TEN SONGS YOU HAD NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE REALLY ABOUT
Sometimes songs are about exactly what they seem. Like that one on Beyonce’s record that’s about Jay-Z’s infidelity. We get it! But that’s not always the case. Sometimes songs are about something completely unexpected. Some dark truth is hidden underneath. Something more interesting...
The staff here at We Are: The Guard put in hours upon hours of research to compile this list for you. We have uncovered some of music’s greatest secret song meanings. Please take this seriously. Very very seriously. More seriously than you’ve taken anything from us ever. SRS!
JOHN LENNON AND THE PLASTIC ONO BAND - IMAGINE
When “Imagine” was released 1971 it was heralded as an anthem of peace against the Vietnam War. Unfortunately, this was not what John Lennon had originally intended. Lennon wanted the Vietnam War to end, but not without America being the victor. Lennon was a major capitalist, and he felt the war on communism was majorly justifiable and even necessary to get things back on track. “Without capitalism, I wouldn’t have made the millions of dollars I’ve made with the Beatles. Where would I be now? Living in Liverpool probably working in a factory. That would suck” A world without borders meant America would be the only country and their capitalistic tendencies (anti-religious too) would be in good favor across the entire globe. This song was pro-Vietnam War! Can you believe it? What fools we all war! Lennon just wanted a major career resurgence so he could make more money. Money makes the world go round.
BLINK 182 - ALIENS EXIST
Sure, upon first listen it definitely would seem as if the content of “Aliens Exist” were clear as day. Tom Delonge is a noted alien fanatic, and the lyrics appear to detail his obsession with extraterrestrial life. Turns out, based on a 1999 interview in Kerrang! Magazine, that this song is actually about the Kennedy Assassination. Tom is taking the role of JFK coming into office as the 35th president of the United States. The song is essentially saying that he was killed largely because he found out a bit too much about life on other planets. While it’s oblique in its nature, there are a couple of major hints throughout the tune to shine a light on our nation's greatest conspiracy theory. Can you find all the pieces?
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - UNDER THE BRIDGE
Yes, Anthony Kiedis used to buy heroin under a bridge in Los Angeles. But did you know that every time he did so, he pictured himself as a Troll? Living under the bridge and demanding payment to cross? Kiedis grew up playing with Wishniks and wanted nothing more than to be one of those brightly color-haired troll toys. Most of the reason Kiedis found himself continuously under that same bridge was because he wanted to live in the moment as a troll, and the drug-purchasing facade was just a cover for his much weirder habit. Doing drugs are acceptable, wanting to be a mythical monster is not. Hopefully one day the Red Hot Chilli Peppers will admit what this song is really about, but at least we know the truth.
KANYE WEST - POWER
Kanye West is actually a time-traveler from the 31st century. Don’t believe me? Give a very clear listen to the lyrics of “Power” to hear the words of a man traveling back in time to warn us about the dire state of our current government situation. It is a warning from the future, highlighting the state of affairs and what we must do to solve the power problem. Do not give this administration any more power, Kanye is saying, or we won’t even make it until the 31st century. The MAGA hats and handshakes are just disinformation led to steer his enemies away from the truth. Kanye is a songwriting Terminator sent back in time to save the world from itself.
SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA - SAVE THE WORLD
The Swedish Progressive-House superstars made possibly the biggest EDM song of all time with “Save The World”, but did you know that this song was originally written to ward off the impending 2012 Apocalypse? Axwell, Ingrosso and Steve Angello were major followers of the Mayan Prophecy and totally believed that in November 2012 the world was destined to exist no more. Maybe, maybe, through the power of music, they might be able to “Save The World” from doom. Nothing better to herald at the end of existence than a song with lyrics as cheesy and on the nose as these. It must have worked though because we’re still here. Apparently, the trio truly believes to this day that their music saved the entire world. DJs fighting annihilation? Now, that’s a movie I’d watch. This is to be their real-life equivalent to Aerosmith’s “Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the Armageddon soundtrack, to be played at every school dance until the end of eternity. Which was less soon than the Mayans predicted.
ARIANA GRANDE - THANK U, NEXT
This one is definitely about being a cashier at the grocery store. Undeniable.
THE BEACH BOYS - SURFIN’ SAFARI
Little known fact, but growing up in Southern California, the Wilson brothers of the Beach Boys fame were among the first to try skateboarding. Wheels on a board, gravel surfing around the city. The Beach Boys were so ahead of the curve that they didn’t even have a name for what they were doing yet. Dogtown and the Beach-Boys. What should we call this new kind of transportation, they asked? Some of their friends opted for ‘skateboarding’, but the Beach Boys went the other way with it. “It’s like surfing the concrete jungle,” said Dennis Wilson. “It’s a Surfin’ Safari,” chimed in his brother Brian. The name didn’t stick, but the song did. While it was a hit, the majority of listeners just thought it was about surfing. Can you imagine playing Tony Hawk Pro Surfing Safarier? It just doesn’t flow off the tongue the same way.
THE TALKING HEADS - PSYCHO KILLER
The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” is apparently a taped confession of a murder that David Byrne committed, and the other members of the Talking Heads helped to cover up while in college at RISD in Providence, RI. Rumor has it, things at a frat party and things got out of hand and Byrne ended up stabbing sometime fourteen times in the chest and dumping their body in the Providence River. While it seems like he’s just embodying a character here, it’s likely a more complete and honest representation of Byrne’s true form. This is one of the only Talking Heads songs that might just be about exactly what it seems to be about if you know what I mean. No artistic metaphor here, just honest confession (probably, allegedly, rumor be thy word). The work of the band as a whole does a fantastic job at making this seem like just part of the project, part of the shtick, but that’s definitely maybe not the case. David Byrne may be a ‘psycho killer.’
THE LONELY ISLAND FT. T-PAIN - I’M ON A BOAT
This one’s all about the subtext. After meeting on the set of Saturday Night Live T-Pain and Andy Samberg bonded over their mutual fear of the ocean. While this song might seem like a joke, it’s actually quite serious. The two challenged their fears and felt utterly victorious after getting themselves on a boat for the first time. While they were still petrified, they felt as if they’d gotten one step closer to overcoming their fears, and wanted to share it with the world. Any good comedian knows that if you use irony to deflect your fears and flaws that they will appear as jokes and not truths. This is 100% a truth, and not at all a joke on top of a joke on top of a joke. Andy Samberg and T-Pain remain petrified of the open sea to this day.
GRATEFUL DEAD - DARK STAR
Now, this is just conjecture, but we’re pretty sure it’s right on the money. According to fifteen YouTube videos I found, Jerry Garcia was actually a big Heaven’s Gater. Remember the San Diego UFO cult led by Marshall Applewhite that took their own lives in order to hitch a ride on the Hale Bopp comet? Jerry was (according to the internet) a major player behind-the-scenes. This song co-written with Robert Hunter was “an homage to the transcendence of the ‘Physical Kingdom Level above Human.’” Unfortunately, Jerry died in 1995 and was unable to take the journey with the others, but his legacy lives on. “Dark Star”, the classic staple in Grateful Dead sets since 1968, pre-dated the organization by six years and (conveniently?) predicted much of the groups future.
Well, I hope you learned some stuff! I sure did! What an incredible insight into some of the greatest songs of our times. Make sure to pass this information onto your friends. Spread the word!
By the way, just to cover our asses legally… none of this is actually true. But if you believed it then we did our jobs right! YAY!
From deep within the murky depths of the Los Angeles River emerged a creature: 50% raver, 50% comedian, 10% Robotcop. Kurt Kroeber doesn’t own a dog, operates Soundbleed (the world’s only dance party comedy talk show rave), and is down to party with you. Come up some time and say “Hey dude!” But definitely make sure to casually drop the secret Illuminati password.