Follow TV Tropes


Lyrical Dissonance / Western Animation

Go To

  • The 7D: In "Buckets", Happy sings Grumpy a bedtime tune not knowing that he's joined by a ghost girl that only Grumpy notices. Her lyrics are comparatively grim and paint her as a Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant:
    Happy: Let pretty pictures fill your head,
    Ghost Girl: Like gargoyles lurking beneath your bed,
    Happy: See peaceful visions in your sleep,
    Ghost Girl: Like howling, red-eyed zombie sheep,
    Happy: You drift away to the land of dreams,
    Ghost Girl: Where nobody can hear your screams... (get an appropriately creepy close-up)
  • Advertisement:
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: When Gumball and Darwin ask the universe what is the meaning of life, the planets decide to sing an upbeat and cheerful song about how people's lives don't matter and everyone is useless, which lasts for millions of Earth years.
  • Adventure Time:
    • Marceline's song about a fisherman from "Henchman":
      "You look so cute sitting in your boat, I wanna suck out your eyeballs and rip out your throat. I wanna suck out your eyeballs... and rip out your throat..."
    • The song she sings in "What Was Missing" also definitely counts:
      "Lada-da-da-da, I'm going to bury you in the ground. Lada-da-da-da, I'm going to bury you with my sound. I'm gonna drink the red from your pretty pink face..."
    • The song she and the Ice King sing together in "I Remember You". Although it spawned from a letter the Ice King wrote to her as he started forgetting her, his love of peppy drums made it sound a lot more upbeat.
      "This magic keeps me alive / But it's making me crazy / And I need to save you / But who's gonna save me? / Please forgive me for whatever I do / When I don't remember you."
    • Advertisement:
    • Another example comes in "The Tower". While Finn is building the eponymous tower, he sings a cutesy little lullaby about violently ripping his father's arm off and reattaching it to his own arm-stub. He literally means to do this.
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 gives us "It's a Dog's Life" from "Life's Ruff". The lively and catchy song is about...Luigi and King Windbag wanting to be human again after Hip and Hop turned them into dogs.
  • Animaniacs:
    • "The Ballad of Magellan", a rather lively and happy-sounding song about Magellan's famous voyage around the world - the one that ended in his death. The song is far more lively than the lyrics, tune, and story (which is actually historically accurate) suggest.
    • "A Quake, A Quake!" is a bouncy, lively tune about the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which resulted in 57 fatalities, about 8,700 injuries, and billions in property damage.
  • Advertisement:
  • Arthur: "The Ballad of Buster Baxter" has Art Garfunkel act as a one-man Greek Chorus to the characters' actions and feelings. This includes a part where he sings a lively song about Buster being "a sad, sad bunny." Buster then broke the fourth wall and demanded Art Garfunkel sing a more melancholy version.
  • Music by Jody Gray are great examples of this trope. Both Arthur's Missing Pal and Clifford's Really Big Movie feature upbeat music... with downer lyrics about the protagonist's lost dog?!? In the latter, the opposite also occurs on a tribute CD: the owner of said big red dog sings upbeat lyrics about her dog to a bitter-sounding tune.
  • Big Mouth: Milks this for all the laughs it can. The Wham Episode "I Survived Jessi's Bat Mitzvah" has the upbeat electric slide "Life is a Fucked Up Mess" in which everyone laments their current troubles (which include Andrew and Missy's break up as well as Jessi's mother having cheated on her father) while happily dancing. As soon as the song ends, everyone is awkward and sad again.
  • The cheerful-sounding theme song of The Bluffers is basically just calling you names. The full version of the song that plays during the show's end credits subverts this - about midway through, it turns into a motivational song that tells you to be tougher and never give up.
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: "Christmastime is Here" has lyrics that describe how wonderful Christmas is ("Fun for all that children call their favorite time of year") but has a very slow, almost melancholy feel to it. This makes it memorable. This acts as Fridge Brilliance as well since Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time, but Charlie Brown finds it depressing.
  • The Critic: "A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera" features an unnamed country's national anthem sound like a repeated chant of "ee-pee, tee-pee, pee-pee, poopy", but has a rather different meaning.
    Vlada: You don't understand! He's singing about all the people who died in the earthquake, fire, and famine of 1805!
    (Audience murmurs regretfully)
    Zoltan: Ee-pee, tee-pee, pee-pee, poopy- (Audience laughs again)
  • "Remember" from Danny Phantom. Sam even scoffs at it for seeming like a mindless pop song. It is actually a depressing song about how a girl was abandoned by a boy. It gets even worse when it turns out it's about Ember's death. Fanon largely took it as a song about Ember committing suicide, however, Word of God says it isn't quite that dark, though not by much. Ember was an unpopular girl who was asked out by a boy who never showed up. She was too exhausted to wake up when a fire broke out in her house and died. Suddenly, Ember's need to be remembered and breakdown when her Popularity Power fails is dramatically less amusing.
  • Drawn Together: "Captain Hero's Marriage Pact" has Foxxy Love's touching ballad in memory of her fallen bandmates, "Crashy Smashy Die Die Die".
  • Family Guy:
  • In one episode of The Flintstones, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm are found singing what sounds like an upbeat, cheery song about how "Smilers never lose, and frowners never win." Do you know why frowners never win? Because THE DEVIL WILL GET YOU IF YOU FROWN.
  • Futurama:
  • In the very first Goodie Gremlin short, the gremlins sing their cheerful, happy anthem to mayhem, war, terror and chaos and the causing thereof.
    We're the gremlins, devilish gremlins
    We're a miserable and underhanded crew
    We delight in dirty tricks, getting people in a fix
    There is nothing that's too mean for us to do!
  • Gravity Falls: "It's Gonna Get Weird" is a sadly Cut Song composed by Neil Cicierega (the guy who created Potter Puppet Pals) that was going to be performed by Bill Cipher in part 1 of the Grand Finale "Weirdmageddon". It's a tune that alternates between tinkly Creepy Circus Music and jazzy show-tune, with lyrics about Bill trying to convince the citizens of Gravity Falls he's doing them a favor by doing weird and terrifying things to their town.
    I'm just a triangle trying to save you
    From the delusions society gave you
    Gravity's a lie, and so is the sky
    Trust in the all-knowing, all-seeing eye!
  • Jem and the Holograms songs are almost always cheery, upbeat 80s pop. Even songs like "Who Is He Kissing?", which is about infidelity, and "Nightmare", about how Jem's life has become a living hell due to gaslighting, are in a peppy tone. Certain songs have fittingly slow rhythms though.
  • Julius Jr.: In "Smellalicious Flower", the gang tries singing Sheree's special staying awake song, which consists of original lyrics about staying awake sung to "Brahms Lullaby".
  • The first verse of the Incredible Hulk's segment of the Grantray-Lawrence Marvel Superheroes show of the mid-1960s:
    Doc Bruce Banner
    Belted by gamma rays
    Turns into the Hulk
    Ain't he unglamour-ays?
  • This is pretty much the entire gimmick of Dethklok on Metalocalypse, as they render everything, from the blues to a jingle for a coffee shop to a birthday song, as over-the-top death metal.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    Rainbow Dash: Three months of winter coolness, and awesome holidays
    Pinkie Pie: We've kept our hoovsies warm at home, time off from work to play
    Applejack: But the food we've stored is runnin' out, and we can't grow in this cold
    Rarity: And even though I love my boots, this fashion's getting old...
    • "The Best Night Ever": "Pony Pokey" is a lively and upbeat song about the Mane Six becoming dissatisfied with the Grand Galloping Gala. It's most evident during Fluttershy's verse while she's chasing the Canterlot critters:
      Pinkie Pie: You stomp your whole self in
      You stomp your whole self out
      You stomp your whole self in
      And you stomp yourself about
      You do the Pony Pokey and you give a little shout—
      Fluttershy: COME OUT!
      Pinkie Pie: That's what I'm talking about!
    • "The Cutie Map – Part 1" has "In Our Town", the cheerful-sounding anthem of Stalight Glimmer's uber-conformist False Utopia. According to songwriter Daniel Ingram, it was based on World War II propaganda songs. The Mane Six clearly notice the dissonance, getting increasingly disturbed apart from Fluttershy, who gets caught up in the mood before Pinkie glowers at her.
      Chorus: In our town, in our town
      We work as a team!
      You can't have a nightmare
      If you never dream!
    • "One Bad Apple": "Babs Seed" is an upbeat, happy song, but it is about how the Cutie Mark Crusaders are being bullied.
  • "Won't You Come over to My House?", best known from the famous short One Froggy Evening. If your memory's a bit hazy or you've never seen it, here's the cartoon (songs only), and here are the full lyrics.
  • PB&J Otter: In "The Singin' Kid", Jelly sings about her friends and family keeping her strong and being true to herself, while at the same time letting fame go to her head.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • In "Meapless in Seattle", the Meaps' war song definitely counts:
    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)
    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)

    De- de- de- de- de- de- de-
    Destroy our enemies!
    La- la- la- la- la- la- la-
    Let's bring them to their knees!

    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)
    We we we we (whee!)
    Are going to war (We're going to war!)
    We're going to war (We're going to war!)
    • In "Norm Unleashed", Norm the Robot Man brings his own cheerful song about conquering the Tri-State area with an array of deadly, built-in "Weaponry".
      If power's on your shopping list
      Then use the elbow and the fist
      Pummel 'em until they get the gist
      Just make an example of
      Representative sample of
      And most of them will not be missed!
    • Candace sings a song called "Give Up" in "Last Train to Bustville". It's a cheerful, upbeat anthem about... giving up. It Makes Sense in Context, since what she's giving up is her obsession with busting her brothers.
    • Baljeet and Buford's song in "Bully Bromance Break-Up" is a power ballad about the relationship between a bully and his victim.
    • In "The Baljeetles", Baljeet sings an angry heavy metal song...called "Gimmie a Grade", that's all about being an overachieving conformist.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show has the "Happy Happy Joy Joy Song". Although the song itself is a deliberately insipid — though insanely catchy — song about being happy sung by Stinky Wizzleteats (an Expy of Burl Ives), it's interspersed with his increasingly insane rantings paraphrased from Ives' role in The Big Country.
    "I told you I'd shoot, but you didn't believe me! Why didn't you believe me?!"
  • In one episode of Rick and Morty, a teenaged Rick ad-libs a cheery guitar song about how his adult body is slowly dying in the garage. Amazingly, Summer is the only one at the party to take the hint.
    Is anybody listening?
    Can anyone understand?
    Stop looking at me like that
    And actually help me!
    Help me!
  • The Island of Misfit Toys segment from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer starts with a song about the toys being unloved and missing out on the joys of Christmas, when the song itself sounds very cheerful.
    If we're on the island of unwanted toys, we'll miss all the fun with the girls and the boys...
  • South Park:
    • "Christmas Time in Hell" is a joyous song with its lyrics actually matching the tune...but it's a song that sings about how the damned get the day off from being horribly tortured.
    • In the episode "The Death Camp of Tolerance", a gerbil named Lemmiwinks is forced to crawl up Mr. Slave's ass and must traverse Mr. Slave's entire digestive system and crawl out the mouth or else he will die. Amusingly, this entire disgusting sequence is described in a song with a merry, adventurous tune reminiscent of the soundtrack to the 1977 Animated Adaptation of The Hobbit.
    • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is built almost entirely on this trope and plays with them:
      • "Up There": A rousing Broadway showtune about loneliness and wanting to get out of a bad place. Sung by Satan. A Satan who is not a complete monster.
      • "La Resistance": "They'll cut your dick in half/ and serve it to a pig./ And though it hurts you'll laugh,/ and dance a dickless jig/ for that's the way it goes/ in war you're shat upon/ though you die, La Resistance lives on." Sung by a choir of eight-year-olds. Eight-year-olds who usually have IQs higher than their parents but with just as questionable moral compasses.
      • "Blame Canada": A rousing march about evading personal responsibility to the extent of going to war with Canada, a country that seems to go out of its way to be America's friend. The song, however, is a satire on American tendency to scapegoat others.
    • Cartman and Cthulhu's Song from South Park episode "Mysterion Rises". Super cheery song about, well, being friends with Cthulhu and going on a rampage with him. Made worse by the fact that it's a spoof of a song from My Neighbor Totoro.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The "Steven and the Crystal Gems" song is in the style of classic rock-'n'-roll songs, and is an homage to Josie and the Pussycats. Its lyrics are quite upbeat at first but then it goes on about how Steven created an Alternate Timeline and how he watched himself (including the original Steven from the start of the episode) die.
    • The song "Do it for Him/Her" from the episode Sworn to the Sword also fits this trope. The song starts as a really nice piano piece about how to fence. It quickly develops into a really nice piano piece about how worthless you are and how you should die defending the person you love, because (s)he's the only one who gives any meaning to your life.
    • The song "On the Run" starts up as an upbeat little tune, Steven's lyrics reflecting whatever he likely thought the No-Home Boys would've thought. Amethyst's turn the song around, however.
      Amethyst: I don't care about what all the others say / Well, I guess there are some things that just never go away / I wish that I could say, "There's no better place than home" / But home's a place that I have never known."
    • The ending theme, "Love Like You", is a sweet little lullaby-like piano tune, and the full lyrical version is sung sweetly enough that you could hear it as just a nice, relaxing song. Except that the lyrics are actually the singer lamenting what a terrible person they are compared to the person they're singing to. Made worse when Rebecca Sugar later revealed that end theme can be read as herself having a series of epiphanies about herself in relation to all the people in her life who look to her for guidance:
      I always thought I might be bad, now I'm sure that it's true
      'Cause I think you're so good, and I'm nothing like you
    • In Steven Universe: Future Steven's Silly Love Song to Connie "I'd Rather be Me with You" seems really sweet until the the viewer remembers that Steven is basically saying he doesn't know/like who he is without Connie.
  • When used in Teen Titans, Puffy AmiYumi's "Shiawase" ("Happiness") sounds like a bouncy, lively song. The lyrics, however, when translated to English, don't seem quite so innocent.
  • One episode of Tiny Toon Adventures did a music video of "Particle Man" by They Might Be Giants (which the band approved of) with an odd twist. Although the lyrics were not changed, Universe Man was just as mean to Particle Man (played by Plucky) as Triangle Man was, despite what the lyrics said. You can see it here.
  • In the Turbo FAST episode "Turboldly Go", Chet and Smoove Move sing an upbeat, show tune-y song about them dying in space.
  • VeggieTales:
    • Some of the Silly Songs With Larry invoke this. From an 80s love ballad...about cheeseburgers to a tango...about manatees, the team purposely make the music sound completely authentic to the genre while keeping the silly lyrics.
    • The episode Rack, Shack and Benny plays this a little more seriously with the exposition song, "Good Morning George", pairing a grandiose score with lyrics (mostly) pointing out how bad the chocolate factory workers have it.
      "Because we work real hard at the chocolate factory,
      We start at eight, and we don't get lunch 'til three -
      We work the whole week through, to make a buck or two,
      So we can send them home to our families!"
  • Wander over Yonder:
    • Wander's bouncy, happy birthday song for Lord Hater in "The Birthday Boy" has some comically dark lyrics about impending mortality.
      Wander: It's your happy birthday
      Here's your happy birthday song
      And your birthday best be happy
      'Cause you won't be around for long!
      Sylvia: So try not to be so sad
      About your impending doom
      Someday we'll light birthday candles
      On your frigid tomb!
    • In "My Fair Hatey", Lord Dominator's Villain Song/"I Am" Song "I'm the Bad Guy" combines a bouncy, jazzy tune with cheerful vocals about how she loves to cause wanton mayhem and destruction and crush people's hopes.
      Oh, it's magic
      To watch a planet
      Shrivel up and die!

      Oh, it's thrillin'
      To be a villain
      I destroy their homes
      And then I watch them cry!
      (*demented giggling*)
      'Cause I'm the bad guy!
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?:
    • The song "The Violin", by Brian Dewan, is included on the album Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, notably a kid's show. It is set to decidedly upbeat, Irish-sounding music. The song's lyrics discuss a kid who is constantly trying to break away from his controlling parents' desire to make him learn the violin, getting snubbed by his crush for someone who does, and then ultimately drowning in a shipwreck. It's a children's album, fun for the whole family!
    • The titular song by Rockapella could qualify, as a peppy upbeat number about an impossible-to-catch criminal and her various misdeeds.
  • Histeria!: The Sound of Stalin is a catchy, upbeat song set to a generally peppier and more fast-paced version of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music, with the show's recurring kid characters doing the chorus. The lyrics to the song are The Long List of Stalin doing all sorts of horrible, tyrannical things to cheer himself up.
    Kid Chorus: Spying on Lenin and murdering Trotsky,
    Vexing the West with his Communist plotsky,
    Turning your dreams into scary nightmares,
    Stalin: That is the way I forget all my cares!

    Kid Chorus: Feasting like Ivan while serfs live on rations,
    Conquering dozens of satellite nations,
    Stalin: Starting my own personality cult,
    Doing away with those who might revolt.
    Kid Chorus: Sending your critics to rot in Siberia,
    That's how you get populations to fear ya,
    Building a wall down the streets of Berlin,
    Stalin: That kind of thing makes me flash quite a grin!
  • The Beast's song "The Jolly Woodsman" from Over the Garden Wall is as jaunty as any romp in the woods, but the lyrics involve beckoning young people to be Driven to Suicide and join his forest permanently when life seems overwhelmingly tough.
    The Beast: When the fog of life surrounds you / when you feel you've lost your way / come with me and join the forest / come with me and join the flame! / Tra la la la, tra la la la / youth is such a fragile thing. / Tra la la la, tra la la la / a fragile thing is what it is."
  • A lot of the songs from Checkered Ninja base their comedy on mixing stereotypical genre melodies with ridiculous lyrics. For instance, a song played at a Junior High Schooler party sounds like a stereotypical club track, while the lyrics are all about a guy insisting that everybody at the party needs to try his homemade pesto.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: