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Alternative Character Interpretation / Music

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  • The most popular theory is that Archive's song "Fuck You" is about someone talking about themselves. It's about extreme self-loathing, instead of hatred for someone else. This is due to the lines "When you look at yourself do you see what I see? If you do, why the fuck are you looking at me?"
  • Ariana Grande: Is "7 Rings" an unironic song about flaunting your riches and how well you're doing despite your past troubles, or is it a deceptively cheery song about a Stepford Smiler trying to cover up their pain by buying expensive things?
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  • "Comeback" by Ashlyne Huff is obviously about getting back together with an ex, but did the couple really get back together or is the entire thing just wish fulfillment on the singer's part?
  • Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats". Did he even cheat? Does she actually know whether he cheated or not? Is she justified in destroying his car if he did cheat? Maybe he stopped calling because he realized she was the type of person who was so crazy she was willing to smash up his car because she thought or knew he was cheating. Maybe he forgot to get the keys back, or told her where the spares are. Maybe the scene at the bar was her finally tracking him down after weeks of searching. She takes the bat, the Special Bat, she's been carrying with her just in case she found him, and peeks inside. Oh, there are a lot of people in there, and he's with some blonde "tramp". She can't Talk with him in there. Maybe she'll just leave A Message on his car...
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  • "Little Red Riding Hood" by the Cartoons interprets the big bad wolf as being in love with Red Riding Hood.
  • Who won in Charles Daniel Band's "The Devil Went Down To Georgia"? Did Johnny win because he played the fiddle better or did the Devil win because Johnny broke the Seven Deadly Sins by being prideful? Johnny may win his contest, but considering that Pride and Avarice are two of the Seven Deadly Sins, he may have sealed his fate just by taking the bet in the first place.
  • Coldplay:
    • The lyrics to "Fix You" could be a song from the point of view of a heroin dealer who feels guilty after watching one of his customers waste his life. The hint is in the title ("Fix You", a drug fix), the constant references to depression and misery throughout the song, and little hints like "When you get what you want/But not what you need?" Who'd have thought Chris Martin was capable of such depth?
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    • Is "The Scientist" a straightforward break-up song, or someone agonizing over whether or not to turn off a loved one's life support machine after a car crash?
    • Is "Spies" about a paranoid schizophrenic or is the person talking about how Big Brother Is Watching You?
  • "Sit Still, Look Pretty" by Daya reinterprets "Snow White" as Snow White being savvy for getting seven men to do chores fo her.
  • "Take Her From You" by DEV has two different interpretations. The first is it that the singer is singing about herself and it is a song about telling her boyfriend that he needs to be more affectionate or she will leave him. The more popular theory is that it's exactly what it sounds like: A woman threatening to steal a person's girlfriend, who is also her ex.
  • In Dr. Elmo's song "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", did Grandma get run over by Santa, was it a vehicular hit-and-run, or did someone in the family kill her? A common interpretation is that Grandpa killed his wife. The music video has the alternate interpretation that Grandma had a Disney Death.
  • Eiffel 65:
    • "Blue"; is it talking about a man struggling with depression? Or is it just a silly song?
    • "Too Much of Heaven" makes repeated references to "the killer (who) makes no sound," without clarifying just who - or more disturbingly, what - this killer is.
  • "Stan", Eminem's haunting ballad about a Stalker with a Crush. Is the title character just a psycho who takes his obsession with Eminem to sick levels (the common interpretation of the song), or is he struggling with homosexuality? Judging by the the line "PS: We should be together too" and the scene in the music video where Stan glues a picture of Emimem over a photo of his girlfriend, it's easy to see him as a young gay man afraid to express his sexuality in a healthy manner, causing it to come out as an infatuation with his favorite rapper. His unfulfilling hetero relationship, impending fatherhood, and being ignored by his crush cause him to go insane, leading to the deaths of himself and his pregnant girlfriend. But even this interpretation leads to further debate. Given the time period and Emimem's willingness to use GLBT people as a punchline in his songs, would the intended message be "Hiding who you are can cause disaster", or "Gay people cause disaster"?
  • Evanescence: Is "Tourniquet" about a suicide attempt or a Self-Harm attempt that went bad? Is the singer having Mid Suicide Regrets or is she just worried about the afterlife?
  • Evelyn Evelyn's song "Evelyn Evelyn" is canonically about Conjoined Twins. It has also been interpreted as either being about a mentally ill woman who is getting sick of the voice in her head that she's had since childhood or as being about two siblings who grew apart as they aged.
  • In Florence + the Machine's "My Boy Builds Coffins" , is the 'boy' just a normal coffin maker or is he death himself?
  • The Fray:
    • In "You Found Me", is the singer talking about God, a lover, or a friend?
    • "The Fighter" is written in a way that the titular "fighter" can be either a soldier or a professional fighter. There's also an interpretation that it's not literal and instead it's about someone struggling with either an addiction or an illness.
  • In "Over The Hills And Far Away" by Gary Moore (and Covered Up by Nightwish), was the man framed by his best friend because he learned that he cheated with his wife, or was it all just a coincidence?
  • The official meaning of Genesis's song "Mama", as explained by Phil Collins, is meant to be of a teenager who has fallen in love with a prostitute. However, another popular interpretation of it is that it's really about an unborn foetus that's being aborted (a belief that even the band manager shared). The video is even creepier, and also supports the official meaning of the song.
  • Is the Gorillaz 2-D an irredeemable idiot, or Genius Ditz with wits dulled by head injuries and painkillers?
  • Ian Dury's "I Want To Be Straight" deliberately uses this trope. It can be a song about somebody who wants to be on the 'straight and narrow', that is, wants to kick their alcohol and drug habits and live a normal life... or it can be about a homosexual who wishes they were into the opposite sex because it's more socially acceptable. The song can be interpreted as either or both of these.
  • Depending on how you interpret the Icon for Hire song "War" (aka, "The Perfect Storm"), it's either about being unable to help a friend who's suffering from depression (or the effects of drug use) or it's about losing a friend to suicide.
  • The character of Nicklausse in Jacques Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann), who in some editions of the opera is the Muse of Poetry in disguise, is sometimes suggested to be Hoffmann's conscience, who can only actually be seen and heard by him. (In at least some editions of the opera, no one but Hoffmann ever addresses Nicklausse directly.)
  • Julio Iglesias's 1987 song Lo mejor de tu vida (the best of your life) in which the narrator sings to a girl from whom he took all that's valuable in her (namely her virginity). Also, lots of verses allude to her youth at the time of the "seduction". This sound very suspicious, like what an sexual abuser would say to a victim (a child?), in order to make her feel worthless and dissuade her from having future healthy relationships.
  • Justin Bieber: "One Less Lonely Girl"? Really? Because you met up with her and are now going together, or because you killed her, Justin? (This is now an internet meme).
  • Katy Perry's "E.T (Futuristic Lover)":
    • It sounds like someone who has fallen in love with the person who has kidnapped, raped and brainwashed them. The Kanye West remix furthers my belief ("See I abducted you/so I tell you what to do")
    • The song. Is it a romantic song laced with some sexuality, or pure sex? Kanye's part of the song leans to the latter, but then again he is Kanye.
    • Is it about a romantic love affair from two different groups of people but somehow manage to be on the same wavelength despite the huge difference in their lives. "Love Story" (Taylor Swift) but with more sex...
  • Keane's song "Everybody's Changing" could be seen as a song about a Zombie Apocalypse... from the point of view of one of the Infected.
  • The Killers: Is "Spaceman" a goofy song about alien abduction, a Sanity Slippage Song, or is it about a botched suicide attempt?
  • Is "Monster" by Lady Gaga about a woman falling for a bad boy or is she resisting the advances of a sexual predator? It can either be a sexually tinged romance song or a creepy tune about a rapist.
  • "You Don't Own Me" by Lesley Gore can be seen as either an empowering song about a woman who doesn't want their boyfriend to objectify them or a song about a woman who doesn't want to be in a committed relationship. This is especially muddled up with the cover by Grace.
  • Lisa Miskovsky's "Lady Stardust" could be about a woman's relationship with another woman, but it could also be more metaphorical.
  • "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town is about a woman who wishes she was in another woman's shoes because she's in love with her partner. Due to the Homoerotic Subtext of the song many think the other woman is dating a woman.
  • Marilyn Manson's first Concept Album, Antichrist Superstar. Is The Worm a villain for destroying reality, or was he justified due to its inability to change, as seen with their sycophantic worship of him when he becomes big, along with the other two albums in the triptych (which are the album after this and the one after that, which tell the story in reverse, so the last released is the first in the story).
  • In The Megas: is Wily a Well-Intentioned Extremist who is trying to ascend robots out of their slavery? Or is he the same lying, manipulative, power-hungry jerk he is in the games?
  • Melanie Martinez's "Cry-Baby" is officially a Concept Album however taken out of context the songs can have different meanings:
    • Officially "Milk And Cookies" is a Murder Ballad about killing the kidnapper from "Tag You're It", however it sounds like it's about killing an abusive lover.
    • "Tag You're It" is about a kidnapping. Many fans think it also involves rape or at least attempted rape.
  • "All the Lads in Town" by The Merry Wives of Windsor:
    • Was the main character's father telling her the truth about her suitors secretly being her half-brothers? Or was he just saying that to keep her from marrying a boy he didn't approve of?
    • And what about his wife, for that matter? Was she telling the truth about the main character's real father being a sailor? Or was she countering her husband's lie with one of her own?
  • Michael Buble's song "Haven't Met You Yet" could either be talking about a future spouse or a future child.
  • To some the Missy Higgins song, "Where I Stood", is about a mother giving her baby for adoption, while to others, it's about an ended relationship.
  • Mother Mother: "Oh Ana" has various interpretations. Due to "ana" being a term used by anorexics, it's usually seen as a song about eating disorders. But it's also been interpreted as referring to other mental illnesses or even being an Obsession Song.
  • "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson is based off of false allegations that he fathered a fan's child. In the context of the song, however, was the kid really his son or not?
  • "They're Coming to Take Me Away!" by Napoleon XIV. Is the 'mangy mutt' a lover that left or is he literally singing about a dog? This is further complicated by its much creepier Sequel Song, "They're Coming to Get Me Again!", which seems to confirm the "dog" theory... but could just as easily be describing a - *ahem* - "lover" that the singer abducted, imprisoned, and treated like an animal in the belief that this sort of behavior was "loving".
  • Is the song "Tim I Wish You Were Born A Girl" by Of Montreal a comedic song about a straight guy lampshading how much of a match his friend would be for him if he wasn't a boy? Or is it a deceptively cheery song about a man who is in love with his friend but wishes he was a girl because it's more socially acceptable?
  • Phildel's "The Wolf" has many interpretations, including it being about an abusive father who the singer dislikes enough to dismissively call "sire".
  • Plumb:
    • Whether you see the lyrics in "I Can't Do This" as being "Oh, God, I need your help" or "Oh God, I need your help" depend on the person. The former makes sense being that it's a Christian band but the latter seems more like you're asking a person for help.
    • "In My Arms" can either be a God Is Love Song from God's POV or it could be about a mother and her infant.
  • "One Vision" by Queen was obviously written as a cheesy plea for an end to war, famine, religious intolerance and other problems pop stars tend to call "bad things". However, due to the vagueness of the lyrics, it's more than a little ironic that it can be interpreted as a fascist anthem from the perspective of a frustrated wannabe-fuhrer. The Slovenian art-rock group Laibach did a version in German for this very reason which they re-titled "Birth of a Nation".
  • The song "It's The End Of The World" by R.E.M. is often seen as a song about an apocalypse. The lyrics are "It's the end of the world as we know it", which could also make it a song about something world-changing or society changing.
  • Ruth B's "Lost Boy" has many different interpretations. Some listeners interpret the "Lost Boys" as depressed teens while some listeners interpret them as dead kids (often, but not always, victims of suicide). There's also the interpretation that the protagonist is a transgender boy.
  • What is the wolf's intentions in "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs? Is he genuinely in love with Little Red Riding Hood or is he being ominous and sneaky?
  • The Saturdays, Ego - Stalking Is OK When Its Female On Male? Ok, the guy might get himself killed if he goes solo, but the actions of the five girls does rather suggest an unwillingness to let the guy go rather than any actual concern for his safety. Sorry, girls, but he might just possibly do fine without you. Also, one has to wonder who's not getting rescued (or who's committing crimes and getting away with it) while five girls are too busy playing 'woman scorned' to do the hero thing.
  • Sia:
    • In "Breathe Me", is the protagonist talking about literal Self-Harm, something similar to self-harm, or is it metaphorical?
    • One interpretation of "Chandelier" is that it's about an alcoholic Hard-Drinking Party Girl who is Driven to Suicide. The other is that it's about an alcoholic's downward spiral, but with no suicidal implications.
  • The music video for First of the Year (Equinox) by Skrillex. As one YouTube commenter puts it:
    This is terrible, poor guy! He is there sitting at the park, heading home when he sees a girl go into a factory he knows is abandoned - he checks around to see if her parents are there, nobody - he feels like he could never leave such a young girl in a dangerous place all by herself. The dust sets off his allergies, he puts a little menthol on his hankerchief to ease it, then just when he thinks she is just playing a silly game, she attacks him - he tries to call 911 but to no avail.
  • Is Sleeping With Siren's "Dead Walker Texas Ranger" about zombies or fangirls?
  • Taylor Swift:
    • Is the protagonist in "Better Than Revenge" a woman rightfully angry at a woman for "stealing" her boyfriend or is she a bitter Clingy Jealous Girl mad that her crush fell for another?
    • "You Belong With Me" - should we pity the Unlucky Childhood Friend, or scorn the Yandere?
      • On a radio station one of the DJs talks about how the video for the song has the Hollywood Homely trope (she didn't use the trope name) and the longtime friend didn't notice her till she cleaned up. There's an interpretation that he was actually asking Taylor Swift's character out in the video after his girlfriend dumped him and then she realized that her dream man had asked her out, she dolled herself up and headed for the dance.
  • Train's "Soul Sister"; a nice little love song or an unsettling ghost story? The story takes place as this: a guy died from a blood clot to his brain (Your lipstick stains, on the front lobes of my left side brains) or commited suicide (And so I went and let you blow my mind), the ghost was very fond of her (Your sweet moon beams, the smell of you in every dream I dream), so he haunts her (I don't want to miss a single thing you do tonight). The girl thinks that he is a ghost haunting her and takes he takes her fear as affection (Just in time, I'm so glad you have a one track mind like me, you gave my life direction, A game show love connection, we can't deny). The haunting is going on for so long now the girl is considering killing herself (You see, I can be myself finally, I want the world to see you'll be with me) and possibly goes through with it.
  • "I Could Get Used to This" by The Veronicas. Just a harmless Silly Love Song or a girl who suddenly decides that Stalking Is Love when someone begins stalking her?
  • "The Man Upstairs" by Voltaire. The narrator is just as messed up as his neighbors; he's certainly paranoid, and there's strong evidence that he's manipulative ("If you want to be my friend, you'll have to prove you mean it.") Then, too, maybe his paranoia causes him to interpret someone perfectly normal and pleasant as an allegory for God Is Evil.
  • In "Behind Blue Eyes" by The Who, the narrator could be an unrepentant Nazi being hauled off to Israel by a Mossad agent.
  • "Bite My Tongue" by You Me At Six is a scornful song where the chorus has the lyrics "I wanna hate every part of you in me/I can't hate the ones who made me". It could be referring to metaphorically the people who made him who he is (or made their band popular) or it could be a song against his parents.
  • Most versions of "Windmills of Your Mind" are melancholy paeans to regrets and lost love. The Muppets? A paean to gibbering insanity.
  • The British patriotic song "I Vow To Thee, My Country" is generally seen as a straightforward example of idealistic patriotism. But the song's emphasis on love and devotion can be viewed as more romantic than strictly patriotic.

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