Let's talk about your favorite "upbeat" song that is actually quite fucked up

Luka by Suzanne Vega has a pretty upbeat sound, but is about child abuse.

Perhaps the fact that said boy was excited offsets the whole raping and murdering thing thus negating this particular song as a candidate.

Or perhaps not…

I’d never heard of this song until just now. I did a quick listen online, and I gotta say, I stopped paying attention to the lyrics and found myself tapping my foot, and enjoying listening to the word “sunshine.” So I guess that means you’re right!

You know, another song that gives me a “Did you listen to the lyrics?” moment is “Imagine.” Back when my parents still forced me to go to church, the choir sang this. I thought, “Huh?”

Man, I can think of four people I know who should be pissed at me.

When I first heard this song, I was a kiddo (the user name is a bit misleading) and I remember liking it because Luka seemed like such a nice lady. I heard it again some years later and thought, “Hey, is this song… is this about…?” Yes. It is.

Brown Sugar

Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in a market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he’s doing alright
Hear him with the women just around midnight

“True Faith” by New Order. To the extent that it can be deciphered, it seems to be about drug addiction.

Also, pretty much all the songs by The Boy Least Likely To.

“What’s the Matter Here?” by 10,000 Maniacs has the same vibe, and theme.

Isn’t it for the excuse people use about their kid who shows signs of being a monster-- Oh, he’s just excitable. Like, she’s just high-strung.

:: off to make a cage with some bones

This is tripping me out. Imagine is actually one of those songs that is so straight forward that he is practically just talking. Flat out, monotone. Telling you straight up that he is a godless heathen. I am cracking up that they sang that in church.

10,000 Maniacs also have that fun one about the person who can’t read, “Cherry Tree”. And the upbeat one about her partner who drinks too much “Don’t Talk”. 10,000 Maniacs may be the king of this kind of thing.

My mom reported that their pianist was playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” before Mass one Sunday. I mean, there are Biblical references it is but yikes.

Hallelujah is one of my favorite songs. I would be shocked to hear it in church. Well, I would be shocked to be in church.

Shirley Ujest:

It’s certainly better for you, and you’re supposed to react to that notion by being moved to share your good fortune with those less fortunate. Or were you unaware that this song was written a fundraiser?

My grandparents are Mennonite and I doubt my grandma (who grew up Amish) has heard any rock music ever. She has never danced in her life.

I totally forget where we were when it happened, we heard the song “Imagine” and she said how much she liked the song because she’s heard it at church. Not sure if she heard it from her church’s choir or a visiting choir performance, but she’s heard it. And she likes it.

I guess it’s not TOO bad, because Mennonites are pacifists so they would like to see a world living in peace. They’d be ok with no religion…well, no religion other than Mennonite :slight_smile:

Apparently one of the lines made it pretty obvious, before it was changed.


Wrong Way by Sublime is a pretty messed up song that people smile while singing.

A Lap Dance is so much better when the Stripper is Crying by the Bloodhound Gang is obviously fucked up but it has a goofy Casio keyboard tune in the back that makes me happy.

Not to mention “Getting Better”

The Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is the one I always think of.

Bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head.
Bang bang Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead.

It’s meant to disturb you. It’s not a holiday song; it’s a fundraising song.

And besides, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure (who wrote it) freely admit that the lyrics are pretty awful because they had to write it fast, because they wanted to do something that would raise money now. I think they deserve a pass on this one.

I will go a little further and focus on two of your pieces of evidence as well.

Exhibit B is clearly a bit of figurative nonsense - Kilimanjaro is snow capped a lot of the year.

Exhibit C, however - are you saying there’s no point ever giving to famine relief, because they’ll only die of starvation later anyway? Hmmmm.

Steamhammer Sam - Intaferon

Artificial Flowers is a hilarious song and about ten people know why. Why is it funny? Because it’s a lie.

So here’s the deal. It’s from a little-known musical called Tenderloin, which is what the red light district in New York used to be called. The story is that there’s a do-gooder preacher who has come in to clean up the streets. The whores and grifters don’t want to be driven out of business, so they’re fighting back. Enter the hero, a sleazy yellow journalist who writes for the local rag. He’s got ambition and he thinks that if he can turn this little conflict into a major event, and cover it personally, he can write his own ticket. So he starts playing both sides against each other. Artificial Flowers(the original version is slow and dramatic) is his song to prove to the preacher how serious he is about how horrible life in the slums is and how he wants to change it. Now the audience knows he’s a liar and he’s conning the good preacher, so the more over-the-top the song gets the funnier it is, because it’s all bullshit. He’s wrapping the preacher and his group around his little finger with this sob story that he’s making up on the fly.

Oh, and the “flowers for ladies of fashion to wear” doesn’t refer to rich people. Little Anne makes flowers for the whores to wear while they try to attract customers.

I actually can’t hear that song without laughing, or at least grinning, and I sometimes sing it with the original cadence, which is more like a waltz, and it really throws the Darrin fans for a loop.


Andrew Bird’s Fake Palindromes is a catchy upbeat euphoric little ditty that, among other disturbing lines, ends with “I want to drill a tiny hooole…into your head!”