Music

15 Fun Pop Songs with Surprisingly Dark Secret Meanings  

Jessica L. Yarbrough
4.7M views 15 items

Pop music is meant to make us feel good; the Top 40 industry thrives on the happy vibes that propel its audience to listen to a song over and over. The feel-good formula for radio-friendly hits definitely requires upbeat music - but lyrics are another story. Happy-sounding songs with secret dark meanings have been tearing up the charts for years. Have you ever realized just how dark/creepy/sad/weird these dark pop songs actually are?
 

back to page 1
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

From the first piano riff to the last belting note, Sara Bareilles's "Love Song" feels like an anthem of self-empowerment written to an overbearing boyfriend - which isn't exactly the case. "Love Song" was actually written as a big "f*ck you" to Bareilles's record label, who had been hounding her to write more love songs for her upcoming album. Luckily, the label loved Bareilles's rebellious take on the subject and "Love Song" became a huge hit.

More Love Song

#30 of 162 on The Best Songs with Song in the Title #20 of 26 on The Most Fun Songs to Play on the Piano #2 of 46 on The Best Sara Bareilles Songs

see more on Love Song
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

PSY's viral hit "Gangnam Style" is all in Korean, so English-speaking listeners just hear a fun, upbeat song and sing along. The translation isn't quite as positive as the melody implies. PSY is essentially bashing the upper echelon of South Korea who live in Gangnam, saying they are "good-looking because of plastic surgery, stylish because they can splurge on luxury goods, and slim thanks to yoga and personal trainers... this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not."

More Gangnam Style

#25 of 45 on The Greatest Dance Songs by One-Hit Wonders #6 of 19 on Music Videos That Introduced the World to New Dance Moves #33 of 100 on The Greatest Songs Of The Decade, Ranked #17 of 100 on The Catchiest Pop Songs Of The Decade, Ranked

see more on Gangnam Style
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Kendrick Lamar's "Swimming Pools (Drank)" is often confused for a pro-drinking anthem like LMFAO's "Shots" or Jamie Fox's "Blame It." You can't blame listeners for making the mistake; the chorus chants:

Pour up, drank, head shot, drank. Sit down, drank, stand up, drank. Pass out, drank, wake up, drank. Faded, drank, faded, drank.

If you dig a little deeper, though, you'll notice the song is actually about the dark side of alcohol and its consequences. Lamar has said, “This song is about me reminiscing about my years [as] a kid witnessing a housing that indulged adults in alcohol. So much alcohol that it could fill a swimming pool."

More Swimming Pools (Drank)

#21 of 64 on The Best Pop Songs About Alcohol #35 of 83 on The Best Songs About Being Drunk #4 of 14 on The Best Rap Songs About Liquor #2 of 16 on The Best Songs With Swimming in the Title

see more on Swimming Pools (Drank)
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

EVERYBODY bopped along to Hanson's "MMMBop" in the '90s; the songs was pretty much just an arrangement of insanely catchy noises and sounds. Bet you didn't know that it actually references the fleeting quality of friendships: "You have so many relationships in this life/Only one or two will last."

Deep stuff for a group of tweens.

More MMMbop

#28 of 108 on The Greatest Songs by '90s One-Hit Wonders #7 of 75 on The Worst Karaoke Songs in the History of Music #18 of 20 on The Best Happy Songs of All Time #57 of 100 on The Best Pop Songs Of The '90s, Ranked

see more on MMMbop