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?
When he wrote "Pumped Up Kicks," Foster The People's frontman Mark Foster wanted to get into the mindset of "an isolated, psychotic kid" who'd been bullied to the point of eliminating people at his high school. Foster intentionally set the dark lyrics to more upbeat music saying, "It's a 'f*ck you' song to the hipsters in a way - but it's a song the hipsters are going to want to dance to." Touché, Mark.
Nope, The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face" isn't about being so happy in love that his face has gone numb from smiling. The lyrics actually reference coke, personified as a woman. Consider these lyrics:
And I know she'll be the.... of me, at least we'll both be numb. And she'll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come.
"Some Nights" by Fun. was the band's first single to reach the Top 10, thanks to the song's infectious melody and impressive vocals. Its rise to the top of the charts is a little ironic, given that the lyrics are actually about the band's struggle with selling out.
According to one music blogger, "Some Nights" is about "struggling with the idea of either continuing down the band’s previous path of relative obscurity, or taking a risk and trying something new, which will hopefully allow the band to find a new, larger audience."
Who doesn't love singing and swaying along to Outkast's "Hey Ya!"? The song's infectious melody just makes you want to dance! That is, until, you pay attention to the lyrics:
If what they say is, 'Nothing is forever,' then what makes love the exception?
That's actually pretty depressing stuff.