Subliminal messages in songs


Photo Courtesy of Billboard.

There’s something about music that makes us forget about the crazy world around us. But we oftentimes get too caught up in the beat and flashy music videos that we forget to listen to the words. So here’s a list of songs that you’ve probably listened to but haven’t really listened to:

“Slide” – Goo Goo Dolls

“Don’t you love the life you killed / the priest is on the phone / your father hit the wall / your mom disowned you.” Although the melody and guitar riff sounds pretty upbeat, the lyrics juxtapose the beat by describing a less than ideal situation: a pregnant girl struggling with her relationship with her parents and the child’s father.

“Yellow” – Coldplay

Chris Martin’s voice paired with the sound of Jonny Buckland’s sweet guitar makes this a perfect song. But with this song it’s hard to figure out why it’s called “Yellow”. In a November 2011 interview, Martin even admitted the word “yellow” has absolutely no meaning. This is clear when Martin sings, “I swam across / I jumped across for you / Oh, what a thing to do / Cause you were all yellow.” What does that mean, Chris? What does that mean?

“Waterfalls” – TLC

No, this song is not actually about waterfalls or the “rivers and lakes that [we’re] used to.” “T-Boz,” “Left Eye,” and “Chilli” tackle some heavy topics in such as drugs and HIV/AIDS in lyrics like, “But he doesn’t recognize his own face / His health is fading and he doesn’t know why / Three letters took him to his final resting place.”

“Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People

This song is so dark, and yet many didn’t realize when it was released. The lyrics of the fourth verse states, “Yeah the sleight of my hand is now a quick-pull trigger / I reason with my cigarette / Then say “Your hair’s on fire, you must’ve lost your wits.” In a 2011 interview, Foster explained the song is about “a psychotic kid” who thinks about violence towards his classmates. However, the band doesn’t see this as a violent song, and encourage people to use the song to talk about this topic “in a loving way.”

“MmmBop” – Hanson

Before we had the Jonas Brothers, we had the Hanson brothers. This song shot to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1997, and everyone loved the happy-go-lucky, blonde-haired boys. As people clapped along to MmmBop, they didn’t realize the song is about losing the things that make us happy: “In an mmmbop they’re gone / In an mmmbop they’re not there.”

“London Bridge” – Fergie

I was a very naïve middle schooler when this song came out in 2006. I had been singing the children’s song, “London Bridge is Falling Down,” so I thought it was sweet of Fergie to incorporate the song into her first solo single. However, I later realized that Fergie was not talking about that sort of bridge….

“Swimming Pools” ft. Drank – Kendrick Lamar

I hope that you didn’t play this song in the summer while you were swimming around in your actual pool, because that’s not what Kendrick was talking about when he said, “Some people like the way it feels, / some people wanna kill their sorrows / Some people wanna fit in with the popular, / that was my problem.” He’s talking about the connections between alcoholism and social pressures.

“Paper Planes” – MIA

This song is about anything but folding up paper and flying it off the balcony of your house. In an interview with Fader magazine, MIA said, “’All I wanna do is [sound of gun shooting, reloading, and cash register opening] and take your money.’…It’s up to you how you want to interpret. America is so obsessed with money, I’m sure they’ll get it.”