10 songs with hidden meaning you didn’t expect
Written by Rob Davies on 2nd August 2021
by India Carden-White
Sometimes it’s all too easy to take song lyrics at face value and sometimes you can be utterly confused about what you’ve just heard. Here is a list of ten songs with meanings you would never expect after listening to them.
- Bob Marley – I shot the sheriff
This song, that was released in 1973, could easily be taken at face value by a listener. However, Marley’s ex-lover has in later years claimed that the song was in fact not about a sheriff at all. According to the ex, this song is actually about abut Bob not wanting her to take birth control pills, making the doctor prescribing her the pills the sheriff.
- Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
Many believe this song was written on account of Springsteen’s patriarchy, when in fact, the song casts a light on how poorly America treated its Vietnam veterans. The song aims to depict a working-class citizen in post-Vietnam America. Springsteen describes the song’s protagonist as “isolated from the government, isolated from his family to the point where nothing makes sense.”
- Maroon 5 – Harder to Breathe
Like most songs out there, Harder to Breath was assumed by the masses to be about the love life of one of the band members, which in this case was Adam Levine. However, in 2002 Levine told MTV that the song was actually about pressure the band was receiving from their record label at the time.
- Sia – Chandelier
When first released it was easy to see how this song was interpreted as an upbeat party song. However, Sia aimed for the song to be the complete opposite, as it was about the singer’s previous struggles with addiction and alcoholism. The singer said, “There are so many party-girl anthems in pop, and I thought it’d be interesting to do a different take on that.”
- Semisonic – Closing time
This song tells an undeniable story about a bar at the end of the night, where bartenders proceed to kick out the last waif and strays. However, Semisonic front man Dan Wilson has since detailed that the song was actually emphasising the marvel that is childbirth.
- Sara Bareilles – Love Song
Contrary to popular belief, this song, similarly to Maroon 5’s song detailed above, is not about an ex-love at all. Love song was only written because her record label had demanded a love song from her.
- Lorde – Royals
Although easily misconstrued as a song about how the singer would never achieve the riches and fame of royals, Lorde later told the world it was about something very different. Lorde explains that the song was written after she saw a photo Kansas City Royals base player, George Brett being hounded by fans.
- The Weeknd – I Can’t Feel My Face
When first released many believed this song was about beginning a new and exciting relationship. However, similarly to Sia, this song is actually about the artist’s previous drug abuse as a teenager.
- The Beatles – Blackbird
When released, the masses understood that this song was not simply just about a blackbird, although what wasn’t clear was what the song was really about. Sir Paul McCartney has explained that the song is actually about the American Civil Rights Movement.
- Lady Gaga – Poker face
Although this song is technically what is says on the tin, Gaga is not referring to the game of poker, but instead to being a relationship with a man while fantasizing about a woman.
photo credit: Eddie Mallin