You might think depressing songs are reserved for the iPods of angsty teens, but they play among us everyday, even if you don’t realize it. They’re lurking on the TV and radio, waiting for you to stop and go “hold up? What did they just say?” Here are some of the worst offenders that trick us into dancing until we have that “what the what?” moment.
(Note: If I was a complete sadist, this would just be a list of ten songs by The Smiths and by the end you would be a weeping mass laying on the floor but I think andPOP enjoys having readers so…)
1. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People
This was the chillest song from last summer, and definitely has to be the most popular song to ever feature whistling. I mean what’s not to like? It’s clearly about cool kids who have fun wearing nice sneakers, right? Lol jk it’s about a school shooting. The lyrics are as follows: “all the other kids with the pumped up kicks / better run, better run / faster than my bullets” and the song is from the perspective of a kid named Robert who finds his dad’s gun. I think we may have been better off just whistling along idly.
2. Small Bump – Ed Sheeran
Aww how cute, Ed Sheeran is singing a song to his future child. Plot twist: the child is dead. This songs starts off as a really cute message from a young, would-be dad to their unborn baby. He goes through all the lessons that the baby will learn during its life, and how it will look as it grows. Once we get to the end of the song however, we realise that Ed/the dad is singing about the child he would have had, had it made it to term. Ouch. Right in “the feels” with this one, Ed.
3. Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Glee Cast
This one is a bit of a reversal: It uses the very upbeat original lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and makes them depressing as hell. Finn sings this song to Santana because she’s being bullied after he forcibly outs her (or something along those lines… I watch Glee, but just barely). Glee’s cover puts a more melancholy spin on the 80s classic, and makes me feel that sometimes girls yearn for fun because it’s something that they just can’t have right now.
4. Valerie (ft. Amy Winehouse) – Mark Ronson
This song has an amazing jazzy and upbeat tempo that will have you looking for the nearest person that you can learn to Charleston with. But the narrator is actually pining for the troubled Valerie who has outstanding fines and a recent stint in prison. He’s actually physically pining for her (“since I’ve come on home, well my body’s been a mess”) and it’s a bit sad because you get the sense that Valerie kind of messed him up. The fact that it’s sung so amazingly by Amy Winehouse makes it even sadder because parts of it seem like it could be about her life.
5) Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons
The first few times I heard this song I was trying to learn it on the guitar and never really took in the lyrics (except for the heavily emphasized “fuck” of course). I was more focused on the mad strumming and how it made me feel like I was at some kind of crazy Appalachian fair. But then I heard “weep for yourself my man/ you’ll never be what is in your heart.” Oh. This song (or any of their songs) about a man drowning in self-pity always seemed a bit heavy to me for a band with a banjo player but there you go (sorry banjo players).
6) Wetsuit – The Vaccines
What’s misleading about this song is the music video. It features many happy, young festival goers having the time of their lives listening to The Vaccines. It makes it seem like this great song is about how fun it is to be young and free; after the first listen, you really just want to go out and drink. But of course The Vaccines have tricked you (this is why we can’t have nice things) and have actually written a song about the melancholia of growing up. “We all got old at breakneck speed/ slow it down, go easy on me” they sing; a song that once made me feel like I was in an American Apparel commercial now makes me want to shut my eyes and forget that I am an “adult age”.
7) The Birds, Pt. 1 – The Weeknd
Like all songs by The Weeknd, this one makes me want to bump and/or grind on the nearest passing stranger. Also like all songs by The Weeknd this one is a 10 on the internal struggle scale. Here Abel (yes, we’re on a first name basis *hair flip*) sings about having a friend fall in love with him and is literally begging her not to do it. He warns her saying “ain’t nobody gonna care enough/ to catch you fall and don’t make me make you fall in love;” he’s probably sparing this girl some heartache/sad Tumblr posts/ice cream, but does he have to be so harsh about it?
8) Princess of China (ft. Rihanna) – Coldplay
Oh Coldplay, how sneaky of you to disguise a breakup song by saying it’s about a princess… and Princess Rihanna no less. And then you put it to a techno/trance/dubstep-ish (clearly I am up on the slang) beat, no less. You cheeky devil. Clearly Chris Martin and Rihanna might not be a match made in heaven, despite what fanfiction (that is definitely not written by me….nope…look away) may want to believe. The belt “you really hurt me” while looking right into each other’s eyes cements this fact and drive home what, in the end, breakups are all about: hurt, mistrust, and looking weird in a kimono.
9) Intro / Set3 – The 1975
This is another song that sounds really relaxed and hides some troubling lyrics. In fact YouTube user “HipsyWooWoo” says “This song makes me feel like I’m lightly floating through space. With drops of fairy tears falling on me like misty rain<3”. The 1975 don’t hide behind flowery metaphors here either: a friend is dead, and they wrote a song about it. No further explanation required.
10) Hey Ya – Outkast
I had to put this on here because it’s something that someone suggested to me on Tumblr and when I read the lyrics my eyes popped out of my head like Wile E. Coyote. This song is about being trapped in a loveless relationship and feeling like there’s no way for you to get out of it. This was a message that totally passed over my 11-year-old head; most of us thought, and still think, that this song is about shaking your butt like a Polaroid picture. I mean this was the most popular song, like, ever, it shouldn’t be this deep. Andre 3000 definitely gets it right when he says “you don’t want to hear me, you just want to dance.” Haven’t you heard Andre? Ignorance is bliss.