1. “Semi-Charmed Life” – Third Eye Blind
This power pop masterpiece was one of the biggest hits of Third Eye Blind’s career. However, it’s actually about crystal meth addiction. Listen to the lyrics closely and it’ll seem obvious!
2. “Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People
This hit song has a memorable and catchy chorus, but what are they actually talking about? As it turns out, it’s actually pretty dark. The song is about a school shooting and is written from the perspective of the shooter.
3. “The A Team” – Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran usually writes adorable ballads about life and love, but this song is surprisingly dark. It was written about women he played a show for at a homeless shelter when he was just 18 years old. The women were struggling with drug addiction and the experience impacted him greatly.
4. “Chandelier” – Sia
While on the surface this song is about a party girl having a good time, it’s actually about Sia’s battle with alcoholism. When you listen with this knowledge it becomes clear. The girl in the song realizes she is in a vicious cycle after a long night of drinking.
5. “Time To Pretend” – MGMT
While the silly and strange music video might distract listeners from the meaning of this song, it’s filled with references to drug addiction. It tells the story of a person who is willing to die before they give up their lifestyle.
6. “Some Nights” – Fun.
When this song was at the height of its popularity, you couldn’t go 10 minutes without hearing it. What most people don’t know is this song is actually about the band’s struggle with the isolation of fame. Being super popular has its downsides.
7. “So What” – P!nk
P!nk is definitely one of the artists who gets accused of writing vapid party songs and nothing else. However, her songs are actually pretty introspective. This track is about her relationship with Carey Hart ending. The pair eventually married, but it was brave of her to be so candid in a very public way.
8. “Lights” – Ellie Goulding
This song has a much more literal meaning than you might realize. Ellie Goulding wrote this song about her fear of the dark. She was forced to sleep with the lights on for years due to her phobia.
9. “Hey Ya!” – OutKast
Despite this song’s aggressively upbeat vibe, it’s actually about a failed relationship. A closer listen will reveal that the group’s outlook on love is pretty depressing.
10. “Paper Planes” – M.I.A.
This song seems like a sort of bizarre gangster fantasy on first listen. However, it’s actually a cutting criticism of capitalism and immigration laws. M.I.A. has never shied away from political controversy, so the song’s meaning is right up her alley.