The Message Behind the Music

The Message Behind the Music

  1. Wagner


Music has been apart of our culture for a long time. Many people use music as a sort of therapy, while others create music for the same thing. Popular artists in the music industry use their personal experiences and ideas to create the music that we listen to every day. However, most people don’t see the story the artist is portraying. How? The artist may not state the event exactly, they’ll use words that imply it instead. Here are a few songs that have a different meaning than the public sees.



  • Chandelier-  Performed by Sia, this song is used as a party song. In reality, this song represents the drug and alcohol abuse the artist went through before her career really took off.
  • Pumped up Kicks- Performed by Foster the People. If you listen to the lyrics, the meaning is quite literal. The song is about a teen who finds his father’s gun and goes to shoot up his school to get revenge. Hence the line “better run, better run, outrun my gun.”
  • Paper Planes- Performed by M.I.A. There are many interpretations of the song, and M.I.A. hasn’t straight out told people the true meaning of the lyrics, however, the most popular explanation is immigration. People believe the song is about the stereotypes immigrants face when they come to America. There is a relating theory: that the artist is making fun of the foreign policy.
  • Every Breath You Take- Performed by The Police. A song most people believe to be a romantic love song, isn’t one at all. This popular song is about an obsessive stalker. The lead singer was the one to write this song after his divorce. He has come out and said it is a “nasty little song.” I don’t recommend using this song for your wedding or to impress a crush.
  • Love Song- Performed by Sara Bareilles. This song isn’t about an ex asking for a love song. In fact it’s a love song… for herself. It started after some rough songwriting sessions with her management, and then she realized what her intentions in the music industry were, and the song basically wrote itself.  
  • Harder to Breathe- Performed by Maroon 5. On the album Songs About Jane, this song isn’t about Jane, or any other girl. The song was the result of the band being placed under a lot of pressure by their management. Maroon 5 has stated that they appreciate the  pressure placed on them, as it helped them become who they are today, but at the time it was rough.
  • Hey There Delilah- Performed by The Plain White Tees. Unlike a lot of these songs, this song is actually about a girl whose name is Delilah. The lead singer had a crush on this girl and in an attempt to flirt, told her he wrote a song about her. He obviously hadn’t, at least not yet. Eventually he wrote the song. While nothing happened between the two, they are still friends and she likes the song.
  • I Will Always Love You- Performed by both Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston. Though this song was made extremely popular by Whitney Houston, it was written by Dolly Parton. It also isn’t a love song like everyone thinks. It isn’t even about a breakup. Dolly wrote this song as a goodbye to her partner and mentor, Porter Wagoner, when she decided to go solo. There weren’t any romantic feelings between the two, however, they had worked together for seven years.
  • Creep- Performed by Radiohead. Despite the stalkerish sounds, this song is actually about accepting and recognizing who you are.
  • Detroit Rock City- Performed by Kiss. The band steered away from the usual lyrics about partying and went for something a bit more serious. When a fan was killed in a car accident on their way to a Kiss concert, the band used it as inspiration for a song. They realized that life is short and you can die at any moment. They dedicated the song to the fan who lost their life that night.
  • Mr. Brightside- Performed by The Killers. This song is about the lead singer’s girlfriend who had cheated on him. However, the lead singer didn’t write the song, the guitarist of the band did.
  • Closing Time- Performed by Semisonic. There is a literal meaning of a person being asked to leave a bar. The band, however, has come out and said the song was about the birth of the lead singer’s first child. During the pregnancy his wife experienced complications which lead to the child to be born three months premature. The line “I know who I want to take me home,” is about the lead singer wanting to bring his daughter home.
  • 99 Red Balloons- Performed by Nena. It may sound innocent, but this song supposedly represents a girl who releases lots of balloons during the struggle in Germany, and the government mistakes them as bombs and shoot at them.
  • Born in the USA- Performed by Bruce Springsteen. This might be the most misunderstood song ever. It isn’t a pride song. This song is about the welcome home Vietnam Veterans received after the war. Most of the population ignored them and treated them poorly due to the outcome of the war. Springsteen had issues with this and wrote a song about it.
  • Slide- Performed by The Goo Goo Dolls. This song is about teenage pregnancy. The couple is trying to decide what to do, and the guy is telling the girl he will support her no matter what decision they make.  
  • Wake Me Up When September Ends- Performed by Green Day. This song is about the death of the lead singer’s father. He became depressed and wouldn’t come out of his room. He was quoted saying “wake me up when September ends.”
  • Waterfalls- Performed by TLC. A popular song used in movies, actually has a pretty dark meaning. It is about the breakout of AIDS and HIV. TLC members are huge promoters of safe sex and even wear condoms on their clothes.
  • Hey Ya- Performed by OutKast. It may sound like a happy, upbeat song, but in reality it is about the struggle of keeping a relationship together.
  • Blackbird- Performed by The Beatles. It was written in the 60’s when the civil rights movement was at its peak. The song isn’t about a bird. It’s about an African American girl who was facing discrimination.
  • Brown Eyed Girl- Performed by Van Morrison. This song is about an interracial relationship. The first title was Brown-Skinned Girl, however, Morrison changed it in order to have it played on the radio.
  • Do You Hear What I Hear- A popular Christmas song. The song isn’t very old and it isn’t about Christmas. It was written during the Cuban Missile Crisis and is about a man’s journey in a war.
  • Respect- Made popular by Aretha Franklin. Now a popular feminist song, this song’s original meaning couldn’t be more different. The original song was by Otis Redding and it was about a man demanding respect from a woman. Aretha Franklin changed a few lyrics and turned it into a feminist anthem.


  • Can’t Feel My Face – Performed by The Weekend. Many believe this song is sexual but it isn’t. Rather, it’s about the use of cocaine.

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