby." For instance: "This room won't be open till your brothers and your sisters come."
      • Artist: Semisonic
      • Album(s): Feeling Strangely Fine