"The Oxidizing Angel" by Blutengel is an up-tempo, danceable song about a necromancer who resurrects his dead lover, who promptly kills him and dies once more because she has no soul.
The Nine Inch Nails song "Closer" (yep, the "fuck you like an animal" song) is catchy and surprisingly danceable. However, if one listens to the lyrics, it's about being in control of a woman. Another interpretation has the singer using the woman for sex because he's unable to feel anything else. Either way, the sheer twistedness of the song actually seems to boost its eroticism.
The song "Lamette" ("Razor Blades") by Italian singer Donatella Rettore, is a cheery, danceable song about... cutting your wrists with razor blades, complete with 'plop plop' sounds, intended to be the blood coming out of the wounds.
Sunscreem - "Looking At You". Bright, major-keyed, Europop tune about being haunted to death by the images of an ex-lover:
There is a hollow in the bed / Where you last slept/ I took a picture/Are you laughing at me/I scratched your records, dear/And threw them in the nearest river/Are you laughing at me?
Still I try/To get by/But I know I'll di-i-ie/Looking at you
Sunscreem did quite this a lot, in particular, their US hit "Love U More" (cover versions of which normally omit the darker verses, missing the point and turning it into a Single Stanza Song).
"Slut Trash" by Decoded Feedback is an upbeat techno-industrial track about the hopelessness of life as a prostitute.
Apoptygma Berzerk's "Eclipse" is unusually bright for an EBM tune, with uplifting trance-style riffs, but it still retains the dark lyrics, presumably about The End of the World as We Know It or the Rapture.
The bulk of the humor in Passenger Of Shit's work relies on the ridiculousexaggeration of this trope—often, cheesy, saccharine or melodramatic melodies score puerile, obscene lyrics of sexual and scatological nature.
Rwandan/Belgian singer Stromae has a lot of songs with upbeat melodies, but dark lyrics. For example, his song "Papaoutai" was a huge hit in France in 2013 and is driven along by a thumping EDM beat and blaring synths, but it is based on Stromae's own experience of grieving his father's death in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, and how he consequently dealt with feeling abandoned. (A hint lies in the title, a phonetic rendering of the French phrase "Papa, où t'es?" meaning "Daddy, where are you?")
Lampshaded in a sketch from Les Guignols de l'Info, which first asks if you like dancing to the themes of Parental Abandonment, world hunger or depression, and if so, consider hiring him for other events such as downsizing, chemotherapy or exotic occasions like stoning.
Moby's "South Side" is a celebratory-sounding song, which makes a certain amount of sense because it's about driving around the city with friends, but certain lines more than hint they're in a very dangerous part of town ("weapons in hand as we go for a ride", "I pick up my friends and we hope we don't die"). Moby himself has described it as a "happy sing-along pop song bout kids that become so inured to violence and become so desensitized that nothing gets through to them"
Emilie Autumn's song "Miss Lucy Had Some Leeches", which is about Victorian Lunatic Asylums... sung in the style of Miss Suzy Had A Steamboat.
She also has "Marry Me", who to a sweet waltzy tune, narrates in first person the story of a woman who copes with being trapped in an arranged marriage with a rich older man by indulging in alcohol and having a lover (while denying her husband his "marital rights"). All of this, while waiting for her own death. But hey, at least she has quite the pretty clothes!
Emilie Autumn does this fairly often. "The Art of Suicide" comes to mind, a cheery tune about, well, suicide. "Thank God I'm Pretty" also qualifies, a happy-sounding song about being judged solely on looks.
"The Art of Suicide" is even worse than that— it's not about suicide, it's about the disturbing implications of romanticising suicide. "Ankles displayed, melodramatically laid...."
Wesley Willis primarily sings over pre-programmed tracks from his synthesizer, which usually means really happy-sounding tinny keyboard lines backing up songs called things like "Kill That Jerk" and "Fuck With Me And Find Out", as well as perennial classics such as "Birdman Kicked My Ass" and "I Whooped Batman's Ass".
Band Aid's world-hunger-awareness-raising anthem "Do They Know It's Christmas?" may or may not qualify... but The Echoing Green's bouncy techno cover version certainly does.
The original version qualifies when you consider that what was intended as a way to raise awareness of world hunger is now played annually as a festive, celebratory song.
Assemblage 23 does this a lot. Most of their songs have a really upbeat tune that makes you want to dance, and then you listen to the lyrics:
I hate my life I want to die
I was just pretending all this time
A mask I wear so I don't bare
My soul to the cold, harsh world out there
Try to prevail but only fail
Each time on a grander and grander scale
My life is worthless and so am I
I hate my life I want to die
Even if you get past the lyrics about growing old and senile, society being lost in an eternal present, losing yourself and finding something unsettling in its place, and general psychic malaise, you still have to contend with Tom Shear's Depeche Mode-inspired near-monotone. Naturally, it's at its deadest during the following lyrics:
Emotions I once kept concealed
Now flow freely like a river
Life's great mysteries revealed
Love's great promises delivered
Go on, guess how the chorus goes.
"Old" is a power ballad about losing one's memories with age but sung in a rather light-hearted tone.
"The Last Mistake" appears to be about reuniting with a lost lover at first, but as evident in the last verse, it's really about tracking down and murdering her. "The last mistake you ever made was trusting me, now close your eyes my pretty child, and I will set you free (read: kill you)".
Goldfrapp's "A&E" is a lovely pop song that is also a break-up song. That would be fine, but for one minor thing: It stands for "Accident and Emergency", which the lyrics also reference. And there are too many references to medicine and hospitals for comfort.
Hey, in the original fairy tale, their fate was even worse - as punishment for trying to con Prince 'Charming', they were ordered to dance at their step-sister's wedding... while wearing red-hot iron boots.
"Paper Planes" by MIA seems pretty cheery going by the tune, but the lyrics seem to be sung from the point of view of a violent, drug-addled gangster.
Ironically, the position is supported by the artist. It appears to be a typical "hustle" song about the artist's illegal operations and monetary gains. It's really about inner-city taxi drivers who have to drive annoying people around in violent areas, but all they really care about is the fare.
According to MIA, it is about immigrants and how people view them. MIA being one herself. And the paper planes are metaphors for visas.
And the tune is sampled from "Straight To Hell" by The Clash, who, as noted way, way, further up on the page, use this trope a lot (the aforementioned song is another example).
Most of MIA's work breathes this trope. She has stated that one of her goals is to make heavily political music that sounds as unpolitical as humanly possible. There are a few exceptions, however; like "Born Free" which sounds exactly like what it is about.
The Bronleewe & Bose trance remix of "Cut" by Plumb, which as the name implies, is about cutting oneself (the non-fatal 'self-injury' variety, not the 'suicide' variety).
For instance, ''Our Special Place'' is an incredibly sweet-sounding song sung by a cute electronic voice. The lyrics, however...
As I seep into the blackest void of all
I'm nothing, I am no one
As I sleep, I hear them creeping down the hall
They're nothing, they are all gone
One of his songs, under the alias Furries in a Blender, is entitled "''Last Moment on Earth''". The song is in FIAB's trademark incredibly cheerful style, despite multiple samples about various news anchor reactions to the end of the world.
"Aisha" by Death In Vegas; Ax-CrazyIggy Pop seems to be trying his hardest not to kill Aisha.
Groove Coverage frequently did this, especially in "Little June", which is an energetic hands-up/hard dance song about a girl named June who was murdered by "a man that she barely knew". By the way, it's very similar to Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight Shadow", which they also officially covered. Another notable one is "The End", whose lyrics are exactly aboutwhat its title suggests.
わたしのココ is known for an odd hybrid of calm, cheery or uptempo melodies alongside harrowing digital noise—and themes of shame, self-hatred, and extreme depression, all sung by a cutesy-voiced text-to-speech program. If you didn't speak Japanese, you wouldn't suspect a thing. This is bolstered in their calmer numbers, such as "神様お願い" ("Please, God"), a sweet piano-and-organ waltz in which the speaker questions the point of a life witnessing, but never experiencing love and prays for God to "shut [her] off completely."
The Crystalline Effect. "Life Has Failed You", "How I Get Out", "As Long As You Need", and that's just the start...
A lot of stuff by steampunk "synthpunk" group Unextraordinary Gentlemen. Much of their music is upbeat or at least dance-worthy, but the subjects of their songs include a traveling brothel, a group of bar patrons drowning their sorrows, an extraterrestrial attack, an undead policeman-turned-assassin, a suicidal airship pilot, and a disease-plagued gutter town. Yeah.
Several of Hadouken!'s songs are probably the catchiest Heroic BSODs you'll ever hear.
"Don't Unplug Me" by ALL CAPS is a chirpy little song about two robots in love... Except that one of them got an upgrade, only to learn upon hindsight that it "removes extraneous programs / That means emotions like loving you", and then has the upgraded robot singing about how it doesn't want to die.
I don't want to lose myself or ever say goodbye / I wanna hold onto my consciousness / I don't wanna die
Blümchen's "Willkommen in meinem Garten" should be a happy love song judging from the lyrics, but sounds surprisingly dark.
"Protect and Survive" by Future Perfect is another awesome, driving futurepop track depicting an imminent nuclear attack on Britain.note For the uninitiated, the title is derived from the civil defense information booklets distributed to British citizens in the late '70s and early '80s. Probably their darkest song to date.
With its upbeat sound and the repeated lyrics, "Here, the world that the children made," you might be forgiven for thinking "Veldt" by Deadmau5 is an optimistic look at the future. It's actually based on Ray Bradbury's short story, "The Veldt," in which two children lure their parents into a virtual-reality device and allow them to be eaten by lions. Yikes.
"Never Say Farewell" by Interface features an eerie melody and robotic, monotone vocals (and a cyborg performing self-surgery on the album cover!) The lyrics go like this:
When there is darkness, you'll always find a light.
When things have gone wrong, I know you'll put them right.
The strength within is everything you need
To break away from things which make you weak.
Likewise, "Square One" and "All Roads" are high-energy dance numbers about crossing the Despair Event Horizon.
Apollo 440's song "Make My Dreams Come True" has an optimistic-sounding title and tune, while the lyrics show that the singer's "dreams" are to be violently harmed and killed.
Shoot me like a gun Beat me like a slave Stone me like the Lord And send me to my grave.
All over the place in Lemon Demon songs, especially in Spirit Phone:
"I Earn My Life", a cheerful electronic song with a recorder solo throughout... about a man suffering through a job he hates, terrified of leaving his family in debt after he dies (by what's implied to be suicide).
I earn my life, I earn my life I learned it from my father and tell it to my wife Jesus Christ, don't tell me not to hurry I wouldn't be so worried if I wasn't always right
"Redesign Your Logo", a synth-y, upbeat song that's a scathing condemnation/parody of corporate ambition and its control over the US.
Ken Laszlo's hit "Don't Cry" (not to be confused with a similarly named track by Guns N' Roses) is an upbeat Italo Disco track that tells about a guy consoling a girl who got dumped by her boyfriend.
"Tik Tok" by Kesha. At first, it seems to be about dancing, but it's actually about waking up hung over, going out, and getting drunk again.
Likewise, Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night" is an upbeat sappy song about similar things. "This Friday night, we do it all again..."
Passion Pit's "Little Secrets" is made of this trope. You've got the ultra-happy glitch-pop backing, the soaring falsetto vocal, and a freaking children's choir on one side; on the other, you've got the horrifically depressing, disparaging lyrics. The most common interpretation is it's about coping with depression by abusing drugs.
Eurobeat Lovers' "Yozora no Muko" (Over The Time) is a fast, bouncy, EngrishEurobeat cover of a sad J-Pop ballad, originally by Suga Shikao. By the same label (and singer) who did the Eurobeat cover of TM Revolution's "Hot Limit".
Dead Or Alive (yes, the "You Spin Me Round" guys) had a more minor hit back in 1986 called "Brand New Lover". It's a joyful, dancey, Hi-NRG tune... about the singer telling his girl/boy/whatever (with Pete Burns it's hard to tell) that he's bored with her/him and wants to leave.
Oda's "Sex Crime" is a catchy Eurobeat number that's about wanting to rape someone. Near the end there are lyrics like you make me want to kill you and the song gets a lot creepier.
Marko Polo's "Stop Your Self Control" also involves rape fantasies.
eiffel65's "Blue". Considering that the word Blue can be used as a euphemism for sad or depressed, it takes on a whole new meaning when you hear the singer talk about having his feelings be "blue". Even simply describing the world as "Blue" could be seen as a world where nothing is perceived to be good and happy. All with that catchy beat it has.
If the artist name is Leslie Parrish, expect the song to sound bright and cheerful but have heartbreaking lyrics. So you have a song that would be appropriate for some intense drift racing action or para para dancing, but the lyrics are something like:
My baby's gonna break my heart I can't resist, I will break down and cry My baby's gonna let me down Don't leave me 'cause you know I can't survive
Cherry (same person as Leslie Parrish, but different style) isn't much better. For example, the main melody to "I Can't Stay Without Your Love" sounds like background music to a carnival or theme park scene, but the lyrics are about the narrator being broken up with.
If you should go, where do I turn to? Without your love, my life is over Don't run away, I feel so lonely Give me one more try
Aqua, oddly enough, has some fairly depressing lyrics in some of their upbeat synthpop songs:
Misery deep in the royal heart crying at night, I wanna be a part Prince, oh, prince, are you really sincere that you one day are gonna disappear
Italian but English-singing Europop/dance singer Alexia has a song with very cheerful and dancey tunes, but quite depressing lyrics about a bad breakup. The song starts with the lyrics "I've never been so sad in all my life"; in the video clip, she sings this line while smiling and dancing about. Here, see for yourself.
And "Me and You", which has a sad intro, then breaks into her standard upbeat style, but the lyrics don't get much better:
One day you came and made me blue
Nobody close to me but you
You have the power in your eyes
Today you left me far behind
How could I live without you tell me now
Forever waiting for your love
"A Shattered Heart" by Young Fire. An otherwise upbeat Eurodance tune about a heartbroken girl: "Like an angel afraid to fly, flying only in her dreams... trying to find her way back home... on the road she walks alone".
Double You's "Dancing with an Angel" is a fast-paced Euro-rave tune, and the chorus is as peppy as the title suggests, but the verse lyrics are that of a depressing Break-Up Song. Similarly, "Run to Me".
One French dance track titled "Angelina" was a big hit in discos (especially in the Philippines), but the lyrics tell of a girl who's dying of an incurable disease.
Another jarring dance cover is Kandystand's version of Heart's "Alone".
Blue Pearl's "Feel the Passion". Pumping Euro-house track, lyrics about self-injury("playing with knives", "break the glass", "kiss the razor's edge", etc.) and other dangerous adrenaline-seeking behavior.
Most of Austra's songs are instrumentally perky synthpop, but with depressing or tragic lyrics, sung by a classically trained opera singer.
Robyn's "Dancing on My Own" is a very dancey retro synthpop song about being jilted at a dance club.
"Einstein A Go Go" by Landscape is known for its jaunty ear worm of a synth riff and is generally taken to be a jolly novelty song about, well... Einstein. It's actually one of the many 80s songs about impending nuclear war.
For a darkwave song with lyrics depicting loneliness and sexual frustration, Diva Destruction's "The Broken Ones" is surprisingly catchy.
"When I Close My Eyes" by Galaxy Hunter is a brooding Love Nostalgia Song set to a high-energy Italo dance beat.
Chromeo's "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" is a funky, upbeat, dance song about an insecure man unable to stand for his girlfriend talking to other men, with the lyrics suggesting he's about to break into a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on the other guys.