Remember when you learned that Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” wasn’t about 1969, but actually about the summer of 69-ing? Turns out it was just another classic case of misinterpreting song lyrics.
There are a lot of pop songs that you might’ve listened to a dozen times without realizing the hidden messages behind them. Read on if you want to discover the secret meanings behind your favorite pop songs.
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, by The Beatles
Despite years of rumors that the words “Lucy,” “Sky,” and “Diamonds” were code for LSD, the Beatles’ hit was not an ode to a hallucinogenic. According to legend, lyricist John Lennon’s eldest son Julian returned home from preschool one day with a drawing of his classmate Lucy with diamonds in the sky above her. This proves that inspiration can strike in unexpected places.
Like a Prayer, by Madonna
Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” sounds like she’s having a religious experience. Rumors imply that it might be sex that brings her closer to God. However, when the song was released, she told Rolling Stone that she prays when she is in trouble or happy or whenever she experiences an extreme emotion.
Wolves, by Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez’s fans tried their best to figure out what “Wolves” meant. As soon as the name of her single became public, fans realized that “lupus” is Latin for “wolf.” Later, Gomez stated that the song was very personal to her, and the lyrics tell their own story. But, at the same time, she was going through some personal issues while working on the song, so everything was a reflection.
Watermelon Sugar, by Harry Styles
This song has a deeper meaning than what many of us assumed. “It’s about the sweetness of life,” Harry explained to the audience during one of his concerts. Following applause and shrieks from the audience, he chuckled and added, “It’s also about female orgasm. But that’s totally different.”
Baby One More Time, by Britney Spears
According to popular belief, the lyric “Hit me one more time” was inspired by Britney Spears’ account of her relationship with Christian Grey. Unlike what many people assumed, the Swedish songwriters intended “hit” to mean “call,” as in “hit me up one more time” or “call me one more time.”
Total Eclipse of the Heart, by Bonnie Tyler
According to composer Jim Steinman, the original title of this 1983 smash hit was “Vampires in Love.” When you listen to the lyrics, it’ll sound like it’s right out of a vampire romance. The song is all about darkness, its power, and love’s place in it.
Love Song, by Sara Bareilles
Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” isn’t actually a love song; in reality, it was a song addressed to her record label. The label was pressuring her to include certain types of music on her album, which led to the lyrics, “I’m not going to write you a love song/’Cause you asked for it/’Cause you need one.”
Imagine, by John Lennon
“Imagine” by John Lennon has long been regarded as one of the most peaceful anthems ever written, but Lennon himself stated that the song is essentially a Communist manifesto. Lennon waited until the song became popular before revealing its meaning, claiming that sugarcoating Communism made the piece acceptable. He added that all you need is a little honey to get your point across.
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince, by Taylor Swift
“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince,” which appears to be a love song at first, is an anthem about someone sick and tired of politics.
The song references the 2018 presidential election battle between Democrats and Republicans. The lyrics go like this, “Now I’m feeling hopeless, ripped up my prom dress/ Running through rose thorns, I saw the scoreboard/ And ran for my life.”
Pumped Up Kicks, by Foster The People
“Pumped Up Kicks” may sound like a schoolboy enjoying a new pair of shoes, but it’s actually about a school shooting. This lyric says it all: “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run, outrun my gun.”
Lead singer Mark Foster explained that he was attempting to get inside the mind of an isolated, psychotic kid.