Pinkie Pie: Wanna hear the song I sang to my parents? Oh, sorry, the song they sang to me? Applejack: Doesn't matter which one, Pinkie. As long as it's not one of those sad ones with a deceptively happy tune.
And the worst part is, the happy, upbeat music just keeps going. That's Lyrical Dissonance: when the music and the lyrics are going in opposite directions. Happy upbeat lyrics set to sad music also qualifies. This can also be used for comic effect, either by putting serious, dramatic music to silly lyrics, or by simply treating the subject matter as if it did fit the tune. This trope also applies with lyrics that seem unfitting for reasons other than happiness versus sadness - for instance, a particularly angry or violent-sounding song that has lyrics that are clearly humorous, or sad, or perhaps just thoughtful and introspective; or the reverse, a cheery tune with angry or violent lyricsnote such as this humorous arrangement of a brutal death metal song.
A rather old trope. One of the archetypal examples involves an evil chief of police plotting to blackmail a woman into having sex with him in order to save the man she loves, then having the man killed anyway, while all around him parishioners beg for God's mercy, all set to some of the most gorgeously beautiful music the composer ever wrote. That's from Puccini's 1900 opera, Tosca. Not the oldest by any means — but one that can easily compete with most of the examples below.
Sub-trope to Mood Dissonance. Compare to Soundtrack Dissonance. May lead to Isn't It Ironic?, if the song is used in a place where the people who selected it didn't listen to the lyrics very well. As one of the folders in this page shows, it might be related to The Cover Changes The Meaning.
In Macross Frontier, Ranka's signature song Aimo is later modified into a war song. The dissonance doesn't fully set in until the last episode when it's revealed that Aimo is a love song. In fact, they let the first line (Aimo, aimo, netel lhushe) intact - and Aimo means Anata.
It doesn't help that half of the song is in Zentran.
The 2005 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film opens with the Guide narrating to us about how on Earth, man was only the third-most intelligent species on the Earth. The second most intelligent species, were in fact dolphins, who curiously enough knew of the impending destruction of the planet Earth. They made many attempts to alert mankind to the impending doom, but most of their communications were misinterpreted as amusing attempts to punch footballs or whistle for titbits. So they eventually decided to leave Earth by their own means. The last ever dolphin message was misinterpreted as a surprisingly sophisticated attempt to do a double backward somersault through a hoop while whistling the Star-Spangled Banner, but in fact the message was this: "So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish", an upbeat song with these catchy lyrics:
The world's about to be destroyed There's no point getting all annoyed Lie back and let the planet dissolve around you So long, so long, and thanks for all the fish!
The "Share and Enjoy" song from the radio series is a cheerful little ballad, sung out of tune by a badly-programmed choir of robots (which reflects the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's reputation for faulty goods). The lyrics are about how, when malfunctioning Sirius Cybernetics robots tear off doors and rape cats, the company's complaints department won't give a fig. "Go stick your head in a pig!"
Disaster Area's song "Only the End of the World Again" can be heard on the now-rare Hitchhiker's Guide EP (with the rubber duck on the sleeve). It's a heavy rock ballad about a guy who kills his best friend to be with his girlfriend, takes her for a crash in her daddy's car, and then makes out with her as the moon explodes for no adequately explored reason.
"That Thing you Do" in the movie of the same name is an upbeat, Beach Boys-esque song about a guy lamenting his girlfriend leaving him.
In story, the songwriter intended for the song to be a slow ballad, but it became the peppy dance hall song it is after the new drummer decided to up the tempo without telling anybody
The opening number for Phantom of the Paradise, "Goodbye Eddie Goodbye," is about a singer who commits suicide in order to promote the sales of his upcoming album. The song is sung in catchy 50's style complete with "ya-ya-ya-yaahs" and the lead singer pantomiming Eddie's death throes.
The end credits song contains a bouncy piano breakdown along with the lyrics "Good for nothing / Bad in bed / Nobody likes you / You're better off dead / Goodbye."
"Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" seems to be a fairly straightforward parody of sexually-charged, self-promoting Rock and Roll anthems directed at adoring female fans; until you realize it's talking specifically about pre-pubescent female fans.
At one point in the film, guitarist Nigel Tufnel plays a short piano piece. It's a hauntingly beautiful excerpt from a trilogy he's composing in D-minor, "The saddest of all keys", inspired by his love of Mozart and Bach. The name of this melancholy tune? Lick My Love Pump.
Monty Python's Life of Brian contains the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," with such lyrically dissonant lines as, "always look on the bright side of death," being sung by Brian during his own crucifixion.
Mary Poppins invokes this with a soft, sleep-inducing lullaby called "Stay Awake".
Sweeney Todd (both the movie and the play) has the song "A Little Priest". Todd and Mrs. Lovetts are singing about murdering random strangers and cooking them into meat pies...but it's such a pleasant and upbeat tune!
Air America has a pair of chinese singers singing America's "Horse with no name" a song about desperate loneliness in an upbeat longue-singer fashion.
In Borat, Borat sings the National Anthem of fictional Kazakhstan to the tune of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
The movie Grumpier Old Men starts with a bouncy song about the singer killing his wife's lover and leaving his corpse for the crows
"I'm gonna kill you just for fun, you rascal you
I'm gonna kill you just for fun, you rascal you,
(Verse 1) I'm gonna kill you just for fun, the birds can have you when I'm done, (Verse 2) You slept with my wife, now I'm gonna take your life
Clown: (singing cheerfully) Hey, kids, it's me! I bet you thought that I was dead! But when I fell over, I just broke my leg and got a hemorrhage in my head!
Maskerade has the "Departure Aria". It's said to be about how hard it is for the heroine to leave her lover, and when the last great diva sang it, "there wasn't a dry eye in the house". The lyrics translate to:
This damn door sticks This damn door sticks It sticks no matter what the hell I do It's marked "Pull" and indeed I am pulling. Perhaps it should be marked "Push"?
The Arrested Development episode "Afternoon Delight" involves a running gag in which several characters belatedly realize that the song of the same name is much more overtly sexual than its innocent tune suggests.
Or that a highly relaxing type of marijuana also shares that name.
In an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles John Henry and Savannah sing the Scottish novelty song "Donald Where's Yer Troosers?" It's sung slow and hauntingly over images of Sarah being arrested and Derek being buried.
The song "What A Difference A Day Makes" from Mongrels, a happy melodious love duet about underage sex and statutory rape. Just listen to it here.
Neighbours: The opening theme's lyrics are about neighbourly support and friendship, and while the show does explore such themes, it also necessarily thrives on common soap opera themes such as deception and betrayal. There have been a few incarnations of the tune over the show's long run - it was originally sung jovially by Barry Crocker - but all of them are upbeat.
The jaunty, upbeat Red Dwarf theme: "It's cold outside, there's no kind of atmosphere, I'm all alone, more or less..."
The song "Tongue Tied" is an upbeat pop song which graphically deconstructs the Cardiovascular Love trope.
Deliberately, blatantly, and hilariously invoked by Andrew Hansen of The Chaser, in his lounge arrangement of the Cannibal Corpse song "Rancid Amputation".
During "Yes We Canberra", they had a song with fast-paced and cheery music about the candidates. It's called the "Fucked Song".
Victorious does this from time to time, the most recent being "Freak the Freak out" a techno-pop, autotune, dance song about someone getting fed up with being ignored.
The theme from Mash was usually played in instrumental form, and if not overly cheerful, it's at least a nice, relaxing tune. Then there are the lyrics, which are less so.
On Glee Blaine decides "Candles" by Hey Monday is the perfect song to sing a romantic duet with Kurt at regionals. The problem? It's about a girl who is alone for the first time after breaking up with her abusive boyfriend.
Also, similar to the Arrested Development example above, Emma decides that Afternoon Delight is the perfect song to sing with the celibacy club. When Holly informs her that it's about a nooner, we get this gem:
Emma: Exactly! A nooner is when you sneak out for dessert in the middle of the day... right?
And we can't forget Glee's choice for a graduation song, Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen. The problem? It's about a bunch of people who look back fondly at their high school years while wallowing in the drunken monotony of their adult lives.
In Doctor Who the full version of Murray Gold's Song for Ten (featured in part at the end of David Tennant's first full episode) is a cheery tune with lyrics describing his eventual separation from Rose.
"So have a good life Do it for me Make me so proud Like you want me to be And wherever you are, I'm thinking of you Oceans apart."
The theme song to Pretty Little Liars is the chorus of the song "Secrets" by The Pierces. It's very catchy, but the lyrics are absolutely bone-chilling:
"Got a secret, can you keep it? Swear this one you'll save Better lock it in your pocket, takin' this one to the grave If I show you, then I know you won't tell what I said Cause two can keep a secret if one of them is dead."
The theme song to Community mixes cheerful tones and theme music with lyrics like "We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year..."
"Troy and Abed, off to Dreamland, catching the train to Sleepytown. And when they wake up, the Dean will be here staring at you’… Sweet Deans!"
On A.N.T. Farm, Chyna wrote a few songs like this. First, when she and Fletcher are trying to get Gibson to stop from hanging out with them so much.The tempo and melody are upbeat and happy, however the lyrics are quite dark. She says things like, "...feed him fatty foods till his heart explodes" and "dehydrating his skin and make Gibson-jerky"
And again when she form a phony children's band in which the band is dress in stuffed animal costumes. Although someof the songs are safe but just plain odd such as "You Gotta Wear Pants in Public" and "Don't Go Potty in the Tub." However, there is a song with an up-tempo Punk Rock melody that even has a Gothic teen saying "Wow, they're dark."
When you're doing crafts with art supplies, Don't run with scissors, its not too wise You can stab your chest, your arms, your thighs, You could lose one or even both your eyes.
The NCIS "Newborn King" is a Christmas Episode, so it's not too surprising that a Christmas Carol would be used... except it is while Ziva is gunning down several Russian mercenaries while Gibbs is the Delivery Guy for a female army lieutnant.
Since Horrible Histories is much about the gorier, grimmer parts of history (within reason for the younger viewers) and many of their songs are quite upbeat, it's a given they'd have some of these. A few examples are Work, Terrible Work, Do the Pachacuti and The Evil Emperors Song. All cheerful numbers about, respectively, the horrors of Victorian child labour, the various ways Incan warlord Pachacuti would dismember his dead enemies and make use of their body parts, and the atrocities four Caligulas (including the Trope Namer) commited.
The chirpy Ending Theme from Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons: "They crash him, and his body may burn. They smash him, but they know he'll return... to live again". Accompanied by images of a terrified Captain Scarlet in a variety of perilous and painful-looking situations.
In a round of One Song to the Tune of Another on radio comedy show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, in which Tony Hawks was given The Smiths' "Girlfriend In a Coma" to sing to the tune of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips". He made the rendition as upbeat and bouncy as possible, the result being hilarious. (This was reprised by Tim Brooke-Taylor in the live stage show.)
In Steve Martin's famous stand-up routine, "Excuse Me!", Steve gets angry with "the backstage crew", and then cheers himself up by playing the banjo. Which leads to this lyrical dissonance:
You just can't sing a depressing song when you're playing the banjo. You can't go:
[grins, plays happily and sings] "Oh, murder and death and grief and sorrow!" [continues grinning and playing happily]
In his stand-up show "Dress To Kill" Eddie Izzard points out the difference between American gospel and European hymns:
"There's something phenomenally dreary about Christian singing. The gospel singers are the only ones that go crazy. It's amazing, and it's borne out of kidnapping, imprisonment, slavery, murder, all of that, and this joyous singing. And the Church of England, all the Christian religions, which is mainly Caucasian white people with power and money, enough to make Solomon blush, they're all singing...(Dirge-like) "O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to... ?" They're the only people that can sing hallelujah without feeling like it's a hallelujah moment. "Haaallelujah, Haaaalleeelujah Joyfully we...Lark abooouuut..." And...No, it's...It's just not kicking, is it?"
Blood Brothers has - "Take A Letter, Miss Jones", a bright, upbeat, happy song sung by Mr. Lyons the factory manager as he dictates letters to his secretary, each of which fires another employee. Then he fires her.
My Fair Lady has "Ascot Races", in which lines of motionless, expressionless aristocracy sing about how 'thrilling, absolutely chilling' the race they're watching is (the music fits the restrained visuals rather than the words).
The Ballads of Booth, Czolgosz, and Guiteau from Assassins.
A very darkly hilarious example comes from the Sister Act musical, where Shanke is singing of "finding" his girl (who just saw him commit a murder). It starts off like a jazzy love song, until he gets to the part about killing her in multiple violent ways. As horrible as it is, it's actually one of the most hilarious songs in the musical, especially when he starts adding the dance moves, and his henchmen begin singing in the background. It must be heard/seen to be believed...
When he keeps repeating the line "When I find my baby, I ain't letting her go," it only gets worse as the song moves on.
One verse in particular:
"Yeah, yeah oh yes I know that girl, and man I need that girl, I gotta have that girl, so I can snuff that girl. See I know my baby, she's already running. That's how my baby, is gonna be done in. I'm gonna drown that girl, or disembowel that girl, or give her skull a big dent with a blunt instrument, I tell ya soon that girl is looking at a world of WOE! (Wo-wo-wo-WOAH!)
Little Shop of Horrors, true to its over-the-top comedy-horror nature, has toe-tapping, rock-out songs about impending doom ("Little Shop of Horrors"), the pleasures of sadism ("Dentist!"), and justifying murder to gain your own ends ("Feed Me (Git It)"). "Now (It's Just The Gas)" counts on some level, regardless of how it's played: some productions play it grim and scary, while others play it cheerfully. Either way, it's a song about being gassed to death with lyrics like "Though I giggle and I chortle/Bear in mind I'm not immortal".
In Bye Bye Birdie, Kim sings "How Lovely To Be A Woman" while dressing herself in typical trashy TV Teen clothes.
In Company, the song "(Not) Getting Married Today" has an operatic section that sounds absolutely beautiful...and then you stop and listen to the words and find out it's about the bride having a total meltdown.
The theme song of The Spoony Experiment, "Break Me" by The Irresponsibles. While being a rousing piece of Crowning Music of Awesome, it has rather dark lyrics you might notice on first hearing it. Lampshaded by Spoony in a commentary where he said he loved the song but it was "basically implying that I'm a girl who likes to be domestically abused."
Homestuck has the "Squiddle Song" on one of its Leitmotif albums. Its a folk-music song about a childrens' cartoon... that talks about how "all your friends are dead" and causally references buckets of blood, without losing the folk-music kids-cartoon tone.
She tends to do this a lot. "The Orphanage Song" is about her attempts to remain optimistic despite being, well, orphaned and massive self-loathing. "Pinkie's Brew" starts off as a cheerful, bouncy song about potion-brewing, but soon becomes about her desperate loneliness and alienation, and desire to bring her dead parents back to life. She's had a hard life...
Crude stew. Do you fear it, Apple Bloom? / Sometimes life is not a cake-walk served up on a silver spoon.
God help the outcast with her witchcraft. / Someday I'm gonna go home.
To Boldly Flee has We're a Distraction, the number one song on Krypton from 1983. The tune is standard dramatic-but-upbeat '80s power ballad. The lyrics are about how the world is going to end soon, so you might as well try and be happy in the short time you have left to take your mind off things.
The College Humor video "Honest Holiday Card Song". The faces on the card photos sing a ridiculously upbeat melody about all of the various problems they are struggling with, like estranged marriages, struggling with obesity, losing one's job, etc.
Unnamed Ferret: These are all the little things that make me smile, these are all the stuff that makes life worthwhile! Everybody knows the Holocaust was a lie, so let's sing about the things we like and don't be shy!
Harold: ...wait, what was that about the Holocaust?
RWBY's episode 8 has an epic fight sequence that is accompanied by an equally epic song entitled "Red Like Roses Part II". The song's lyrics begin with the following:
I couldn't take it, couldn't stand another minute Couldn't bear another day without you in it All of the joy that I had known for all my life Was stripped away from me the minute that you died
Just to make it clear, there is nothing about the fight scene that matches the song's lyrics.
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!"
In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he does this with the Oompa-Loompa songs about each child's fate. The biggest offender is Veruca's, which is sung to a Beatles-y tune.
"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]
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.
"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.
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".
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 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 your 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.
"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 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.
"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, 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.
If we're on the island of unwanted toys, we'll miss all the fun with the girls and the boys...
"Little Brothers" from Phineas and Ferb is sung to an extremely sweet heartwarming tune, complete with an adorable through-the-years montage of Candace's relationship with her brothers. Then, you get to the silly chorus.
You will always be my little brothers, Cause you're younger, we're related, And you're boys.
In "Norm Unleashed", Norm sings "Weaponry", an upbeat song about using weapons to take over the Tri-State Area.