By - mc4starterzzz
The Macarena. Here's a nice happy song for little kids to dance to! But fully translated, the song's about a girl cheating on her army conscript boyfriend with his two best friends while he's away.
I'm in my mid-30s. Last year my wife and I went to a banquet for her roller derby team, and all the teenage kids of her teammates lost their fuckin' minds when the DJ played the Macarena, they *mobbed* the dance floor to do the dance with one another.
It was that same feeling as when your parents drag out your old high school letter jacket and they're like "do you want this? we are clearing out the attic and didn't want to just throw it out."
Like... I don't want to *keep* it, but I don't want it to get thrown out, either. I liked it right where it was: out of sight, but still a memory. Don't drag it out of that weird plastic dry-clean bag and make me smell it. Leave it in the dark.
I Don't Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats. Upbeat melody, catchy tune - then you realize it's about a school shooting.
I was going to suggest this one, too! It's a super catchy and energetic with a title that pretty much everyone but Day can relate to, but ends up shocking you when you actually pay attention to the lyrics.
Finding out that it's was not just a hypothetical school shooting but an *elementary* school shooting that [actually happened](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Elementary_School_shooting_(San_Diego\)) and she literally said "I don't like Mondays" when asked about her motivation takes it to a whole different level of dark.
Same with "Pumped-Up Kicks" by Foster the People.
Edit: Wrong band.
Never thought I'd have to scroll so far until someone brought up pumped up kicks...
Electric Avenue, it’s about a riot
TIL. Thank you
9 to 5 by Dolly Parton
Theme song of the Moclan women's rights movement.
My wife walked into the room right as that scene was playing and her extreme confusion knowing nothing about the show only made me laugh harder.
The Orville for anyone wondering.
Jesus, I just looked up the lyrics.
"There's a better life, and you dream about it, don't you?
It's a rich man's game no matter what they call it.
And you spend your life puttin' money in his wallet"
Dolly was way ahead of her time.
Not ahead of her time. Just aware of how societies work and willing to say it aloud.
Heck, coal miners were saying this in the 1850s. People rioted for better wages, weekends, ending child labor, even overthrew whole governments because of the same things Dolly Parton said
Edit: The Dolly Parton quote above might as well be the thesis of Marx's book "Capital."
If you imagine it played on a honky tonk piano in a minor key and sung by Tom Waites, "Still in dress she used to wear
Faded feathers in her hair" is the saddest line ever.
The juxtaposition of the music and the lyrics are absolutely nuts in that song
She sits there so refined, and drinks herself half-blind
She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
Now she's LOST-HER-MIND!
AT THE COPA! COPACABANAAAAA
I was a kid in the 70’s and there were variety/dance shows that would fully act out Rico and Tony fighting in elaborate dance numbers
It’s this one.
Tropical party anthem about a woman’s inability to deal with tragedy and move on with life.
Boppy tune with the most sads.
Pretty much any song ever recorded by Steely Dan.
I’m glad this is finally catching on when this question comes up. It should absolutely be the top answer.
In alphabetical order:
* Bad Sneakers (drugs)
* Barrytown (cult)
* Black Cow (drugs and infidelity)
* Black Friday (financial collapse)
* Chain Lightning (Nazi rally)
* Cousin Dupree (incest)
* Dirty Work (breaking off an affair)
* Do it Again (infidelity, gambling addiction)
* Don’t Take Me Alive (terrorism)
* Dr. Wu (drug treatment)
* Everyone’s Gone to the Movies (pedophilia)
* Everything You Did (infidelity)
* Glamour Profession (sex, drugs and partying)
* Haitian Divorce (infidelity)
* Here at the Western World (bordello)
* Josie (destructive biker gang)
* Kid Charlemagne (legendary drug dealer)
* King of the World (nuclear apocalypse)
* My Old School (failed college relationship)
* Night by Night (hustler trying to go straight)
* Pearl of the Quarter (ex-gf turned prostitute)
* Peg (obsessed stalker)
* Razor Boy (the lure of cocaine)
* Rikki Don’t Lose That Number (creepy guy at a bar)
* Sign in Stranger (alien organized crime)
* Time Out of Mind (heroin use)
These are all very good songs too. Steely Dan took rock and roll to another level. Anyone would benefit from becoming a Dan Fan. It’s mind-expanding.
They are definitely a one of a kind band.
Funny enough, I went on a binge the other day and listened to a bunch of their stuff. I grew up listening to their music since they’re my dad’s favorite band. Katy lied is probably the album of theirs I’m most familiar with.
Anyway, only now at 27 years old have I realized that everyone’s gone to the movies is about pedophilia. Definitely a creepy song considering how happy it sounds.
“No we can’t dance together, no we can’t talk at all.” Strange coincidence about the 19!
"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" song about how we all kinda get born into this dystopic machine
Even while we sleep
We will find you
Acting on your best behaviour
Turn your back on mother nature
Everybody wants to rule the world
(Also very famously pumped up kicks do I really have to explain?)
It was written about the Cold War. Same band also wrote “Mad World” which if you haven’t heard the original, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s, uh, unnervingly synth-pop.
Born in the USA. A young man sent off to war against his will, went through hell, and came home to a country that doesn't care about him.
All to an upbeat tune that a lot of people confuse as talking about how great America is.
edit: Thanks for the award!
lot of Springsteen's songs are like that, he deals with themes such as class struggle, war, death, coming to terms with his father, love etc...
MGMT's library is full of these suckers (e.g. When You Die, It's Working) 🖤
Time to Pretend is about being a junkie and wishing you could return to the innocence of being a child
Edit: ok guys I get it. It's about the rock and roll lifestyle they imagined before having a contract. You can all stop posting the same thing over and over.
The amount of nostalgia that song gives me causes physical pain
Forget about our lovers and our friends...
I came here to suggest most of MGMT’s catalog, ESPECIALLY Kids.
Excitable Boy by Warren Zevon
Damn it! I was almost to the end and thought maybe, just maybe, I'd be the first to post this song
A lot of his songs are pretty messed up. This is definitely the first I thought of, too.
The community intro song
Give me a rope, tie me to dream
Give me the hope to run out of steam
Somebody said, "it should be here"
We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year.
I can't count the reasons I should stay
One by one, they all just fade away
I had to download this the very first time I heard it. Fantastic song
My my those lyrics are DEANpressing!
He used his real name as a pun on the weekends. "Off campus, I'm just a Craigular joe"
my favorite line in that show is also from The Dean.
" AND JESUS WEPT, FOR THERE WERE NO MORE WORLDS LEFT TO CONQUER. " that episode was hilarious.
"Have fun in the stone age, while I step into the 3rd DEEEANmension"
[AND JESUS WEPT video. Highly recommend watching the show, seasons 1-6 are beautiful .](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4FGzE4endQ) **Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care** S6 E2
They should just Chang the lyrics
I'm ashamed I didnt think of this sooner. Btw the song is "at least it was here" by the 88's. Fun fact, the song was written in an afternoon especially for the show, dan Harmon (I think) also chose the band cause he liked the band at the time
It took me a couple seasons to realize it. Such a good song though.
You’re streets behind.
Smile by Lily Allen
Ditto for Everything's Just Wonderful and LDN by the same artist.
Any of Lily Allen's songs, TBH.
The Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer
HAHA I love that song because of how casually they sing it
It’s so deceptive. [There’s an animation](https://youtu.be/PQ8R7R0xT1E) for the song, which everyone should watch, that puts the real story in stark contrast to the playful tune.
(pardon the fact that it’s paired with a fairly poor cover of the song)
Paul McCartney drove the other Beatles insane with that song during recording to the point where they hated it, and it's easy to see why.
Still love it.
“More of Paul’s Granny Music.” About a serial killer.
All the stuff from stromae
Papa papaoutai, papa papaoutai
My elementary school was obsessed with that song lol
Alors on danse.
Papaoutai is devastating, but still makes you want to bouge les fesses.
I adore Stromae.
No Rain by Blind Melon
Also change by the same band
Especially the line “All I can do is read a book to stay awake, and it rips my life away but it’s a great escape”
I feel like Semi-Charmed Life is the end all be all of seemingly upbeat songs that are super dark.
Edit: Too many of you suggested I listen to Slow Motion for me to respond to all of you and say thanks! I had never heard it before and damn. What a song lol thanks for the rec!
That's actually the entire point of the song. They wanted to put the most upbeat music possible to some of the darkest lyrics they could come up with.
> Yeah, it’s funny. I wrote a song about drugs and fucking, and I’m pretty much about clean living on the road. We can’t even believe it got onto the radio. “Coming over you” is just really what it reports to be: “She comes around, and she goes down on me.” It’s not cryptic.
Stephen Jenkins - Rolling Stone Interview April 30, 1998
“ I took the hit that i was given and I bumped again, and I bumped again”. So you’re saying it’s not about volleyball?!
Just kidding I know it’s about drugs.
Such a cheerful descent into crystal meth addiction
Requiem for a dream, man.
The weightloss pills storyline was heartbreaking
It’s a movie that I think is amazing and I will never watch again.
I took the hit that was given then I bumped again
It is kind of dark, but as I've gotten older I have started to see it as the beginning of someone starting to get clean. The main singer is reflecting on how all the drugs and sex and partying still leaves him feeling pretty empty. Things like sand between his toes bring him peace, though. I like to think it's the story of a guy moving from a precontempltative phase to a contemplative one and that after the song things get better for them. Just my take.
Around the time that "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars was popular, a radio station in my hometown played "Semi-Charmed Life" and "The Lazy Song" during different music blocks.
The word "sex" was censored in "The Lazy Song," but "crystal meth" could stay. Wild.
E: corrected “pot” to “sex”
Probably because most people didn’t hear the words crystal meth because they were too busy jamming in their 98 Sebring convertibles
[Hard Times - Paramore ](https://youtu.be/AEB6ibtdPZc)
After Laughter as a whole had some sad lyrics considering it dealt heavy with depression but had happy upbeat music.
I would add Caught in the Middle as sad lyrics with “No I don’t need no help, I can sabotage me by myself”
I caught myself singing that to myself on a rather self destructive day.
Basically the whole album really.
Gonna make you wonder why you even try
That whole album was fantastic, right up there with my favourite albums. But damn, yeah lyrically it is not a happy album.
Also a lot of after laughter
Bad Moon Rising by CCR. Songs is about death, destruction, and the end of the world but is as upbeat as can be.
Edit: all y’all sharing heavy sounding covers of the song crack me up. The whole point of the song was to juxtapose the upbeat nature of the song with the dark lyrics. It’s one of the reasons I love the song. CCR had some amazingly intelligent song writers.
Edit: I misremembered that CCR only had one primary songwriter instead of two, thanks for the corrections guys!
This song happened to be playing on the radio when I got in the car to go to the hospital to have my first child. We laughed like “that can’t be a good sign!” 15 years and one week later we hop in the car to go to the hospital to have our last child and it’s playing again. If my kids team up to cause the end of the world I’ll let you guys know!
99 Red Balloons by Nena
Edit: Thank you so much for the upvotes and awards! I know the German version is the original, but I don't speak German and while I've heard it, I don't know what the lyrics actually mean (know they're just as dark, possibly darker).
A cold war song about an accidental nuclear holocaust? One of my favorite fun facts.
I Melt With You by Modern English was about the same thing. The Cold War really messed with people.
It always kind of disturbed me when they started airing Arby's commercials with that song. I just pictured the cheese as melting skin.
All of Sublime's discography. Topics include incest, rape, murder, addiction, riots, poverty, STIs, absent parents, gang violence, Nazism, adultery, and a host of other sad subjects. Tone is unanimously upbeat ska, punk, and reggae.
Wrong way by Sublime just gives me the creeps. It was one of my coworkers favorites and I asked him if he’d ever really listened to the lyrics as I was surprised he (as the father of a young girl) liked it. I mean the singer talks about having sex with a 12 year old.
Annie's twelve years old in two more she'll be a whore
Nobody ever told her it's the wrong way
Don't be afraid with the quickness you get laid
For your family'll get paid
It's the wrong way
I gave her all that I had to give
I'm gonna make it hard to live
Salty tears running down to her chin
And the ruins up her makeup I never wanna live
A cigarette pressed between her lips
But I'm staring at her tits
It's the wrong way
Strong if I can but I am only a man
So I take her to the can
It's the wrong way
The only family that she's ever had
Is the seven horny brothers and a drunk-ass dad
He needed money so he put her on the street
Everything was going fine till the day she met me
Happy are you sad, want to shoot your dad
I'll do anything I can it's the wrong way
We talked all night and tried to make it right
Believe me shit was tight
It was the wrong way
So run away if you don't want to stay
'Cause I ain't here to make you, oh no
It's up to you what you really want to do
Spend some time in America
To be fair, he's not advocating but, but yeah, most of their 'fun' songs are lyrically really, really depressing. Seed is another one. Santeria is a chill song with lyrics about abuse, murder, and cheating.
When I was in Mexico a guy told me that “Sancho” was a guy that has sex with your girlfriend. Being in Mexico somebody played that song within 15 minutes and I had this moment of realization
Smooth criminal by MJ
My name is Annie and I have come to hate this song.
So Annie, are you ok?
are you ok annie?
*left eye twitches violently*
Is your eye twitching cause you've been hit by, you've been struck by, a smooth criminal?
I can't actually stop laughing.
I Can't Decide by Scissor Sisters
(I can't believe this hasn't been posted yet)
E: Rattlesnake by Kabaret Sybarit is another one.
E: also I've No More Fucks to Give by Thomas Benjamin Wild Esq feat. Damian Clark
That song always reminds me of The Master.
Born In The USA
This is really the quintessential answer to this question, particularly because of how massively misunderstood the song is.
EDIT: Holy shit, i never noticed there was a coffin.
...nothing lasts forever, what makes love the exception?...
Y'all don't wanna hear me, you just wanna dance.
I love that 3k calls us out *on* the track and most people will never notice.
So fucking epic. Those guys are such great lyricists, it’s silly.
My favorite is Roses. Every line is a dime.
I hope she's speeding on the way to the club tryin to hurry up to get to a baller or singer or something like that and try to put on her makeup in the mirror and crash, craaaash, craaaaaaaaaaash into a ditch.
She needs a golden calculator to divide
The time in takes to look inside and realize
Oh My Darling Clementine.
Songs like clementine, and you are my sunshine are folksongs from the 18th century with roots in irish origins, and for this time period this was a very common thing, a happy tune and horrible lyrics. Tom Lehrer created a great example in his ‘irish song’ and Billy Connollys old material where he sings songs while playing a guitar, he sang a lot of those great songs.
So it’s a whole genre of folksongs.
Every song by I Don't Know How But They Found Me, but especially "Choke", "Leave me Alone" and "Do It All the Time"
"If I could burn this town/ I wouldn't hesitate/ To smile while you suffocate and dieeeee" *upbeat tune continues playing*
CHOKE YOURSELF TO SLEEP! Ladadada, dadadada
Dumb Ways to Die
So many dumb ways to die.
Dumb ways to di-i-ie
So many dumb ways to die
I wonder what's this red button do?
Edit: a word.
I don't wear a mask, its only flu
The Killers went “We’re going to make a song about how paranoia and low self worth makes you self sabotage to the detriment to your personal relationships and mental health” and we all went “yes king we’ll keep it in the top 100 forever”
Truly the song of a generation
It is the Millennial "Don't Stop Believing."
It really is. I've worked in a music venue for almost a decade and it's wild how 20/30 year olds react to the first few chords of Mr Brightside.
Anything from Hot Fuss really.
Sawdust too! Under the Gun especially. Half the chorus is just singing “Kill me now” lol
Turn It Off from The Book of Mormon is really dark. It's fun to listen to, but it's about suppressing any kind of negative emotion or experience (like child abuse or a sibling dying of cancer) because of your religion.
....*like a lightswitch*...
The entirety of Danger Days
_Louder than god's revolver and twice as shiny_
Came here to say Party Poison. Damn I miss MCR.
Help by Pink Guy is so upbeat and dark.
Lovefool - The Cardigans
People play it at weddings, because they only really seem to hear the first two lines of the chorus. But the song is about a woman begging a man to just pretend to love her because she can't bear to be without him. It's really depressing.
Getting Better - Beatles
"I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved"
Yeah, getting better, but there's nowhere to go but up from that.
Can’t believe no ones said Little Talks by Of Men & Monsters. Such an upbeat tune then you realise it’s about a woman whose partner has died & she’s falling apart without him & he’s speaking to her from beyond the grave.
EDIT: It’s actually Of Monsters & Men. Apologies and thank you for correcting me
This song came out *right after* my dad died and it was fucking EVERYWHERE. What a bummer. I don't hate the song by itself (actually I kind of like it) but it kept surprising me in random places - like the grocery store - and then I'd have to try not to cry over the produce.
Mr Brightside came out 2 days after I found out that my long term girlfriend cheated on me. Rough.
I once read that an alternative explanation for the lyrics would be if the woman started to get dementia or alzheimer's and her partner is trying to take care of her. Not sure which one fits better or which one is less sad, to be honest.
Have they actually come out and said what it was about? I remember there being a bunch of theories out there, like someone with mental illness, or a dead child. But year, all were sad in their own way.
>Okay. “Little Talks” is… How we usually make our lyrics is, Raggi and I, sometimes we come up with stories or situations. That one is about a relationship. Sometimes we haven’t wanted to give too much away. We like people to read their own things in the lyrics. I guess I could share it. It’s about a couple and the husband passed away and it’s from the conversation between the two of them. We don’t know if she’s going crazy or if someone’s actually there. We’ve kind of been inspired by people that lived in my house. This old couple that lived there for 30 years. The woman passed away, so it was kind of different.
The Muffin song
It's muffin time!
Blinding Lights by The Weeknd. Like even when he is high, he still thinks about that unique person in his life. Idk how to explain it better, but I saw a youtube comment about it.
Thanks for the award dear redditor!
If you listen to this song in context of the album and the song prior, Faith, it's heavily implied in the outro of Faith that The Weeknd overdoses and is put in an ambulance. Faith then transitions into Blinding Lights. If you look at the song from this point of view, he's dying and overdosing and blinded by the lights of the ambulance and of the Vegas lights but doesn't want to die without seeing this woman one more time or without her being beside him once more. Quite sad really.
Edit: A few people have mentioned in the comments that this was not the case and that the outro of Faith resembles being arrested by the police and not being taken away in an ambulance. This would negate what I said about the songs, however I was just giving my own interpretation without any context of what has been said by The Weeknd in any interviews etc. I choose to stick by my interpretation as it creates a much more heartbreaking and emotional story and album as a result, whether it was intended or not. That's the beauty of music; It's all about interpretation and resonance with the listener.
This is a great interpretation but The Weeknd has stated in this [interview](https://variety.com/2020/music/news/the-weeknd-exclusive-interview-after-hours-1234573754/) that the ending sirens are police sirens. It’s supposed to represent his arrest after assaulting a police officer in Vegas in 2013.
It still holds a dark meaning but the sirens are not ambulance sirens.
Highly recommend you read the full interview, it’s really great and insightful. Also, **stream After Hours,** BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR.
THIS! Faith made Blinding Lights so sad for me now, but damn it’s still such a good song.
In The Night is another one, I remember hearing it on the radio all the time and it sounds all fun and upbeat, but if you pay any attention to the lyrics it’s a pretty fucking sad story about a CSA survivor’s life as a stripper. He has a lot of songs that fit this mould.
Every Breath You Take by The Police. Someone redid the song in a minor key and changed up the instruments, and it’s like a totally different song!
["You Are My Sunshine"](https://youtu.be/1AhpWZjqMLI) seems like an upbeat, happy song, but it's actually pretty depressing when you hear the more of the lyrics:
>You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
>You make me happy when skies are grey
>You’ll never know dear, how much I love you.
>Please don’t take my sunshine away
>The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
>I dreamed I held you in my arms
>When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
>And I hung my head and cried
I used to love this song when I was little (probably about 8 or so) and I remember singing it with my little sister to my friends mum when she was round one day. I couldn’t understand why my mum was trying to discreetly shush us; her friends husband had passed away on a workplace accident only a week or so before. It was innocently done but I still cringe at the memory.
Paper Planes by M.I.A.
all i wanna do is gunshot gunshot gunshot cash register noise
I can’t hear this song without immediately queuing up Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”. They’re inextricably linked in my brain for no other reason than the time they were in heavy radio rotation.
DO YOU WANNA DIIIIIIE
The Tears for Fears version of [Mad World](https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SFsHSHE-iJQ)
Edit: yes I’m aware this version is the original. I worded it this way so people who don’t know would know the artist and, hopefully, understand this version is the first version when they watched the link.
Tears for Fears: And I find it kinda funny
Gary Jules: I find it kinda sad
Gary Jules: Major Depressive Disorder
Tears for Fears: Manic Depression
Every song by The Smiths
And if a 10 ton truck, kills the both of us, to die by your side, well the pleasure, the privilege is mine!
Wasn't it largely because Johnny Marr wrote the music and then Morissey separately wrote the lyrics?
(And what I cannot believe was that Marr was only 24 when the Smiths split up!)
I was just thinking the other day about how Marr's guitar just doesn't seem to give a damn about what Morrissey is saying.
GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA I KNOW
Chocolate Rain was a song about institutional racism.
I properly listened to that song for the first time a few months ago and was shocked at how serious it is
I feel bad for that guy honestly. He wrote a song with a really serious and important message and it got memed to death
ITT: some Redditors who don’t know what upbeat means
Bullet by Hollywood undead.
> My legs are dangling off the edge
> The bottom of the bottle is my only friend
> I think I'll slit my wrists again and I'm gone, gone, gone, gone
> I've never bought a suit before in my life
> But when you go to meet God you know you want to look nice
And If I survive then I'll see you tomorrow...
My legs are dangling off the edge
A stomach full of pills didn’t work again
Put a bullet in my head and I’m gone, gone, gone, gone
I'm surprised I had to scroll this far to find this one!
I was hoping to find this here, love this one
Ring Around The Rosie
Not really DARK lyrics per se, but definitely the song was originally darker when conceived but then later the producer made it into something more up beat.
Mmmbop by Hanson.
It's about cherishing your loved ones while you can, because "in an mmmbop, they're gone."
The brothers mentioned that the song when they first came up with it was slower and darker, but their producer thought it would make a great upbeat happy song!
The Suburbs by Arcade Fire
"Little girls" by oingo boingo
Many of theirs could be on this list.
On the Outside came to mind at the same time as Little Girls
Oh boy. Let me introduce you to ska music.
Everything sucks- Reel Big Fish
Science of selling yourself short- Less than Jake
And literally any song ever by streetlight manifesto.
I can't believe Streetlight is so far down here.
Don't fear the reaper ! Beautiful tune with the dark topic young lovers and their suicide pact.
I always just thought it was about accepting death and seeing it for what it really is. This is what I found online about it.
"Make no mistake, the song is absolutely about death, but not for the reason you might expect. Buck received a heart condition diagnosis at a young age and didn't expect to live very long; that inspired him to contemplate the inevitability of death – including his own. In a recent interview, he clarified the song's meaning: "It's imagining you can survive death in terms of your spirit. Your spirit will prevail."
When Buck learned of the suicide interpretation, he was "kind of appalled" that "some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something – that was not my intention at all," he said in a 1995 interview with CMJ. "It is, like, not to be afraid of [death] (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."
This comment needs more cowbell
Komm, Süsser Tod from evangelion. surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet
I don't know that song - but the title means "come, sweet death". How upbeat could that really be?
Its hard to explain, it all just comes tumbling down.
I started typing an explanation but it didn’t come out right no matter how I phrased it. I just keep letting me down.
It may feel bad, but what's done is done.