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Lyrical Dissonance: Pop
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    Pop 
  • Oasis by The Dresden Dolls. Both the sound of the song and most of the video are over-the-top happy and poppy, while the lyrics tell the story of how song-writer Amanda Palmer was date raped. This trope was played so well, that The Dresden Dolls got a lot of hate from the Moral Guardians for "making a joke" out of rape, even if it was Palmer's own. The trope is taken Up to Eleven even in the lyrics, because the focal point of the song isn't even about the rape. It's really about the girl writing fan mail to the band, Oasis, with her date rape being only a mildly important secondary story.
  • Self Inflicted by Katy Perry. It's about a girl in a bad relationship that can't end it for whatever reason. The tune is upbeat, but one may interpet the tune as what the singer is pretending to feel, while the lyrics are how the singer really feels.
  • The A Team by Ed Sheeran. Sounds like a sweet little folk melody... with lyrics about drug abuse, prostitution, and death.
  • A lot of twee, parochial-sounding British pop songs from the 60s that are sometimes labeled as "toytown pop" feature lyrical dissonance as one of its greatest strengths, from the genre codifying Grocer Jack to Glasshouse Green, Splinter Red which tells of a grisly death.
  • The Ace of Base cover of the Tina Turner song "Don't Turn Around".
    • The Aswad version from the late 1980s is even more upbeat, having set it to a reggae beat.
  • Vamos a la playa by Righeira a poppy spanish summer hit in Europe of the early Eighties. The lyrics between the chorus:
    "la bomba estalló,
    las radiaciones tuestan
    y matizan de azul."
    ..."El viento radiactivo
    despeina los cabellos."
    "al fin el mar es limpio.
    No más peces hediondos,
    sino agua fluorescente."
    • In other words : a song about nuclear bombs and war neatly packaged in a poppy tune and video.
  • "LDN" by Lily Allen borders on a Lampshade Hanging. It's an upbeat song about how the back alleys in London are nowhere near as nice as the rest of the city...

    • The music video lampshades the lampshade. In it, everything is all bright and perky and cheery as Lily goes skipping along— at least until she's out of range, when everything reverts to its normal twisted self.
    • Quite a few of Lily Allen's songs are like that. "Smile" is about a girl getting revenge on her boyfriendsystematically ruining her cheating ex's life, "Alfie" is about her brother doing drugs...
      • Perhaps most disturbingly, "The Fear" seems to contain references to her miscarriage.
      • Smile also implies that the stress of the break up results in her losing it, leading to the decision to systematically ruin his life.
    "See you messed up my mental health, I was quite unwell..."
    • Basically every single song on the first album "Alright Still" consisted of sugar-sweet pop with bitter and cynical lyrics (Exception: "Littlest Things"). She broadened her style in later albums but it remained a theme...
      I don't know what I'm meant to feel anymore...
    • "Not Fair" is a rather upbeat, country-style song about how she is in a relationship with a man who is quite nice but unable to satisfy her sexually.
    • "He Wasn't There" is a very bouncy pop song about her absentee father...
    • Also "Fuck You" is a very upbeat, cheery song where Lily chews up intolerant people while dropping total of about 30 F-bombs
      • Made even more dissonant in many censored versions, in which the word fuck is replaced by a happy little twinkle or ding.
    • "Everything's Just Wonderful" is a very sarcastic song with a happy beat
  • Song For A Boy is cheery sounding little number that talks about all of the reasons the singer hates the titular boy.
  • Aqualung's song "Strange and Beautiful" sounds like a nice romantic ballad, but then you listen to the lyrics.
    I've been watching your world from afar,
    I've been trying to be where you are,
    And I've been secretly falling apart,
    I'll see.
    To me, you're strange and you're beautiful,
    You'd be so perfect with me but you just can't see,
    You turn every head but you don't see me.
    I'll put a spell on you,
    You'll fall asleep and I'll put a spell on you.
    And when I wake you,
    I'll be the first thing you see,
    And you'll realise that you love me.
  • Very few people seem to realize that Justin Bieber's pop mega-hit "Baby", with its insipid yet admittedly very catchy, dance-y melody and chorus actually talks about a lost love who broke his heart and never came back, as the singer falls into a deep depression. The music video doesn't make this clear at all though.
    My first love broke my heart for the first time,
    And I was like
    Like baby, baby, baby noooo
    Like baby, baby, baby ohhhh
    I thought you'd always be mine, mine
    (...)
    And I wanna play it cool, But I'm losin' you
    I'll buy you anything, I'll buy you any ring
    And I'm in pieces, Baby fix me
    And just shake me til' you wake me from this bad dream
    I'm going down, down, down, dooown
  • The Feeling. Cheerful, unashamedly cheesy pop music with lyrics about loneliness, loss and frustration. Although it's then used in the reverse form by their songs "Strange" (a downbeat song with a positive message that can be summarized as "don't let the bastards grind you down just because you're different, because there are people who will always love you.") and "Same Old Stuff" (equally downbeat song addressing a fretful partner who's worried about the people who say their relationship won't work out).
    • The song "Without You" is about the Virginia Tech massacre. This is not self-evident.
  • Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" is an upbeat song with a nice rhythm and a cool video, about a woman being murdered in her apartment by a criminal she was in a relationship with.
    • The lines "Annie are you okay" and "mouth to mouth resuscitation" sound like they're talking to a "Resusci-Anne" CPR training dummy. And of course, she's not okay, she's dead.
      • If you talk to some people, it's about a girl who was raped and murdered.
    • "Heal the World" delivers the line "there are people dying" in the jolliest damn tone you ever heard.
  • "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones has a tune that swings in Jones' usual manner, but tells the story of a man with an unrequited love who suffers jealousy when he sees the woman he desires with other men.
    • Well, he does say "I wanna die", which clues a few people in.
    • "Delilah" is a bright, upbeat sounding song with a very catchy chorus. Then you suddenly realise that you're singing about a man who stabbed his cheating girlfriend and is asking for forgiveness.
      • The police are battering down the door as he begs her dead body for forgiveness. The song is, in fact, very dark. But people still sing it at holiday camps because the tune's nice.
  • "Walking On Broken Glass", by Annie Lennox, is a cheerful song about the suffering that follows a bad breakup.
  • The Killers' "Mr. Brightside," a catchy dance tune, is actually about a stalker.
  • Madonna's "Material Girl", on the surface a jaunty enjoyable pop song. The lyrics however refer to exploiting men for money and were in fact intended as a sarcastic jab at the ruthlessly material vibe of the 1980's. The Lyrical Dissonance makes the Misaimed Fandom for the song quite easy to understand.
  • "Better the Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue is a Family-Unfriendly Aesop about going back to the guy who treated you badly because "better the devil you know" (than the devil you don't). Nick Cave called it the most disturbing song he had heard, in part because of Kylie's innocent image.
    • Most of her earlier, released songs are sad when you listen to the lyrics. Don't let the upbeat 80's pop trick you. A good example is "I should be so lucky", a super poppy song about a girl who's in Unrequited Love and refuses to do anything to change it.
  • The ever-popular "Dragostea Din Tei" by Romanian boy band O-Zone (better known as the Numa Numa song and accompanying dance) is quite upbeat, happy, and danceable. However, the lyrics to the famous chorus basically translate to "You want to leave but you don't want to take, don't want to take me, don't want to take, don't want to take me, don't want to take, don't want to take, don't want to take me." The song is really all about his ex-girlfriend who won't take him back. Its "sequel", "Despre Tine", is of a similar vein, being happy and upbeat and yet complaining of how she won't answer his text messages.
  • "Luka" by Suzanne Vega is a peppy little song... about an abused little boy.
  • Nellie McKay's song "Won't U Please B Nice" is a cheerful, perky love song being sung by a Yandere to the object of her deadly affection.
    "If you would sit
    Oh so close to me
    That would be nice
    Like it's supposed to be
    If you don't, I'll slit your throat
    So won't u please b nice?"
  • "The Leader of the Pack" by the Shangri-las is a driving 60's rock tune about a pair of teenage Star-Crossed Lovers, ending with the boyfriend dying in a motorcycle accident immediately after their breakup.
  • Everything But The Girl's "Hatfield 1980," a catchy trip-hop tune about a girl living in a seedy neighborhood. The title refers to the first time she was mugged and stabbed on the way home, and presumably it's happened several more times since ("Hatfield, 1980, I've seen my first knife, my first ambulance ride"). Off the same album is "Downhill Racer," another more house-ish sounding song about a famous artist on the decline.
  • The Carpenters' "Superstar" is clearly about a naive young girl running into the musician she had a fling with, only to have the musician not know who she is. Someone forgot to give Luther Vandross (and Ruben Studdard) the memo.
  • Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up is Hard to Do" is a cheerful-souding song about the pain of breaking up.
    • But he did a soulful, serious remake of it in 1975.
  • "Lucky" by Britney Spears isn't as sweet as most people think. It ended up being an eerie prophecy regarding Britney's own career woes:
    She's so lucky
    She's a star
    But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart thinking
    If there's nothing missing in my life
    Then why do these tears come at night?
    Lost in an image, in a dream
    But there's no one there to wake her up
  • On a similar note, fans have never really decided whether Britney's album track "Unusual You" is uplifting or upsetting.
    Break my heart, I expect you to
    So why haven't you?
    Sweet surprise I could get used to, unusual you
    Been so many things when I was someone else:
    Boxer in the ring, trying to defend myself
    And a private eye to see what's going on, now that's long gone
    When I'm with you I can just be myself
    Shocking cause I, never knew love like this, could exist
  • In the same vein as the above, Hannah Montana's Super Girl
    When I feel all alone and nobody knows
    Still gotta smile for a while, I can't let it show
    Dry my tears, have no fears and when I'm
    (And when I'm)
    Backstage feeling down and the lights come on
    No time to worry, gotta hurry
    Time to sing my song, gonna shake it off
    (Shake it off)
    Strike a pose
    (Strike a pose)
    Snap my fingers just like that
    Don't get what I want and that's a fact
    Snap my fingers just like that
    Don't get what I want just 'cause I want it
    • It's all surprisingly disturbing. Coming from relatively new stars...
  • Rod Stewart's "Young Turks" is a power-driven dance tune that's easy to sing... as long as you don't mind singing about a pair of down-on-their-luck teenagers who ran away from home to live a hardscrabble life rather than allow their parents to break them up. Sure, it's romantic in a twisted way, but being teen parents with no marketable skills sucks.
  • The Canadian band The Pettit Project, known for their happy love songs such as "99 Lives" (about a guy who is trying to get the girl of his dreams but just can't get it right, but keeps trying because he knows he will succeed), made an album called "6 Week Summer Vacation in Hell". The entire album is about six weeks of the summer of 2004 when "the angels of heartbreak, loss, and death simultaneously swooped down on The Pettit Project campsite, trapped us in our cozy sleeping bags, and swung us as hard as they could into a nearby tree". The liner notes then go on to say "We promise that on our next album we'll sing about Free Trade, or Bush or something equally as uninteresting". The notes end with a sentence that makes fun of this very trope, saying "Now go and listen to our sad songs that sound happy, baby".
  • "Tragedy" by the Bee Gees. The name already says a lot, obviously, but it's still weird to have a very upbeat song with lyrics about a man who's about to cross the Despair Event Horizon after his girlfriend dumps him.
  • Barry Manilow's "Copacabana". Peppy little ditty about a woman losing her boyfriend in a bar brawl and having an alcoholic meltdown that she never recovers from, returning to the same bar, night after night, long after the old crowd has grown up and moved on...
    • Particularly peculiar was when the song was acted out by muppets on The Muppet Show when Liza Minelli was the guest star.
    • And then there's "Bobbie Lee", an upbeat, cheerful, poppy song about a teenage runaway who ends up living on the streets and prostituting herself:
    She's got this picture of her brother,
    That she took when she left home.
    She rolled her hair up like her mother,
    With her mother's ivory comb.
    She was sweet sixteen last Easter,
    But she knows how to treat you right.
    Tomorrow, she's gonna be in the movies,.
    But man, you won't forget tonight!
  • "Run, Joey, Run" by David Geddes suffers from this
  • Big Fun's "Handfull of Promises". You think the poppy and catchy song these three dance and sing in the rain is a cheery one? Check out the lyrics, where a guy complains about everyone but him knew that his ex-girlfriend cheated on him.
    Should've been running
    I know it sounds funny
    I was such a fool
    Cause I couldn't see it coming.
    Just a handfull of promises
    You gave me
    A pocketfull of dreams
    That just won't do
    How can I go on
    With nothing to live on
    But a handfull of promises?
  • Hanson's "MMMBop". A catchy, danceble, uptempo song by the looks of it, one of the happiest-sounding songs of The Nineties, but it's really about relationships and the unpredicticability of friendships.
    You have so many relationships in this life
    Only one or two will last
    You go through all the pain and strife
    Then you turn your back, and they're gone so fast...
    • Hanson have quite a few of these. There's "Where's The Love" which is ridiculously upbeat but actually about a relationship falling apart
    We're segregating, consiousness is fading
    You're thinking that it's me you're foolin'
    Where's the right in all of our fighting?
    Look at what we're doing
    • "If Only" is just as, if not more, upbeat, but the lyrics talk abouty a guy who's desperately in love with a girl and almost paralysed by a fear of rejection and unable to tell her how he feels.
  • "Just Dance", by Lady Gaga. It has an upbeat, really catchy, really danceable sound. The narrator of the song is a woman in a club who is so completely and totally disoriented with drunkenness that she can't see straight, or remember where she is. Later in the song, she gets hit on by (and possibly, has casual sex with) a sleazy-sounding guy.
    • Check out The Other Wiki's article on "Paparazzi".
    • From her second album, we have to mention "Telephone", a upbeat dance number dedicated to say "stop calling me, I don't want to talk to you, like, never", and "Bad Romance", her ode to either dysfunctional relationships or awful romance novels. Maybe both.
    • And let's not forget "Dance In The Dark"! It's an upbeatish song about a girl who has a boyfriend who calls her a mess and a tramp. Even better for an example are the first lines in the song, "Silicone. Saline. Poison. Inject me." Basically, it's talking about breast implants and Botox injections.
    • "Eh Eh Nothing Else I Can Say". It has the sweetest beat of all her songs and translates to 'I don't think we're meant for each other, sorry, bye bye.'
    • Gaga has her "Christmas Tree" song which sounds like a normal Christmas song, upbeat and catchy, but is about sex.
    • In "Scheiße", the sense of timidity and fear in the lyrics is, well, limited to the lyrics.
    • "Judas" is a seemingly upbeat song that uses Judas' betrayal of Jesus as a metaphor for a girl who is in love with a man who betrayed her.
    • 'Hair' as well.
    • "Monster" has a pretty great beat and is rather bouncy until you listen to the uncensored version and realise she is singing about a girl who was date raped.
  • "You Don't Know Me" by Ben Folds and Regina Spektor sounds like a vaguely upbeat, bittersweet breakup song at first, but on repeated listening, the song turns out to be an almost unhinged, extremely verbally abusive rant (possibly by an Unreliable Narrator) that is cut off by a shaky but defiant "Say it!" from Spektor's character, at which point the startled narrator simply trails off into the fadeout.
  • Jonah Lewie's "Stop the Cavalry" is a bouncy novelty pop song that gets frequent radio play at Christmas time because it happens to mention "Christmas" in the chorus. The song's protagonist represents the Unknown Soldier, and the lyrics consist of the woebegone trooper complaining of freezing cold, exhaustion, and missing his sweetheart at home.
    • It's because it was released at Christmas, like how Killing In The Name Of is technically a christmas song now.
  • ABBA are known for this. Most notable is "Mamma Mia" (The Song), which is a cheerful tune about a woman who repeatedly re-enters a terrible relationship because she can't think of anything better to do. This is less true of "Waterloo", though the choice of metaphor did draw some criticism from some European interviewers asking how they could "sing an upbeat song about a battle where thousands of people were killed." Hilarity Ensues.
    • Heck, "Ring, Ring" catchy upbeat tune about someone waiting for a call they know isn't coming... Incidentally, Swedish music loves this trope.
    • "SOS" is very bouncy and catchy, but the lyrics are about a couple growing apart. "You seem so far away though you are standing near / You make me feel alive, but something's died, I fear...
      • Actually, "SOS" has quite sad instrumentation for the verses. It's only the chorus that's catchy... To be honest loads of ABBA's songs have sad lyrics with happy music. There's also "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Angeleyes", "Gimme Gimme Gimme", "When All Is Said and Done", the list goes on...
    • On the other side of the coin, from the tail end of their career, "The Day Before You Came" tells the sweet tale of a woman who only came alive when her true love came into her life, to unbelievably mournful and depressing music.
      • In fact 'The Day Before You Came' can be interpreted as something much darker if you consider that the person could well have ruined her life rather than improved it. Nothing in the song explicitly mentions love, and the way she says 'i must have' indicates she might have blanked out the events of that day completely due to the trauma.
      • And their final single 'Under Attack' has upbeat, wistful music despite being about a stalker.
      • Both 'Under Attack' and 'The Day Before You Came' are considered to be veiled metaphors for troubles between the band members that led to their breakup.
    • "I'm a Marionette" has a typical ABBA-style beat, but the lyrics sound like they were written by Alice Cooper.
  • "My Interpretation" by Mika is a break up song that is extremely catchy and cheery.
    • "Lollipop", the cheerful happy song of how much Love Hurts and will wreck your life, which honestly sounds like it's being sung by Norman Bates. Yay?
    • "Erase", just - Erase.
    • Hell, half the songs Mika does are like this. "Love Today" is a song with the narrator calling women despicable even imply some to be whores.
    Little Girl likes to kid for fun /Licks her lips like there's something on 'em /Tries to tell you life has just begun /When you know she's getting something other then love from another.
    • "Relax" ends up with a recording of a woman telling how her future husband left her at the altar, then how she lost an eye to a bombing and how she will never marry noone ever anymore.
    • "Elle me dit" is about a mother worrying that her son may throw his life away, wasting his time on the Internet among others things. Said son ignores all of her advices, and seems to only cheerish the thought that she may die one day. It's hard to say if the son is a Ungrateful Bastard or if his mother is "overprotective".
  • "Since Yesterday" by Strawberry Switchblade sounds like it'll be a cute, happy song. The chorus is: "And as we sit here alone looking for a reason to go on, it's so clear that all we have now are our thoughts of yesterday". And the melody of "Trees and Flowers" is straight out of a love song; it's about agoraphobia.
  • Garou's "Criminel" is probably the grooviest, most kickass song you'll ever hear about [[Squick ephebophilia]].
  • The Records' "Starry Eyes" is a cheerfully sung jangly power pop song that's actually a Take That directed at a former manager who suddenly left to take a vacation while the band were still on tour in France.
  • "C'est une belle journee" by Mylene Farmer has a bright cheery melody and the animated music video is done in funny, Exupery-esque style. Gosh, even the name of the song translates: "It's a beautiful day". And the lyrics? Here they are, strange and unsettling ranting of an unknown person who seemingly - her intentions are vague but still recognizable - prepares for suicide.
    • And that's just one song out of many. Practically her entire career runs on this trope.
  • Take That, of all bands, seem to manage this one in "The Garden". Sounds like a swooshy, twinkly love song, seems to reference some kind of ecological disaster - 'we could hear the sound of sirens all around us, and the scent of burning oil was in the air' - and contains a gloriously stirring middle eight with these lyrics:
    Everyone, everyone
    Can you hear the soldiers coming?
    Everyone, everyone
    Every man and every woman
    We all fall in the end, we're just miracles of matter
    • This troper has always been a fan of "Back for good", the chorus of which goes:
    Whatever I said,
    Whatever I did,
    I didn't mean it
    I just want you back for good.
Which could be paraphrased as, "I neither know nor care what it was I said or did that set you off, I just want you to stop moaning on about it and get back here"
  • K. McCarty's cover of "Hate Song" by Daniel Johnston: The original already has a pretty chipper melody for being about leaving someone and hoping they'll commit suicide over it, but her version adds accordion, tuba, and an off-key group vocal, making it sound like a Drunken Song. There's something sort of disturbing about hearing a crowd of people gleefully singing lyrics like "You'll contemplate suicide with a knife one night", and "No one will shed a tear, no one will be there to find you dead".
  • "Bourgeois Shangri-La", by Miss Li. It was used in a commercial for iPods. It's about a Stepford Smiler who desperately wants to escape her shallow life.
  • There is a Russian pop song by Natasha Korolyova, called "Malenkaya Strana" (The Little Country). Then somebody made a remix with different lyrics, and the song became "Yadernaya Voina" (The Nuclear War), about nukes, mutants, ash and death... sung in a little girl's voice to the same cutesy tune.
  • Shakira's "Estoy Aqui" fits. This lighthearted, poppish tune fools many English-speaking listeners into thinking that it's a happy song... that is, until they look up the translation and discover that it's actually... an incredibly sad break-up song.
    • She used to do some of those during her early career. From the same album, "Pies Descalzos" is a direct complain about moral hypocrisy, and "Se quiere, se mata" music is too upbeat for a song about an aborting teenager.
    • More fun from her later albums: "Te dejo Madrid" is quite poppy, but the lyrics are about her leaving someone she loves dearly but which relationship is crumbling horribly. "Si te vas" is an Obsession Song where the lyrics can reduce to "You want to leave me? Fine! Just don't back to me when you inevitably bore of her!", but from the melody you wouldn't guess that on a first listening. And one of her signature songs, "Ciega, sordomuda", probably the most festive-sounding of her songs, is about how her actual love interest leaves her "bruta, ciega, sordomuda/torpe, traste, testaruda" (dumb, blind, deaf mute/clumsy, messed, stubborn) because of how head over heels she feels, but the lyrics implies that the guy isn't that into her and she wants to forget him and move over but is unable to do so.
  • France Gall and Serge Gainsbourg's "Les sucettes" is a lovely, childish song about a girl who likes lollipops. Except...
    Annie loves lollipops
    Aniseed lollipops
    When the barley sugar
    Flavoured with aniseed
    Slides down Annie's throat
    She is in Paradise
    • But you probably won't know that until you hit puberty. The song sounds like a lullaby and you have to really pay attention to some of the verbs used to get that the dirty subtext is in fact text.
    • Note that apprently, France Gall herself had no idea what the song was really about, making it a rare case of the singer herself not catching the lyrical dissonance (then again, it was written by Gainsbourg so she should've known better).
      • Not only was it written by Gainsbourg, practically every TV performance she did of it used decidedly odd costumes for the dancers...
      • Ah... aniseed is a common confectionary flavouring agent, with a taste very similar to liquorice.
  • Sun's "Gone" is a happy, spunky technopop dance song...about a girl whose boyfriend has left her and there's absolutely no way she could ever get him back no matter what she did.
  • "Rich Kids" by Washington is a very upbeat song about how she hates the rich-kid rave culture.
  • Mad World (yes, that depressing song from Donnie Darko) started out as a cheery pop song by Tears For Fears. The gloomy version we all know was the second version!
  • "Storie di tutti i giorni" by Riccardo Fogli is a swishy early-eighties Italian pop about a routine, boring life and a time that escapes pointlessly with each coming second.
  • "Mr. Watson" by Ke$ha starts out very bubbly and innocent-sounding... Only to dive into squick territory as soon as the third line. It soon becomes clear what the song really is about.
  • Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" is a peppy doo-wop-styled number about how being broken up with by the titular girl will leave him suicidally depressed. Also, she's cheating on him and lying to him about it, and he still blames himself for the relationship's downward spiral.
    You're way too beautiful girl
    That's why it'll never work
    You'll have me suicidal, suicidal
    When you say it's over
  • Herman's Hermits' '60s hit "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" is a bouncy, chipper ditty about a guy who just married a Black Widow.
  • Toybox's songs sound childish in tune, and often have childish lyrics, however the songs are typically quite sexual.
  • The Supremes are arguably the masters of this trope. Their saccharine harmonies and upbeat melodies, written by Motown house composers Holland-Dozier-Holland, are in sharp contrast to the typically rather grim lyrics. But you'll never know if you don't pay attention to them.
  • Looking Glass' "Brandy". A catchy, upbeat song about a barmaid who spends her days waiting for a sailor she fell in love with, but whose "life, lover and lady" is the sea. It is implied he will never return.
  • God Laughs by Delta Goodrem, a easy soft pop acoustic focused song about how her life and her view of love was shaken by her parents divorce.
    It freaks you out when the ground starts shakin
    And everything around you is breaking
  • Alizeé's "Hey amigo" sounds upbeat and sweet, with her sexy deep voice to top it off. Too bad it's about the misery of a prostitute in Barcelona.
  • Eric Hutchinson's "Watching You Watch Him". To quote the iTunes description, it "bounces to deceptively cheery acoustic guitar strums and percussive handclaps, but the lyrics belie a cerebral sorrow about unattainable love."
  • Imani Coppola's comeback project, Little Jackie, has a song called "28 Butts", a nicotine-and-whiskey fogged, rambling, barely coherent song about a woman wasting her life, set to a funky, upbeat tune that includes liberal "sha-la-la"s.
  • "Don't Worry, Be Happy" takes advantage of Bobby Mc Ferrin's considerable talents at a cappella jazz vocals and multitracking to create a song about not worrying and being happy... when your entire life is a massive disaster, collapsing on you all at once, and your only option to avoid going crazy is to ignore everything and pretend it isn't happening.
  • "Angel of the Morning" (most famously by Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts) is arranged as a slow, sad-sounding song about a last night spent with a lover — except that the lyrics indicate that the singer has just realized that it's only a one night stand that she jumped into a little overzealously, and that despite being a bit embarrassed thinking she'd get more out of the experience, she's actually pretty okay with that.
  • The Boomtown Rats song "Living In An Island" has a very cheery tropical theme, but the lyrics describe people who have committed suicide after being stranded on the island, as well as the methods through which one can kill themselves on an island.
    Aren't you glad you live on an island, you can choose your own way to be killed
    You can jump off a cliff, drown in the sea, or be bashed against the rocks and get split
  • Lana Del Rey: has an extremely dark song called "The Lucky Ones" about how she found a guy who can take her away from a very dark place she's currently in:
    Every now and then, the stars align/Boy and girl meet by the great design/Could it be that you and me are the lucky ones
    Everybody told me love was blind/Then I saw your face and you blew my mind/Finally, you and me are the lucky ones this time
  • The Ten Thousand Maniacs song Candy That Everybody Wants sounds like the kind of tame, upbeat slurry-mouthed tripe that's perfect for a car commercial background. The lyrics, however, mock the viewer for being exactly the kind of dull-headed sheep that buys into advertizing. What, for instance, is the titular candy?
    "If lust and hate is the candy; if love and blood tastes so sweet, then we'll give 'em what they want!"
  • "Lorena Bobbit" by New Zealand singer Aaradhna, which sounds like a 50s jukebox song, but is a about a woman /gruesomely murdering her partner after he cheats on her./
  • Gilbert O Sullivan went from a goofy pop singer with a modest niche hit (Claire) to Alone Again (Naturally), a ditty with a catchy beat, slightly melancholy nylon guitar solo, and some of the saddest lyrics imaginable delivered with a light, cheery tone while the narrator describes his intent to jump off a building after his intended wife never shows up to the wedding.
    In a little while from now
    If I'm not feeling any less sour
    I promised myself
    I'd treat myself
    And visit a nearby tower
    And climbing to the top
    In an effort to
    Make it clear to who
    Ever wants to know what it's like when you're shattered
    • And that's just the first verse. The last verse talks about how the narrator's mother never recovered from her husband's sudden death and simply withered away despite anything the narrator could do, leaving him alone again, naturally.
    And at sixty-five years old
    My mother, God rest her soul
    Couldn't understand
    Why the only man
    She had ever loved had been taken
    Leaving her to start
    With a heart
    So badly broken
    Despite encouragement from me
    No words were ever spoken
    And when she passed away
    I cried all night and day
    Alone again
    Naturally
  • The Irish Pop Boyband, Westlife, managed to pull this off with a few songs. One Example: "If I let you go", which is about someone who doesn't want to let his girlfriend go, because it would break his heart. Romantic and all, right? Then we get the lines before every chorus:
    And once again, I'm thinking about
    Taking the easy way out
    • And that "easy way out"? Well, it's nothing less than the easy way out of a potential heartbreak: Suicide. Despite that, the song is very up-beat and happy.
    • Another example is "She's Gone" from their Face To Face album. Very up-beat tune with not too happy lyrics. Seriously. Depening on your interpretation, it can either mean he had left her for another girl, she had left him for another man, or he had killed her, which makes the second verse even more fucked up, since the third option makes the second verse imply that she's returned from the dead, possibly as a zombie. Thanksfully, there are more romantic ways to interpret the song...
    • "Bop Bop Baby" is also a catchy tune about a heartbroken man who cannot let go of a previous relationship and is upset that the girl has moved on.
  • Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is a cheery, catchy, funny pop song...with extremely explicit lyrics ("I'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two!") and predatory overtones.
  • Prozzak's "Monday Morning" has upbeat guitar playing throughout, a fast beat... it has to be cheery, right? After all, its chorus is in a major key! Nope. Someone's murdered the narrator's best friend and he's left to struggle with the psychological aftermath.

    Pop Punk 
  • We Are The In Crowd's songs Both Sides of the Story and Rumour Mill are like this. Both are very upbeat songs, but sound like full on argumentss in the lyrics between the male and female singers. Both Sides is about a detioriating , relationship with people who can't be honest with each other and Rumour Mill is about, well, rumours spreading.
  • My Beautiful Rescue by This Providence. Upbeat fun sounding song, about a guy hurting himself, just to meet a paramedic he falls in love with.

  • Anti-Flag's "One Trillion Dollars" has a relaxing, almost heartwarming tune...with a refrain that includes the phrase "a lot of people gonna die tonight".
  • "Chemical Bomb" by The Aquabats is a delightful, lighthearted tune in which the narrator expresses his lack of objection to his visions of world hunger, war, and Biblical apocalypse.
  • Blink-182's "Adam's Song" is practically a suicide letter (except the last verse, in which the boy appears to have decided against killing himself). In at least one concert, they even told their fans to stop smiling, 'cause the next song's a sad one. But as Blink 182 songs up to that time go, tonally it's still pretty much their most downbeat song.
    • "Carousel" (after the intro) has an upbeat bouncy melody with lyrics about being very lonely, broke, and in short how much of a shock it is to leave home and start living by yourself.
  • All Time Low have a few examples of this, most notably "Time Bomb" (an upbeat rock song about two lovers who don't get along and border on abuse but keep getting back together) and "Break Your Little Heart" (an upbeat song about a guy dating a girl just for sex - "This was never meant to be more than a memory for you") "Six Feet Under The Stars" also hints to this as it sounds really upbeat but he is singing about being buried in a grave, Six Feet Under (The Stars).
  • Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Goin Down" sounds like an upbeat, happy rock song but its lyrics are actually about unrequited love, stalking ("Don't mind me, I'm watching you two from the closet, wishing to be the friction in your jeans") and the fact the guy is willing to take a bullet for his beloved.
  • Good Charlotte's "My Bloody Valentine" is a cheery pop-punk song about a stalker murdering the boyfriend of his crush. Until the last line("All I know is that I love you tonight"), where the vocals turn into a scream and the tune crashes hard into a minor key.
  • Though they have a reputation for songs of the sort, Simple Plan's "I'm Just a Kid" is a somewhat angsty song sung by a unpopular school-age loser. Most people seem to fixate on that and not notice that the song's actual music is suprisingly upbeat and cheerful.
  • Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" is an absolutely vicious breakup song, with a gentle guitar rhythm going on in the background. It was actually written by Billie Joe Armstrong when he and his girlfriend broke up. The 'Good Riddance' part was added to the title when the situation became even worse.
    • It's even funnier that at nearly every single high school dance, that is the last song. Always.
      • "For what it's worth, it was worth all the while," "Hang (the memories) on a shelf in good health and good times", "make the best of this test," and of course the chorus. Sure sounds absolutely vicious to me. If it's about a breakup, I will always think of it as a "Fun while it lasted, let's both go on with our lives and remember each other kindly," song.
      • Two words: Glen Campbell.
    • What's arguably their greatest hit, "Basket Case", as the allmusic song review points, is a cheerful/sarcastic tune on the paranoia and the descending sanity of the narrator.
    • Another Green Day song, "Misery", has an upbeat tune, but as the title suggests it's about misery.
    • Green Day's "Having A Blast" is a catchy pop song about blowing up one's neighbors.
  • Many, many, many Short Stack songs.
  • "1985" by Bowling for Soup. An upbeat song that is actually about a girl who was a teenager in 1985, and the big plans she had never came to pass, certainly not the 80s tribute the video makes it out to be.
    • On a similar note, their song "99 Biker Friends", the catchiest song about abusive boyfriends ever (though the end of the song has the singer planning on attacking the abuser, with the help of Chuck Norris, 50 Cent, the A-Team, obscure 80s hair metal band Danger Danger, and a pair of prison guards.
    • "High School Never Ends" has a cheery, upbeat tune about a High School outcast who was hoping everything'd be different once he graduated only to discover the Adult World is just like High School, explicitly states how much that sucks ("The whole damn world is just as obssessed"), and the variations on the final lines in the chorus emphasize how the singer is just as much a loser now as he was in High School.
  • Eve 6's "Here's to the Night" at first listen sounds like a nostalgic ballad - until you realize it's about a one-night stand.
  • The lyrics of many songs of the German band Blutjungs are a good example of Lyrical Dissonance unless you are a sick, sick person. The music of their songs is happy-sounding upbeat stuff while their lyrics are about killing children with poisoned candy on playgrounds, shooting your 15-year-old pregnant ex with a shotgun, eating the flesh off drowned bodies, brutally beating a skater to a horrible death because he made you drop your beer, slowly killing an elderly lady just to inherit her Porsche convertible, etc.
  • The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus's "Face Down" is a bright, catchy, summery tune about confronting a girl's abusive boyrfriend.
  • Sarah McLachlan's "Possession" is sung in her usual soft and sad ballad style, and describes the obsessive and violent thoughts of a stalker.

    Pop Rock 
  • You'd be hard pressed to find a better or more hilarious example of this trope than Tim Minchin's Song For Phil Daoust.
  • For a Japanese example, listen to Memeshikute by Golden Bomber. It sounds like a J-Pop version of The Final Countdown, but the song is about a man who's been turned down by his girlfriend for being unmanly.
  • For a German example, there's ''Deutschland" by Die Prinzen. The pop beat and most of the lyrics make it sound like this happy song is praising the greatest country in the world, Germany. Towards the end, a stealthy and cynical joke about Germany's violent history, and some word play that calls prideful Germans pigs, reveal that the song is actually a criticism of hyper-nationalism.
  • Some of Miranda Cosgrove's songs fall into this. "Brand New You" and "There Will Be Tears" have extremely joyful music about a girl taken for granted by her boyfriend (and has finally moved on or found another love). Despite "Hey You" and "What Are You Waiting For" having peppy titles, the music and lyrics are about a friend's discouragement and depression (with implied suicide attempt) and a Green-Eyed Epiphany over a relationship, respectively.
  • The Cardigans have a knack for this, including one of their breakthrough songs, "Lovefool". Sounds like a sweet little melody with a jaunty chorus of "Love me, Love me". Except it's actually "Love me, love me, pretend that you love me/Fool me, fool me, go on and fool me" and is a song about an obsessive lover who wants his crush to just pretend that she likes him.
  • Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" sounds like an empowering chick-ish ballad... but its words reflect someone emotionally scarred from a horrible relationship.
    • The music video helps clarify that the relationship that scarred her was with her father, who left the narrator's family when she was very young, making her unable to reach out or trust others.
    • "My Life Would Suck Without You" is a very upbeat rock tune about an abusive boyfriend that she keeps re-accepting.
  • The true subject matter of "Steal My Sunshine" by Len is debatable, but most suggestions certainly don't match the bouncy tune.
  • Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" starts off slow and thoughtful, sure, but then he's all upbeat and happy as he sings about how terribly bad the day's turned out to be.
  • Sugar Ray poke fun at this with an album intro called "New Direction". The track's hard metal sound stands against lyrics like "Don't play ball in the house. Don't run with scissors. Be nice to cops."
  • The Monkees' big hit, "Last Train to Clarksville". Upbeat tune, guy wants to get together with his girlfriend... "and I don't know if I'm ever coming home": he's been drafted.
    • Clarksville (Tennessee) is the actual location of a massive U.S. Army installation that sent a few divisions to Vietnam; the Monkees claimed they were not actually aware of this until after the song became popular.
      • This is understandable since Clarksville ranks near Springfield as one of the most prolific names for cities in the U.S. and was likely chosen because it is so common.
    • "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is also a very upbeat song about the emptiness of modern (well, modern in the 1960s) suburbia: "And Mr. Green, he's so serene, he's got a TV in every room..."
    • "Cuddly Toy" (written by the late, great Harry Nilsson) is catchy song about a boy who tells a girl that she's just a slut, and he's done playing with her.
      You're not the only cuddly toy
      That was ever enjoyed by any boy
      You're not the kind of girl to tell your mother
      The kind of company you keep
      • Even worse. One interpretation has the "cuddly toy" is a (likely male) weakling being sexually harassed by biker thugs.
      • Also, the lyrics "You're not the only cherry delight / that was left in the night" implies she lost her virginity.
    • "Daddy's Song" from their movie "Head" (also written by Nilsson) is a happy, upbeat Broadway-style song and dance...about a man who was abandoned by his father when he was young.
  • Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" is a bouncy, upbeat love song at first glance. It's got a great beat, snappy intelligent lyrics, the singer is pretty good, and you can dance to it! But then you realize what Rick is actually singing: that he's fallen in love with his best friend's girlfriend and wants to take her away from him. And it's not even that the best friend and the girlfriend have a rocky relationship, either. There's every indication that Jesse and the unnamed girl are perfectly happy together, yet Rick wants to break that all up and take her for his own.
    • It is implied that he won't get the girl and not just for the reasons above. It seems like he doesn't understand love.
  • Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight Shadow" sounds pretty upbeat, and tells us about how this girl's boyfriend is murdered.
    All she saw was a silhouette of a gun
    Far away on the other side.
    He was shot six times by a man on the run
    And she couldn't find how to push through
  • "Mad World" by Tears For Fears holds an at times disconcertingly pop-y beat and sound. The lyrics do not agree, carrying the image of a man who's seen the world for the insane facade it really is. The overall combination sounds... well, mad.
    And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad,
    The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had.
    I find it hard to tell you 'cause I find it hard to take.
    When people run in circles it's a very very mad world.
    • The covers notably removed the Lyrical Dissonance, making the overall product less 'insane' and more 'depressing'.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Anything But Ordinary". It's Emo.
    Somebody rip my heart out
    And leave me here to bleed
    • "He Wasn't", a beautifully happy and energetic song about a woman who dumped her ex and is feeling lonely.
    • Then there is "Girlfriend", a catchy ditty sung by a Spoiled Brat Jerk Ass who not only intends to steal another girl's boyfriend, but have him "wrapped around her finger" because said girl is "like, whatever". And your 13 year old niece has probably been dancing to this all day.
  • "Knights of The Island Counter" by Dave Melilo, according to the iTunes store review, is "simply a summery ode to being young and enjoying life". They seem to have missed the lyrics: "I've got some problems, but we've got ten dollars, that's enough to get use wasted..."
  • Remember that song from Mean Girls? The one Cady thought was by the Spice Girls, and the one everyone remembers as the Mean Girls song? It's about girls in L.A. on meth. A lot of Katy Rose's songs are like this, reflecting her own troubled past.
  • Zager And Evans followed up their much more well-known "In The Year 2525" with "Mr Turnkey", a bouncy harmony-filled folk rock song about a repentant rapist killing himself in jail by nailing his hand to the wall {"Mr Turnkey, there's been a rape in Wichita Falls / Mr Turnkey, I'm sitting here crying in my coveralls").
  • Busted's song "Crashed the Wedding", although the title sounds like it might be a metal song, is actually sung in a faintly cheerful style. The main Lyrical Dissonance is that, in this same cheerful tone, part of the last chorus goes "I might as well forget her and walk away, just glad I crashed the wedding." Not exactly major, but noticeable if you're actually listening to the lyrics, not the music.
  • Pink (or 'P!nk', if you prefer) has a bouncy, upbeat Top 40 song. It's called "Please Don't Leave Me". Wait, it gets worse. The song is about a violently abusive relationship - as sung from the point of view of the abuser.
    You're my perfect little punching bag...
    • Especially when you see the music video. It's Pink going Yandere at its finest.
  • Metro Station's "Shake It" is a nu-wave rocker that at first sounds like it's about dancing, but a closer listen reveals the lyrics are really about Intercourse with You.
    • "Disco" trumps it. Cheery dance beat, check, first lines of the chorus "Oh-oh, she's dancing/At the disco"... Next lines? "Oh-oh, she's dying/On the dancefloor."
  • Only the Spanish group No Me Pises Que Llevo Chanclas (something like "Don't step on me I'm wearing sandals") could write a song about the pain of losing a beloved pet (in this case, a singing canary) and make it absolutely HILARIOUS. Here it is, the name is "Canario" ("Canary")
  • "In A Row" by The Vincent Black Shadow is a catchy, upbeat song... about war.
    So in a row they line up to die
    Breathe in the air for just one last time
    And try to be strong while their mothers cry
    So in a row they line up to die
  • The Zombies' album Odessey and Oracle has "Care of Cell 44" - a bright, bouncy tune where Colin Blunstone breathily sings of waiting to see his girl again. The lyrics are in fact cheery and anticipatory...then the last line of the first verse says "And then you can tell me about your prison stay." It's never stated what put her in jail, but another line "Kiss and make up and it will be so nice" implies he was on the receiving end of it.
    • The Zombies have quite a bit of this. "She's Not There", arguably their biggest hit, is a wonderfully peppy, delicate song... with lyrics apparently from the point of view of a murderer becoming progessively more and more unhinged during his interrogation as he tries (pretty badly, as he slips up and basically reveals he's lying in the chorus) to convince the police that he has no idea who the girl was and her body is definitely not where they've been searching.
  • Mc Fly's The Ballad Of Paul K. A calm, somewhat uplifing-sounding song... until you take notice of the lyrics and realise the song is about a man suffering a mid-life crisis.
  • Spanish band Pereza's "Estrella Polar" sounds like a happy go lucky song but if your translate it in English, the lyrics are far from happy.
  • The song "She's Coming Down Again" by The Posies mentions doing drugs and the word "Shitty".
  • "Three Lions" by Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds, which was used as the official team song for the England squad in the FIFA World Cup of 1996, is a mild case of this; it's got very anthem-like, optimistic music, but the lyrics, while not exactly downbeat, are a bit more ambiguous than you'd expect from a song designed to inspire the team and supporters to victory; at very least, it's less "we're gonna win this one!" and more cautiously going "well, we might win this one..."
  • First Class' 1974 hit "Beach Baby" is a peppy, bouncy tune about a man reminiscing with his high-school girlfriend, only to find out in the last verse that "I guess you don't remember anything."
  • "Up The Junction" by Squeeze, an upbeat, jangly song about a three-year relationship that ends badly (and the narrator knows it's his fault).
  • "Happy Hour" by the Housemartins. It's a fast-paced, jaunty tune, and it's got the word "happy" right there in the title ... and it's about how the singer doesn't want to be here, is surrounded by jerks, and the fact he's expected to be happy is just the icing on the cake.
    It's happy hour again, don't believe it,
    'Cos they speak a different language and it's never really happened to me.
  • Jimmy Buffett's "Margaritaville" has everything you need for a fun summer vacation: calypso-style music, beaches, margaritas... and a severely depressed alcoholic beach-bum who drinks himself into a blackout while gradually coming to the realization that he has no one to blame but himself for the sorry state of his life.
  • ZZ Ward's single "Put the Gun Down" is a fun, peppy, bouncy, upbeat futile plea to the woman Ward knows will steal her man.

    Synthpop 
  • The odd drone/monotone voice (er, it's better than it soBeaunds) of The Magnetic Fields' lead vocalist makes everything sound dissonant, from "I Wish I Had an Evil Twin" (exactly what it sounds like) to "I Don't Want to Get Over You" (listing all of the things he could do to forget a lover).
  • "Enola Gay" by OMD is a bouncy electropop dancefloor filler, with an incredibly catchy synth hook - and lyrics about the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, in case the title wasn't a giveaway.
    • Most of their music is bouncy electropop. But...hell, just listen to the lyrics of "If You Leave."
  • Wolfsheim - "Once In A Lifetime". The lyrics involve the singer cursing God for taking away his wife and son, possibly contemplating suicide. The singer's pregnant wife was killed in a hurricane in 1998? while he was on tour.
  • "It's a Sin" by the Pet Shop Boys. Epic dance tune about how "everything i long to do, no matter where or when or who... [is] a sin". (It can probably be interpreted as Neil Tennant writing about being gay and growing up Catholic, so...)
    • "What Have I Done to Deserve This?":
    You always wanted a lover
    I only wanted a job
    I've always worked for a living
    How am I gonna get through?
    I come here looking for money (got to have it)
    And end up living with love
    Now you've left me with nothing (can't take it)
    How am I gonna get through?
    [later]
    We don't have to fall apart, we don't have to fight
    We don't need to go to Hell and back every night
    • "Casanova In Hell"
  • "Spring Love" by Stevie B. Driving freestyle synthpop floorfiller, then the lyrics:
    But something changed, the season came to an end
    I had to leave you, and that's where my heartache began
  • Eddy Grant's Electric Avenue is a bouncy electro-reggae number... about what is believed to be the Brixton riots that happened only a year earlier.
  • Nena's "99 Luftballons" ("99 Red Balloons" in English) has a really peppy, fast beat. And it's about what would happen if some kids released 99 balloons into the air, to be picked up by America's early-warning system. The result? Nuclear war.
    • It partially subverts this, since the beginning and end of the song are more lyrically appropriate.
  • Paradise by Future Perfect is an energetic, even trancy, synthpop track, then the lyrics get kinky, with lines such as "You wanna take a ride with me?" and worse, "I'll tie your arms down, baby".
MetalLyricalDissonance/MusicRock
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