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Lyrical Dissonance / Live-Action TV

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  • Inverted in a Running Gag on The Mary Whitehouse Experience, where they make fun of Robert Smith of The Cure's (brief) attempts to show his cheerful, happy side in his music. They perform songs such as Ernie, The Fastest Milkman in the World and The Laughing Policeman to the band's signature melancholic style.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Mr G's songs in Summer Heights High when he's trying to write an upbeat musical about a girl at the school who died from an ecstasy overdose.
    Annabelle Dickson
    When girls take drugs
    And then they die
    Who would have thought
    At Summer Heights High
    On days like these
    It's a Bummer Heights High
  • 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..."
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    • 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's War on Everything, 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".
  • Pretty much all the music-based games in Whose Line Is It Anyway? are built around this trope - except when it's Colin Mochrie trying to sing, then it's funny for a different reason.
  • 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?
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    • 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.
  • Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger has "Yorokobi no Uta" (Song of Happiness), which is very much a Villain Song that Candelila first sings on Brave 6. Already there you can see that it's a bouncy J-Pop song that talks about Deboss destroying the world, but when she (in her human guise) sings it again in Brave 11, the lyrics go into further detail, by exalting Deboss as Earth's true overlords and stating that all humans should be maimed and killed, all this in front of a crowd of adoring fans. While still sounding very much like a J-Pop song. You couldn't get a better musical representation of Sugar Apocalypse if you tried.
  • 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.
    "
  • Drew Careys Improvaganza had an Elizabethan era song about strippers.note 
  • 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 forms a phony children's band in which the band is dressed in stuffed animal costumes. Some of 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, it's 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.
  • Galavant is largely made of this trope, including multiple cheery tunes about various characters plotting various murders and assassinations, dramatic tunes with humorous or otherwise ill-fitting lyrics, a cheerful love song highlighting the prevalence of death and disease among peasants in the era, a love-song tune entitled "Maybe You're Not The Worst Thing Ever", and more. Yet another love song plays with the trope a bit, as it is primarily the singers pointing out flaws in each other, yet sincerely affectionate in doing so.
  • The opening theme to Good Times. If you don't pay attention to the lyrics, it almost sounds like an upbeat gospel song.
    Keeping your head above water,
    Making a way when you can.
    Temporary layoffs! (Good times!)
    Easy credit ripoffs! (Good times!)
    Scratchin' and survivin'! (Good times!)
    Hangin' in the chow line! (Good times!)
    Ain't we lucky we got 'em?
    Good times!
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, being a dark comedic musical, is filled with these:
    • "Feeling Kinda Naughty" sounds like a Katy Perry song and starts off like one...before it turns into a Misery-like obsession song.
    • "Sex with a Stranger" starts like a traditional pop song about stepping into the club and taking a guy home...until the singer starts hoping that the guy isn't a murderer and won't harvest her kidneys.
    • "You Stupid Bitch" is a Whitney Houston-like ballad, but all about self-loathing and self-hatred.
    • "I'm a Good Person", in which the singer attempts to make one guy believe she is, indeed, a good person... and, in the process, threatens: "Say [that I'm a good person]! Say it or I'll gut your husband! I'll do it, I'll gut him like a fish!" to a Pharrel-inspired tempo.
    • There's also "Friendtopia", completely inspired by The Spice Girls, that details having such a close bond with your friends, you're going to stage a coup and turn America into an Orwellian dystopia.
    • "Let's Generalize About Men" isn't actually that bad up until you get to the very final stanza... Her sons are gonna be rapists! Ironically, it's set to a tune very similar to "It's Raining Men".
  • The Saturday Night Live sketch "This Is Not a Feminist Song" has the season 41 female cast members, and Ariana Grande, perform a stirring anthem about...the difficulty they experienced trying to write a stirring anthem about feminism. Fortunately, they decide in the last verse that by writing and singing the song without help from any men, they actually did make a feminist song.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Once More, With Feeling", Buffy sings "Going Through The Motions" and "Something to Sing About", two cheery-sounding tunes about losing the will to live.
  • Played with in the full version of the theme to Cheers, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name". The song's melody is quite uplifting and sweet, but the lyrics describe increasingly depressing things happening to the subject of the song. However, the point of the chorus is that it's nice to have a place to go where you can escape your troubles, where you feel safe and loved and where everybody knows your name, so it can also be quite sincerely sweet and uplifting as well.
  • In Once Upon a Time, the episode "The Song in Your Heart" features a Villain Song, "Wicked Always Wins", sung by Zelena, in which she revels in the prospect of bringing down her sister (along with Prince Charming and Snow White). The dissonance comes in when the music is a cheerful, upbeat heroic musical theatre number — which, thanks to Rebecca Mader's bright, peppy vocals, sounds eerily like that of a Disney princess! This could be seen as an Affectionate Parody of Wicked.
  • Sesame Street:
    • "Doctor, Please" has an upbeat tune, but it is about why the people and animals are at the doctor, and some of them are quite bad (such as, "this fever's got my goat").
    • "When Bert's Not Here" has a bouncy tune, but it has lyrics about how Ernie feels when he misses Bert that can be quite dark (e.g. "When Bert's not here, the hours last forever, the toys aren't fun and the cookies don't crunch/When Bert's not here, I don't feel so clever and I never even feel like having lunch.")
    • Little Jerry's "Sad" song is about sadness, yet it has a jaunty doo-wop tune.
    • "Lead Police" talks about lead and how it can get in your body and make you sick and that it could be anywhere, but it's sung in a jaunty way.
    • "You Have to Be Patient to Be a Patient" is relatively upbeat-sounding, but its lyrics talk about staying in bed and resting.
  • 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.
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