Lyrical Dissonance / Western Animation

  • In the very first Goodie Gremlin short, the gremlins sing their cheerful, happy anthem to mayhem, war, terror and chaos and the causing thereof.
    We're the gremlins, devilish gremlins
    We're a miserable and underhanded crew
    We delight in dirty tricks, getting people in a fix
    There is nothing that's too mean for us to do!
  • South Park:
    • "Christmas Time in Hell" is a joyous song with its lyrics actually matching the tune... but it's a song that sings about how the Damned get the day off from being horribly tortured.
    • In the episode "The Death Camp of Tolerance," a gerbil named Lemmiwinks is forced to crawl up Mr. Slave's ass and must traverse Mr. Slave's entire digestive system and crawl out the mouth or else he will die. Amusingly, this entire disgusting sequence is described in a song with a merry, adventure-y tune.
    • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is built almost entirely on this trope and plays with them:
      • "Up There": A rousing Broadway showtune about loneliness and wanting to get out of a bad place. Sung by Satan. A Satan who is not a complete monster.
      • "La Resistance": "They'll cut your dick in half/ and serve it to a pig./ And though it hurts you'll laugh,/ and dance a dickless jig/ for that's the way it goes/ in war you're shat upon/ though you die, La Resistance lives on." Sung by a choir of eight year olds. Eight year olds who usually have IQs higher than their parents but with just as questionable moral compasses.
      • "Blame Canada": A rousing march about evading personal responsibility to the extent of going to war with Canada, a country that seems to go out of its way to be America's friend. The song, however, is a satire on American tendency to scapegoat others.
    • Cartman and Cthulhu's Song from South Park episode "Mysterion Rises". Super cheery song about, well, being friends with Cthulhu and going on a rampage with him. Made worse by the fact that it's a spoof of a song from "My Neighbor Totoro".
  • In one episode of The Flintstones, Pebbles and Bam Bam are found singing what sounds like an upbeat, cheery song about how "Smilers never lose, and frowners never win." Do you know why frowners never win? Because THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU IF YOU FROWN.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show has the "Happy Happy Joy Joy Song". Although the song itself is a deliberately insipid — though insanely catchy — song about being happy, it's the increasingly insane rantings of Stinky Wizzleteats (the singer) between verses that bring some dissonance. "I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me! Why didn't you believe me?!" (The reason is that most of these lines are quotes or paraphrases of Burl Ives' character from The Big Country, but of course younger viewers — especially kids — can't be expected to catch the references.)
  • One Arthur episode has Art Garfunkel act as a one-man Greek Chorus to the characters' actions and feelings. This includes a part where he sings a lively song about Buster being "a sad, sad bunny." Buster then broke the fourth wall and demanded Art Garfunkel sing a more melancholy version.
  • The first verse of the Incredible Hulk's segment of the Grantray-Lawrence Marvel Superheroes show of the mid 1960s:
    Doc Bruce Banner
    Belted by gamma rays
    Turns into the Hulk
    Ain't he unglamour-ays?
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Meapless in Seattle", the Meaps' war song definitely counts:
    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)
    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)

    De- de- de- de- de- de- de-
    Destroy our enemies!
    La- la- la- la- la- la- la-
    Let's bring them to their knees!

    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)
    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)
    • In "Norm Unleashed", Norm the Robot Man brings his own cheerful song about conquering the Tri-State area with an array of deadly, built-in "Weaponry".
    If power's on your shopping list
    Then use the elbow and the fist
    Hum along until they get the gist
    Just make an example of
    Representative sample of
    And most of them will not be missed!
    • Candace sings a song called "Give Up" in "Last Train to Bustville". It's a cheerful, upbeat anthem about... giving up. It Makes Sense in Context, since what she's giving up is her obsession with busting her brothers.
    • Baljeet and Buford's song in "Bully Bromance Break-Up" is a power ballad about the relationship between a bully and his victim.
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 gives us "It's a Dog's Life" from "Life's Ruff". The lively and catchy song is about...Luigi and King Windbag wanting to be human again after Hip and Hop turned them into dogs.
  • Futurama has a cheerful reggae song about being a bureaucrat in "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back".
    • To say nothing of the Xmas carol, "Santa Claus Is Gunning You Down".
  • In an episode of The Critic, the national anthem of an unnamed country sounds like a repeated chant of "pee-pee, pee-pee, pee-pee, poopy", but has a rather different meaning.
  • Tim Burton is a master of mixing the macabre and the lighthearted, so it's no surprise that the music in his movies are the same. The best example is "Remains Of The Day" from Corpse Bride, a swinging jazzy tune about death and murder. Even while you're tapping your feet to the beat, you probably don't miss the extremely dark chorus:
    "Die, die, we all pass away, but don't wear a frown, cause it's really ok! You might try to hide, and you might try to pray, but we all end up the remains of the day!"
  • "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind", from The Great Mouse Detective, is one of Disney's cheeriest villain songs. The most disturbing lyrics?
    Even Meaner? You mean it? Worse than the widows and orphans you drowned?
  • Hoodwinked! crosses it over with Soundtrack Dissonance in a Just Between You and Me. After Red's fight with Boingo in the tram terminal, he orders Dolph to tie her up. She says, "You're crazy!" and he replies "Maybe, but I'm top of the woods now, baby!" So he sings "Top of the Woods", an upbeat song with lyrics about oppression, getting children addicted to goodies, and becoming a ruthless dictator, like:

    "When you're hopping on down the bunny trail, the critters all seem to look down
    You're fuzzy and small
    Your ears are too tall
    And goodies make the woods go round"

    "Now I'm not a pig
    But you gotta think big when you're competing with the girl in the hood
    So you won't be a fan of my evil plan, but I'm gonna be top of the woods!"

    "When your only desire is to dominate the land of the wolves and the squirrels
    You've got to think with a open mind and learn to detest little girls
    And everyone knows at the end of a show the villain puts his plan into words
    Except there won't be a rescue before the credits roll cause I'm gonna be top of the woods!"

    "Now the kids will be packed with my BoingoSnax
    Construction begins in a day
    And all of the bears will be ruled by the hare
    As I maniacally plot from my evil lair!"
    [cue evil laugh]

    • At the end, with some nice upbeat chords: "You've been hoodwinked, baby! Oh, yeahhh"

    • The soundtrack dissonance comes when you consider his audience (Red, who is tied up with ropes).
  • The Island of Misfit Toys segment from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer starts with a song about the toys being unloved and missing out on the joys of Christmas, when the song itself sounds very cheerful.
    If we're on the island of unwanted toys, we'll miss all the fun with the girls and the boys...
  • "L'il Ark Angel" from Cats Don't Dance starts with Darla singing about the world being destroyed in a flood and people and animals drowning in exactly the same cheerful tone she later sings about the various animals she's rescuing. If you hadn't already realized she'd be the Big Bad of the film from the foreshadowing in the intro, it's hard to miss it after that.
  • Some of the Silly Songs With Larry invoke this. From an 80s love ballad...about cheeseburgers to a tango...about manatees, the team purposely make the music sound completely authentic to the genre while keeping the silly lyrics.
  • A cutaway scene from Family Guy features "You Have AIDS," a happy barbershop quartet song that Peter sings to someone who has contracted AIDS.
    • In the episode "Welcome Back, Carter", Peter sings a song to a soft romantic tune to "set the mood". Unfortunately, he chooses his favorite song, "Surfin' Bird".
  • Another example from a cartoon, namely Drawn Together, is Foxxy Love's touching ballad "Crashy Smashy Die Die Die."
  • "Batty Rap" from FernGully: The Last Rainforest. It has a fast and springy beat and tune.....with the lyrics being about how Batty was used in animal testing laboratory, with strong implications that he was conscious throughout all the processes. Due to its 'adult' nature, quite a bit of the song was cut from the film, but was left in on the CD.
    "The Eye makeup, when inserted rectally, has some effect...
    Remove the brain cap...
    If you notice, by dipping the bat in a series of paints...
    After 600 packs of cigarettes, the animals seem to exhibit some carcinogenic tendencies..."
    • The tune's single most horrifying line: "As you see, the animals don't really feel pain, THEY JUST GET USED TO IT!!!"
  • As an example from a musical - The Lion King 2 has "My Lullaby", a brutal declaration of war and violence set to the tune of a children's lullaby. On the other hand, it grows to be pretty creepy...
  • The children's movie The Brave Little Toaster contains a song near its end which the other wiki sums up perfectly: "Worthless is sung by the junkyard's broken down cars, each singing a few verses about their life before being smashed and killed by the compactor." However, they fail to mention the upbeat music it's sung to.
  • "Christmastime Is Here" from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It has lyrics that describe how wonderful Christmas is ("Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year") but has a very slow, almost melancholy feel to it. This makes it memorable.
    • This acts as Fridge Brilliance as well since Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time, but Charlie Brown finds it depressing.
  • "Won't You Come over to My House?", best known from the famous short One Froggy Evening. If your memory's a bit hazy, here's the cartoon (songs only), and here are the full lyrics.
  • This is pretty much the entire gimmick of Dethklok on Metalocalypse, as they render everything, from the blues to a jingle for a coffee shop to a birthday song, as over-the-top death metal.
  • The song "The Violin", by Brian Dewan, is included on the album Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, notably a kid's show. It is set to decidedly upbeat, Irish-sounding music. The song's lyrics discuss a kid who is constantly trying to break away from his controlling parents' desire to make him learn the violin, getting snubbed by his crush for someone who does, and then ultimately drowning in a shipwreck. It's a children's album, fun for the whole family!
    • The titular song by Rockapella could qualify, as a peppy upbeat number about an impossible-to-catch criminal and her various misdeeds.
  • Music by Jody Gray are great examples of this trope. Both Arthur's Missing Pal and Clifford's Really Big Movie feature upbeat music... with downer lyrics about the protagonist's lost dog?!? In the latter, the opposite also occurs on a tribute CD: the owner of said big red dog sings upbeat lyrics about her dog to a bitter-sounding tune.
  • The song "Mother Knows Best" in Tangled is a cheerful, bouncy song where Gothel terrifies Rapunzel by listing off all the "scary and dangerous" things in the outside world and how all of them will happen to Rapunzel if she steps out of the tower. Throughout the song, Gothel is intentionally emotionally abusing Rapunzel by playing with her fears to make her seem like she's the only one in the cruel world Rapunzel could trust.
  • "The Ballad of Magellan" from Animaniacs, a rather lively and happy-sounding song about Magellan's famous voyage - the one that ended in his death. The song is far more lively than the lyrics, tune, and story (which is actually historically accurate) suggest.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Winter Wrap Up", the cast begin singing a jolly song about cleaning up winter to make way for spring. Rainbow Dash sings about awesome holidays, Pinkie about having fun and Rarity about fashion. Applejack? She's singing about possible starvation due to running out of food.
    Rainbow Dash: Three months of winter coolness, and awesome holidays
    Pinkie Pie: We've kept our hoovsies warm at home, time off from work to play
    Applejack: But the food we've stored is runnin' out, and we can't grow in this cold
    Rarity: And even though I love my boots, this fashion's getting old...
    • The first season finale has "Poney Pokey", a lively and upbeat song about the Mane Six becoming dissatisfied with the Grand Galloping Gala. It's most evident during Fluttershy's verse while she's chasing the Canterlot critters:
    Pinkie Pie: You stomp your whole self in
    You stomp your whole self out
    You stomp your whole self in
    And you stomp yourself about
    You do the Pony Pokey and you give a little shout—
    Fluttershy: COME OUT!
    Pinkie Pie: That's what I'm talking about!
    • The season 5 opener has "In Our Town", the cheerful-sounding anthem of Stalight Glimmer's uber-conformist False Utopia. According to songwriter Daniel Ingram, it was based on World War II propaganda songs. The main cast clearly notice the dissonance, getting increasingly disturbed apart from Fluttershy, who gets caught up in the mood before Pinkie frowns at her.
    "In our town, in our town
    We work as a team
    You can't have a nightmare
    If you never dream"
  • In "The Singin' Kid" on PB&J Otter, there's Jelly Otter singing about friends and family keep her strong and being true to herself at the same time she lets fame go to her head in "The Singin' Kid."
  • "Let It Go" from Frozen, an uplifting-sounding song by Elsa about finally accepting her powers... which is also about choosing to live a life in isolation and cut herself off from the world. Ironically enough that's inverted on a meta-level, seeing as by many people it's viewed as an empowerment anthem and has actually encouraged many, which is arguably the opposite of what some dissonance may suggest it means for Elsa. Also of note is that it was originally meant to be a Villain Song before the story was changed, and the song led people to treat it as... well, the exact opposite. Irony at its finest.
  • Adventure Time: Marceline's song about a fisherman.
    "You look so cute sitting in your boat, I wanna suck out your eyeballs and rip out your throat. I wanna suck out your eyeballs... and rip out your throat..."
    • The song she sings in "What Was Missing" also definitely counts:
      "Lada-da-da-da, I'm going to bury you in the ground. Lada-da-da-da, I'm going to bury you with my sound. I'm gonna drink the red from your pretty pink face..."
    • Another example comes in "The Tower". While Finn is building the titular tower, he sings a cutesy little lullaby about violently ripping his father's arm off and reattaching it to his own arm-stub. He literally means to do this.
  • One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures did a music video of "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants (which the band approved of) with an odd twist. Although the lyrics were not changed, Universe Man was just as mean to Particle Man (played by Plucky) as Triangle Man was, despite what the lyrics said. You can see it here.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The "Steven and the Crystal Gems" song is in the style of classic rock n roll songs, and is a homage to Josie and the Pussycats. Its lyrics are quite upbeat at first but then it goes on about how Steven created an Alternate Timeline and how he watched himself (including the original Steven from the start of the episode) die.
    • The song "Do it for Him/Her" from the episode Sworn to the Sword also fits this trope. The song starts as a really nice piano piece about how to fence. It quickly develops into a really nice piano piece about how worthless you are and how you should die defending the person you love, because (s)he's the only one who gives a meaning to your life.
    • The song "On the Run" starts up as an upbeat little tune, Steven's lyrics reflecting whatever he likely thought the No-Home Boys would've thought. Amethyst's turn the song around, however.
      Amethyst: I don't care about what all the others say / Well, I guess there are some things that just never go away / I wish that I could say, "There's no better place than home" / But home's a place that I have never known."
    • The ending theme, Love Like You, is a sweet little lullaby-like piano tune, and the full lyrical version is sung sweetly enough that you could hear it as just a nice, relaxing song. Except that the lyrics are actually the singer lamenting about what a terrible person they are compared to the person they're singing to:
    I always thought I might be bad, now I'm sure that it's true
    'Cause I think you're so good, and I'm nothing like you
  • Jem And The Holograms songs are almost always cheery, upbeat 80s pop. Even songs like "Who Is He Kissing?", which is about infidelity, and "Nightmare", which is about how Jem's life has become a living hell due to gaslighting, are in a peppy tone. Certain songs have fittingly slow rhythms though.
  • "Remember" from Danny Phantom. Sam even scoffs it as a mindless pop song. It is a depressing song about how a girl was abandoned by a boy. It gets even worse when it turns out it's about Ember's death. Fanon largely took it as a song about Ember committing suicide however Word of God says it isn't quite that dark, though not by much. Ember was an unpopular girl who was asked out by a boy who never came to the date. She was too exhausted to wake up when a fire broke out and died. Suddenly Ember's need to be remembered and breakdown when her Popularity Power fails is dramatically less amusing.
  • In the Julius Jr. episode Smellalicious Flower, the gang tries singing Sheree's special staying awake song, which consists of original lyrics about staying awake sung to Brahms Lullaby.
  • In the Wander over Yonder episode, Wander's bouncy, happy birthday song for Lord Hater in "The Birthday Boy" has some comically dark lyrics about impending mortality.
    Wander: It's your happy birthday
    Here's your happy birthday song
    And your birthday best be happy
    'Cause you won't be around for long!
    Sylvia: So try not to be so sad
    About your impending doom
    Someday we'll light birthday candles
    On your frigid tomb!