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Lyrical Dissonance / Video Games

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  • An example from the third Ar tonelico game comes from EXEC_Z/. Sounds a lot like a dance track. The command part boils down to killing most of the Reyvateils, and turning their genes and memory spaces for their minds into a sort-of glue used to turn humans into horrible monstrosities.
  • The opening song of Disgaea 2, "Sinful Rose", is a cheerful, upbeat song about betrayal and slaughter. This is what happens when we let demons sing theme tunes.
    • Disgaea 3's opening song, "Maritsu Evil Academy", has about the same content, being the theme song of a school for demons. However, what with the The Nightmare Before Christmas vibe the music has, it's probably less of an example.
  • The Japanese "Song of Ashley" from WarioWare intentionally used this, having an ominous melody, but fluffy pop lyrics about how wonderful Ashley is.
    • The US version initially averted this by using mock-sinister lyrics to match the melody, then played it straight when a more upbeat remix was made for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
  • Another Nintendo example is Ai no Uta (Song of Love). It has a cute melody, with a happy tone, typical cute J-pop song...turns out that it's about the Pikmin loving Olimar despite doing his dirty work and probably getting eaten in the end . And they are painfully aware of him only seeing them as a Red Shirt Army. Ouch.
    Today once again we'll carry, fight, grow and then be eaten
    Dug up, we'll meet again and be thrown around
    But we'll you follow forever...
    • Which makes a lot of sense really. The game itself is a version of this trope. Cutesy characters, a horrible dog-eat-dog world. Pikmin 2 rams this home with its oddly bittersweet feel and depressing backstory shown in Olimar's letters.
  • ''Omoide was Okkusenman!'' ("Memories are 110,000,000") is a song made of Japanese lyrics fitted to the Mega Man 2 Wily Castle theme and originally with that set as the background. The lyrics are of a man reminiscing about his childhood, wondering where his friends are, lamenting that all the seasons have passed him by, and continually nostalgizing about his childhood hero. To sum it up, the man in the song is saying Growing Up Sucks.
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  • Freesia from the end of the fourth Mega Man Zero. The intro is an subversion, because it's rather mellow. However, from there on, it's Esperanto, a rather upbeat song from the second intro stage. What are the lyrics about? It's about Ciel's Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • Aozora from AIR is an example; the song is probably one of the most distressing melodies ever composed, but the lyrics are all happy and uplifting. If you read the lyrics and never heard the song, you would never suspect that it's used during the infamous "GOAL" scene in which Misuzu dies.
  • A lot of the remixes in The Idolm@ster are like this, most notably the remix of My Best Friend, wh0ich is a song about having a close friendship with a person the singer has a crush on put to deathmetal.
    • Or the song Inferno has a rocky beat, a hint of a love song in it and basically says that the end of the world is near and everything should burn to ashes. Still in a rocky fashion which can turn this into an ear worm.
  • DanceDanceRevolution: The song "Destiny", a 160-BPM Eurobeat-style tune, with very sad lyrics, eg "You were my destiny, I was clearly for eternity, something came and took you away from me".
    • Similarly, "Broken My Heart".
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    • At first, "Sweet Sweet Magic" sounds like a typical happy hardcore tune, but when it gets to the bridge, the lyrics turn darker and sadder.
    • "Mermaid Girl" is a bubblegum dance song about the story of The Little Mermaid. ...The Un-Disneyfied version where she Did Not Get The Guy and turns into seafoam at the end. Yeah.
  • Shin Megami Tensei
    • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
      • The main theme, “Reincarnation”, fits this trope. Quoting the Fire Emblem wiki, “Though the song has an upbeat tone, the lyrics reference darker desires to destroy, to disappear, and to be reincarnated”.
    • Persona 3
    • Persona 4
      • Persona 4's battle theme: "Reach Out To The Truth", runs into this with the second half of the chorus. It's extremely peppy and upbeat, but the lyrics refer to the victims that are thrown into the TV world and about to be murdered by their own Shadows. This dissonance could be representative of the game itself: which deals with dark themes but still keeps a lighthearted tone.
      • Then there's "Heaven", an upbeat song in the self-titled dungeon about Nanako's loneliness.
      • "Signs of Love", a relaxing theme that plays during downtime periods, has surprisingly depressing lyrics about a failed relationship ("didn't work, honey, cause we had a whole lot going on and on and on"; "you still think that it's nothing but love, rain still falls"). It even gets an epic jazz arrangement in Persona 4: Dancing All Night, featuring an equally sad second verse!
    • Persona 5's regular battle theme, "Last Surprise", is an extremely upbeat song about how the target has been Out-Gambitted and about to be silently assassinated, while also functioning as a bit of a Bragging Theme Tune for the Protagonist.
  • Primal Rage has "Gorge!", an upbeat rock song about mass human sacrifice. It's more played for laughs, though, considering it's the player that the humans are willingly being eaten by.
  • In Command and Conquer Red Alert 2, the Iraqi Desolator unit subverts a cheery Beatles song title for one of his taunts, referencing his radioactive fire weapon: "HERE COMES THE SUN!"
  • Silver the Hedgehog's Image Song, "Dreams of an Absolution", from the Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) sounds like a heavenly Boy Band love song. Bentley Jones, who sings it, even looks like a boy band member. However, with lyrics such as "In the night light, do you still feel your pain?" and "Happiness lies trapped in misery", the song's really about a Kid Hero who has suffered long enough in a hellish Bad Future along with his friends and wants to change it and bring back happiness. It also becomes weirder when you realize the prechorus sounds like the cheerful Green Hill Zone theme everyone knows. This is possibly meant to represent Silver's Pollyanna personality.
  • Death to Squishies from Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is an upbeat, catchy pop song about robots rising up to kill all organic life. The song gets a Boss Remix when you fight the sadist pop star after her Moral Event Horizon.
  • Mega Man 3's Game Over theme, although not having any lyrics, is strangely cheery, but brentalfloss's "WITH LYRICS" version turns it Up to Eleven by, among other things, calling the player a "handicapped vagina scab" and a "wrinkly little poodle cock" and encouraging him to kill himself.
  • The Caligula Effect features a Leitmotif for every Ostinato Musician. The song for the enemy-turned-party-member Keisuke is an upbeat, peppy melody, but the lyrics are about how he enjoyed his childhood more and was hoping to get adoration and attention through little work because he considered himself to be utterly talentless, boring, and generic, while also hoping to find someone who will love 'the me that has nothing'.
  • Sam & Max Save the World:
    • "The War Song" from "Abe Lincoln Must Die!" is a jazzy showtune glorifying the political clout to be gained from war.
      War! What is it good for?
      It's good for you, it's good for me!
      War! What is it good for?
      It strengthens the economy!

      It shows the world that we've got stones
      And carriers with fighter drones!
    • "World of Max", the closing credits song to "Bright Side of the Moon", is a gentle lounge song with lyrics about colorful gore and stabbing things with forks. It also contains scat sections which cut mid-bar into superfast "I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General"-esque breaks played on a hapsichord with the singer jabbering things like "What the hell's a lagomorph? It's like a rabbit but with several semantic differences"
  • The Lebanese song "Al Nadda" was used for the menu for the Civilization: Warlords expansion pack. That treatment of it sounds like this. It plays over a background of a Mongol sitting by a fire at night, resting his sword point on the ground. So what do the lyrics translate as? Gotta be badass shit about killin' infidels or of what is best in life, right?
    O' Nadda, Nadda
    Where roses are blooming on her cheek.
    And if they refuse to give you to me, I will tear down the high mountains.
    O' Nadda, Nadda, Nadda.
    Where roses are blooming on her cheek.
    And if they refuse to give you to me, I will tear down the high mountains.
    Nadda was by the water spring.
    And I asked her why she was not around.
    Nadda was by the water spring.
    And I asked her why she was not around.
    She looked at me with those eyes.
    And she wanted to talk to me and she did not want to
    ** Yup. It's a love song. Admittedly, one of longing, and indeed of a woman whom the singer might well threaten to go to war over...but a love song nonetheless.
  • The song for the Mercenaries 2 commercial "Oh No You Didn't" is a light hip hop/barbershop chorus set to an upbeat piano tune that wouldn't be out of place at an amateur recital or off-Broadway musical. The lyrics are about getting revenge after being betrayed and Shot in the Ass by your employer.
  • The "Super Energy Apocalypse Theme Song" is a hilarious example of this that is obviously done for laughs rather than seriously. The Game itself that is about a Super Energy Apocalypse involving rampaging zombie hordes in the future, is fairly serious, for the most part. it On the title screen here, enter the Konami Code to see the ending credits, where the song is played.
  • With the sheer volume of Touhou remixes, it's inevitable we get quite a few examples
    No matter how many times I hurt you, I want you to keep chasing after me
    Look at me alone with those blind eyes of yours.
  • "Still Alive" from Portal is certainly upbeat for a passive-aggressive gloating song, or a song about how the singer was murdered, torn to pieces, and thrown into a fire.
    • And how it is immortal, and how it will go on long after you're dead.
    • The sequel has "Want You Gone", a catchy, upbeat tune which sounds like it could be a break-up song… if said break-up song included constant references to your own mortality.
    You've got your short, sad life left
    That's what I'm counting on
    I'll let you get right to it
    Now I only want you gone
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, fourth-ranked assassin Margaret has a doubly dissonant boss theme: not only is the music surprisingly upbeat for a Grim Reaper-themed Elegant Gothic Lolita who fights with a pair of rifle scythes, but the actual lyrics clash with the music, forming a diabolically catchy "The Reason You Suck" Speech against Travis Touchdown.
    • Not to mention a jab at the Otaku culture.
      • And the song is sung by Nadia Gifford, otherwise known as the singing of Connie from Steambot Chronicles. So it makes the song extra hilarious when you realize how vastly different the tone of Philistine is compared to In your Voice.
      "Reaper, Reaper", that's what people call me! Why?
      'Cause they all die!
      When I sing, I end their lives
      You act as though payback makes you a noble man
      Is that a fact?
      Well, you're a goddamn Philistine!
    • In No More Heroes, there's also "The Virgin Child Makes her Wish Without Feeling Anything", the song sung by Dr. Peace before his fight. In an interesting variation, instead of upbeat, it plays like a Frank Sinatra song, classy and stylish. It almost sounds like a love song. The lyrics, however seem to be either about a girl killing her own mother, and going to Hell for it, or a girl watching her mother die, and living a hellish life after that.
      Despair the end of the world
      I hear the rising phoenix in my dream
      And the virgin child made her wish upon a star
      That night her mother talks no more.
  • Speaking of Steambot Chronicles, In Your Voice itself is a mostly cheery song about singing your cares away with friends, set to a very somber melody.
  • Space Channel 5 Part 2 has Purge's Theme, a song in Japanese that has an upbeat tempo and Akira Ishida singing. What could possibly go wron-
    People who are troubled and weak
    You will be saved soon
    Puzzled people in pain and sadness
    You will soon be delivered
    Melt your heart to the world peace and dancing
    • ...Oh.
  • The MOTHER soundtrack has "Bein' Friends", which has predictably cheery lyrics. However, despite having a peppy tempo to match, most of the song is in a minor key, with the bridge and ending having an overall very eerie tone.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has Eyes on Me. It's a beautiful song, however, you'd be wrong in thinking its a real love song. It's sung as a lamentation about the fact that the singer only has one more night to spend with their lover before they die. Funnily enough, the song is played before it seems like Rinoa is going to be forced to leave Squall forever, but most people only remember the lovey-dovey theme of the song.
  • "Love You, My One and Only", the song from Remix 8 of Rhythm Heaven Fever, is a jazzy, up-tempo song which the game admits is about unrequited love.
  • Build That Wall sung by Zia in Bastion. A slow, gentle, and mournful song, whose lyrics point to it being a war march by the Ura threatening to tear down Caelondia's walls. Until it's combined with Zulf's song, which somehow makes both songs much more optimistic without changing any of the lyrics.
  • The famous "One-Winged Angel" theme can be this, but only if you know the context of the lyrics. These are lines taken from different Carmina Burana songs.
  • Dead Rising features a trio of Demonic Spider convicts driving around in the mall's open-air plaza with this song blasting from the jeep's speakers. Reading the lyrics (or the title, "Gone Guru") reveals that it's about a guy going on a spiritual journey and then starting a Scam Religion.
  • The main theme of the classic action shooter Cannon Fodder for the Amiga (and pretty much everything else) has a very cheerful and energetic reggae-esque tone to the music and singing, and yet the chorus goes "WAR! Never been so much fun! Go up to your brother, Kill him with your gun, Leave him lying in his uniform Dying in the sun!". This is in keeping with the games satire of the futility of war.
  • A short one, but Sega Rally's memetic Game Over music. It leaves one wondering if the arcade machine is gloating at him/her for losing.
  • Most of the vocal songs in Deemo have this (excluding extra song packs), but Nine point eight seems to be the most notorious. It sounds pretty upbeat and energetic until you realise she's singing about reuniting with her cremated lover...
    Swirling wind sings for our reunion
    And nine point eight is my accelerationnote 
  • Batman: Arkham Knight: Joker's post-mortem song "I Can't Stop Laughing" played straight from the high confines of Bruce's mind takes the cake, a 1940's love swing with the lyrics of how Joker and the other Rogues have effectively ruined Bruce Wayne, slandered Batman forever, and are in the process of killing everyone he cares about. Joker can't stop laughing and dancing and spinning - even if he's dead!
  • One of the Discworld games features "That's Death" by none other than Eric Idle. It's a cheerful and triumphant show-tunes style song that plays after the game's relatively happy ending... except the lyrics are, in essence, suicide encouragement. The narrator is happily singing about how awesome being dead is and much more fun it is than life, so you should just kill yourself. For bonus points it serves as a self-deprecating crack at the game's plot (involving getting Death back to work because without him nothing dies).
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, there is "I am the One", an uplifting song in Dalish that sounds like it's probably a hero's anthem. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, we finally get an English-language version, and it turns out that it's actually about the destruction of Elvhenan, and "the One" is not, in fact, The Chosen One, but one of the few survivors who's been entrusted with remembering all of the old Elvish lore.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles X has "Uncontrollable", an asskicking battle theme with lyrics centered on a rocky relationship.
    Every time I ask the smallest thing
    You get mad, or just ignore.
  • Steel for Humans, one of the battle themes in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a dark, dynamic song with lyrics that sound fairly ominous... even though they are actually taken from an old Bulgarian wedding song and wouldn't fit combat at all if translated into english.
  • Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars has Lead My Love, which plays when you fight Alec when he begs you to kill him before he becomes a monster near the end of the game. To say it's unfitting is an understatement.
  • "Er Lasst Mich Niemals Allein" from Medal of Honor Underground, especially the Translated Cover Version "Each Night He Comes Home To Me", is surprisingly uplifting for a Grief Song sung by a war widow.
  • MadWorld invokes this repeatedly, being Bloody Hilarious.
    Hear the body drop, drop, yeah that shit is so official
    We get it hot, hot, killing it is not an issue
    "I got a problem with you," yeah, I hear that shit a lot
    Then I start to breathe, breathe, then they scream for me to stop
    • It makes it so much more dramatic after suddenly being averted at the end with "So Cold."
    See the bottom line is ya'll ain't fucking it right
    I beat 'em up til the fucking guts busting inside
  • Anarchy Reigns has a few, one of the most extreme being the upbeat "Rock On."
    Party time is all I see
    Stomping over dead bodies
    War is all I need to see
    Dead is all you mean to me
    • "Laughing At U" really has fun with this.
    If you go to war you'll die
    Me brush you and you gon' fry
    Death is falling from the sky
    I'm laughing at you HA HA HA
  • The Yakuza-franchise has these all over the place.
    • Yakuza 0 hade "Fake Love" (the Sunshine Cabaret Club theme) which is a smooth easy listening number... about a hostess who feels trapped in her professional role and that the fake love she sells to her clients has deadened her to the real thing, and slowly has lost track of where the boundaries between her professional and real personality are.
    • Yakuza 6 had a whole bunch.
      • "Today is a Diamond" sounds like a happy, upbeat song, even having the residents of Onomichi joining in. Then you learn it's basically a Please Wake Up song while Haruka is in a coma.
      • "Hands" is a peppy little rock ballad about watching your children grow up, and the conflict between the desire to protect your children and the knowledge that you can't shield them from the world forever, and that they will at some point become the protectors.
      • "Like a Butterfly" is an upbeat, badass nu-metal track, clearly meant to channel M.O.V.E.... but the lyrics are about the singer persona describing her relationship to her criminal and possibly abusive boyfriend, using the butterfly as a metaphor for herself and calling the relationship a spider's web. She is also certain that even if she could break free, she will never fly again in this life.
    • On the other end of the spectrum, "Ijisakura", or more specifically "Ijisakura 2000", is a dark sounding metal track about how hard work and persistence can overcome any obstacles.
  • Far Cry 5: Eden's Gate broadcasts music over their radios that can be quite uplifting to listen to, but the lyrics are all about preparing for the Apocalypse they believe is coming and that they will bring people into their cult, willingly or not.
  • Friday Night Funkin': "Winter Horrorland" is a cheery, slightly mystical-sounding Christmastime song about how much the boss of Week 5 wants to kill and eat the protagonist and his girlfriend.
  • Despite having a human singer, The Caligula Effect has songs written by actual Vocaloid Producers, and thus inherits their habit of favoring this trope quite heavilly.


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