Friday, December 30, 2011

My Ten Favorite "Wait, what?" Songs...

Have you ever heard a song? Fell in love with the music, the beat, the catchy little tune...but then you actually listened to the lyrics. That happened to me recently with that Foster the People song "Pumped up Kicks." I'll admit the first time I heard the song that I really didn't listen to the lyrics. I was just driving along tapping my fingers and humming. I mean I didn't even bother to look up the name of the group or song.

A couple days later, I was listening to the radio again, and there it was, and did he just say "Out run my gun?" This upbeat little diddy is about a kid thinking about killing other kids? Wait, what? Don't get me wrong...I still love the song, but I started thinking about some of those catchy little songs that have such wrong lyrics. So, I perused through my media player to see what other songs make you do a double take. This is not a perfect list. You may not find some of these songs peculiar, but here are my Ten Favorite "Wait, what?" Songs...

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" by The Beatles (1969)

I like the Beatles. Now, I haven't heard every song in their vast catalog, nor do I plan to anytime soon. I like them; I don't want to marry them. Anyway, one day my students asked me if I had ever heard "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." When, I said no, they gave me this youtube link to listen. As I did I bounced along listening to Joan studying, and Maxwell asking her to the movies. Then,
"Bang! Bang! Maxwell's silver hammer/Came down upon her head./Clang! Clang! Maxwell's silver hammer/Made sure that she was dead."
Wait, did he just kill the girl? And the teacher? And the JUDGE? Needless to say. I still love that creepy little song.

"The Way" by Fastball (1998)
This is another catchy little song with an interesting opening about a couple backing to go on trip. It took several listens to this little tune before I realized that this song was about an old couple who disappeared and ultimately died. They wandered off, and it was days before someone found them. It was based on a true story about disappearance of an elderly couple who went on vacation, but were found dead a few weeks later at the bottom of a ravine.

"Until you Come Back to Me" by Aretha Franklin (1973)
This song was originally recorded by Stevie Wonder who also co-wrote the song. Of course, it is the Aretha Franklin version is the most famous version of this song. I grew up with this song playing on my mother's record player. I love the Queen of Soul, but as I became older and really, really listened to the song, I realized that the narrator was, how should we put it...a stalker. The relationship is over, why are you still tapping on his door and window...move on girl move on...

"Missing" by Everything but the Girl
If you thought the main character in "Until You Come Back" was crazy, check out this barrel of psycho. Everything but the Girl had everybody dancing to this number back when I was in college, but did you listen to these lyrics.
Can I confess I've been hangin' 'round your old address?
And the years have proved to offer nothin' since you moved
Wait, you are stalking the old address of your ex? That is a whole other kind of crazy.

"Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind (1997)
Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-D0o-Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-Doo...happy little do-dos lead you into this catchy little ditty about sex and drug addiction. Nothing says happy, joyful little song like "Doing crystal meth, will lift you up until you break" or "I was taking sips of it through my nose." Good times, good times...

"Together Again" by Janet Jackson (1997)
Like most of Janet's music, this song to came with a driving dance beat, and Janet and her weird hair dancing in the desert in the video. When I first heard this song, I thought she, the narrator, is taking the break-up pretty well. Until your learn that the lover is...dead. Not only did the lover die, he died a painful death...
"Sometimes hear you whisperin'/No more pain/No worries will you ever see now baby/I'm so happy for ma baby"
Although I now know the song is a tribute to her friend who died of AIDS, it's still a little creepy...when it's sung over a dance beat.

"Luka" by Suzanne Vega (1987)
I was in the seventh grade when Suzanne Vega dropped this charming little song. The singer having a little conversation with her little neighbor from upstairs over smooth guitar and drum melody. Until you find out the little boy is talking about the abuse from his family, telling her the excuses he makes for it, and telling the singer to keep it to herself.
"Yes I think I'm okay/I walked into the door again/Well, if you ask that's what I'll say/And it's not your business anyway"
Yeah, that ain't right...

"Wake up Call" by Maroon 5 (2007)
Love me some Adam Levine and Maroon 5. The boys brought it with this song. Boy loves girl...girl cheats on boy...boy catches girl...boy kills lover...boy has no remorse. Everybody sing along!!!
"Six foot tall, came without a warning/So I had to shoot him dead/He won't come around here anymore/Come around here, I don't feel so bad"
Vengeance, murder...hey as long as you can dance to it.

"Sunny Came Home" by Shawn Colvin
This folksy girl was a part of that late 90s singer/songwriter revival that was Lilith Fair. Most people remember Shawn as the lady who was interrupted during her Grammy Speech by Ol' Dirty Bastard (see Kanye wasn't the first to interrupt a slightly frightened white woman during an awards speech). It won the Grammy for Song of the Year and Record of the year. Not bad for a song about a woman who decides she needs to make a few small repairs to her house by setting it on fire...

"Valley Road" by Bruce Hornsby (1988)
Bruce Hornsby is one of my favorite artists. I love the way he pounds the piano. I absolutely loved this song as a kid. I was little to young to understand it, and back in the day, we didn't have internet to look up the lyrics. A few years ago, I finally did. It's a nice little story. Poor boy meets rich girl, poor boy takes girl all the way down the old valley road, girl takes a "vacation" to her sister, girl not allowed to marry girl. So, he knocked up the girl, and her family sent her away to have the baby. Nice song and you can sway to it...

Honorable Mention
"Oh No, You Didn't" by Wojahn Brothers
The first time I heard the music. I was shocked because it was for the Mercenaries 2 commercial. The bouncy piano playing like a high school recital. Then, you hear those lyrics...those so inappropriate lyrics. I will tell you that I laughed until I cried when I first heard this commercial cued up. How could you not laugh at these lyrics
"Sucka tried to play me/But you never payed me, never/Oh no you didn’t!/Pay back is a coming/You will be running forever/Oh no you didn't!/Till I get my vengeance/I will never end this mayhem"
It's so wrong; it's right. I love this song!!!

So, there they what songs do you like that have a happy tune that doesn't quite match the lyrics. Please share...Until next time...

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