Songs We’ve Been Misunderstanding The Whole Time

How many times have we wiggled our butts to songs we didn’t understand? Or sung along to lyrics we never bothered to analyze? We’ve all done it. Even the biggest music snobs are guilty of this crime. But I think it’s time we start rectifying our offenses. After all, music does a lot for us. It’s time we ask ourselves what we can do for music. Having said that, let’s face our offenses head-on by breaking out all the songs we’ve been misunderstanding this whole time.

Sam Smith – “Stay With Me”

What we think: When you take Sam Smith’s angelic voice and add in a gospel choir, you’re left with the aural version of heaven. Basically, we thought this was about a guy who found his pure and true love and never wants to be apart.

The reality: 

It’s about a one-night stand. See here now:

Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a one-night stand
But I still need love ’cause I’m just a man
These nights never seem to go to plan
I don’t want you to leave, will you hold my hand?

Don’t make this more than what it is, Sam . . .

Grimes – “Oblivion”

What we think: It’s hard to understand Grimes through her soft whispers, but the overwhelmingly upbeat sound of “Oblivion” makes us think it’s about something really happy.

The reality: In an interview with Spin, Grimes revealed that the song is about “going into this masculine world that is associated with sexual assault, but [having it be] presented as something really welcoming and nice.” The song’s influence came from a personal, albeit scarring, experience: “I was assaulted and I had a really hard time engaging in any types of relationship with men, because I was just so terrified of men for a while.” Suddenly, this song’s taken on a much more serious meaning:

And now the walk about, after dark
It’s my point of view
If someone could break your neck
Coming up behind you, always coming and you’d never have a clue

And now the look behind, all the time
I will wait forever, always looking straight
Thinking, counting, all the hours you wait

See you on a dark night

Third Eye Blind – “Semi-Charmed Life”

What we think: This ’90s gem was perfectly acceptable to sing along to in the back of your friend’s minivan on the way to soccer practice. Based on the chorus (and all the ’90s movies it was featured in), it sounded like it was just about being bored and wanting to do something different with friends.

The reality: Who knew it was about crystal meth? Not us, apparently. . . or our parents. Had we known, we probably would’ve stopped shouting, “I want sooooome-thin‘ else” a long time ago:

I was taking sips of it through my nose
And I wish I could get back there, someplace back there
Smiling in the pictures you would take
Doing crystal meth, will lift you up until you break
It won’t stop, I won’t come down
I keep stock with the tick-tock rhythm, I bump for the drop
And then I bumped up, I took the hit that I was given
Then I bumped again, then I bumped again

Nena – “99 Luftbaloons“

What we think: Balloons. This song had to be about balloons, right?

The reality: Unless you know German, you probably didn’t know this song was about nuclear warfare. Here comes the English translation:

99 fighter jets
Each one’s a great warrior
Thought they were Captain Kirk
then came a lot of fireworks
the neighbors didn’t understand anything
and felt like they were being provoked
so they shot at the horizon
at 99 balloons

Maroon 5 – “Harder To Breathe”

What we think: This song is definitely about a controlling relationship.

The reality: Well, actually it is. . . just not in the way you might’ve expected. Following Songs About Jane‘s release, Adam Levine revealed that the song came from a place of frustration with the band’s label: “It was the 11th hour, and the label wanted more songs. It was the last crack. I was just pissed.”

Good thing the song did as well as it did. I bet he’d be really pissed then.

R.E.M. – “The One I Love”

What we think: This one goes out to the one you love. . . evidently!

The reality: Much to our dismay, it’s quite the contrary. We should’ve known better (darn you, R.E.M.):

This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind
Another prop has occupied my time

Yikes. Note to all soon-to-be newlyweds: Look into all of the lyrics before opting to have this (or anything else) as your wedding song!

What did I miss?

Featured image via

Filed Under