Your happiest sounding song with the saddest lyrics...

The Beautiful South have this thing down to an art.

In addition, I think Rush’s The Pass may qualify. Not upbeat, really, but it sounds a hell of a lot more neutral than its lyrics.

Does anyone remember Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again, Naturally?

It’s a cheerful, bouncy little tune, similar to the theme from “Cheers.” The opening lyrics:

“In a little while from now,
If I’m not feeling any less sour,
I promise myself to treat myself
and visit a nearby tower.
And, climbing to the top,
would throw myself off…”

It goes on like that for 3 verses, about being left standing at the altar and his parents dying. In the right mood, it can make me cry.

Not really. The final verse shows the singer has gotten over things.

Try Irving Berlin’s You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun. Sung at an uptempo (like Ethel Merman’s version), it is a sprightly bit of fluff. Sung slowly (like when Bernadette Peters sings it), it is heartbreakingly sad.

Got to agree with Happy Lendervedder. Listen to the cover of Help by The Carpenters to really hear how sad this song is.

My Daddy’s Dream-Time Lullaby, recorded by Coon-Sanders Original Nighthawks in the late twenties. The melody is a bouncy, catchy dance tune, but the lyrics are all about how the narrator’s late father used to tell him stories and how much he misses his daddy whose voice still comes to him sometimes as he’s dropping off to sleep. Last survivor of the Victorian genre of tear-jerker songs.

Christmas songs seems so happy on the surface, but really they have this melancholy aspect that seems so sad:

“I’ll be home for Christams…but only in my dreams” seems sad

‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ (seems almost like a dirge)

‘Greensleeves’ also sounds sad to me.

of course, all of the reindeer make fun of Rudolph, and Frosty melts, so who knows? Maybe they just sound that way to me.

How about Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” ?

Like the Weather - 10,000 Maniacs.

My Sister - Tindersticks. Maybe the most depressing saga I’ve ever heard. This person in the song was born and there was nowhere to go but down. But the music is an upbeat, cocktail-partyish bouncy thing. It’s a very strange combination.

My name is Luka by Suzanne Vega.

I believe it’s a song about child abuse.

Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel – BareNaked Ladies – off of Maroon

The music sounds almost like a carnival/circus - the lyrics describe a (fatal) car crash:

And how is one to interpret the final line? :slight_smile:

Posers, all of them–if you want chipper-sounding sad/depressing songs, visit a Ren Faire. Look for traditional/trad-style Celtic music and sea shanties. IIRC, “lullabye” is from Gaelic and means “cradle lament”, if that gives you the idea.

A few examples:

“Roddy McCorley”–A sprightly little number about a young man about to be hanged.

“The Ship that Never Returned”–a rollicking ditty that includes such lyrics as “It was a gleam of hope in the midst of danger/and her heart for her youngest yearned/but she sent him forth with a smile and a blessing/on the ship that never returned.”

“Step It Up Mary”–a dancing tune about a girl who commits suicide to escape being married off unwillingly.

Everytime I hear Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” at a ball game I wonder if they’ve even listened to the lyrics.

The correct answer to this question is:

The finale from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin

“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater.

That “I Used To Love Her, But I Had To Kill Her” song by Guns and Roses (I’m not sure if that was the title, but that was sure a good summary of the song).

The Toadies had a couple of good ones: Jigsaw Girl and Possum Kingdom. Also, while Tyler sounds more melancholy
than happy, it does seem to be a typical pinning love song until the last verse. Those Toadies sure were wacky!

They Might Be Giants have lots of songs with upbeat tempos and downer lyrics. Take, for example, “Mr. Me”, with a repeated refrain of “He ended up sad, he ended up sad, he ended up really really really sad”. Or “Youth Culture Killed My Dog”. Or “The World’s Address”. Or, hell, even “The Famous Polka.”

Anyway, TMBG has a million of 'em.

99 Luftbaloons by Nena

It’s a nice little upbeat pop song about the apocalypse.

Kurt Weill (music) & Berthold Brecht (lyrics) did this sort of thing for a living. Just from the Three-Penny Opera there’s Mack the Knife, The Ballad of Pirate-Jenny, and the Cannon Song.

Devo’s “Beautiful World” kind of works, except you have to know the ‘punchline’ for the lyrics to seem sad.

Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks.

1952 Vincent Black Lightning by our good friend Richard Thompson.

Jorel, I agree about ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas.’ If you listen to the lyrics, it sounds like they’re talking about death (but in a comforting way).