Say What: 5 Songs That Probably Don't Mean What You Think They Mean
  • THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 2012

  • Posted by: Amanda Scherker

Artists are notoriously misunderstood; such is the torture of emotional complexities. So, naturally, we, the less enlightened audience, are destined to be a few steps behind the musicians singing our favorite tunes. But what happens when it takes more than a few minutes or a few years for us to catch up and fully understand a song's meaning? Well, that's when songs develop their own lore. Fans will battle over interpretations. Sometimes the songwriter will attempt to clear up any confusion, often only to be met with suspicion -- maybe because it's just more fun to decide for ourselves! Either way, here's a list of commonly misunderstood songs, and their generally accepted "real meaning" for you to agree or disagree with!

1.Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"

God bless... wait, what was that? The Boss pulled one over on the leader of the free world with this one. With all the trappings of a jingoistic, chest-beatin', coke-burpin' all-American anthem, the real story line of Springsteen's song about a Vietnam soldier coming back to the unwelcoming arms of his country cleverly soared over everybody's heads. Even the sharp-eyed advisers to President Reagan, who requested permission to use it for Reagan's re-election campaign. Springsteen resisted the irony, and declined. Listen up for the serious critique of America in the time of the Vietnam War and aftermath.



2.Third Eye Blind, "Semi-Charmed Life"

Remember that Third Eye Blind's cute upbeat pop song you used to sing along to in the 1997? You know, the one about crystal meth? Don't feel daft, their hints are mostly pretty subtle: "I took the hit that I was given/Then I bumped again." Except when they're not: "Doing crystal meth/Will lift you up until you break." Semi-dark stuff.



3. Van Halen, "Jump"

This seemingly upbeat track was penned when Dave Lee Roth saw a man standing on the ledge of a 33 story building. A crowd below him was begging him "Don't Jump!" Roth thought to himself "Jump!" And so, in attempts to capture this truly low point for both Roth and humanity, he did what any reasonable artist would do: put it to song. If it didn't make you nauseous before, it definitely will now!




5. Lady Gaga, "Poker Face"

The Ga recently announced that this tune ain't about Texas Hold 'em. It's that age old tale of a bisexual lady wishing the dude she's with was also a lady. We've all been there!



6. Village People, "YMCA"

Who knew this popular Bar/Bat Mitzvah song is generally considered to be a celebration of Young Men's Christian Association's reputation for being a popular cruising site for the gay community? The songwriter Victor Willis still contests the interpretation, even though the song has been fully appropriated by the LGBT crowd.





Musicians are a wily bunch, huh? This list leaves us wondering how many other times we've been PUNK'D.

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