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  • "A Song About An Anglerfish" by Hank Green is an incredibly upbeat, energetic tune about the narrator dealing with his crushing despair by using an anglerfish as his role model, which has no objective reason to be happy but "has no frickin' idea what else to be" because the anglerfish has only ever known darkness and loneliness and thus has nothing else to compare it to.
    Because you can't hate the night if you've lived your whole life without light
    And you can't hate the dish if you've only ever eaten fish
    And you can't feel alone if it's all you've ever known
    • "And love is not about whether you get stabbed but how slow the knife is turned."
  • "Bonecracker", by Shocore, is probably the lightest and cheerful hip-hop song about threats of assault and battery that you'll ever hear.
  • Poet Shel Silverstein wrote an album of catchy little tunes whose melodies sound like the typical happy, upbeat children's songs. But being Shel Silverstein... well... His most famous is "You're Always Welcome at Our House", where you'll be invited in, killed in an assortment of interesting and gruesome ways, and your body stuffed into the nearest convenient space. The best rendition being Marisa Berenson on The Muppet Show; who sang while flouncing around in a poofy cute-lolita dress (which added a dissonance all its own).
  • 'Me And You Versus The World' by Space is a nice happy little song about a couple of losers who fall in love...and then they try to rob a shop, murder a man by hitting him over the head with a tin of baked beans, and end up getting shot dead. And 'Avenging Angels' takes on a darker tone once you realise it's about dead loved ones.
  • The title track from the little-known Australian CD Our Stolen Children by Peter Van de Voord is as justifiably angry as you'd expect, but the music is far more laid-back than the lyrics.
  • The Naked and Famous' Punching In A Dream sounds like an incredibly anthemic ballad of sorts until you realise the lyrics are about a girl starting to become unclear what's real and what's her nightmares...
    This is worse than it seems.
  • The song "Arms Tonite" by Mother Mother is a peppy little song about the narrator dying in someone's arms, remarking that "it was nice" and "it's kinda cute". In addition, they mention that they're unhappy in the afterlife and are trying to escape in order to get back to the other person.
  • Deerhunter's "Little Kids" is somewhere between shoegazing and Pet Sounds - it's certainly a bit melancholy sounding, and has an eerie — if not exactly Last Note Nightmare — ending... But you'd expect it to be about bittersweet childhood memories, not children engaging in underage drinking, then stalking and setting fire to an old man for no reason. The Indecipherable Lyrics can add to the effect - Due to all the reverb and Bradford Cox's Perishing Alt-Rock Voice, you might not be able to make out any words beyond the chorus, which is simply "Getting older still".
  • LCD Soundsystem's "Someone Great" is a happy, upbeat song about death of a loved one.
  • "Die Alone" by The Brobecks is a cheerful, upbeat song, about, well, Dying Alone.
  • The song "Krolowa Sniegu" by the Polish band Robodrom is a rather upbeat, cheery, beautiful tune... with the vocalist gleefully singing about his suicide attempt, the resulting gruesome injuries and subsequent hospitalization.
  • Blowjob by D At Sea is a cover of the blink-182 song, and it's sung a lovely, peaceful-sounding melody, so you hear a bizarrely gentle song about how lovely it'd be to get a blowjob from your mom.

    Indie Folk 
  • The entire album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel definitely applies to this trope. On first listen, it's clean folk music. Then you put the pieces together and you realize it's an entire album about Anne Frank. And if that doesn't get you immediately the fact that the first song is an upbeat tune with mournful lyrics that are definitely about incest and a dysfunctional, alcoholic, suicidal parents will.
  • The Bright Eyes song "At the Bottom of Everything" has a happy-go-lucky folk tune and is sung rather joyously, but the introduction informs the listener that it's a story about a plane full of people that are plummeting to their deaths and who all simultaneously realize that their lives and goals were meaningless. What makes it worse is that it's an Author Tract about how most Americans actually live; the people in the song have the realization of their meaningless lives only because it's too late.
  • The Vandaveer song "Marianne, you've done it now" is a soft, folksy and catchy song about a gruesomely murdered singer.
  • The song "Last Run" by Gwen Knighton, while not necessarily upbeat, is definitely dissonant. It combines ballad-style singing and harp-playing with lyrics about a goblin woman whose family abandoned her because of her species change leading a group of folks to hack into a corporation's computers and steal data from them. (Although this is a song about Shadowrun, mind you, which is sort of Schizo Tech)
  • Passenger's song, "Night Vision Binoculars", has a ridiculously upbeat and cheerful tune for a song about a Stalker with a Crush guy who keeps following a girl everywhere. And it's not played for laughs.
  • "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men is an upbeat song with heavy Ska influences, such as the trumpets blaring and acoustic guitars carrying the song. A man and woman sing back and forth between each other. The man seems to be trying to comfort the woman of her worries, but she has already passed away, and his sorrow is causing her to appear as a ghost to him. They have a conversation of reuniting when he finally passes on.
    Don't listen to a word I say!
    The screams all sound the same!
    Though the truth may vary, this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.
    • "Wolves Without Teeth" is another upbeat song with pretty surreal lyrics that seem to be about a couple being chased by the world, represented by the title's wolves.
    And I run from wolves,
    Breathing heavily, at my feet
    And I run from wolves,
    Tearing into me, without teeth.
  • "Free Bird" by Andrew Jackson Jihad is very slow and melancholy, but the lyrics are, for the most part, quite carefree and cheerful when taken at face value. This is because the singer is clearly a world-weary Stepford Smiler, and his repeated statement that he's "free as a bird", which is later deconstructed, is meant to be ironic.
    I'm free as a bird.
    —>I'm free from my words.
    —>I'm free as a bird flying over the sea who just can't find the summer.
    • "Brave as a Noun" is very fast and upbeat, and it's a song about living with crippling mental illnesses, most prominently social anxiety, and lamenting in the fact that many people share the same fate.
    • "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving" is a very short, very catchy little ditty about a man dying in a drunk driving accident.


    Indie Pop 
  • Belle and Sebastian often have wistful songs to wistful music, but "Stay Loose" is almost ridiculously singable, though the lyrics are about the fragile relationship between a boy with depression and a girl who won't discuss anything serious. With creepy results.
    "The lights are out in the house tonight
    Gonna creep around, gonna creep into your head..."
    • Also, one of their most serene instrumentals (from the Storytelling soundtrack), complete with lovely violin, is called "Fuck This Shit". Title Dissonance?
    • In I Could Be Dreaming, a cheerful song about murdering a girl's abusive SO:
      "Do you want to do it now? Outside the butcher's with a knife and a bike chain... la da da."
  • "We Will Become Silhouettes" by The Postal Service is a bubbly, cheerful, upbeat tune, typical of TPS. It's about being blown up by an atomic bomb that causes the victims' cells to "divide at an alarming rate" until their bodies explode, leaving only the eponymous Hiroshima lovers-style silhouettes. The video features band members Ben Gibbard, Jimmy Tamberello and Jenny Lewis in kooky early-70s styles bicycling around a spookily empty suburban neighborhood on a bright happy sunny day.
  • You wouldn't tell just by listening to the music (it's all Foreign Sounding Gibberish), but if the music video is any indication, The Real Tuesday Weld's cheery song "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" is about Nazis taking over England.
    • Bah, those birds were much too cute to represent Nazis. Even though they were wearing Nazi symbols.
    • A majority of The Real Tuesday Weld's songs can fall into this. They all start off reminiscent of Older songs with happy-go-lucky tunes, then they all turn out to be around breakup (See: Kix). They're so upbeat you don't realize you're singing along to talking about how Drugs and Whores are more meaningful to you than your Ex.
  • One of the best examples of this is Heavenly's song "Me and My Madness". A relaxed, enjoyable melody is paired with lyrics like "Cut my hair/And then I cut my skin/Hurt myself instead of hurting him".
    • The mini-album "Atta Girl" is this in it's entirety.
  • The band The Boy Least Likely To is a master at this, combining delicate, sweet pop melodies and twee instrumentation with dark themes.
    • "I Box Up All the Butterflies" sounds incredibly cheerful, and happy, and sweet, until you listen to the lyrics and realize that the singer spends his summers ripping up all the flowers, killing the birds and bees, and tearing all the butterflies apart before pinning them and packing them away.
  • "Foundations" by Kate Nash, a cheery sounding song about a woman who can't bring herself to leave a bad relationship that is turning worse. Although the last verse does seem to imply she'll leave someday...
  • "Sweet Tangerine" by the Hush Sound is an upbeat pop/rock song about a stalker creeping into his ex-lover's bedroom.
  • "Your Arms Around Me" by Jens Lekman sounds like a really pretty love song (and was in fact used during the love scene in the movie Whip It). But if you listen to the lyrics, they tell a story about the singer accidentally cutting off his fingertip after being startled by a lover while slicing an avocado. Complete with him noticing blood spray. Yeah. (And, on some morbid level, it sort of is a love song—said lover takes him to the ER, and they have a tender moment.)
  • "Greatest Hits" by Mystery Jets is a snappy, upbeat song which Name Drops a ton of classic indie rock albums. It becomes apparent rather quickly that the reason for all the name drops is because the song is about the narrator and his ex-girlfriend are acrimoniously splitting their record collection post-split.
  • Ingrid Michaelson's "Maybe". It's either about an optimistic narrator who is unable to let go of her boyfriend but does so anyway because "the only way to really know [if they were meant to be] is to really let it go" so that "maybe, in the future, you're gonna come back to me". It's not very depressing/sad, but when you think about the implications that she's not going to move on, keep hoping for him to come back...
    • "Sort Of" is a cute/upbeat sounding song about being in a relationship with someone who doesn't love you back. The protagonist is not strong enough to end it.
  • Some Nights by Fun. Imagine the most upbeat perky beat but with lyrics like;
    But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
    Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
    What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
    Most nights, I don't know... (come on)
    • Most songs by Fun. fit the bill. All The Pretty Girls in particular comes off as a party song about, well, pretty girls. In reality,the singer is just comparing every girl he sees to his ex.
    • We Are Young was infamous for this. It sounds like a youth anthem, but is actually about a domestic abuser hoping that his victim comes back to him.
  • Metric's song "Clone" appears to be a somewhat cheerful and mellow song at first listen, but then when you actually pay attention to the lyrics, it basically talks about the dark side of achieving success.
  • Very Truly Yours' song, "1234". Cute-sounding female vocalist? Check. Upbeat, sweet tune? Check. Lyrics about a depressed, insomniac girl who can't get over his boyfriend (or is currently in a bad relationship)? Fucking check.
    1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1.
    I don't know what I've become.
    Can somebody find my heart?
    It's in two pieces, I lost it on the sidewalk somewhere.
  • Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks" is a mellow, danceable song about a kid, who is very unhappy with life after his drug-addict father neglects and beats him, so he finds his father's gun and decides to go on a killing spree. The cheerful whistling that kicks in towards the end of the song definitely adds to the lyrical dissonance.
    • Adding to the irony, the songwriter specifically said that the kid is shooting hipsters...exactly the sort of people who love the song.
  • The song "I'll Kill Her" by Soko is about a girl who supposedly got rejected/cheated on by a guy and decides to kill his girlfriend to even things out; not only is the whole song written in future tense, implying that they were never together in the first place, it's also sung in a sweet, mellow tone... as if she's not even taking the whole thing seriously.
    Man, I told you, you know, if I find her, I really, I, I mean, I'll kill her, for real!
    It's like for sure, you have to know, uh, I mean, you know, I can do it, man—
    I'll kill her.
  • Sia: "Chandelier" is about a depressed, possibly suicidal, woman who tries to deal with it by drinking and heavy partying.
  • Oh Wonder: "Drive" is about a relationship that cannot continue, and "Without You" and "The Rain" are both about failed relationships... And all three are some of the liveliest songs on the album.

    Indie Rock 
  • The Born Ruffians song "Hummingbird" has very upbeat instrumentals and it's sung in a very quick and playful way. But the lyrics are about a girl who plans on committing suicide.
  • The Cheer Up, Charlie Daniels song "Ice Cold Razor Blades" has a peppy, upbeat tune you might hear at a resort or spa. The lyrics are about a woman's throat being slit, and the murderer wanting to do more. Including cutting her lips from her mouth.
  • New Zealand band The Chills' song Pink Frost has a jaunty, upbeat intro and overall sounds like a slightly melancholy pop-rock song, but if you listen to the lyrics, you realise the singer is describing accidentally murdering his lover in his sleep, which is something that has actually happened a few times.
    Thought I was dreaming, so I didn't hear you screaming...
    I'm so scared, I'm so scared...
    She won't move and I'm holding her head, she won't move and I'm holding her head...
  • The Decemberists' song "Sons and Daughters" is Squee-level happy, in mood and most of the lyrics. However, a few phrases scattered around the song as well as the repeated last line make it clear that it's being sung in a bomb shelter, presumably to cheer up the survivors.
    • Alternatively, it's about a family fleeing a war-torn country to a new land, but in the distant past, with the references to aluminum and cinnamon being a Genius Bonus, as both were once considered precious commodities
    • Alternatively the song's about a group of settlers escaping war and arriving on new land, doomed to failure because they have no idea what they're doing.
      "We're make our home on the water /we'll build our walls aluminum/ we'll fill our mouths with cinnamon."
    • While another of their songs, "O Valencia!" sounds rather upbeat, the chorus mentions the blood of the singer's lover being 'still warm on the ground' and burning the city down. The last verse has the lover being shot in the singer's arms, 'and an oath of love was your dying cry.'
    • "O Valencia!" was played unironically in the trailer for the romantic comedy Leap Year. Dying lovers, warring gangs, blood on the ground, and Amy Adams acting cute.
    • Their song "You'll Not Feel the Drowning" sounds like a pretty, soothing lullaby, complete with a beautiful instrumental in the middle, but it's about a pirate about to drown a girl he kidnapped.note 
      Go to sleep now, little ugly
      Go to sleep now, you little fool
      Forty-winking in the belfry
      You'll not feel the drowning
      You'll not feel the drowning
    • "The Rake's Song" is way, way too catchy and upbeat for a song about the titular widowed rake murdering his three children so he could continue enjoying his life unattached, and saying proudly that he regrets nothing.
    • "The Chimbley Sweep" has a lively, catchy tune, and lyrics which are about the hard life of a boy who, going by the last verse, may be either a literal chimney sweep or using the term as an Unusual Euphemism for a child prostitute, but either way there are clearly some unpleasant shenanigans going on.
    • "July, July!" is a lively, cheerful song which, before the end of the first verse, veers suddenly into Gorn about how "your uncle was a crooked French Canadian and he was gut-shot running gin".
    • The Decemberists love this trope. "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" is an upbeat and adorable sounding duet between a woman and her husband. The husband is a (probably Confederate) Civil War soldier who was at the Battle of Manassas/Bull Runnote  and was killed either there or somewhere else; the chorus is about her coming to find his body and bury him back home.note  Some of the lyrics are pretty gruesome, too:
      But oh, did you see all the dead of Manassas
      All the bellies and the bones and the bile
    • How about "Culling of the Fold"? A catchy, highly hummable tune. The chorus goes "Dash her on the paving stones, it may break your heart to break her bones, but someone's got to do the culling of the fold."
      • The song is actually so graphic that Jenny asked that it be left off of albums; it can be purchased separately on iTunes, but you won't be getting it on a disc anytime soon.
    • "We Both Go Down Together" has a catchy, upbeat violin melody and tells the story of an aristocrat who's in love with a lower class girl, a match his family won't accept. His method of escaping his family's disapproval? A suicide pact by jumping off the "cliffs of Dover". (Of course, for the additional punch, the lyrics can be interpreted that his love is obsessive and he's preying on the girl.)
    • The dénoument to their "folk opera", The Hazards of Love, is entitled The Hazards of Love 4: The Drowned. It's a hauntingly beautiful love song where the characters decide in their last moments before their boat sinks and they drown together to cement their love via 'marriage'. "And with this long last rush of air we'll speak our vows in starry whisper / and as the waves came crashing down he closed his eyes and softly kissed her".
    • The King Is Dead provides a number of these, but probably the best is "Calamity Song", an uplifting country-folk-Americana tune about the end of the world (It starts "Had a dream/You and me at the war at the end-time...", and proceeds to rhyme that with "As scores of innocents died").
  • The Delgados' joyous anti-anthem "All You Need Is Hate."
    Hate is all around, find it in your heart in every waking sound
    On your way to school, work or church you'll find that it's the only rule
    Build a different world, hate will help you find what you've been looking for
    Hate is everywhere, inside your mother's heart and you will find it there
    • Also, "Woke From Dreaming" is a beautiful little tune, about an abducted girl strangling her kidnapper.
  • Another Canadian band called McKenna is an Irish rock band known for their rousing songs about drinking and songs that were written while drunk (like all Irish rock bands). Two songs, in particular, are quite happy in tune but sad in lyrics, however. The song "Guinness For Two" sounds like a love song, especially when heard in concert. The song, however, is about the death of a loved one (possibly a girlfriend) and how the narrator will have to drink by himself. It does end on a hopeful note, though, with the lyrics "Though I miss you like burning/I don't wish your returning/for you have gone on to joy evermore./And I'll follow you soon/for a life is a tune/and together we'll sing the encore". The other song is a little more obvious as its title is "The Accident Song". Just listening to it absentmindedly, it sounds like the narrator is trying to get home to his sweetheart. However, a closer listen reveals that he is traveling by the scene of a fatal accident and that he is thankful he can see his girlfriend and other loved ones, unlike the people in the car.
  • The indie-rock band Beulah made liberal use of this. For instance, the song "Popular Mechanics for Lovers" features upbeat, jangly guitars and lyrics lamenting the fact that the narrator had been passed over for a girl's affection by another man. It doesn't hurt that rather than the song title, the actual lyrics in the song are "Popular Mechanics for Broken Hearts could help me now".
  • Also from Beulah, the chorus to the song Gene Autry takes a turn at the end:
    When I get to California gonna write my name in the sand
    Gonna lay this body down and watch the waves the roll in
    Gonna rest this weary head on someone who I think will care
    But when the stars in the sky start falling, I think you'll understand
    That the city spreads out just like a cut vein and everybody drowns sad and lonely
  • A lot of songs by The Indelicates are like this. "Flesh" is a pretty, soothing song about rape, plastic surgery, stripping, and feminist bitterness, and includes the c-word. Bonus points for dissonance within the lyrics:
    Strip me and dissect me,
    milk my tears and tap my bile
    Hey doc can you take my skin
    and melt it into plastic
    Beauty isn’t truth, it’s just youth,
    and it’s adaptive and it’s elastic…
    And I love you, whoever you are, yeah, I love you.
    Hey girls, we’re all the same, aren’t we
    • Our Daughters Will Never Be Free is bright, peppy, and along similar lines.
      I think it's fine just to make people smile!
      I think it's fine to force people to smile!
      Make me your darling, make me your princess
      Make me your baby, make me your goddess
      Rape me and beat me, rape me and beat me
      Rape us and beat us till we're black and blue
      We made it okay on the day we said nothing
      Was better than something to say
  • About half of the songs by Jeremy Messersmith fit this trope. Almost all of his songs are sweet, gentle tunes about topics like drinking away the pain of a breakup, sex ruining friendships, and resigning yourself to an unfulfilling life.
  • The Reign of Kindo song "Breathe Again" is a very soothing soft rock song... until you listen closely and realize three verses in that it's about a father who takes revenge on a man who broke into his house on Christmas Eve and stole the presents. It's hard to relax to a song when the singer swears that he "won't stop tearing him limb from limb [so] he'll never breathe again". It ends with him dumping the thief's body in the river and gaining immense relief from the murder.
  • Pretty much all of The Wombats' repertoire. "School Uniforms" is about a lost childhood love, "Backfire at the Disco" is about a date gone wrong, "My First Wedding" is about a man attending the marriage of a girl he loves to another man, and "Here Comes the Anxiety" is about how his own self-doubt and loathing sabotage his relationships. And they're all pretty danceable.
  • Jim O'Rourke's "Halfway to a Threeway" is a parody of intimate love ballads, by being concerned with a man ready to involve his (literally) braindead girlfriend in a threesome with another woman.
  • Animal Collective's "Graze" starts off with a voice gently singing how awesome it is to wake up on a beautiful morning like this one. Then it slowly builds to a climax, but when it hits in all its joyous panfluting majesty, it's accompanied by lyrics as "Why do you have to go? / I'm in the dark unknown / And you're staying home".
  • The Eels' "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues".
    • "Last Stop: This Town" is also very cheery-sounding and danceable for being about taking a final trip around the neighborhood you grew up in after you've died (although in the context of the album it's on, it kind of is a positive song).
    • On the other end, "What Is This Note?". If you read the lyrics sheet first, you would expect it to sound like a typical Silly Love Song... instead, it's based around a fast, angry-sounding Punk Rock guitar riff, and the lyrics are shouted through a distortion effect.
    • "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)" is yet another song that uses this trope; a song that sounds like a musician's house party opens with the line "Do you know what it's like to fall on the floor, cry your guts out til you got no more" and "Do you know what it's like to care too much about someone that you're never gonna get to touch"
      • Although the song is more about how both your good and bad experiences affirm your life, and an upbeat accompaniment would probably fit in that respect.
    • He goes for the sad music/happy lyrics version of this trope on "Things The Grandchildren Should Know" - sadly beautiful acoustic guitars with plenty of weeping lap-steel, balanced against triumphant — if realistic — lyrics.
    I knew true love and I knew passion
    And the difference between the two
    And I had some regrets
    But if I had to do it all again
    Well, it's something I'd like to do
  • The band Islands loves this trope. Examples include "Pieces of You" (a bouncy, upbeat tune where the title is very literal), "Volcanoes" (a rather blissful-sounding song about the end of the world), and "Humans" (another bouncy tune about the survivors of some disaster dying off).
    • "Rough Gem"
      The world beat you for the something nice
      You worked hard, died poor
      You mined what you died for
      Diamonds di di di di di uh
  • "Masterpiece" by Meg and Dia has an upbeat, catchy, bouncy melody, and the sisters' sweet soprano voices lend an innocent quality to the song. Then you listen a little closer...
    I am no masterpiece where innocence is painted green
    Isn't it strange to think that you created all of me?
    Done by the hands of a broken artist
    You painted black where my naked heart is
    I finally know what wrong is
    Now I finally know that you bleed for nothing
    Carved like a stone with your hands still shaking
    On display through a soul still breaking
    Aren't you proud you're the one that made me?
    • Not to mention "Cardigan Weather", which is about the narrator's boyfriend cheating on her, so she sews him into her mattress and hooks up with other guys on top of it.
    A mattress for a coffin suits you very fine...
    • "Monster" has a surprisingly upbeat tune for a song about child abuse, rape, and suicide.
    Monster. How should I feel?
    Turn the sheets down, murder ears with pillow lace
    There's bathtubs, filled with glow flies
    Bathe in kerosene
    Their words tattooed in his veins.
  • Elliott Smith's song "Memory Lane", is a horribly depressing song set to a cheerful, folky tune in a major key. As if that wasn't bad enough, his voice sounds so perversely hopeful while he's singing it.("Isolation pushes past self-hatred, guilt and shame to a place where suffering is just a game.")
    • Any of Elliott Smith's more upbeat sounding songs, in general. See Also: "Say Yes," "Baby Britain."
  • "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism" by The New Pornographers has one of the most cheery and upbeat tunes ever. The lyrics, however, stick closely to the title.
    • Their song "Whiteout Conditions" might be even worse - an upbeat, synth-filled, '80s inspired song juxtaposed with lyrics A.C. Newman wrote about being in the midst of a deep depressive episode.
  • "Now She Knows She's Wrong" by Jellyfish is a cheery song set to vibraphone, harpsichord, and other happy instrumentation about a woman grieving after finding out her husband of twenty years was cheating on her. The final minute is particularly disturbing for having the entire band sing the chorus in a "We Are the World"-style harmony.
    • Jellyfish's "Bedspring Kiss" also qualifies, being a lounge, jazz-styled piece about a character, Jimmy, killing a prostitute in a drug-induced rage.
  • David Ford's "Have Yourself a Bitter Little Christmas" rather gives it away in the title; the jaunty banjo, mandolin, and glockenspiel accompaniment would make for a great Christmas song if it weren't about leaving your wife on Christmas day.
  • The Faint, especially tracks off of Danse Macabre, if you just listen to the backing it's a pretty cool new-wave dance band. The lyrics and some of the track names (Agenda Suicide for example) are much less upbeat (Working yourself to death? Never reaching your dreams because of work? Super-happy!)
  • The majority of the music made by Get Set Go. A review for their CD Sunshine, Joy and Happiness says it best:
    (Reviewer) Blythe Tellefsen: "Get Set Go continues with this CD to combine "pop" sound (albeit with the unusual and haunting addition of a cello) with lyrics that usually remain just at the edge of a suicide note."
  • Most of Motion City Soundtrack's music is lively and upbeat. Most of it also references chronic depression, struggles with alcoholism, and/or an inability to relate to people.
  • Shiny Toy Guns' "When They Came For Us" is a rather cheery number about the loss of one's innocence in a war: "When they took the beach that day / They stole the children, took them away / And I miss everyone, but most of all, the little ones, and their shiny toy guns /" The title is also a possible reference to the Holocaust.
  • "PDA" by Interpol has this written throughout the song. It's a cheery song about a psychopathic rapist/killer running a hotel who goes to jail after raping one of his tenants
  • Regina Spektor's song "Two Birds" could also count. It may sound upbeat, even cute, until you realize it's describing a relationship wherein one person seems to be afraid of commitment and continuously lies/makes excuses. What's more heartbreaking is that the other is oblivious to the lies and promises to never leave the other. The only thing keeping it from being a total downer is the last line, "One tries to fly away, and the other..." which implies that he might "fly away" too, but the outcome is never known.
    • Regina Spektor seems to use this trope a lot in her songs. "Buildings" almost seems cheery until you realize it's talking about a husband with a wife suffering from possible depression (and an alcoholic as well) and she keeps promising to change, as the husband believes that if they can make 'buildings so tall these days' then she can overcome her problems. And "That Time" is a cheery song that talks about cute, normal things like reading only the backs of cereal boxes and deciding to kiss anywhere except the mouth... and also has a human tooth found on Delancey, a pigeon being eaten by a cat, a friend overdosing twice, and the narrator taking them to the ER while their hallucinating over drugs as well.
    • Flyin' is a fun and catchy beat... and then the lyrics take a tailspin from cute and quirky to the realization that she's talking about a student who was taken advantage of by a teacher.
      • THEN you can add the popular interpretation that 'flyin' outta my window' is about drug use, and suddenly you realize that the teacher doped her up in the story when she refused and became addicted to drugs.
    • "Us" is commonly mistaken for a Silly Love Song due to its title and fluttery piano melody, to the point that it was used in the opening of 500 Days of Summer. But in fact, its lyrics are more about the fall of the Soviet Union.
  • Tindersticks, occasionally. "Snowy in F# minor" is one of the more obvious examples.
  • Why, hello there, Death Cab for Cutie. Ever wonder why Ben Gibbard is sometimes called the master of this? Well, there's:
    • "No Sunlight", a beach-pop tune about the loss of innocence. Oh, and also the nuclear apocalypse.
    • "The Sound of Settling", which is an indie-pop Crowd Song about crippling shyness.
    • "You Can Do Better Than Me" sounds fairly upbeat and cheery until you realize that the lyrics are about someone who feels as though their relationship is falling apart, but their lack of self-esteem means that they're willing to cling to the relationship.
    • "Underneath the Sycamore", an upbeat tune that begins with the character in the song dying in a terrible car crash! The song goes on to say that that the character finds their peace "underneath the sycamore" aka six feet under in a graveyard. Cheery!
    • And all of this, mind you, is merely scratching the surface. Suffice it to say that a good description of the band's style is "The songwriter writes melancholy ballads. The band sets them to whatever music sounds cool—which is usually rather upbeat."
  • Amanda Palmer's "Oasis" is an upbeat, absurdly catchy song, which the narrator happily tells the audience how she was raped, got pregnant, had an abortion, and got backstabbed by her close friend who told about it to everyone at school.
  • The Mountain Goats' "No Children", a fast-paced, major-keyed song about a horrible relationship compared to drowning. The lyrics are sung so cheerfully that it all becomes Black Comedy.
    I am drowning. There is no sign of land
    You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand
    and I hope you die! I hope that we both die!
    • Becomes even more jarring when it's featured in Moral Orel, a cartoon dripping with Black Comedy under its cutesy exterior. It's played at the beginning and ending of "Numb", the latter being one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the series.
  • St. Vincent invokes this trope to great effect quite often: "What Me Worry," a calm and careless tune, takes a sudden turn when you hear the lyric "Love is just a blood match to see who can endure lash after lash." Then you realize that someone is saying this to their lover.
    • From the same album, Human Racing, with special mentions to the line:
    Little lamb, what's your plan?
    Greener pastures in the sky? It's a shame you want to die, know why
    • And Now, Now, about an abusive relationship:
    I'm not your mother's favorite dog
    I'm not the carpet you walk on
    • And her album Actor invokes it all along. It opens with The Strangers, a melodic and calm song about a delusional relationship sung by the point of view of someone who seems to have lived A LOT of delusional relationships already:
    What do I share?
    What do I keep from all the strangers
    Who sleep where I sleep?
    • Then goes to Black Rainbow, with someone having what seems to be a nervous breakdown (the songs subverts this trope in the last minute, with a really long Last Note Nightmare):
    Think I'm glass, I think I'm breaking it, wrecking ball outside my door
    Don't move
    Don't scream
    Or we will have to shoot
  • Slint's song "Breadcrumb Trail" has a dark and violently heavy midsection, the entire story of the song is essentially "a man goes to a carnival and meets a new friend", and the anguished, soul-wrenching vocals in the middle are really just a description of riding a roller coaster.
  • The Vaccines' Post Break-up Sex is surprisingly catchy and upbeat for a song about... post break-up sex:
    Someone up the social scale
    For when you're going off the rails
    Have post break-up sex
    That helps you forget your ex
    What did you expect
    From post break-up sex?
  • While the lyrics of Hozier's "Take Me To Church" does include some dark imagery, it's about comparing love to a religious experience and not as grim or macabre as the music suggests.
    • "Cherry Wine" sounds like a somber love song until you realize it's about domestic abuse.
    • "In a Week" is rather unambiguously about two dead bodies decomposing in the woods and various animals and insects eating them.
  • Lord Huron has "Fool for Love" in which the vocalist sings in a cheerful tone, sometimes overpowered by an equally upbeat instrumental. This almost obscures the lyrics which describe the thoughts of a man as he loses a fight for the hand of his intended bride and then dies on the cold winter ground.
    • "Until the Night Turns" is a happy, upbeat song about the end of the world.
  • "Toy Soldiers" by Carbon Leaf is an exuberant Irish jig with bittersweet lyrics about the loss of childhood innocence:
    We find the people of our dreams
    We find that they're not what they seem
    I've learned that people come and go
    I've learned that families break and grow
  • The studio version of The Go! Team's "Huddle Formation" is a jubilant-sounding indie rock song with hard to make out vocals that sound like a jump-rope chant. Some of said vocals are in fact a protest chant performed by members of The Black Panther Party, apparently sampled from a documentary about the American Civil Rights Movement ... Which means that the happy-sounding music is contrasted with such sentiments as "Revolution has come, time to pick up the gun" and "Off the pigs!" note .
  • The Raveonettes often write deceptively chipper songs with rather downbeat lyrics, although the song titles normally give the game away. The album In and Out of Control tends to display this more than their other albums. Examples include:
    • "Bang!" – about an abusive relationship
      Bang! When you hit me, baby
      Bang! When I scream out, baby
      Bang! You know I love it all the time
      And the way you kiss keeps me hanging on
    • "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)" – gang rape
    • "D.R.U.G.S." – hard drug use
  • A lot of Broder Daniel's music features this, but none more so than "When We Were Winning", a happy, energetic anthem about how Growing Up Sucks.
  • King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's "The Book" is an upbeat, jazz-inflected song about someone who believes they're being commanded by God to kill all unbelievers.


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