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Misaimed Fandom / Music

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He's the one
Who likes all our pretty songs
And he likes to sing along
And he likes to shoot his gun
But he knows not what it means
Nirvana, Nevermind, "In Bloom"

A lot of people don't seem to listen to song lyrics. And it doesn't only happen with people to whom the language in which the song is sung isn't their first language. Even people who can speak and understand the language perfectly often misinterpret the lyrics. They hear a pleasant melody or a nice refrain and don't bother to listen and think about the other lines. Other times they interpret the message of a song as the complete opposite of what the singer or group intended. Or think that the singer actually is sincere when he's being satirical. Sometimes they've simply misheard the lyrics, but often it's just a matter of being too lazy or ignorant to really read the text. Even perfectly intelligent and perceptive people often simply can't make out the words, or catch very little of the music they listen to. They're lucky if they can get the choruses right. So in the music world, Misaimed Fandom is not restricted to Stealth Parodies. It can affect anybody at any time. (If you cue up a song at a wedding without looking up the lyrics, that's still on you.) No wonder some songs get a Misaimed Fandom.


Note how close typical pratfalls of a Repurposed Pop Song to this.

Note: Try to put examples in the appropriate category and alphabetically according to artist. Also clearly explain why the fandom is misaimed.

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     Music that is not meant to be a romantic love song: 
  • Probably the most common example. Songs that just mention the word "love" are often interpreted as being romantic, while a lot of them are actually a Break Up Song, a Grief Song, an Obsession Song (where the desire is rather creepy) or even an Anti-Love Song. With the latter category the message is more often: Love Hurts. The singer feels that love only leads to painful lovesickness or breakups. Or he actually pokes fun at naïve people who value love and as a result the song is flatout about Intercourse with You. In some cases the relationship described in a song is actually abusive. And then there are so-called love songs that are actually about different subjects, like love for God (God-Is-Love Songs), love for your country (Patriotic Fervor) or love for peace and humanity.
  • "Marry You" by Bruno Mars has been used for numerous actual marriage proposals, probably because the chorus contains the line "hey baby, I think I wanna marry you." However, reading the rest of the lyrics paints quite a different picture. The first line of the song is "it's a beautiful night, we're looking for something dumb to do," and the singer frequently mentions how he's had too much to drink. Mars even sings "when we wake up, if you wanna break up, that's cool," painting the marriage as a very spur-of-the-moment thing because the singer and his ladyfriend were drunk and had nothing better to do.
  • "American Woman" is a classic, although the lyrics can be interpreted differently. At best, however, it's not a very flattering portrayal of the kind of women the band encountered in the cities. Then again, it may be most popular with American men, so...
    • "I don't want your war machines/I don't want your ghetto scenes" takes the song in an explicitly political direction that is often overlooked - the "Woman" here is America herself. The Guess Who were Canadian, after all. Then again, this song is from The Sixties, a time when many Americans (especially those protesting the war) agreed with those viewpoints. The 60s was the era for protest songs. The Guess Who themselves are divided on what the song was about, as Randy Bachman (one of the band members and one of the writers) has stated that it is an anti-war protest, written after an incident where they were almost drafted while playing in the States, and then later on the same tour they played back home in Canada and noticed that a large part of their audience was made up of draft dodgers. On the other hand, Burton Cummings (one of the other band members and writers) has said that is has nothing to do with that, and that it really was just about American women, as he thought that "girls in the States seemed to get older quicker than our girls and that made them, well, dangerous", and the song was about how he liked Canadian women better. So both interpretations are completely valid. note 
    • Either way, it still didn't make sense for American Lenny Kravitz to dust it off in the late-nineties for a thudding cover version that seems to be directed at an actual woman.
  • "King of Anything" by Sara Bareilles is not the type of song you'd want to sing to someone you like; it's about hating a passive-aggressive person who wants to rule you.
  • The Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" from Revolver was actually written by Paul McCartney as an ode to marijuana. But in this case it's forgiven, because you can't tell this from hearing/reading the lyrics.
  • Bedouin Soundclash's original "May You Be The Road" has been interpreted as a love song, when it's actually about escaped criminals asking each other if they would sacrifice themselves for them (this is made clear in the video).
  • "Brick" by Ben Folds Five is written like a melancholy love ballad, and most people tend to think of it as such. However, on listening to the lyrics you find out it's a melancholy ballad about taking your girlfriend to get an abortion.
  • Con te partirò ("Time To Say Goodbye") by Andrea Bocelli is not a parting song; the two lovers are not saying goodbye to each other, they are leaving together (as indicated by the original Italian title, - "I will leave with you").
  • Thanks to some inconsistent enunciation, Hook by Blues Traveller sounds like an articulate love song with a catchy chorus. It's actually a snarky song about how all you need to have a hit song is throw in some random historical and literary references, mention love and rage, and toss in a good hook, and rock fans will eat it up. It became a hit, of course.
  • Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue's "Where the Wild Roses Grow" is apparently a popular choice for slow dancing. Yet Cave clearly sings about seducing and murdering a young woman (well, what do you expect from a song taken from an album called Murder Ballads?).
  • Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" often gets played a lot due to its chorus, which tells of a couple driving in their car at night as a form of entertainment to distract them from their poor lot in life. Sadly, most people ignore the rest of the lyrics, which details that poor lot: the girl's father is a miserable alcoholic who her mother abandoned, forcing her to quit school to care for him; by the end of the song, the cycle has repeated, and the girl leaves her now-husband (and possibly her children), who has also become a miserable alcoholic. Xiu Xiu's cover makes the true meaning much more apparent.
  • "Dance Me to the End of Love" by Leonard Cohen is considered by many fans and cover musicians to be a passionate love song. However, according to Leonard Cohen, the song is in fact about the Holocaust. In other words, all those "sexy" lyrics tell the story of a Jewish couple struggling to hold on to their love life before Nazis show up and take them away to concentration camps. A wee bit disturbing, don't you think?
    • To be fair, the majority of the blame for this can be chalked up to Madeline Peyroux's cover of the song, which is done in a smooth jazz style, going for a Hotter and Sexier feel, especially with Peyroux's seductive singing style.
  • Crash Into Me by Dave Matthews Band seems to be considered a sweet and romantic song by the people who don't listen to the lyrics. It's actually about a voyeur wanking and fantasising about the girl he's watching.
  • Death Cab for Cutie's song "I Will Possess Your Heart" also has the Lyrical Dissonance thing going on; it's got an upbeat, pleasant sound, but it's another Stalker with a Crush song.
  • Evanescence's "My Immortal" shows up on lots of wedding albums, likely due to its chorus: "When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears \ When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears \ And I held your hand through all of these years \ But you still have all of me." The song is actually about someone who's gone, and their absence is devastating the singer. Common interpretations are about an abusive ex-lover that the singer still wants even though she knows it's wrong, or a loved one that's died whom the singer terribly misses. And given that the Face of the Band wrote several songs about the death of her sister, one has to wonder why a song about a woman jilted by someone's absence is a good song to play at a wedding reception.
  • Austrian singer Falco's song "Jeanny" is usually mistaken as a love song. Its lyrics depict the insanity of a serial rapist and killer stalking his soon-to-be next victim. It's exactly helped by how the song's lyrics are in German save for the chorus in English; said chorus' lyrics are easy to mistake as the "narrator" asking his "target" to pay attention to him.
  • There are people who consider "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses to be a romantic song, and some of them have even had the song played at their weddings. It is not a love song; if you pay attention to the lyrics the song is actually about two people gradually falling out of love with each other.
  • Billy Idol's "White Wedding" gets played at a number of weddings, despite the fact that it is intended to be a protest against his little sister having a Shotgun Wedding.
  • "When You Look Me In The Eyes", as made famous by the Jonas Brothers, is a God Is Love Song but is largely interpreted a a romance song.
  • "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas was often used as a make-out song by teenagers in the 1970s and 1980s because of its soft, acoustic sound. It is not a romantic song; paying attention to the lyrics will reveal that it's a very dark song about the inevitability of death and how insignificant individual lives are in the grand scheme of things.
  • Two songs by hide often get this, as a result of Lyrical Dissonance running headlong into the Language Barrier and people not checking translations. Those are "Eyes Love You" and "Genkai Haretsu."
    • "Eyes Love You" is a scathing indictment of empty, possessive relationships (and possibly Hollywood fake glamour, with one of its remixes even being called the "Death Hollywood" version) implying the predator's desire to commit Date Rape via drugs in one line (which could also refer to Hollywood/the music scene's use of drugs to hook people into situations they don't desire). Either way it's a very complicated, conflicted song, and NOT a love song in any sense of the word (in fact, the English lines make that abundantly clear with "My eyes love you, but my heart can't love you, so...")
    • "Genkai Haretsu" gets it even worse. It's often seen as a "love song" or "summer jam" due to its fast guitar and upbeat sound... except a look at the PV or the lyrics will tell you that the entire song is about a Villain Protagonist engaging in Date Rape, and finally poisoning and necrophilia because he believes Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny, and wants to "break the limits" with... a dead victim.
  • Ever since Bowling for Soup did a PG cover of Modern English's "I Melt with You" it has become known as a sweet song between two close people culminating in Hershey using it for a commercial with a mother and son. The original song is actually about making love during a nuclear holocaust.
  • Also on the topic of love songs, "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails (colloquially known as the "fuck-you-like-an-animal song") is considered, by some of its listeners, to be a wonderfully hot and sexy song. Yet the lyrics are very, very clearly about a psychological wreck of a man using sex as an escape from his own self-loathing. Romantic, huh Then again, that's kind of the point. It's got a "porno music" beat (what with the song being about sex) but the actual lyrics are closer to Nightmare Fuel and if they ever let their attention get distracted to the lyrics during the act, its stands a fair chance of killing the mood pretty quickly.
    • Admittedly, given the meme that crazy people are better in bed, the madness might be part of the appeal.
    • There's also the alternate interpretation that the song is from the point of view of an intravenous drug
    • Speaking of Nine Inch Nails, the same album features a song named "Big Man With A Gun", a scathing indictment of misogyny. Some people honestly believe it's about how cool it is to be hyper masculine and exert your control over a woman.
    • The entire album of The Downward Spiral is about the negative effects of Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.
  • On the topic of "love" songs, people dedicate the Dolly Parton or Whitney Houston versions of "I Will Always Love You" to their loved ones. Either they realize that the song is about leaving somebody, or they don't. Notably, this PSA featuring a cover of that song was very careful to omit the parts that made it sound like a Break-Up Song, making it sound more like a song about the different kinds of love.
  • Pearl Jam's "Better Man" is a song about a woman rationalizing her place in an abusive relationship. And yet, at any given concert performance, you can see couples lovingly singing it to one another; on at least one occasion, a man proposed to his girlfriend during the song with the lyrics "She lies and says she's in love with him". The song has even been heard sung to a bride by members of a wedding party in a karaoke bar! That is both horrible and hysterical.
  • A lot of people have (mis)interpreted the song "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry as a gay rights/lesbian love anthem. That's missing the point, because anyone who's actually paid any attention to the lyrics will plainly recognize that it's just a humorous song about a straight girl taking advantage of another girl just for amusement. If anything, it's more of a Take That! at the stereotype of promiscuous lesbians, and the men who love to watch them. Mad TV once did a parody of this song that addressed the Girl on Girl Is Hot trope (at least in the first verse). It can also be interpreted as a theme song for the bicurious, which causes more of this.
  • "Every Breath You Take" by The Police is often played as a ballad of love, when in fact it's anything but. Sting wrote it while his first marriage was disintegrating, and its lyrics about a protagonist stalking his wife are meant to show the fine line between love and obsession. Sting himself was so disturbed by the size of the Misaimed Fandom that he wrote "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" specifically to tell them off.
    • That observation can be made about the song's entire parent album Synchronicity. Despite its endless airplay in the early 1980s, Synchronicity is a remarkably dark album. The heavy-rotation "Synchronicity II" deals with the humiliating and probably murderous meltdown of a harried English father. "Tea in the Sahara" follows deceived and lovelorn sisters to their deaths. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" is a first-person narrative about a man, who is seduced by an older woman he ultimately jilts in order to punish her for becoming too possessive of him, with it implied that she'll kill herself without him. Do we even need to mention "King of Pain" and "Mother"? Yet fans and DJs could not stop playing the goddamn record. Weird...
  • Radiohead's song "Nude" from In Rainbows is often taken to be some sort of love song or ballad, by people who a) don't actually listen to the lyrics of songs and b) have never heard of Lyrical Dissonance. In reality, it's almost definitely about masturbation (or at the very least, adultery). It's still a very elegant song about how the physical pleasure derived from such acts does not equate to emotional pleasure, but it's definitely not a love song. Their song "Creep" is often quoted on pro-anorexia websites, for its lines "I don't care if it hurts/I wanna have control/I want a perfect body/I want a perfect soul".
    • The original OK Computer era version of "Nude", known as "Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)" contains the extra lyrics "She stands stark naked and she beckons you to bed/Don't go, you'll only want to come back again". This supports the idea that the song is about adultery. Alternatively, in keeping with the theme of physical vs emotional fulfillment, it could be about someone in a relationship that he knows will never be about anything more than casual sex and wants to break it off because he is emotionally unfulfilled, but keeps coming back for the sex.
  • R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" appears to be a straightforward love song ("This one goes out to the one I love") but the idea that the one I love is "a simple prop to occupy my time" and is ultimately replaced by "another prop" is usually lost between the choruses. That's partially because the song itself is unclear as to the antecedent of "a simple prop". Michael Stipe once referred to the song as one about "using people over and over again."
  • During the 2005 German federal election, future chancellor Angela Merkel's party attempted (and failed) to obtain the rights to use The Rolling Stones song "Angie" as the official song for her campaign. Considering that the song features lines like "But Angie, Angie, ain't it time we said good-bye?", the Stones probably did them a favour by denying them the rights. It doesn't even sound a bit like a triumphant song, like the kind politicians want to use.
  • The Stone Temple Pilots song "Sex Type Thing" was interpreted as sexy or edgy by some, when it was intended to ironically represent the typical attitude of a rapist.
  • "Only Hope", originally by Switchfoot but more famously sung by Mandy Moore, is supposed to be a Christian song but almost no one sees it that way.
  • The Three Days Grace song "Over and Over" was about singer Adam Gontier's addiction to oxycontin, NOT A RELATIONSHIP.
  • U2's "One" is often played at weddings. The Edge reportedly gets rather pissed off about this, seeing as how the lyrics are about a relationship that is clearly unhealthy and codependent. The lyrics contain such gems as "Will it make it easier on you, now you got someone to blame?" and "we hurt each other, then we do it again". Why anybody thinks this is a good wedding tune is beyond The Edge.
  • "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe, was a popular (and overplayed) song. Take a listen to the lyrics and be baffled. Bonus: In the introduction of this performance, the lead singer says he wanted to write the most deeply upsetting song possible. Ironically, people loved it because of how twisted it was. It's a very good song, and if you listen to exactly what it's saying (it's hard to miss the point on this one) it always brings a lump to the throat. It's upsetting, but it's upsetting because it has a powerful sense of human frailty and the fragility of love.
  • Jason Wade from Lifehouse was surprised that people largely interpret "Hanging by A Moment" as a romance, possibly friendship, song when it's highly spiritual to him.
  • Valentine's Day 2011, a bunch of romantic singing teddy bears were put out which played a certain love song when you touched a button on them. One of the songs? "What is Love?". Yes, you read that right. And one of the first lines that would play when the teddy bears were turned on was "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more." Either they intended for it to be a novel and slightly cruel way to tell someone your relationship sucks, or someone was playing a massive prank, or someone honestly didn't get it.
  • "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town has nothing to do with women falling for women. The singer makes it clear she's interested in this woman due to pure envy. She wants her man, not her. Of course you can view the object of the singers affectionates as also being female but Word of God is that wasn't the intentions.
  • "Careless Whisper" by George Michael is known as a very sensual song however it's not an Intercourse with You song. It's actually a pretty angsty song despite its tune. It's about falling for a friend you can't be with.
  • At first glance "Why Can't I?" by Liz Phair seems like a fluffy, Silly Love Song. However it's about the singer cheating on her boyfriend with another man, who is also cheating on his girlfriend. The couples break up halfway through the song but the song is heavy on the Unresolved Sexual Tension. It's quite a sexual song but many listeners think it's just a chaste song about falling in love.
  • You hear a lot of people mention "Dilemma" by Nelly reminds them of their romance or otherwise consider it a cute, romantic song. It's about the singer cheating with a woman and trying to get her to leave her man.
  • Way too many people think "My Boots" by Lights is about a woman. She's singing about winter.
  • The song "Easy" is often requested as a love song but if you actually listen to the lyrics it's about a man leaving his girlfriend and how much better he feels for it.
  • The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" is sometimes taken as a romantic duet, when singer Philip Oakey meant it as "a nasty song about sexual power politics". Despite the peppy, danceable music, the song is clearly a duet between an emotionally abusive Svengali and a protegee who has wised up and is trying to get away from him.
  • Placebo's "My Sweet Prince" is about heroin addiction, not a romance.
  • Tupac Shakur's "Me and My Girlfriend" is frequently mistaken for a romantic song about an Outlaw Couple. In reality the "girlfriend" is a gun.
  • "You Raise Me Up," originally by Secret Garden but made more famous by Josh Groban, is often misconstrued as either a romantic or religious song. It was actually a tribute by Secret Garden member Rolf Lovland to his deceased mother.
  • The Within Temptation "Aquarius" has nothing to do with the horoscope and it especially isn't about person under the horoscope. Sharon's talking about how she loves the ocean, thus the lines "For you, the sea, set me free". She's describing how she loves the ocean despite it being dangerous ("They say I'm seeking out the danger/That one day you won't let me go").
  • Deftones song "Digital Bath" sounds sensual however it's actually about someone electrocuting their lover in a bathtub.
  • Cry Baby in Melanie Martinez's "Pacify Her" is not supposed to be sympathetic. She is a jealous girl who wants to break up a happy couple because she loves a boy. Fans, however, usually side with Cry Baby over the boy's girlfriend.
  • Ariana Grande: In "thank u, next", Ariana mentions a girl named "Ari" when talking about her history of relationships. Ari is herself, but many fans misunderstood the third-person references and thought she had a girlfriend. The mistake even gets mentioned in the music video. One boy says that he heard that Ariana was dating a woman named "Aubrey".
  • As Todd in the Shadows once pointed out, the song "You Really Got A Hold On Me" by Smokey Robinson is often mistakenly perceived as a romantic love song. The song is actually about a toxic/codependent relationship that the singer feels he can't get out of (hence his submissive-sounding singing of the song's title).
  • Lori Lieberman's "Killing Me Softly With His Song", which later became a hit for Roberta Flack and The Fugees, isn't actually a romantic love song. It was inspired by Don McLean after Lieberman saw him perform on stage and is about that feeling you get when you hear a song that resonates deeply with you.
  • "Saving All My Love for You", most famously covered by Whitney Houston, is often chosen as a wedding song. The song is explicitly about the singer having an affair with a married man, with lines such as "You've got your family and they need you there" and "My friends try and tell me find a man of my own".
  • Quite a lot of listeners seem to believe "I Threw Glass at My Friend's Eyes and Now I'm Probation" by Destroy Boys is about the point-of-view of a Tsundere singing to the guy she likes but refuses to admit it entirely. In actuality it's about the complex psychological effects grooming has and is in the point-of-view of the victim. You'd think the lyric "You're like way older than me and you're gross" would say it all.

     Music that is not as deep as some people read into: 
  • This phenomenon occurs when listeners assume a certain musical piece or song has some kind of higher message or deeper meaning, while in reality it's about a mundane topic or Exactly What It Says on the Tin. So a song about bread is actually about bread and not about man's life's struggles. This happens a lot to artists who are know for writing more introspective lyrics, so it's hard to blame their followers for assuming they always mean something metaphorically, instead of literally.
  • Jimmy Buffett
    • "Cheeseburger in Paradise" was inspired by Buffett being forced to eat only canned food and peanut butter due to a boating mishap in the Caribbean. When he eventually made landfall, he ordered a cheeseburger, and was very grateful to have eaten it. There's a small subset of parrotheads who think the song has a much deeper meaning than it actually does. To their credit, the line "I'm just a cheeseburger in paradise" fits in rather well with Buffett's whole persona of taking it easy on the islands. But there's some really off-the-wall theories as to what the song is about. All of these theories are inaccurate; Buffett has said multiple times that the song is about cheeseburgers.
    • His signature song, "Margaritaville", is a melancholy song about a loser who's drinking his life away in a tourist town on a beach somewhere — a woman was involved somehow, but at the end he acknowledges "it's my own damned fault" that his life is so empty and turned out the way it has. Fans took the song as a party anthem, and Jimmy rolled with it.
  • The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" was actually intended as a Take That! to people who looked for hidden messages in Beatles songs. All the Word Salad Lyrics make no sense at all. Still, some fans have wondered what the song is about and tried to analyze it nevertheless. This caused Lennon to make a Call-Back to the song twice, once on The White Album's trope naming "Glass Onion" ("And here's another clue for you all: the walrus was Paul") and a final time in "God" from his solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band ("I was the walrus, but now I'm just John").
  • "Loser" by Beck is often believed to be a parody of the overly depressive Grunge songs that were popular in the 1990s, exemplified by the line "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me?" and was once even listed as such on this page. However according to Beck himself it is not, and was mostly completely improvised by Beck on the spot during a recording session. Upon listening to his rapping played back, Beck thought it was absolutely terrible and came up with the "Loser" chorus about his own rapping skill, making the song quite literal.
  • Since Peter Gabriel is known for writing serious, intellectual songs, a number of his fans refuse to believe that "Sledgehammer" is an Intercourse with You song, thinking that it may be about the music industry, or something similar. Never mind the fact that not only has he written steamy songs beforenote , but he himself has said that the song is about sex.
  • Marilyn Manson's "This is the new shit" was written as a satire on artists who make shallow Darker and Edgier work because they think it's automatically more "grown-up" or "deeper", and fans who unthinkingly embrace that perspective. Inevitably, it got many fans who didn't see the sarcasm.
  • On his album Alice, Tom Waits has a song called "Poor Edward" (a song about a guy with a woman's face on the back of his head that he refers to as his "devil twin"), that is usually taken to be an allegory about a marriage falling apart. In reality, it's a song about a guy with a woman's face on the back of his head that he refers to as his "devil twin".
    • A lot of Tom Waits' output sounds like deeply meaningful allegory, when in reality it's just a literal demonstration of Waits' unique imagination. The song "Underground" from Swordfishtrombones sounds like an allusion to the hidden parts of society, but really is just about a dream Tom had involving dwarves.
  • Queen's "Bicycle Race" is often misinterpreted as Freddie Mercury's ode to his own bisexuality. It is simply a song about riding and racing bicycles.
  • Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's first song "Why Do You Want Him?" was long believed to be written about Billie Joe's abusive stepfather. However, Billie Joe clarified during an interview that the song was simply about a generic abusive man and a woman who doesn't deserve to be treated badly by him, inspire by The Beatles' "You're Going to Lose That Girl."
  • When it first came out, a lot of people assumed that the Pink Floyd song "Learning to Fly" was about personal freedom and self-liberation, since its lyrics include a lot of "wide open spaces in the sky" imagery. Nope. Turns out, its actually about becoming a pilot. You know... learning to fly.
  • A lot of people think "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M. is a dark, satirical attack on Chinese communist propaganda and get furious at anyone who dismisses it as lightweight pop fluff. But Word of God is, and always has been, that it really is lightweight pop fluff, done for a laugh, and they now regret it... not because people missed the deeper meaning, but because it never had any in the first place.
  • "An Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter", the hidden track on Mansun's first album, is about this subtrope. "The lyrics aren't supposed to mean that much/it's just a vehicle for a lovely voice/they aren't supposed to mean that much."
  • Nik Kershaw's "The Riddle" has lyrics that sound full of deep metaphors about... something. Actually, the lyrics were just placeholders meant to test the song's flow, but were never changed afterwards, resulting in a song that doesn't really mean anything but kind of sounds like it does. Despite this, many people still claim to know the "hidden" meaning of the song and to have "solved" the titular riddle.
  • Regurgitator's biggest hit "Polyester Girl" from 1997 is sometimes assumed to be a commentary about sex as a commodity or pushing the limits of romantic bonding. To be fair, they don't shy away from social commentary, and discussed the sex industry on "World of Sleaze" and touched on it on "Modern Life", both from the same album. However, Quan Yeomans descibed the song as a "throwaway" about "a man pledging fidelity to a sex doll."

     Music that is not about atheism, agnosticism, paganism or rejecting faith: 
  • In general songs where religion, God or not thinking for yourself are criticized can be a critique of religion, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the musician himself is religious and/or only wants to make a statement against religious fundamentalism, not faith in general. Also these are not necessarily songs that are praised by atheists. They can also be songs that are criticized by religious people because they think it attacks their religion.
  • Many fans of modern Christian Rock, or even Ambiguously Christian rock, bands don't tend to take the songs into a religious sense. Many are surprised to hear the bands are Christian.
  • Metallica's song "The God That Failed" is sometimes misinterpreted by both Moral Guardians and atheist groups as an anti-religious anthem. In truth, it's about James Hetfield's mother, who died of cancer by relying strictly on faith healing rather than seeking professional medical treatment. The "God" referred to in the song's title is actually her personal idea of God, hence the word "The" in the song's title. It has nothing to do with general religious faith; it's about James Hetfield expressing anger at his mother that she could have easily gotten the cancer treated, but chose not to out of a warped perversion of her faith.
  • Lacuna Coil's "Heaven's A Lie" is NOT a song about atheism or rejecting faith, according to both vocalists who sing the song. The "Heaven" in the title refers to an unattainable, overly-optimistic ideal, or anything too good to be true. This is particularly obvious when the first line of the chorus is "Set me free, your heaven's a lie."
  • Some people think that the Screeching Weasel song "The Science of Myth" is a great Take That! to Christianity. It's actually about taking elements from science and from theology, and respecting that both fields of study are valuable and important to humanity. Ironically, it's one of the few Screeching Weasel songs that isn't just a Take That! of extreme sarcasm.
  • "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M. is not about becoming an atheist/losing faith. It is a song about obsession and unrequited love. The confusion has to do with listeners being unfamiliar with an expression from the American South and taking it literally: "losing my religion" means "losing my temper" or "being at the end of my rope". The music video, with all its religious imagery, does not help.
  • "Godless" by The Dandy Warhols is not about atheism. It's about the breakup of a relationship when one person didn't realize what the other one was really like.
  • Despite their name and their religion rant songs, Bad Religion are not an anti-religious band. They say they use religion as a metaphor for anything that limits free thought or expression; and their religion rant songs aren't anti-theistic, plus Mr. Brett has denied being an atheist. It's possible their appearance at the Reason Rally was done to throw their Misaimed Fandom off.

     Music that is not an ode to capitalism, consumerism, materialism, bureaucracy or working: 
  • Songs that mention an office, a brand, spending money and buying products aren't always glorifications of this trope. They usually criticize money drift and the shallowness of following a certain trend, product or lifestyle that endorses consumerism. Also expect a lot of these anti-consumerism songs to be used in commercials!
  • Norwegian/Danish glam pop group Aqua had its song "Barbie Girl" first believe it was a celebration of meaningless culture and partying, getting it attacked by a few Moral Guardians. The song is actually making fun of such shallow people, using Barbie as a mode to mock that; the lyrics include such lines as "I'm a blonde bimbo girl in a fantasy world" and "life is your creation." Mattel would eventually sue Aqua over the song... and later, use the song in its commercials.
  • For some reason, Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business" is often used as background music to videos about working. Even office supply retail chain Office Depot once used the song in many of its ads, also making "Taking Care of Business" the slogan for the whole company. The song itself is really about a bunch of people who laze around all day and do nothing, creating quite the contrast (ironically, a station promo for Australian digital radio station MMM Classic Rock suggested "Maybe the reason millennials are so lazy is because they don't have a song about takin' care of business"). The title "Takin' Care of Business" is meant sarcastically.
    If you ever get annoyed
    Look at me, I'm self-employed
    And I love to work at nothin' all day
  • "Ma petite entreprise" by French singer/songwriter Alain Bashung is a bit cryptic, but the interpretation that makes the most sense is that it's about masturbation and/or prostitution. Yet, as the title and first lines can be translated as "My small business is never affected by the recession", A LOT of people think the song is a celebration of entrepreneuship and small businesses. There was even a movie named after it (My Little Business) about an entrepreneur who tries to save his small company from bankrupcy, and a TV commercial for a delivery van that used the song and featured Bashung himself claiming with a straight face, probably while trying hard not to laugh, that he wrote the song as a tribute to one of his friends who was a small business owner.
  • Some Brazilian adaptations of certain songs take their melodies and adapt them with completely different lyrics, like Kelly Key's version of "Barbie Girl", which glorifies the lifestyle the original mocked, and Latino's infamous version of "Gangnam Style", which turns an ironic look at upper-class Korean lifestyle into a generic party and sex song about a bachelor party.
  • "Bills Bills Bills" by Destiny's Child is often assumed to be a gold diggers' anthem. But if you actually listen to the lyrics, it's about dating someone who is All Take and No Give.
  • David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (and Peter Schilling's German-language remake "Major Tom") were each used in a Lincoln car commercial, to evoke a sense that driving a cool, powerful Lincoln is like blasting off into space. Odd, since both songs are about an equipment failure in a vehicle that kills the occupant. The fact that the astronaut protagonist of the song burns up on reentry and dies seems to have been overlooked by the creators of the advertisements.
    • Plus, his wife is cheating on him in the Schilling video, subverting any hints at a Fancy Cars Make You Sexy trope.
      • Plus the "astronaut lost in space" is almost certainly a metaphor for drug addiction, as suggested by Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) song "Ashes To Ashes": "We know Major Tom's a junkie"
    • This misperception literally reached new heights when SpaceX launched a real car into space; supposedly it was playing "Space Oddity" on its speakers, although this probably didn't work too well in a vacuum.
  • Janis Joplin had her well-known anti-consumerist anthem "Mercedes Benz" used in ads to sell Mercedes-Benz cars.
  • Madonna's "Material Girl" from Like a Virgin was a sarcastic jab at consumerism; but it was interpreted by many as a fun, happy-go-lucky celebration of material luxuries: few noted the Lyrical Dissonance. When Britney Spears covered the song in concert, she was criticized for not understanding that the song was intended to be ironic.
    • The video for "Material Girl" is largely to blame for the song's Misaimed Fandom; while the video itself makes a point to stick to the meaning of the song (in terms of showing Madonna's character being charmed by her love interest's deliberately simple and "cheap" ways of courting her), the only part most people remember is the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" homage that makes up the bulk of the video.
    • One place that uses it right: Elite Beat Agents, where it plays over a pair of Rich Bitch sisters flirting their way around and off a deserted island. If the Hawaiian shirt is any indication, Commander Khan doesn't seem to be that concerned about them.
  • The classic O'Jays funk song "For the Love of Money" ("Money money money! Moneeeey!") is meant to be a warning about what humans will sink to in order to get their hands on money. That hasn't stopped it from being used in commercials, movies and television shows to encourage people to get rich by any means necessary. It's even the theme song to Donald Trump's reality show The Apprentice.
  • Pet Shop Boys:
    • "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" was a satire of Thatcherism and the crass consumerism, conspicuous consumption, and general lifestyle of the 1980s. The protagonist of the song and his companion are obviously two losers whose schemes will amount to naught. However the song gets taken unironically in many contexts as a celebration of the very lifestyle it criticizes.
    • "Shopping", which is about the exact same thing with added specific protest against Thatcherism's privatisation of publicly owned industry and property (see the lines which run "We check it with the City then change the law, no questions in the House, no give and take"), yet its catchy "S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G, we're shopping" chorus has found itself to be the soundtrack of many shopping montages on TV celebrating the consumerist culture.
  • Pink Floyd's "Money" from The Dark Side of the Moon sometimes gets used by the Future Business Leaders of America at club fairs. Seeing a bunch of business majors in suits sitting around while it is loudly declared that "Money/It's a crime" is amusing beyond reckoning.
  • "Walking on the Sun" by Smash Mouth is often used in commercials for items like cars. Marketers apparently assume that the band really intended to urge people not to delay, and to act now. Hilarious how it's seen as an upbeat anthem to capitalism, no? Unless said marketers simply assume it's Word Salad Lyrics with an intelligible sentence or two.
  • Steriogram's "Walkie-Talkie Man" is a favourite among the employees of at least one security firm; probably, however, this is while simultaneously recognizing the satire.
  • KT Tunstall wrote "Suddenly I See" about Patti Smith. It was subsequently used in The Devil Wears Prada. Quoth Tunstall, "I didn't realize... it could sound like I was singing about wanting to be a fucking model!" Granted, the lyrics don't say why the narrator finds the unnamed woman so interesting.
  • Placebo's song "Commercial for Levi" isn't about selling denim jeans, it's an exhortation to a friend to stop their self-destructive lifestyle before it's too late.
  • Jessie J's "Price Tag" is not an endorsement of money. It's the opposite—it's about how you shouldn't care so much about money.
  • Houston, we have an inversion! "The Day The World Turn Dayglo" by punk legends X-Ray Spex nowadays (think of all the plastic in the oceans) can only be interpreted as a plastic Apocalypse How. But Word of God (interview with Mojo) confirmed: Poly Styrene loved all this shiny practical stuff! (Why else did she choose her stage name?)

     Songs that are not just lightweight dance party and/or pep talk songs: 
  • Everything with a catchy beat will have people singing and dancing along, not caring about the lyrics. The same goes for something that seems to be a Pep-Talk Song that gives you new positive energy to carry on with your life. However, in some cases the lyrics are about rather edgy themes that are not quite as uplifting as the melody suggests. This is arguably a case of self-sabotage, since the most popular musicians make their songs happy and bouncy just so they will appeal to consumers. It's a classic case of the dangers of sweetening a bitter pill: it might make the pill too sweet, causing the recipient to merely lick off the sugar and discard the rest. See also Lyrical Dissonance.
  • Crystal Water's "Gypsy Woman (She's Homeless)" Is a peppy, uptempo, House Music dance tune (similar in style to Madonna's 'Vogue' in a way) about....A homeless woman who must "sing for money" to survive....hence the need for the bracketed "She's Homeless" in the title. It's like the funkiest, most toe-tappin' song about homelessness ever!
  • "Thirteen Women and Only One Man in Town", often considered to be the very first rockabilly song (or at least the very first one to go mainstream) has experienced a resurgence of popularity in recent decades among Americans (mostly Californians) enamored of the cool, "hepcat" subculture of Los Angeles and certain other cities in the late 1940s and early '50s. Almost no one ever notices that the lyrics are about a nuclear holocaust and the only fourteen humans left alive After the End.
  • "The House of the Rising Sun", most famous as the version performed by The Animals, has the protagonist look back at his own wasted life and warn others. The titular house is most likely a brothel in New Orleans (the city is named in the song). In the original version the singer is a woman trapped working there. The New Orleans Board of Tourism has used the song to promote the city.
  • "Big Rock Candy Mountain" has this due to Bowdlerization. The original song is about a hobo inviting a young man to travel cross-country to the title mountains, promising cigarette trees, booze, ineffective policemen, and easy-to-escape jails. The final verse has the young man reject the hobo's invitation, mocking the idea of such a mountain, and stating that he doesn't want to be used for sex. The final verse never got recorded, and later editions removed the more objectionable references and verse, turning it into any other child's ditty.
  • Def Leppard's "All I Want Is Everything" has been interpreted as a Pep-Talk Song to get what you want. In reality it was written about a man dying from AIDS. Considering the song is in a minor key and contains lines like "All I have are yesterdays, tomorrow never comes," one has to wonder just how people are getting that idea.
  • "Fever" by Family Force 5 is arguably their most popular song, and is often used in Fan Vids. A majority of fans are clueless to the meaning of the song. It sounds like a typical pop song about sex or partying but according to the band it's about God. To specify it's "about catching a fever from the Holy Spirit and turning up the heat in your life while spreading it to others".
  • Eels' "Mr. E.'s Beautiful Blues" is often used in commercials or TV ads with happy images. Even lead singer E. has been baffled by this: "The first line is about pollution, for crying out loud!"
  • Edward Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance March" is often played at college graduations, despite actually being a patriotic song ("Land of Hope & Glory").
  • Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" is very commonly known as the song to play or listen to when you're about to hit a milestone in your life that calls for you to leave your old life behind and start anew (namely, graduating from school). It was even used when Seinfeld was going off the air and they had a clip show thanking viewers for watching the show. However, the song was written when Billie Joe Armstrong (the lead singer) was breaking up with his girlfriend. So a Break Up Song, but is used to denote love. This confusion is likely due to the lyrics (which by themselves do not express the intended meaning very well) and the predictable habit of radio stations of calling the song "Time of Your Life," since the "actual" title does not appear in the lyrics. Word of God is that the song was meant to be bittersweet, not sarcastic.
  • "Paradise City" from Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction is often misinterpreted as a fun/happy party song. In actuality, it's about the boredom/exhaustion of touring and the consequential desire to "go home."
    • The entire album is arguably an example. Especially nowadays, people tend to forget that the 1980s were actually quite gritty and not as colorful and carefree as often depicted. It's common to view "Welcome to the Jungle" and most of the rest of the album's output ("Sweet Child O' Mine" perhaps being an exception) as the ultimate in Hair Metal's shameless - but fun - hedonism and joie de vivre. In fact, the lyrics take pains to address the negative consequences of such a lifestyle. This extends, of course, to movies that feature songs such as these on the soundtrack, most recently Rock of Ages: yes, Stacee Jaxx may seem like a prophet and a herald of liberation to the characters in the story, but it should be obvious he's really just a jerk.
  • Don Henley's "All She Wants to Do is Dance," a hash on superficial people who dance while their world crumbles, remains a popular '80s dance hit to this day.
  • Again, '80s music tends to be a common casualty of these misunderstandings. Part of the problem is that the decade was largely responsible both for creating dance-pop as we understand the genre today and for giving birth to the jaded, sardonic societal attitude that became so hip and remains popular to this day. People forget about the Cold War burnout of that era and the decline of the American way of life (the brief prosperity for upper- and upper-middle-class Americans notwithstanding) - and why the Stepford Snarker trope exists in the first place.
  • Another '80s example would be Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue", which is usally played as a party anthem. The cause is probably the upbeat melody and because, to people not intimately familiar with London's geography, "Electric Avenue" sounds like a metaphor for the good life. However, when you know that "Electric Avenue" (so named because it was one of the first streets in the world with electric street lights) is a very real street in Brixton, and was the focal point of the bloody Brixton riot of 1981, the song takes on a very different dimension. Or you could... listen to the lyrics, since the very first line is:
    Now in the streets there is violence...
  • Michael Jackson's immortal dance classic "Billie Jean" is catchy and a certified party highlight. Yet the song is about a man being upset about a Stalker with a Crush who claims that he is the father to her child! Either that, or a man in denial that he has impregnated one of his lovers. Regardless, it's pretty dark.
    • Similarly, "Smooth Criminal" is usually played as a dance anthem, when the lyrics are clear that the "smooth criminal" is a man who shot an innocent woman, and the implication is that he will get away scot-free.
  • People enjoy the catchy opening riff of the Jethro Tull song "Aqualung", and maybe even sing "Sitting on a park bench!...", without actually listening to rest of the song's lyrics about a homeless pedophile dying of hypothermia.
    • Another of the band's songs, "Bungle in the Jungle" is often taken at face value as being about the everyday struggles of jungle creatures, when it is actually an allegory of the seedy world of business.
  • The song "Beautiful Day" by English folk-punk band The Levellers is sometimes used in commercials to convey a cheerful tone, and is played by soccer teams Swansea City, Heart of Midlothian and Helsingborgs IF after a home victory. People apparently look no further than the first line of the chorus to realise that the song discusses political revolution, is peppered with references to historical revolutionaries or that the "beautiful day" in question being the one on which "Wealth redistribution/Became the new solution".
  • "Remembrance Day", a solo song by Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash, is used in High School Remembrance Day celebrations. Yeah, songs about hookups are suitable for school celebrations, no?
  • People seem to believe "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride is about "strong and kickass women", so the song is often used in AMV's about "Girl Power". The Tear Jerker of a music video, however, clears it up: the protagonist is a little girl who falls victim to fatal Domestic Abuse... and ironically, her killer is her mother. And the titular "concrete angel" is the girl's grave marker.
  • Ministry's early dance hit "(Everyday Is) Halloween" is seen as a celebration of the titular day, but the lyrics describe anyone of alternative (goth, punk, metal, etc.) styles of dress, later confirmed in Al Jourgensen's autobiography.
  • "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" by Monty Python is a popular feel good song. Yet in the context of the film it debuted in: Monty Python's Life of Brian it is sang by people about to be crucified and should be seen as an ironic deconstruction of such songs. It doesn't help that the Pythons themselves have practically made it their Signature Song and used it to close all their reunion shows, theatre productions and stage shows.
    • They also performed it at Graham Chapman's funeral.
    • As an anthem for absurdism, it's actually more of a Misaimed Mismaimed Fandom, resulting in it ultimately being appreciated in the life-affirming (sort of) way it was meant, even while people completely miss the complexities of existentialism the song was supposed to convey.
  • A local radio station in Britain promoted a charity balloon-release with trailers playing or reading out the lyrics of Nena's "99 Red Balloons" ("99 Luftballoons") - the lyrics where releasing balloons leads to a nuclear war.
  • "Alive" by Pearl Jam is often interpreted as a defiant proclamation of vitality; in fact, it's a song about a teenage son molested by his mother because he resembles the dead father he never knew. Eddie Vedder used to introduce this song, in concert, as part of a trilogy... followed by "Once" - a song about a serial killer who murders hitch-hikers - and "Footsteps" - about a man in the death row. Vedder's implication was that the main character's sexual abuse inspired him to kill. Irony, much?
  • What? You mean to tell me that "Have a Cigar" by Pink Floyd from Wish You Were Here (1975) isn't about a band that's happy to get its big break?
  • Prince: "1999" is a party song, but from the point of view that the world is going to Hell in a handcart, so what can you do? While it advocates partying "like it's 1999", it also addresses "we can all die any day!", which is kind of a party pooper.
  • "Live To Win" by Paul Stanley has a really kickass melody and title, and was even used in the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" for a training montage. However, if you actually read the lyrics, it's almost a completely depressing song about Obsession to the point of exhaustion or even death. However, it's possible that South Park did this intentionally for the irony. As they went through the Rocky-like World of Warcraft training montage, physically the boys became LESS fit and agile.
  • "Glokenpop" by Spiderbait is generally regarded as a sweet, cutesy tunenote , or often gets bashed by Spiderbait fans for a fluffy pop song that sounds remotely nothing like their usual rock music. The song itself is actually a mockery of Glurge-y, money-driven and repetitive pop songs, with a creepy music video to reaffirm this. The second verse makes this very explicit:
  • The Supernaturals' "Smile" has a catchy, upbeat melody and a chorus that goes "Smile! Smile! Smile! Smile!", and is often taken at that level. They even used it in a bank ad once. It's a happy song whose first verse starts "Every silver lining has a cloud / And each piece of good fortune must be paid for by the pound [..] See the lines around my eyes, See the sarcasm in my smile". That upbeat-in-the-face-of-adversity chorus in full? "You'd better Smile (Smile!) [..] smile- 'cause that's all that you've got left, Your life's a mess, you've been cut adrift".
  • Some cricket fans have adopted 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday" as an anthem because it includes the lyrics "I don't like cricket, oh no / I love it!" — this when, in context, the song's narrator is clearly only saying this in a vain attempt to ingratiate himself with a gang of thugs who are intending to beat him up and mug him on his holidays in Jamaica. It's used on cricket shows regularly now. During a 2013 match between England and Australia, commentator David Lloyd noticed a t-shirt in the crowd with 'I don't like cricket' written on it. He reacted in a 'well why are you here then?' way before the camera revealed that the back said 'I love it' and he made the connection.
  • The The's song "This is the Day", which has an upbeat tune and a chorus that says "This is the day your life will surely change, this is the day when things fall into place" is often used as an anthem of determination to fix one's bad circumstances. This is in complete ignorance to the verses, which describe someone with a wasted existence, who tells himself every day that his life will change but never actually does anything about it. Lyrical Dissonance is a common trope of The The songs.
  • Timbuk 3's The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades is often misinterpreted as a peppy upbeat anthem, and is commonly used in film and TV as a theme for someone who is doing rather well in life. How ironic for a completely tongue-in-cheek song that is actually about what they figure to be the coming nuclear holocaust.
    • If you look at the lyrics, there's really nothing in there about a nuclear holocaust. Only some freezer logic (One step past fridge) gets there, and it's barely implied. The four verses are 'I'm in school and like my teacher', 'I've got a high paying job' and 'I'm a high-tech pervert with x-ray goggles that actually work', then a repeat of the first. The Other Wiki says they had to add another verse on a different version to make people realize it was supposed to be grim.
  • Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good" is actually a satire of rock stardom and excess.
  • West Coast punk band X would eventually refuse to play their song "Johnny Hit and Run Pauline" (a rather serious song about rape) at live concerts when their crowds would constantly embrace it like any other punk song with wild moshing and boisterous fist pumping during the chorus.
  • The first verse of "Der Treue Husar"note , a 19th century German folk song is most sung often today as part of cheery carnival music or as a jaunty drinking song. The full song is an incredibly tragic ballad about a soldier separated for years from his love, who only returns to say goodbye to her one last time before she dies of disease.
  • Shirim Pshutim ("Simple Songs"), by Israeli prog-rocker Shlomo Gronich, is a bitter rant about the shallowness of current popular music in the 80's. The pretty obvious lyrics ('Everybody wants simple songs, songs in two chords... they want to dance, be happy, not to think too much') didn't stop it from becoming Gronich's biggest dance and radio hit. The cheerful, danceable melody was meant to be ironic but it sure didn't help.
  • Eminem:
    • Due to being a white rapper, Eminem has a significant portion of white supremacist assholes in his fandom who 'relate' to the fact that Eminem faced discrimination for being a white artist in a black genre, and view him as a Mighty Whitey figure due to his extreme technical abilities. Eminem's own view on the subject is that he is and will always be a guest in hip-hop - while he calls out racial essentialists who exclude non-black people from participating in hip-hop, he has also been objective about how his skin colour has benefited his career unfairly, and used his position to promote black artists that he admires. Also, his Slim Shady alter ego - despite having blond hair and blue eyes in his most famous image - is about as far as you can get from the ideal white man, being a parody of white trailer-trash cultural depravity who is addicted to drugs, Ax-Crazy, and an idiot.
    • "Lose Yourself" is treated as a canonical Determinator anthem, with its pump-up inspirational chorus and story about a rapper struggling to make it - but it's actually a dark song about the rapper losing himself, his mental health, his family and his connection with the real world to his fame, which then expires overnight, leaving him with nothing. There is a Decon-Recon Switch in the final verse which concludes that being a wildly successful rapper is a tiny bit better than being too poor to feed your own daughter, but only if those are your only two options.
    • "Stan" is an unsubtle excoriation of his creepy, erotomaniacal fans, but a combination of irony and linguistic drift has led to people calling themselves 'stans' to mean they're an enthusiastic fan of something, without implying any particular toxicity or desire to murder their pregnant girlfriends. The Fan Community Nickname for Eminem's fanbase is also "Stans" - a word he uses himself.
    • Eminem's use of Lyrical Dissonance often leads to this.
      • "My Name Is" is a funny novelty single with a bouncy beat and cheery delivery, but it describes the exploits of a suicidal, Undiscriminating Addict Death Seeker with a horrible life and childhood lashing out at the world with pointless, nihilistic troublemaking.
      • "Cum On Everybody" is announced by Slim as "my dance song" and is also about Slim's idiotic nastiness and suicidality.
      • "Superman" seems like a sexy southern rap with Eminem using LL Cool J's flow on "Looking For Love". It's actually an outrageous Misogyny Song about Slim banging groupies he despises.
      • "Just Lose It" is a dance song about entertainment industry paedophilia. "Ass Like That" is a slow jam about the same subject.
      • "Same Song And Dance", about a serial killer murdering starlets, was deliberately written over a dance beat because (Word of God) Eminem finds it hilarious seeing girls dance to degrading Misogyny Songs without listening to the lyrics, and he wanted to see how far he could go.

     Songs that are not an Ode To Intoxication: 
  • Merely mentioning drugs, alcohol, tobacco in a song, will automatically result in people believe it is a Homage. Although a lot of drinking songs exist and some rock stars have praised marihuana there are also a lot of songs where the drug use is meant to be seen as satire or even a warning. Though, in defense of the audience, it doesn't help that many rock stars who criticize drugs actually indulge in it at the same time.
  • Alice in Chains was/is very popular with the stoner crowd, even though their music explicitly describes how horrible drug addiction is. Layne Staley himself was often perplexed by the large number of fans who'd come up to him and boast about being high while listening to the band's music.
  • Barenaked Ladies song "Alcohol" sounds like a peppy, upbeat party tune, but it's actually a sarcastic song about a miserable, self-hating alcoholic. A browse through the Youtube comments on it will show that some people get it, and others don't.
  • The Beastie Boys song "Fight For Your Right To Party" from Licensed to Ill was loved by the very people the song was making fun of. The song is about a deadbeat who gets upset over trivial things, like his mom throwing away his favorite porn magazine, turning down his loud music, or being told to get a job. And yet, it was often taken at face value by the punk rock crowd in general as a party anthem and a song made for rebellion against one's parents. The band got so sick of the misinterpretation that they flat-out stopped playing it at their concerts, and refuse to play it live ever again.
  • The Beatles song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", despite the initials, is not about LSD. It was based on Julian Lennon’s nursery school drawing of a classmate named Lucy.
  • The song Legalize the Premier Italian rapper Caparezza is seen by many as an anthem of sorts for the legalization of marijuana and other drugs, despite the fact that it clearly states "I don't care about weed". The meaning of the song is that politicians and other men of power tweak laws to their advantage, to legalize things that aren't legal (but not weed).
  • J.J. Cale's song "Cocaine" (famously covered by Eric Clapton) is interpreted by some as an ode to the drug instead of a condemnation of its usage (Clapton himself famously struggled with substance abuse, including cocaine, for much of of his career). Clapton tried to mitigate this by changing the final line in the last chorus to "That dirty cocaine" in some live renditions of the song.
  • The song "Captain Jack" by Billy Joel is about a rich kid who, despite having everything he needs to make a good life for himself, wastes away his life on drugs and idle nights. It's very clear, especially in the last verse, that he's living a dead end and has no joy in his life. Joel himself has referred to the protagonist as a "loser". Guess how many people boast about getting high to the song.
  • Kendrick Lamar's "Swimming Pools" is frequently played at alcohol fueled events, even though it is stark criticism of the lifestyle.
  • Much of Bob Marley's casual fanbase consists of stoners and people who put partying and having fun ahead of responsibility. In real life, Marley was actually rather straight edge (outside of the smoking weed part, which was part of his religion) and definitely wouldn't have condoned much of what his fans do. He even wrote two songs where he was critical of people who just smoke weed all day long.
    Burnin' And Lootin: "All them drugs they are gonna make you slow, it's not the music from the ghetto."
    Pimper's Paradise: A song about a woman who wastes her life taking drugs and is merely "a paradise" for pimps who want to control her as a drug prostitute.
    • Rastas are not supposed to smoke ganja outside of sessions because elders are aware that it fries the brain, but many just abandoned this rule and smoke it all the time because having rules reminds them too much of slavery. Even Marley's consumption of the stuff was tame in comparison to his friends Peter Tosh and Lee Scratch Perry, but he's still the poster boy for ganja.
  • The MGMT song "Time to Pretend" is a general send-up of the hedonistic, drug-and-sex-filled lifestyle that many artists choose to follow, describing how such a life is empty and shallow and how genuinely caring about those you love is more fulfilling. Unfortunately, due to the style of the song and especially its... colorful music video, many listeners boil it down to "OH MAN THIS SONG IS SO TRIPPY THEY WERE ON DRUGS LOL" or worse as an endorsement of the very lifestyle it mocks without bothering to listen to the lyrics.
  • The Offspring song "Mota" is clearly ridiculing potheads. The song's subject is clearly a loser who's wasting his life away on pot, simply to escape the harsh realities of life. Yet, guess what kind of crowd the song is most popular with...
  • Peter, Paul and Mary song "Puff the Magic Dragon" is NOT about drugs (despite many assertions to the contrary), but of the end of childhood and innocence.
  • DD Smash's "Bliss" was a pub-singalong-sounding savaging of the New Zealand drinking culture: "Sink yourself more bliss/Forget about the last one/Have yourself another". But picked up as an anthem by that very same culture. Its author, Dave Dobbyn, was horrified when the requests for it started coming in at concerts.
  • Despite the appearance of the word "bourbon" in its title, Sting's Moon over Bourbon Street has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol. The song is about Louis, the main character of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, and his impossible love to his neighbour (he's a vampire, she's mortal). The title is there because Louis lives on - you guessed it - Bourbon Street, New Orleans.
  • TISM's "Old Man River" has fans amongst the drug addled set for its chorus of "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix". Despite the song being about society's additive dependence on heroes and celebrities.
  • Velvet Underground: Lou Reed has expressed being horrified when people told him that they were shooting up to the song "Heroin" from The Velvet Underground & Nico. Of course, the song is mostly ambiguous, but...
  • Word of God is that The La's "There She Goes" is not about heroin use. It really is a Silly Love Song, despite generations wondering otherwise.
  • Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck" was a mockery of moronic, mindless partying and people whose lives revolve around getting wasted as much as possible, not an endorsement of it.
  • "Tubthumping", by Chumbawamba. It's a satirical song about people whose lives are so limited that all they can do is drink to oblivion and repeat. The song is specifically about the British working classes and Far Left (i.e. "Old Labour") under New Labour ("Tubthumping" means "campaigning for election"). It has of course become a highly popular drinking song or is mistaken for a Self-Empowerment Anthem by people who only listen to the "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down" chorus. Also used to promote the Australian National Rugby League a couple of years back.
  • Ozzy Osbourne's "Flying High Again" was long thought to be a song about marijuana use. Ozzy eventually debunked this rumor, saying that the song was actually about him succeeding as a solo artist when nobody thought that he had a future post-Black Sabbath.

     Music that is not anti patriotic: 
  • In general: just because a musician writes a Protest Song aimed at his own country doesn't mean that he necessarily hates everything about his country. In most cases the song is only aimed at the government, multinationals or a certain kind of people inside the country. Still, this hasn't prevented many people from accusing them for being anti patriotic.

     Music that is not patriotic, nationalistic and/or tourism friendly: 
  • In general: when a song writer mentions a country or a city in the refrain this doesn't always mean it is a Homage. On closer inspection of the lyrics it may seem that the song is actually meant to be taken ironically or sarcastically. See also My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting. Some music actually is patriotic, but was written for a specific country. This hasn't stopped other nations from adapting it to their own. And then there are patriotic songs that are adapted by war hungry people or xenophobic nationalists.
  • The song "Yankee Doodle" was originally a virulent insult flung at the American rebels by British Redcoats that made implications of stupidity, faux-foppishness, and (according to some sources) homosexuality about its targets.note  The American soldiers took it up as an anthem and a great big "fuck you" to the British, telling them "We revel in your insults." Over time, the song has lost a lot of its bite, and it's now thought of as a genuinely patriotic song.
    • The song predates the Revolutionary War. It was written by a British army surgeon as a slam against the disorganized, backwater "Yankee" militias he had to serve alongside with during The French-Indian War. Despite the insults, the colonists reveled in the portrayal, accepting it as a big "FU" to who they saw as the arrogant, elitist, refined British soldiers. It became extremely popular in the colonies. During one march, one British officer asked another British officer "So how do you like the melody now?" The other replied "Dang you, [the colonists] made us dance it 'til we were tired."
  • "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival tends to be thought of as patriotic for America by people who have only heard the first two lines: "Some folks are born made to wave the flag/ooh, they're red, white and blue." The rest of the song is a piece about how the rich get to avoid going to war, paying taxes, and in general dodge the consequences that the poor have to deal with. The end result is a song that's less a patriotic anthem and more of a harsh critique of American class warfare.
  • Bedouin Soundclash's "Santa Monica" is actually about frontman Jay Malinowski's friend, a British marine, being stabbed and killed while in Santa Monica. Yet it's been used in slideshows with pictures of Santa Monica - this was made even worse when Malinowski's solo version of the song was released.
  • Leonard Cohen's "Democracy" has been misinterpreted as a celebration of democracy in America, while it is actually satirizing it. Its key line, calling America "The cradle of the best and the worst", is fairly deep into the song.
  • Cold Chisel's "Khe Sanh", about a Vietnam veteran who can't handle returning to civilian life, became a patriotic anthem. The Australian cricket team's adoption of the song may factor into this.
    • The Aussie cricket team are indeed known for choosing songs with fairly inappropriate or unrelated lyrics.
  • Donald Fagen and Walter Becker meant the line "They call Alabama the Crimson Tide / Call me Deacon Blues" in "Deacon Blues" to be a sly stab at people who cluster around that sort of nickname. And yet, to their great amusement (and, no doubt, royalty checks), the Alabama band performs the song as part of their repertoire, and Tide fans actually consider it an anthem. As Fagen told Rolling Stone:
    Walter (Becker) and I had been working on that song at a house in Malibu. I played him that line, and he said, "You mean it's like, they call these cracker assholes this grandiose name like the Crimson Tide, and I'm this loser, so they call me this other grandiose name, Deacon Blues?" And I said, 'Yeah!' He said, 'Cool! Let's finish it!
  • Nobody seems to realize that Woody Guthrie meant for "This Land Is Your Land" to be a socialist anthem. The verses condemning private property are almost always excluded when the song is performed these days. Subverted with Sharon Jones And The Dap Kings' cover of that song, which does include the private property verses and sounds significantly Darker and Edgier.
  • John Mellencamp's "Pink Houses" is likewise seen as a Reagan-era patriotic anthem by those who only listen to the chorus ("Ain't that America?").
    • See also "Our Country", though that one's admittedly less caustic and more optimistic to begin with.
  • The de facto Aussie patriotic song, "Down Under" by Men At Work. It even named a trope. Apparently, the band sang the song as an attack on the exploitation of the continent. However, people tend to imagine that it's about the world travels of an Australian who is proud of his nationality and attracting the attention of people interested in it. Those who recognise the song's mocking tone tend to assume that it's a comedy song mocking how Australians travel all over the world and constantly take their culture with them instead of trying new things.
    • The music video clears a few things up, with the last scene being a funeral for the country's natural beauty.
  • The song, "Independence Day" by Martina McBride is a song about domestic violence. The protagonist/battered woman is abused by her husband; to protect the life of her child, she kills the husband along with herself by burning the house down. Yet, for some odd reason (e.g. not listening at all to the lyrics), the song is played during Fourth of July/Independence Day festivals/activities. Odd!
  • A good reason for why you should bother to listen to the lyrics: when the Swedish army had their first real casualties in Afghanistan, a radio speaker wanted to honor them by playing "Hero of War" by Rise Against. Which isn't as bad as it might sound, considering that the song was more about how War Is Hell and that it turns everybody into a bastard. Still, most assuredly not the best song choice.
  • Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" is seen by many as a Reagan-era patriotic anthem — that is, by people who only ever listen to the chorus. As the verses make abundantly clear it is about Vietnam veterans who were perceived as unemployable, and the anthemic chorus is meant to be bitter and satirical. The Reagan administration even approached Springsteen to endorse Ronnie in the 1984 elections — Springsteen, a staunch liberal, refused. When performing the song live, Springsteen goes with a stripped-down, acoustic, melancholy arrangement to get the meaning across.
    • During The River Tour, Springsteen was frequently annoyed by audience members who set off fireworks during "Independence Day." Not only was this dangerous, but the song has nothing to do with celebrating July Fourth; it's really about a troubled father-son relationship and the son's decision to leave home.
    • Similarly, even though "Born To Run" from the album of the same name is about how badly the main character wants to get out of the New Jersey town he grew up in, lots of rabid Bruce Springsteen fans want to make it the official state song... Of course, this is entirely characteristic of the typical New Jersey citizen
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Overture 1812" is often played during military parades and patriotic manifestations in the United States. Despite the fact that this piece was actually written to commemorate Russia's victory over Napoleon during his failed attempt to conquer the country in 1812.
  • The Village People's "In The Navy" was for a time under consideration by the U.S. Navy to become its theme song. When you compare it to their "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy about homosexuality...
  • Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" is often thought of as a patriotic celebration of life in the free world. However, the lyrics pointedly critique the socioeconomic state of America circa George H. W. Bush's presidency, addressing topics such as homelessness and drug addiction.
  • Many of Metallica's earlier songs were about how the rich and powerful use people, including those in the military as pawns - i.e. "The Unforgiven", "One", "Master of Puppets", "Disposable Heroes", to name some. However, most soldiers whom served in the military would tell you that one of the most played rock bands during a tour was Metallica.
  • During the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, "Love This City" by the Whitlams was played during the Australian broadcast as well as tourism campaigns. It's about a guy who is Driven to Suicide by Sydney winning their bid to host the Olympic Games.
  • "Bombs Over Baghdad" by OutKast on two levels.
  • People tend to interpret Rammstein's song "Mein Land", and especially its English-language country cover "My Country" by The BossHoss, as patriotic and anti-immigrant. It is actually the opposite of that and describes the struggles of someone wandering the globe, trying to find a place to stay, only for everyone to tell them "you are here in my country, there's no room for you".
  • Despite what many Americans may think, Rammstein's 2004 single "Amerika" is not pro-USA, but actually a critique of the country, especially of its worldwide political and cultural influence. The lyrics (written during the war in Iraq) describe America's desire to control others and the way its culture has influenced the culture of other nations. Hence the line "This is not a love song".

     Music and musicians that are not racist, xenophobic or in any other way discriminatory of a race, a country or a people: 
  • In general: these songs are often meant as a Satire or just a romanticized idea of a certain country that doesn't tie in with reality. Also expect a lot of left wing artists to be adored by people with a right wing or even Nazi of Fascist stance.
  • The band Allerseelen has tons of neo-nazi fans on music sites like and Songmeanings for their songs about WWII and album artwork of "nazi art". This is all despite the fact that several of their songs are based on essays by concentration camp survivors and said artwork was actually objects that the Nazis nearly destroyed because they found it un-German like.
  • Black Flag's "White Minority" is often interpreted as being against minorities "taking over" America - according to Greg Ginn, who wrote the lyrics, it was a Stealth Parody that was designed to make people who think that way "look as outrageously stupid as possible". Ginn also noted that the fact that their vocalist at the time, Ron Reyes, was a Puerto Rican should have tipped people off to the sarcasm note .
  • Eric Bogle stopped performing his satirical song "I Hate Wogs" after being approached by a number of 'fans' who told him how much they loved the song, and how they hated wogs too. Perhaps distracted by the catchy chorus, they somehow missed the fact that the expresser of this sentiment in the song is clearly marked as an idiot and a hypocrite. One would think the fact that Eric is migrant who still speaks with a broad Scottish accent after more than 40 years in Australia might have been some kind of clue.
  • "Rock the Casbah" by The Clash was reportedly a popular song for bomber pilots flying missions over Iraq. When told that one of the bombs dropped on Baghdad during the Gulf War had "Rock the Casbah" written on it, Joe Strummer reportedly broke down and wept. If it's true, he can hardly be blamed.
  • The Cure's "Killing An Arab" is a song specifically inspired by Albert Camus's novel The Stranger in which the protagonist commits a rather pointless killing against a guy who happens to be an Arab. It has nothing particularly to do with prejudice or violence against Arabs in general, either negatively or approvingly. Yet several American troops have played it while bombing Middle Eastern countries, much to lead singer Robert Smith's horror.
  • Dead Kennedys, suffered badly at first, as they were thought to be a neo-Nazi band for their songs "Kill The Poor" and "California Über Alles" (both highly satirical), which drew crowds of Nazi punks to their gigs. Then they made the rather blunt song "Nazi Punks Fuck Off".
    • Poor Jello Biafra, the Kennedys' vocalist and bandleader, was later beaten badly by skinheads, supposedly for being "a sell-out" and "not punk enough" for them. Go figure...
  • Dido's songs "White Flag" and "This Land Is Mine" were used as anthems by a group of white supremacists based purely on the titles - apparently they paid no attention to the fact that they're both love songs. Ironically, at the time she had a black boyfriend, footballer Sol Campbell.
  • Something weird happened with Colombian singer Juanes' hit "La Camisa Negra", which is a break-up song from the point of view of a very resentful man; after a nasty breakup he wears black to mourn the death of his love feelings, as a symbol of his "black soul". But because the title can be translated as "The Black Shirt", it was adopted as an hymn of sorts by neo-fascist groups in Italy and other countries. Juanes was not happy about this appropriation.
  • The Slovenian band Laibach and German band Rammstein (who took a lot of influence from the former) are both quite vocal about their low opinion of all things fascist or Nazi. Doesn't stop people from thinking they are neo-Nazi bands. Including (and especially) the neo-fascists themselves. Rammstein got so tired of this they eventually pinned their left wing politics on their sleeves with the song "Links 2-3-4" ("Left 2-3-4") which contains lyrics that translate to "my heart beats to the left, 2-3-4".
  • In Bob Roberts several anti-immigration songs are performed as part of the movie's satire. Wary of what would happen if these songs became publicly available the movie makers have never released a soundtrack album.
  • Ska and TwoTone have always been popular among the black population of Jamaica and were adopted by Caribbean and West-Indian immigrants worldwide as their favorite music, along with Reggae, Dub and Dancehall. Yet the all-white Madness had a following among Neonazis because they were the only band in their genre not to have any black members, like The Specials had. Madness eventually shook off these idiots by performing at the Rock Against Racism concerts.
  • In a very extreme example, several Neo-Nazi bands have covered the song "Tomorrow Belongs To Me," ostensibly a Nazi anthem about the beauty of their coming master-race run world. The thing is, the song was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb (both of them Jewish) for the musical Cabaret, and it's intended in the show and subsequent film as a chilling example of the rise of Nazism and its terrible pull on the German people. It's an analogue of the sort of patriotic lies that the Nazis used to drum up support, translated and reworked so that English audiences can experience the effects. Seems they did their job a little too well.
  • The far right British National Party used the Manic Street Preachers "If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next" on their website, apparently missing that fact that the song is about the Spanish Civil War, and contains the line "If you can shoot rabbits, then you can shoot fascists". A very odd choice all round, especially given the Manics are pretty famous for their own far left political leanings.
  • The Danish People's Party (the Denmark version of the British National Party) decided to use the rap song "Gi' mig Danmark Tilbage"(which translates to "Give me Denmark Back") in one of their campaigns, apparently only having read the title, and assuming it was an anti-immigration, white supremacist song. The rapper who made said song, Natasja Saad, was a biracial Muslim feminist, and the song was a quite blatant Take That! towards the Danish People's Party, and racists/conservatives in general. Natasja's friends and family were definitely not happy, and the Danish People's Party were the subject of much ridicule.
  • Although Rucka Rucka Ali claims he doesn't view his (in)famous racial/ethnic humor as "racist", but rather "politically incorrect", it still doesn't stop an unfortunate amount of white supremacist from enjoying his music.
    • It's also worth noting he pokes fun of everyone, including White-Anglo-Saxon Protestants. ("I Don't Like White People", "Because I'm White, etc.).
  • Clawfinger's song "Nigger" isn't an endorsement of the term, it's an exhortation for black people not to use the term about themselves, even in a reclamation context, and a scathing indictment of the people, institutions and cultural forces that conspire to keep black people struggling.
  • Many viking metal bands or bands inspired by Norse Mythology often end up attracting a large following of neo-Nazis, racists, church-burners and Scandinavian nationalists, even if the music isn't supposed to cater to these groups.
  • The Gaylord's "Chow Mein" (mostly forgotten about aside from Mafia II), while somewhat stereotypical, is not an attack on Chinese culture. The song is actually about people mourning the closing of a Chinese restaurant.
  • The band Joy Division used to be confused as a Neo-Nazi band due to their name and even had nationalist, racist fans, but they did not approve of these kinds of people nor did they endorse these views. The name "Joy Division" is a reference to the groups of Jewish women who were imprisoned and kept as sex slaves of Nazi officials. More specifically, they were called "Warsaw" and "Joy Division" was chosen to avoid confusion with the band Warsaw Pakt. Also, some of the members had read the book "House of Dolls", which is about the aforementioned topic. They found it extremely shocking and thought it fit the music. Just so you know, none of their lyrics have anything to do with politics.
    • The problem started with their first record, the EP "An Ideal for Living", which features a drawing of a Hitler Youth member.
  • Although the band Sabaton writes songs about many historical battles and wars, they are not actually promoting the views of any group. As lead singer Joakim Brodén said, war is a good source of stories for heavy metal music. However, several hate groups have been using their songs to promote their prejudiced, nationalistic agendas.
    • One particular example is the song "The Last Stand". As it contains references to the Holy See and lyrics like "for the grace and the might of the Lord" it is popular among islamophobes who think the song is about The Crusades and has become a bit of a theme song for the "alt-right". However, that's not even what the song is about. It's actually about the Swiss Guard defending the Pope from a group of mostly German mercenaries in 1527.
    • More than once, Sabaton has been forced to cancel concerts because of fear that the band will desecrate a country's flag. This has happened in Russia at least once, even though a few Sabaton songs are about how Mother Russia Makes You Strong, including several Russian victories in wartime.
    • The band has occasionally had to deal with the accusation that they promote Nazism. The closest the band ever gets to treating Nazis with sympathy is "Wehrmacht", but that song still paints the Nazis as Brainwashed and Crazy who had to find Safety in Indifference to inflict all the horrors they committed. All of the band's songs about the Nazis portray the Nazis as Always Chaotic Evil, including rather blunt titles such as "Rise of Evil." There's also a slow ballad about the horrors inflicted by the Nazis in "The Final Solution." Lead singer Joakim Broden has called attempts to tie their songs to Nazism "bullshit," and a good number of the band's songs are about battles that the Nazis lost, like the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Berlin.
  • "Take 'em all" by Cocksparrer is a borderline example, in that the song actually does advocate for violence against a a particular group of people. However, the targeted group is not a race, ethnicity, social class or political group, but rather greedy record-label executives who promise starry-eyed working-class kids the moon only to screw them over with contracts they can't understand and pull the rug out from under them the second they can't sponge more money from them.

     Songs that are not rebel songs: 
  • Sometimes songs are seen as rebellious, while in reality they are actually nothing of the sort. Or, if they are, they don't advocate the viewpoint of the party or community that tries to adopt them as their own.
  • Due to their (debatable) assertion that Obama has an anthem — and that it was instrumental in his rise — the Tea Party movement has adopted "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour as one of their unofficial-official anthems. Never mind that it doesn't really portray a Cult of Personality as an intrinsically bad thing (mentioning Gandhi and Kennedy as well as Stalin and Mussolini), and has lines about leaders dying while they speak, which can send the wrong message from a political opposition movement.
    • Similar to the above, the much-covered song "I Fought The Law" (originally by The Crickets [post-Buddy Holly] , Covered Up by the Bobby Fuller Four and re-popularized by The Clash) is often thought of as a rebel song about heroically if futilely opposing "the man". Either you think that the song is about the righteous legal system catching a dangerous fugitive or you think that it's about a righteous rebellious criminal hero being locked up by the tyrannical legal system. One way or the other, somebody is in a Misaimed Fandom. Unless ambiguity was intentional.
  • Freud, Marx, Engels and Jung song Buuri Johannesburgista (Boer from Johannesburg) is a gross and nasty satire, not anthem, of apartheid.
  • Jacek Kaczmarski's Mury is about how a musician can lose control over his song once it is adopted by a social movement. Ironically it quickly became the de facto anthem of the Solidarity movement. The last, pessimistic part was often omitted or altered. note 
  • "Sunday Bloody Sunday" from War by U2 is very frequently taken to be a rebel anthem in support of the cause of the IRA. In reality, it's a 'plague on both your houses' song. Perhaps the most famous live performance of it was a 1987 American concert that took place mere hours after a bomb had gone off in Enniskillen and slain 11 civilians. Bono stopped midway through to deliver a moving speech declaring "fuck the revolution". He would later go on to enthusiastically campaign for the Good Friday agreement, including hosting the only public meeting of the main Catholic and Protestant leaders, at a concert rally.
    Alan Partridge: 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'. What a great song. It really encapsulates the frustration of a Sunday, doesn't it? You wake up in the morning, you've got to read all the Sunday papers, the kids are running round, you've got to mow the lawn, wash the car, and you think "Sunday, bloody Sunday!"
    Aidan Walsh: I really hate to do this to you, Alan, but it's actually a song about...
    Paul Tool: Yeah, bloody Sunday is actually about a massacre in Derry in 1972.
    Alan Partridge: A massacre? Ugh. I'm not playing that again.
    • Perhaps that's why Bono introduced the song by saying "This is not a rebel song..." in the Under a Blood Red Sky version.
    • In the Rattle and Hum version, Bono excoriates Irish-Americans for raving about the "glorious revolution" while actual Irish just wanted people to stop getting killed.
  • "Part of the Union" by the Strawbs was a sarcastic anti-union anthem, released in 1973 when UK trade unions were in the midst of an ultimately successful tussle with the UK's government. It is written as a first-person narrative by a puffed-up union member, and explains how smart and powerful he thinks he is, and how suspicious and opposed he is to anything his employers or government might do. However, many Brits, on all sides of the political spectrum, missed the sarcastic tone and interpreted it as a pro-union song, including some Tory MPs who called for it to be banned. Missing the sarcasm, many trade unionists found the song mirrored their own feelings, and, wilfully ignoring the sarcasm, the UK's Trade Union Council played it at their annual conferences for years afterward.
  • "The Eton Rifles" by The Jam is often interpreted as a simplistically left-wing anti-public-schoolboy song. It is partly that (as Paul Weller memorably lampshaded when David Cameron chose it as one of his Desert Island Discs) but if you listen to the lyrics of the verses, it also criticises middle-class leftists who encourage working-class people to engage in hopeless "revolutionary" struggles, and then abandon them to face the consequences. And, of course, it's also quite popular with Etonians, making this a song with two misaimed fandoms.
  • Queen's "I Want It All" is about ambition (the title deriving from writer Brian May's wife's favorite sayings), not a gay anthem or anti-Apartheid as some have interpreted it.

     Music used for relaxation, while actually intended to get people into action- or actually not that relaxing when you look at the context: 
  • A lot of music is treated as background music. In some cases, like a Protest Song or a song with a message, this is almost an insult to the creators' original intention. Another example is music that has a gentle, soothing melody but actually tackles topics that most people wouldn't find so relaxing at all.
  • To lampshade this attitude, a classical radio station recently advertised a segment as 'Songs that have never been used successfully to put down a child that has been fussing and needs to go to sleep.'
  • "Frankie says 'Relax'". The song is about male masturbation, however many t-shirt brands worn almost exclusively by women promote this song, while missing the point.
  • Goo Goo Dolls's song "Slide" sounds like a fun pop song. It's actually about a girl with disapproving parents who gets an abortion. The day after Christmas, no less. Which means it gets played every year in a block of Christmas songs on the radio.
  • Many Opera arias are about murders, suicides, despair, family intrigues... yet most people just admire the vocal abilities of the singers and sit back and enjoy them.
  • Bob Marley actually felt frustrated that many people just listened to his easy-listening reggae songs and relaxed to them: "I tell people to "Get Up, Stand Up", but they don't take action to change things."

     Music that does not endorse religion, God, faith in a Supreme Being: 
  • There are generally two types in this category. 1) Songs that actually criticize religion, but are nevertheless interpreted being about God, Jesus or having faith. 2) And more innocent love songs about real-life topics like partners, family life or being In Harmony with Nature that are misinterpreted being about God.
  • Listeners often exaggerate possible Christian subtext in a way that isn't actually Christian, sometimes to the point of Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory. "Bring Me To Life" by Evanescence and "Mysterious Ways" by U2 are examples of songs that get this treatment.
  • Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is about faith, but it's more in the context of the struggle with reconciling life's difficulties (mostly in the context of broken relationships) with it. Cohen himself was Jewish, and wrote a lot of that particular experience into the song. Covers, especially by Christian artists, often turn it into a wholly religious song about exulting in faith. In particular, many have to outright change the line "maybe there's a God above" to "I know that there's a God above" to make it work.
  • Jill Sobule's song "Soldiers of Christ" is a savage deconstruction of the modern Christian intolerance, and anyone who knows more than one of her songs (she's an open bisexual atheist) would realize this. However, the song has been played in churches without a hint of irony.
  • Many Christians like Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson", what with lyrics like "Jesus loves you more than you will know, oh oh oh...". But the song is from the movie The Graduate, and it's all really just satire of hypocritical suburban values.
  • Swedish House Mafia's "Don't You Worry Child", with its chorus "Don't you worry, child/Heaven has a plan for you", has a small fandom of Christians who believe the song is about religion.
  • Christian artist Chris Rice intended the "Cartoon Song" as a satire of "the modern Christian tendency to 'Christianize' everything." However, everyone missed the satire and his fans were divided between those who embraced the song as a sincere, if humorous, praise song, and those who criticized the song's "theology" and condemned him for not taking his faith seriously enough. Rice eventually became so fed up with people missing the point of the song that he quit performing it entirely. In spite of the satirical message, the song does contain a sincere endorsement of faith, as the final verse makes clear:
    Now, there's a point to this Looney Tune
    I'm not an Animaniac
    'Cause there's a lot of praising to do, and cartoons weren't made for that!
  • It's surprising how many people think "Jesus He Knows Me" by Genesis is a religious song. In reality, it's a song mocking televangelists who survive on donations from their audience.
  • Likewise, the Dire Straits song "Ticket to Heaven" is actually a harsh criticism of televangelists who prey on the weak and often already poor and exploit their sincere belief to enrich themselves. Since it is written largely from the point of view of someone with such sincere belief and stylised like a praise song, many people miss the message, miss the lyrical moments when the darker background seeps through, and take it for the real thing. (It makes one wonder what those overly literal listeners would make of some of the other songs on the On Every Street album, like "Heavy Fuel" or "My Parties".)
  • Powerwolf gets this from time to time. "Raise Your Fist, Evangelist" sounds like a pretty sincere praise song if one just looks at the lyrics. But most of the band's songs are about gothic-themed dark stories and fables, like vampires and werewolves. Religion does get mentioned as a way to counteract those creatures, but that's among songs about the horrors of the Crusades and the perversion of religion to justify dark acts; if anything, the band is mocking the idea of religion protecting people from monsters. It hasn't stopped a few people from embracing the band as serious Christian crusaders, though.

     Songs that do not endorse Satan-worship: 
  • The so-called devil's horns hand gesture, popularized by the late singer Ronnie James Dio of Rainbow and Black Sabbath was taken from his extremely religious Italian grandmother's Mediterranean symbol for warding off the "evil eye", or the devil, as something to gather metal audiences together. It was later adopted by the heavy metal subculture.
  • The song "Sympathy for the Devil," by The Rolling Stones, is mistakenly believed to pro-Satanism by people who don't pay attention to the song and/or miss the irony in the lyrics. Although it's sung from the POV of Satan, the message is that history's atrocities were the fault of humankind and had nothing to do with him.
  • Many of the early heavy metal/hard rock bands, along with The Rolling Stones, unique in that they brought up the subjects of, Satan, Hell, evil and black magic, were incorrectly accused by Moral Guardians (or plain old heavy metal haters) of promoting such activities, when for the most part they were simply warning people against satanic acts, or using the Devil as symbolism, or often simply expressing their love of a good horror movie. Refuge in Audacity and the counter-cultural notoriety it inspired (and maybe some rebellion against those Moral Guardians) misinterpreted by many misguided followers lead to many genuinely devil-worshipping fans and metal acts coming through the ranks in later years.
  • "N.I.B." by Black Sabbath. Bassist Geezer Butler has claimed that the song is about Lucifer doing a Heel–Face Turn. However, the religious devout and theistic Satanists believe it's about the devil seducing the listener to the Dark Side.
  • Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" from The Number of the Beast is often misinterpreted as a Satanic anthem. The song is actually based off a dream Steve Harris had about witnessing a Satanic ritual.
  • Bring Me the Horizon's "Go To Hell For Heavens Sake" is just an angry song about someone the singer dislikes. Still, it's a controversial song amongst fans due to the title and its use in the chorus.

     Songs that do not endorse a certain trend, fashion, subculture or lifestyle: 
  • This happens when a satirical song about the shallowness or fakeness of a certain subculture gets popular with the very type of people it is actually attacking. In some cases it even becomes an anthem for those people.
  • "Mountain Top" by Bedouin Soundclash, from the same album as May You Be The Road, is a jab at the general international Rasta/Reggae scene. Guess what types of bands have been covering it?
  • The song "Song 2" by Blur was created as a mocking parody of the flash-in-the-pan "Post-Grunge" music (like Candlebox and Seven Mary Three) popular in the United States at the time. Unfortunately, the song became wildly popular with the fans of the same genre they were mocking and hence, it became their biggest hit in the country. The fact that alternative rock radio - then beginning its split between more "indie rock" leaning stations and the Post-Grunge/Nu Metal stations — picked up the song and played it to death didn't help things much.
    • It didn't help that all of the band's other big hits in America sound nothing like the sound they're known for in the rest of the world and instead are either their hardest ("Crazy Beat") or danciest ("There's No Other Way" and "Girls & Boys") songs. The only two songs that sound like the band's actual sound that got any major American rock radio airplay were "Chemical World" and "Coffee & TV" and neither at the level of the other four songs mentioned.
    • "Girls & Boys" itself was intended as a criticism of trendy pansexuality and the Club 18-30 lifestyle. Guess where it got a lot of airplay?
  • Vanessa Carlton's song "Twilight" is not about Edward or Bella or anything that has to do with Stephanie Meyer's books, especially since she wrote the song before those books came out. Don't even bother looking at all the comments. Likewise, neither is anything by Muse.
  • "Make Love Like A Man" by Def Leppard is a parody of chauvinism and sexism, not an anthem to them.
  • Doo-wop star Dion's hit, "The Wanderer" was written as a parody of a ex-sailor he knew of who only wanted to drive around town and pick up women. Dion saw the person as a "loser" who was getting nowhere in his life. The song was written to ridicule his chauvinism and narcissism, but the song was celebrated (or even worse, criticized) as a macho rock anthem, and the character as the epitome of "cool".
  • Don Martin 3 released an album initially recorded as an inside joke among the band. No song titles, angsty and pseudo-poetic lyrics and extreme over the top vocals. They did not get the opportunity to re-record however, and the record was released in its joke form. It instantly became regarded as a classic among fans of the style and today is frequently referenced as the epitome as emotional hardcore of the mid-90s.
  • "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" was originally intended as a parody of country Tear Jerker songs that feature "two verses that get you to fall in love with the character, and then 'kill 'em!" The writer (Randy Brooks) decided to write a song where an adorable character dies at the very beginning in an extremely absurd fashion. Neither Brooks nor Elmo & Patsy anticipated that the public would embrace it as an Anti-Christmas Song, or that it would appeal to the Playground Song demographic.
  • Many have been dissuaded from messaging Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong telling him to "wake up" once October comes around, as a reference to the band's hit "Wake Me Up When September Ends". It's not just mildly irritating, but the song has a particularly personal meaning for Armstrong: it's actually a Grief Song about the death of his father.
  • There has been much debate over whether or not Merle Haggard's 1969 song "Okie from Muskogee" was intended as a satire of conservative Middle America or an unironic celebration of such. Haggard himself has seemingly waffled on the subject, saying at various points that it was both a genuine response to his disheartened feelings watching anti-Vietnam War protests and that he was "dumb as a rock" when he wrote it and now performs it as an artifact of that era. Regardless, many conservatives took it seriously and turned it into an anthem for those who opposed the student protests and hippie culture of the time. Various covers of it were far more pointedly satirical, be they versions performed straight by musicians famous for their drug use (such as The Grateful Dead) or versions that rewrote the lyrics to be far more mocking (such as Chinga Chavin's Answer Song "Asshole from El Paso", or John Denver's version in which he adds references to the Ku Klux Klan and murdering hippies).
  • I Hate Myself was a Florida emocore band of the mid-'90s, playing a style of music that, while having no similarity to today bastardized use of the term emo or emo teens, still relied on angsty and vague lyrics, pretentious build-up, and over the top vocals, including rabid screaming and often even crying. The band played deliberately all these cliches to the max, writing super-angsty lyrics about mundane situations, almost parody-level vocals, refusing to give names to their records besides the number of songs on them to sound "deep", and well, just look at their name. Despite all this, no one got the joke until about five years after they broke up, and they were praised frequently by fans of the music they were parodying for their emotional and deep music. It is worth noting, however, that there were serious bands at the time with similar styles, and a type of Poe's Law might be at work.
  • Alan Jackson's 1994 hit song "Gone Country". Does it provide a satirical commentary on the state of country music, describing three pop/folk musicians who, after finding their careers to be waning, decide to feign being country in order to try their hand in the then-booming country music industry? (Which made its popularity as a song that radio stations often played as their first song after switching to a Country Music format ironic)...Or is it a fun country pride song? Jackson seems to support the latter interpretation now, as he takes the "fun country pride song" interpretation in the liner notes to his Greatest Hits Album. The song's writer, Bob McDill, says it was intended as the former, but was meant more as an amusing Slice of Life portrait of its characters than as a cynical Take That!.
  • After Aqualung by Jethro Tull was praised as a "concept album" (which Ian Anderson never intended it to be), Anderson decided to write the 45-minute "epic poem" Thick as a Brick as a parody of concept albums. Many took it seriously (it outsold Aqualung, and was the band's first #1 album in the States), so they decided to do an actual concept album, A Passion Play, which while successful in the States (another #1 seller), didn't sell as well in the UK (peaking at #12).
  • Lana Del Rey's "Brooklyn Baby" bitterly mocks hipsters. Of course, guess what kind of subculture seems to be taking it in as their "anthem"?
  • Gangsta Rap - Originally the genre focused on shining the light on the harsh world in the inner city, with the lyrics often condemning social ills such as crime and police brutality. Unfortunately, once it became popular, it morphed into a genre that glorified violence, gang life, crime, and murder. It doesn't help that many of the present rappers were part of the misaimed fandom.
  • Hedley's "Cha-Ching" is a dancey rock number that at first glance appears to be celebrating pop culture and reality television, but is actually a scathing satire of it. It also appears to be a large middle finger towards people that says the band sold out.
  • Jon Lajoie:
    • "Fuck Everything" is meant to parody the attitude of people who attempt to project dismissive coolness, but end up trying too hard and instead look pointlessly pissed-off. Over the course of the video, the singer angrily rages at everything from kitchen appliances to the laws of physics, shouting that he doesn't care about them even as he smashes them and shouts about them. He ultimately realizes that he's giving a fuck about not giving a fuck, stops, and concludes the song by happily proclaiming that he really does care. Now scroll down to the comments section, and check how many people proclaim "I don't give a fuck about [issue of the day]!"
    • A lot of men sing along to""Show Me Your Genitals" at his concerts. This is not necessarily an endorsement of the misogynist views the song satirizes, but there's likely a few guys who aren't in on the joke.
  • Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" is a Take That! towards the Alpha Bitch type of person but many Alpha Bitches in real life mistook it for an anthem for themselves. There are also lots of people who don't like the song because of the same misconception. To be fair, the fact that it's a Take That! is unobvious enough (in both the lyrics and the video) that Poe's Law applies.
  • As pointed out by Adam Buckley in his Musical Autopsy video of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis's "Thrift Shop" the lyrics are making fun of shallow, materialistic hip-hop culture, but that because the track was so popular there must be thousands of people who like it who never buy clothes in thrift shops and spend all their money on the very things the singer is making fun of.
  • Manic Street Preachers' "4 st 7 lbs" is often quoted in pro-anorexia contexts, despite being clear on the horrors of anorexia. The band got inundated with terrible pro-anorexia poetry, even Richey got fed up- 'Oh no, not another f—-ing poem about eating an apple in the morning!'
  • Continuing on from 1990s Industrial Metal concept albums with messages that are taken in the utterly opposite direction, there's Marilyn Manson's album Mechanical Animals. There are two central characters, Omēga and Alpha. Omēga sings empty anthems about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Alpha is based on Manson, and sings about love, and the negative effects of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Guess which one's songs are more popular.
    • In what is either an utterly absurd example of this trope or the most brilliant of subversions, the Marilyn Manson song "Beautiful People" (from Antichrist Superstar) was once played over commercials for America's Next Top Model on British television.
    • The song even got a misaimed fandom from another artist when Christina Aguilera sampled it for her song "The Beautiful People" for the movie Burlesque, going so far as to replace Manson's lyrics with lines like "All of the beautiful people, shining like diamonds/They got no problems/They always stop for the cameras, stealing the spotlight"
    • In the same way, the trailers for Dragon Age: Origins made heavy use of "This is the New Shit", which is a very obvious mocking of the rise of Darker and Edgier in media. Then again, the world of Dragon Age is such a relentlessly Grimdark universe that even its version of God has turned his back in disgust (or possibly worse).
  • The famous 90s anthem "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred was meant to be a parody of the vanity found amongst bodybuilders and models. The song subsequently went on to become a very popular song amongst bodybuilders and models, and to this day, is regularly played at gyms and fashion-shows. Whether it's done tongue-in-cheek or seriously is for you to decide. This might be the case with much of LMFAO's output.
  • The Talking Heads song "Life During Wartime" from Fear of Music was considered an anti-disco song for the lyric "This ain't no disco", despite the fact that the song is quite danceable, and the members of the band were fans of disco music. The song is actually about hypothetical guerrilla warfare in the United States.
  • Third Eye Blind's hit single "Semi-Charmed Life" caught on as an anthem for sex-crazed, drug-addicted college-folk due to the quick tempo and catchy lyrics even though the song dealt entirely with the negative repercussions of the behavior the main fans of the song were engaging in. This may have been because all the references to sex and drugs (including bleeping or scrambling the words "crystal meth") were edited when broadcast on the radio, for "clean" album releases, and when shown as a music video on MTV. One time the Moral Guardians messed up majorly... The song was used in the original theatrical trailer for the animated Winnie the Pooh film The Tigger Movie for the sole reason that it sounded upbeat and "bouncy". When Disney found out the meaning of the song, they recalled the trailer and substituted a different song. However, the original version of the trailer still made it onto a number of DVDs (and was inexplicably reused in 2012 to advertise the movie on Blu-ray).
  • The Toadies may also have an accidental fandom among Goths & Vamps since several of their songs could be taken to be refer to vampirism. How accidental this is is still a subject of debate but the band itself doesn't present itself as a gothic band.
    • "Tyler" is definitely about a man breaking into a woman's house so he can "be with her tonight", though whether or not he is a blood-drinker or a murderer/rapist may depend upon how you feel about vampires being able to enjoy a beer.
    • "POSSUM Kingdom", with its mention of a "dark secret", is either about a serial killer attacking a woman at a North Texas lake of that name, or a vampire violently revealing himself to a woman before offering to make her a vampire as well.
    • "Away" can be taken as being about a vampire's invitation of hospitality to a mortal friend. ("If I'm out hunting - Come right on in, yeah. - And even when I'm gone, -My doors are always open.")
  • X-Ray Spex's 1970s-wave punk song "Oh Bondage Up Yours" was both embraced and denounced as a pro-BDSM Obligatory Bondage Song, despite the fact that it's a fairly obvious feminist attack on BDSM as ultimate form of the oppression of women and the "Up yours!" is aimed at bondage fans. To be fair, the vocals aren't that easily intelligible.
  • People who think The Toadies are a goth or vampire band might want to listen more closely to tracks like "Backslider," which seem to have, if anything, Pentecostal Christian overtones.
  • Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl", sung by his daughter Moon Unit, is a satire of a specific kind of girls who live in the San Fernando Valley in California. It unexpectedly became his biggest hit in the USA, spawning an entire fashion trend around it where teenage girls would actually start talking, dressing and acting like a "Valley Girl". Zappa went through a serious Creator Backlash with this song, refused to release it on single for a long time and only brought it out on his album Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch (1982). He also never performed it live.
  • "Selfie" by The Chainsmokers is another "too true" case of a song being fully embraced by the type of people it was created to mock, namely young people in The New '10s.
  • Holly Dunn's "Maybe I Mean Yes" was hit with controversy when Moral Guardians tapped into the ambiguity of its lyrics ("When I say no or maybe, maybe I mean yes") and automatically concluded that the song promoted date rape (which it didn't), at a time when date-rapists defended themselves by saying "she didn't mean no." Dunn herself tried to pull the song from radio, but the damage was done.
  • "King Bruce Lee karate mistrz" (King Bruce Lee the karate master) sung by Polish actor and singer Piotr Fronczewski (under his stage persona Franek Kimono) was written as a mockery of disco subculture and homegrown Bruce Lee wannabes who, deriving all their "knowledge" of martial arts from action movies like Enter the Dragon, picked up girls and started brawls in disco clubs. Many listeners however, failed to catch the irony and the song became very popular among disco club frequenters.
  • "Murheellisten laulujen maa" ("A Land of Sorrowful Songs"), a 1982 hit by the Finnish rock band Eppu Normaali, makes fun of Finnish popular music (the titular "sorrowful songs") and Finnish pop culture in general for their tendency to assume that True Art Is Angsty, which makes them focus on tragic and sad stories instead of more optimistic ones. Even though the mockery is quite evident in the lyrics (which, among other things, state that the Finnish people "have so much self-pity it can't be rationally measured"), many Finns tend to ignore it and see the song as an ode to Finnish melancholy.
  • In a case of Misaimed Hatedom, Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" was met with backlash and calls to have it banned by Catholic groups since the song is about a guy trying to get a Catholic girl to have sex with him. Joel was confused by this because the song ends with the guy getting nowhere and the girl keeping her chastity vow.
  • Huey Lewis and the News wrote Hip to Be Square as something of a career retrospective about how their mainstream success came along with cleaning up their image, and the title and lyrics were meant to be thoroughly ironic. That didn't stop it from being adopted a sort of a pro-conformity yuppie anthem, an interpretation famously depicted in American Psycho when Patrick Bateman murders a man while playing the song and extolling its message about "the pleasures of conformity and the importance of trends". Huey Lewis regretted this so much that he admitted to a fan that it was the one song that he wished he could go back in time and re-record.

     Songs that are not hate songs: 
  • Often when a singer satirizes something by playing a character in the lyrics people assume he is voicing his own opinion. This can be the case, but sometimes the singer is just playing an Unreliable Narrator.
  • Linkin Park:
    • Linkin Park wrote "Crawling" about Chester's genuine struggles with abuse as a child, and "Papercut" about someone struggling with meth addiction, but they were widely adopted by teenagers as songs to express their frustration at their parents for petty reasons. "One Step Closer" was not serious either; the lyrics were just taking out their frustrations at the producer for making them do endless retakes of "Runaway" because they couldn't make the arrangement work. The band were so conscious of the audience they were attracting that they moved away from the nu-metal genre and started writing lyrics about other things.
    • The song "Breaking the Habit" is about overcoming drug addiction and getting clean. It's often thought of as someone just on the verge of committing suicide, and the depressive state of mind they're in before they do it. The music video does not help this perception at all, which shows, among other things, a woman writing "I'M NOTHING" and smearing paper with blood, or a man jumping off a skyscraper and falling to his death on a taxi cab. The fact that the singer did commit suicide in 2017 doesn't help either.
    • Linkin Park wrote "Valentine's Day". Guess what it's not about? Though stumpingly seen as an emo teen break-up song for some reason, it's actually about a funeral.
    And the ground below grew colder
    As they put you down inside
  • If it's possible for a song to subvert this trope, it would have to be a Steely Dan song. The first few times you hear "Barrytown", you absolutely hate the narrator for his blatant bigotry and narrow-mindedness ("Don't believe I'm taken in / By stories I have heard. / I just read The Daily News / And swear by every word") Many people have interpreted it to suggest that the person being addressed is gay. But if you visit the real Barrytown, or look into the band's history, you'll realize it's probably being addressed to a student at the Unification Theological Seminary—i.e. the Moonies' main educational institution, and given the very real perception of that sect as a cult your perception of the song's point of view softens a little bit.
  • Some people, especially those who don't speak English that well, frequent misinterpret "No Woman, No Cry" from Bob Marley's Natty Dread and Live as a Misogyny Song, thinking it means that without women there would be no reason to cry. A lot of stupid men find this incredibly funny, but the last laugh is actually on them, because the song is simply about a man telling a woman not to cry, despite their misery.
  • Randy Newman suffers from a clinical case of this trope. His works are often heavily ironic, and so mean the opposite of what they say, a fact lost on a distressingly large percentage of the population. Famous examples include "Short People", a parody of bigotry that drew a torrent of abuse from the nicey-niceys (Newman had written the song on the basis that the target of the abuse was so ridiculous that nobody could believe he meant it - well...), and a musical retort called "Tall People" from another musician; "Political Science," a song urging Americans to "drop the big one" on a deserving world, by way of lampshading the common American misconception that they're martyrs on this planet; and "Rednecks," pointing out that the urban, sophisticated American North was as chin-deep in racism as the rural South. The song was written from the perspective (and in the language) of Southern white-trash, and included the refrain, "We're rednecks, we're rednecks, and we're keeping the niggers down." People went ballistic. And not the right people.
  • Similarly to Newman, and as more of a Misaimed Hatedom than a Misaimed Fandom, Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" got Mark Knopfler a whole lot of flak when it was released in 1985, particularly from the nascent gay activist movement, who took issue with the lines, "The little faggot with the earring and the makeup/Yeah buddy, that's his own hair" and subsequently read Knopfler as a homophobe. Knopfler has gone on record as saying that those weren't even his words—he was eavesdropping on a "blockhead" (his words) in an electronics store (which also explains the "we got to install microwave ovens" line, that being an employee order) who struck him as the epitome of everything wrong and reactionary about music fans at the time, and he decided to set the man's words to music. This whole scenario should have been made abundantly clear by the video, but still caused considerable alarm. The song was even banned from Canadian radio for a short time in 2011 due to this very misinterpretation.
  • "She's Always a Woman" by Billy Joel is often accused of being misogynistic for pointing out the titular woman's flaws, but the song is actually praising the woman for her complexities, which only seem like flaws to those who don't have such an intimate relationship with her as the singer. Joel lays the blame squarely at the listener's feet for making misogynistic assumptions about the woman he loves.
  • "Dirty Diana" by Michael Jackson gets accused of misogyny, and the titular woman is certainly no saint. But the singer is shown to be just as bad by indulging her, when he has a girlfriend waiting for him at home.
  • Many people agree with the singer in A Perfect Circle's "The Outsider". This is not the intended reaction. The entire album is a Concept Album about addiction. "The Outsider" is about someone who is close to the addict (alternatively, they can be interpreted as a depressed person as well) but doesn't understand their issues. They want their loved one to either get up by their bootstraps and stop "complaining" or stay far away from them. The singer is supposed to be an obliviously ignorant person in the wrong, but many people genuinely have that viewpoint and agree with him.

     Music that does not advocate violence, crime, warfare or any other form of bloodshed: 
  • This is when people start to go to concerts to vandalize the place. Soldiers liking music because it has a militaristic image or criminals engaging in murder, rape or violence because they think a certain song advocates these things.
  • Barenaked Ladies' "The Old Apartment" has sometimes been interpreted to be about a guy breaking into his old apartment to terrorize his ex-girlfriend—witness not just the bit about breaking in, but references to "the hole I punched in the wall" and "broken hearts and broken bones", as well as the lyric "Why did I have to break in? I only came here to talk." But the bridge of the song clarifies the meaning by explaining that the guy and his girl bought a house somewhere ("I know we don't live here anymore") and are still together. The guy broke into the old apartment out of nostalgia. (The video makes this even clearer by showing the guy and his girl breaking into the old apartment together.)
  • The Beatles' songs "Piggies" and "Helter Skelter" of The White Album were misinterpreted by notorious Cloud Cuckoo Lander Charles Manson as being invocations of a race war. It inspired him to brainwash his followers into murdering random people.
  • Alice Cooper is maybe made of this trope. The singer is supposed to be an evil character (hence the "executions" in live shows), and several of his songs like e.g. Wicked Young Man or Gimme have the potential to be read in ways other than intended by Vincent Furnier.
  • A massive smear campaign by news programs and tv-shows painted a picture of the punk scene (and especially the hardcore punk scene) in the late '70s-early '80s as being filled with violent delinquents who fight at the shows. This campaign ended up inspiring actual violent delinquents to attend punk concerts and then fight at the shows.
  • Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is not a song promoting suicide as some suspect, it is simply a song encouraging people to enjoy life and not fear death, and to regard our love for those who have passed on as eternal.
  • John Cale made an album in 1979 about nuclear war. It was meant as a kind of critique, but it accrued him a number of a very uncritical fans:
    "Those kids punching the air in mock salutes declaring they are Ready for War! make me sick... I bet they are ready... like hell. I should have an induction room backstage. Let's see you come back and enlist.
    But I have received a lot of reaction from the album like that. Even some of the guys who devise war games for the Pentagon have come to the shows as a result of that record and this tour. It looks like finally I have made an American album."
  • As Kurt Cobain wrote in the liner notes for Nirvana's Incesticide: "Last year, a girl was raped by two wastes of sperm and eggs while they sang the lyrics to our song 'Polly.' I have a hard time carrying on knowing there are plankton like that in our audience."
    • Cobain would later write the song "Rape Me", which was meant to be an "anti-rape song" that was in part a response to the controversy over "Polly." Ironically, "Rape Me" has itself sadly become an example of the same Misaimed Fandom as was seen in a high school rape case in 2012.
      • Think it couldn't get worse than that? It was frequently played RTMLC in South part of the Rwandan Genocide. On that note, Cobain also said that the lyrics were meant to be blunt so that misinterpreting the meaning was almost impossible.
    • Cobain was aware enough about his band's misaimed fandom that he satirized it on Nirvana's second album with "In Bloom", a complete hash on rednecky fans.
  • Gwar's "War Party" was taken to be supportive of the Republican war effort. Did anybody even listen to the lyrics? Perhaps thanks to Gwar's typically pro-war kill-everything-that-moves stage theatrics, the song title and chorus was taken to mean the obvious. "Born in the USA" for the new generation.
    • Also, the most intelligible lyrics after "Come join the War Party!" and "This was the price of your war." Seriously, how does anyone misinterpret that one?
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic talks about his song "Trigger Happy" in the booklet that comes with the Permanent Record boxed set:
    "I just thought it would be fun to juxtapose a Beach Boys/Jan & Dean type surf riff with a song about a gun nut. I think the song's pro-gun control sentiment is fairly obvious, but one day I was doing an interview in Canada on a call-in talk show, and somebody called in and said 'Oh, I think it's great that you wrote this song, because I love guns, I got a lot of guns and I think it's great that you'd write a song like that.' Not wanting to explain the irony to someone who's heavily armed I simply said 'Thank you very much!'"
  • Many people think "Prison Sex" by tool is about just that: rape while in prison. The actual message is much more disturbing. It's about a child who is molested and grows up to himself become a child molester. The prison in the title is the cycle suffering that is created and which the character can't break free from. This confusion could be more due to some of the lyrics being hard to hear. This becomes much less ambiguous in the video, which is downright terrifying.
  • The Offspring's "Come Out and Play" does not glorify gang warfare and violence as some of the lyrics appear to ("If you're under eighteen you won't be doing any time" and "Come out and play!") but is actually about how gang life is a meaningless parade of violence and death where the slightest infraction of your gang's rules can get you killed and the fact that it's a never-ending cycle of young people dying or ruining their lives all for the purpose of "being cool". It's been used in montages of several films about gang warfare and has risen quite a controversy over the years.
  • While Guns N' Roses' "Used to Love Her" is a Murder Ballad, it's clearly meant as a joke, otherwise it wouldn't be so uptempo and cheery, with Axl even doing over-the-top introductions on stage. Yet actual murderers have listened to the song to motivate themselves towards killing their wives\girlfriends.
  • Drowning Pool's "Bodies" was written as a mosh-pit anthem, but its lyrics, from its chorus of "let the bodies hit the floor" to lines like "push me again" and "can't take much more", can easily be read as being about a man hitting his Rage-Breaking Point and Going Postal. The song was infamously used as a form of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques at Guantanamo Bay, and has been associated with various murderers who played it before or while committing their crimes, most notably a Spree Killer in Tucson, Arizona who murdered six people and wounded thirteen others, including Congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords, in a shooting at a supermarket where Giffords was holding a rally. Since then, the song has come to be seen as a mass murder anthem.
  • "Gunpoint Affection" by Black Market Baby was condemned in a Washington Post review as "a straightforward rape fantasy" that "negates the rest of [their] work" - while the song is a graphic depiction of a rape at gunpoint from the rapist's perspective, according to lyricist Boyd Farrell the listener is meant to be unsettled by how sick and depraved the narrator is, not cheer him on.

     Artists where some fans look only at the image: 
  • Let's face it: we've all been there. We've all loved certain musicians more for their badass image- which is often just a role, than who they actually are, left alone their music. But in some cases it has attracted rather bizarre followings. Same goes for music that seems to be typical of a certain genre, but is actually a parody of it.
  • blink-182's music video for "All the Small Things" was a parody of various boy bands. However, thanks in part to the song being so radio-friendly, teenage girls who weren't in on the joke flocked to them for all the wrong reasons. To make matters worse, since the boy band era has for all intents and purposes come and gone, the joke seems to be lost on today's viewers.
    • This isn't necessarily missing the point: although clearly very different to boy bands, blink were a group of fairly attractive guys in their early twenties and if they didn't know teen girls would be attracted to them then the label marketing them definitely would have counted on it. Teen girls are always going to have celebrity crushes but it doesn't mean they don't understand satire, or that they lack scorn for the lame boyband heart throbs of their peers.
  • The same thing happened to pop/rock Italian band Velvet. They made a song called "Boy Band", meant to satirize (in a very obvious and simple way, to be honest) the fakeness of boy bands, but many people mistook it for a declaration of intents, and thus Velvet was considered a boy band from that point on. Despite their growth as artists, their reputation and sales never fully recovered, since they never managed to shake off the "boy band" label.
  • "La fine di Gaia" by Italian rapper Caparezza, on the same album, is a mockery of insane beliefs and conspiracy theories, but seems to be enjoyed by precisely the kind of Conspiracy Theorist that it makes fun of.
  • Classical Music and Opera: A lot of it now has an highbrow image, but in previous centuries this music was played to liven up festivals, parties and a lot of people who came to see opera were common folks who liked watching theatre and sing along with the popular arias. Classical Music as a genre is pretty much its era and locale's version of pop music, made classic by standing the test of time. Which is to say nothing of the pieces that didn't stand the test of time, such as Mozart's strangely scatalogical vanity projects and the throwaway pieces Beethoven composed for a quick buck.
  • Jazz: Much like classical music jazz has also become sophisticated music for people with class, while most of the original jazz bands were people who performed in sleazy bars, night clubs and brothels and were actually frowned upon by most people.
  • Sergey Lazarev's "Take It Off" is obviously a heterosexual Intercourse with You track with lyrics that repeatedly address a "girl", but the (borderline NSFW) music video in which he dresses and dances as over-the-top Stripperiffic as the backup dancers leads people to see it as Camp Gay.
  • The Finnish metal band Lordi, after partaking in the Eurovision Song Contest. Lordi dresses up in monster costumes and looked out of place compared to the more mundane musicians that usually perform there. But most viewers just saw them as a carnivalesque freakshow, instead of a serious metal band. That's probably why they won that night.
  • The Residents' album Duck Stab! was intended to prove to the public that even if they recorded some shorter, "poppier" sounding songs, it would still be unpopular. People loved it. In fact, it's one of the group's most popular recordings. And thus Springtime for Hitler and Misaimed Fandom are finally connected.
  • Repeat it with me, "I'm On a Boat" by The Lonely Island is a parody. Observe: over-the-top cursing, simple repetition of lyrics, catchy hook, pointless inclusion of TPain, and the fact that it was created by a group that originated from Saturday Night Live (a show known for mocking almost everything and everyone in popular culture), and the words. "Gonna fly this boat to the moon somehow..." This hasn't stopped people from not realizing that it's not actually another rap song about how glamorous life is when you're a rapper. The fact that it was made by the same writers of "Dick in a Box" and "Jizz in My Pants" should be the first clue.
  • Soundgarden's song "Big Dumb Sex" was a Stealth Parody of the glam metal scene at the time, but many hair bands and their fans took a liking to the song without realizing what it was about (you might think the song's title would be a clue). Guns N' Roses even did a cover of it.
  • According to frontman Devin Townsend, the majority of Strapping Young Lad fans don't like the band's music for the reason they're supposed to. To quote Devin: "When we did Ozzfest I remember thinking that Strapping Young Lad started as the giant middle finger, and then suddenly there were people saying "Yeah! Tell us we're assholes!
  • Frank Zappa's Cruising with Ruben & the Jets is a parody of Doo-wop, but this hasn't stopped some people from actually thinking it's a genuine doowop album. This is also an example of songs misunderstood as romantic ones, as Frank Zappa himself once heard of an executive of the label that released this album, which took him to his house to serve as background music in a romantic evening with his wife (who apparently was very successful), thinking that it was a legitimate example of doowop without knowing that the Mothers of Invention was the band behind this work, which was actually an Affectionate Parody.
  • An inversion with Ozzy Osbourne. His music is, for the most part, vanilla heavy metal with subjects ranging from partying to some pretty depressing autobiographical experiences. Yet, for a long time, people saw that he called himself "The Prince Of Darkness" and dressed like the bastard child of Gene Simmons at shows (both of which were done ironically, in response to all the Moral Guardians who went after him in the 70's and 80's) and avoided his music altogether, assuming it would be every bit as bizarre as his image. While this at least subsided after The Osbournes became a hit, people now refuse to listen to his music for very different reasons.
  • Many Gangsta Rap artists are all image. The genre itself came out of a fad that got started in part because of the notoriety of drug lords like Manuel Noriega and the success of films like Scarface (1983) and The Godfather. Part of it came from the mainstream success of early groups like N.W.A. who, growing up in crime-ridden areas of big cities, were simply writing about what they knew, and were mindlessly copied by later acts who wanted to adopt a "harder" image. While some rappers in the genre did have criminal backgrounds, precious few of them were "gangsters" in any meaningful sense of the term. Many of them are college educated, or went to some type of acting for the arts school. Some artists even admit that their labels tell them to perform in the gangster persona, because that's the only way they can sell records. Many also have ghost writers who write their lyrics.
  • Most artists would be offended at the use of their symbols or logos by those who don't care to investigate their music. Ville Valo is not one of those people. He's actually REALLY proud that his heartagram symbol has become so much bigger than its original purpose, regardless of whether people merely get it tattooed for Rule of Cool purposes. He doesn't care if people know or care about what it actually represents; the fact that it's become so popular has led Valo to remark that the symbol has "taken on a life of its own" and to watch with interest as it spreads throughout the world. He even regards the heartagram as the single greatest thing he has ever created precisely because of its universal appeal.
  • People often see The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian" as an observation of the movements of ancient Egyptians, or to those who aren't well-informed of modern Egypt, the movements of Egyptian citizens. After all, what else could "Walk Like an Egyptian" mean? ...How about a Word Salad meant to poke fun at how jovial dances by the likes of 50s waitresses, schoolchildren, cops, and partying Japanese are akin to Egyptian hieroglyphs? Songwriter Liam Sternberg said he was inspired to write the song after seeing people on a boat wobble around when the currents were getting rough.

     Miscellaneous examples: 
  • Ozzy Osbourne's song "Suicide Solution". It is NOT about advocating or contemplating suicide and NOT 'solution' as a sense of 'resolving a problem'. It is about alcoholism and lamentation of destroying yourself slowly with alcohol, 'solution' in the chemical sense of 'mixture of dissolved substances'.
  • "Phantom of the Opera" by Iron Maiden was used in an advert for Nike in the 1980s. Never mind the lines "I know that you're gonna scratch me and maim me and maul, you know I'm helpless to your mesmerizing cat call" and "You haunt me, you taunt me, you torture me back at your lair"...
  • Because no one remembers most of the song "You Are My Sunshine" is typically seen as a song between a parent and a child. Not only is the song actually about romantic love, it's also a Break-Up Song in the "please don't go" subcategory (hence "Please don't take my sunshine away").
  • Tim Minchin's song "The Fence" is all about lampshading misaimed fandoms and double standards, as well as pointing out that the world isn't as black and white as you may think.
  • "Say Something" by A Great Big World (which you might know from the re-recording featuring Christina Aguilera) is a clear Break-Up Song, however its lyrics are largely interpreted as being about someone who died, often family members. This misunderstanding may have been the reason it was chosen as the Samuel L. Jackson-produced Charity Motivation Song for the testicular cancer charity, One For The Boys.
  • A Music Video example: The music video for Teddyloid's "ME! ME ME!" was about a young man's obsessions quite literally eating him alive after falling into post-breakup depression, with the Fanservice portions of the video (mainly the scantily clad clones of Mimi and HANA) used to show how pathetic and sex obsessed the main character had become while also being used as Anthropomorphic Personifications of his worsening emotional state. Fans of the video were drawn to the girls anyway; they cited them as the best part of the video, accepted them even in (and in some cases because of) their monstrous forms, and even drew the girls toying with an unwilling Shuu or continuing to consume him.
  • "Three Lions" by Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds, the official anthem of the English team during the 1996 European football championships, became a popular football anthem in a number of other European countries, most notably Germany, even though the title and the lyrics (yes, even the simple chorus of "Football's coming home") only reference the history of British football. The accompanying music video saw extended airplay on German television, where viewers luckily didn't get the joke behind all the members of the German team being named "Kuntz".
  • "Blood" by My Chemical Romance is about how the band can't please obsessive fans, but a lot of people take the lyrics about being about a man who donates blood a lot, or better yet a straight-up murderer for the "murder is quirky" crowd.
  • In 2010, Macy's controversially used the song "Seasons of Love" — a tribute to love of all kinds — to sell jewelry. The use of only straight couples didn't help matters, either.
  • Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" is about man who travels to the future, sees the world in ruins, and is transformed into a metal monster. When he tries to go back and warn humans, he can't communicate with people. They treat him as a freak and it drives him insane—he goes on Roaring Rampage of Revenge, causing the apocalypse he tried to prevent. It's not about Tony Stark!
    • Though Marvel did embrace the song in the 21st century, no matter how ironic it does seem. Ultimate Marvel has Tony Stark naming his alter ego after the song, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation wears a Black Sabbath shirt (and in the novelization for Iron Man, imitates Ozzy's intro when learning the media dubbed him "Iron Man"). It's entirely in character for most versions of Tony to embrace the song without actually listening to the lyrics.
  • Plumb's "In My Arms" is likely a God Is Love Song but it's largely interpreted as a song about a mother and her infant.
  • Bob Geldof apparently encounters many, many people who only ever listen to the chorus of "I Don't Like Mondays", which is actually loosely based on a real school shooting and not a song about generically disliking Mondays. He does not appreciate this one bit.
  • Many popular Christian rock bands with heavy Christian undertones (Skillet, Red, Relient K, etc) typically have a fandom that ignores the religious meanings of their songs. A lot of the bands do try to make the songs have double meanings, but most of the songs are just meant to be religious.
    • Skillet's songs "Rebirthing" and "Whispers in the Dark" are commonly interpreted as love songs, even though they're meant to be worship songs with a heavy rock beat. Also, "Monster" is usually taken at face value about someone who has a dark side that's trying to get out, resulting in many an AMV using the song for someone with a Superpowered Evil Side. Frontman John Cooper has said the song is actually about "being weighed down by sin" and how the singer is trying to get right with God, but is constantly tempted to turn into even further sin. To their credit, the band is well-aware that some people take double meanings to their songs, but they've said that they're okay with that.
  • Katy Perry's "Birthday" is sometimes played at children's birthday parties and the occasional milestone anniversary celebration. Take a closer listen to the lyrics, however, and you'll find out that it's actually an allegorical song about Intercourse with You.
  • There are people who use The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, a rather dark, introspective album about existentialism and things in life that drive people bonkers, as background music for sex. Yes, an album meditating on stuff like birth, aging, fear, corruption, greed, death, mental illness, fear of airplane flight, the rat race, etc. is basically used like a Barry White album by some people...must be those yummy David Gilmour guitar solos and ambient musical elements.
    • "The Great Gig in the Sky," to be fair, is considered to be make-out music by some.
  • Speaking of Pink Floyd, in 2018 some right-wing Brazilian fans discovered a few decades too late that Roger Waters is their political opposite and not shy to express it on stage (namely, the tour that would hit the country had a 20 minute intermission showing messages of resistance against questionable people... including the right's "hero" Jair Bolsonaro). A quote by one of them became viral for trying to teach Waters about his own work in a very wrong way: "Roger Waters himself doesn't understand it. If he paid attention, he'd comprehend that 'Another Brink [sic] in the Wall' is a precise criticism of leftist doctrination".
  • In the 2020s, there were Rage Against the Machine fans expressing annoyance over how politically outspoken the band are, with Tom Morello downright replying to one with "What music of mine were you a fan of that DIDN’T contain 'political BS'?" They also really, really reacted poorly to Paul Ryan claiming to be a fan, and Morello's response to a video of Trump supporters dancing to "Killing in the Name" in Philadelphia was "Not what we had in mind..."
  • Many Melanie Martinez fans astonishingly take her songs at face-value despite the incredibly obvious lyrics, most likely due to the fluffy titles and cutesy sound. You should not talk about eating milk and cookies while listening to "Milk And Cookies" unless you want Paranoia Fuel as her cookies are poisoned (she's trying to murder someone), "Teddy Bear" is about an abusive ex-boyfriend trying to kill his ex, "Dollhouse" is about a Happy Marriage Charade, and people who think "Tag You're It" is about playing tag somehow miss the "Running through the parking lot/He chased me and he wouldn't stop/Tag you're it/Tag, tag you're it/Grabbed my hair/Pushed me down/Took the words right out my mouth/Tag you're it/Tag, tag you're it" part of the chorus that only makes it more obvious it's about kidnapping.
  • In the earlier years of their career, Disturbed put out several songs with an emphasis on social issues, particularly of the anti-war persuasion. When they noticed that these songs hadn't stopped any wars and that a lot of their fans were soldiers, athletes, pro fighters and the like who loved using their music to psych themselves up, they shrugged and simply readjusted their aim to include these fans. The band is by no means pro-war, but they have lightened up on the political stuff and created more anthems to general badassery that don't have a specific message.
  • Thanks to the music video being about a gay couple being targeted by homophobes, Hozier's "Take Me To Church" is associated with being a gay love song. It's glaringly noticeable that he is singing lyrics like "My lover's got humor, she's the giggle at the funeral" and "If the heavens ever did speak, she's the last true mouthpiece". It's a heterosexual Intercourse with You song using religious metaphors.
  • If a song is about a same-gender romance it's likely a lot of people will try to see it as a song about a man and a woman instead. "Jenny" by Studio Killers is an example despite the blatant obviousness that both the protagonist and her crush are female.
  • A lot of people criticized Sandi Thom's "I Wish I was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)" by saying that punk rockers didn't wear flowers in their hair; thereby indicating they had heard nothing of the song bar the title. The song is actually an anthem to "experienceless nostalgia", with the singer deliberately conflating various counterculture groups from the past.
  • St. Vincent's "Happy Birthday, Johnny" opens with an in-universe example: "Remember one Christmas I gave you Jim Carroll/intended it as a cautionary tale/you said you saw yourself inside there/dog-eared it like a how-to manual".
  • A lot of people take The Lonely Island's song "Semicolon" as an actual edutainment song about how to use semicolons. These people didn't listen to the very end, where the singer gets an "F" because he used examples of colons instead.
  • "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum certainly does sound like a Christian Revival anthem, but that was the point — to show how easy it is to make a shallow Christian Revival anthem. Of course, it has been near-ubiquitously used as a song to celebrate Christianity. In actual fact, Greenbaum is and was Orthodox Jewish, and never was a Christian.
  • Due to the rather upbeat and triumphant-sounding intro, The Verve's song "Bittersweet Symphony" is frequently used as a celebratory song in countries with a low percentage of English speakers. The title should already tell you that the lyrics are not exactly appropriate for that. It's been used on TV a lot in English-speaking countries, but they usually don't include the lyrics, hoping people won't know that the worldwide hit begins "it's a bittersweet symphony, that's life/try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die."
  • Yeladim Ze Simcha ("Children are Joy") by Israeli folk band Habreira Hativit ("Natural Selection") is a very sarcastic satire about religious leaders manipulating their extremely religious, low-income, uneducated constituents into having many children, in order to get more funding for their communities. The (sarcastic) title and upbeat music ensured that the song was embraced by exactly these communities, and played constantly at birth parties and circumcisions. Even if they didn't listen to the lyrics, you would think the band name should have tipped them off that these guys weren't exactly on their side...
Have twelve kids, or maybe eighteen?
Or maybe twenty kids?
God will provide
Everything they need,
Or if not him, welfare.
God is great,
He can't tolerate
For one person to get everything.
To some he gives money, power and fun
And to you he gives kids.
  • An episode of The Music Video Show accuses the music video for Ariana Grande's "Thank you, Next" of this trope. It references Mean Girls where she plays one of the Plastics, the antagonists of the film.
    "I don't think she's aware that Mean Girls wasn't mean to be taken seriously."
  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "I See a Darkness" (Covered Up to a degree by Johnny Cash's version) has been heavily embraced by people with depression, who see it as a song about struggling with depression. Will Oldham has said that the song was written to be about temptation to commit evil acts, although he doesn't have any problem with the fans who think it's about depression.
  • "Nell Flaherty's Drake" is generally seen as a comedic little ditty suitable for children, with a large amount of Disproportionate Retribution Played for Laughs. However, knowing that "Nell Flaherty" is more likely than not a Nom de Guerre for a woman named Sarah Curran, and the "drake" a coded reference to her fiancé Robert Emmet, an Irish rebel executed for attempting a rebellion against English rule in 1803, the song takes on a whole new set of meanings.
  • Similarly, "My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean" is generally thought to be a children's song about a man pining for a woman who has left him to travel far away. This is not true. The song is in fact a Jacobite lament, yearning for the return of "Bonnie" Prince Charlie (also known as "The King Over The Water") from his exile in France.
  • Cops seem to be very fond of KRS-One's "Sound of da Police", or at the very least, they like the chorus, considering how often it plays in police videos. You really don't have to listen hard to the lyrics to realize it's not even slightly pro-cop; it's actually about how police are essentially the modern counterpart to slave overseers. Even said chorus describes the sound made by police car sirens as "the sound of the beast" though to be fair, said line is easily misheard.
  • The Polish song "Windą do nieba" ("To Heaven in an Elevator") is often performed at weddings, since, from the refrain alone, you'd think it's about a bride looking forward to her upcoming marriage... however, outside of the refrain, the lyrics are actually about how the bride is hopelessly infatuated with a movie actor and is only marrying her groom (whom she doesn't love at all) due to societal expectations.
  • Olivia O'Brien's "Josslyn" is about her boyfriend cheating on her with the titular girl—based on something that actually happened to her, with the name of the girl changed. She's stated in interviews that she gets sort of annoyed when people ask who Josslyn is or focus on her role in the story; she deliberately wrote the song to condemn the cheating boyfriend, not Josslyn. In fact, she specifically stated that the real Josslyn didn't actually do anything wrong, since she didn't know the guy was seeing somebody else.
  • Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" is a very popular teaching tool in CPR training, as its tempo is just right for performing chest compressions... Irony strikes when realizing that the lyrics are about a mass shooting from the perspective of the assailant.
  • Fred Durst said it was uneasy for him that after growing up a victim of bullying, the angry music made by his group Limp Bizkit was being embraced by the same Jerk Jock bullies he hated.
  • "Dance with My Father" by Luther Vandross is a staple for Quinceanera-esque "debut parties" in the Philippines where the debutante shares a dance with her father to the tune of the song, apparently just picking up its title and not the whole meaning of it; the song's lyrics are that of Vandross recalling childhood memories of him and his deceased father hence the lyric "to dance with my father again". Some did however make complete sense of the song, in the case of debutants whose fathers were indeed deceased.
  • A TikTok trend in Russia in 2021 saw many videos mourning over the loss of someone set to song "Moya lyubov na pyatom etazhe" (My love is on the fifth floor) by Soviet and later Russian band Sekret. Thing is, in an odd reversal of the usual "song mistaken for love song when it is not" trope, said song is a pretty straightforward love song - neither the music nor the lyrics suggest anything sorrowful, and the line "My love is surely asleep now - sweet dreams" means just that. Maksim Leonidov, one of the members of Sekret and a co-writer of the song, denied any interpretation of the song as being about death of a loved one.
  • The black metal subgenre of "Depressive Suicidal Black Metal" was started when one Niklas Kvarforth of the band Shining decided to make his music as depressive as possible to make people want to commit suicide by listening to it. Instead, the fandom found the somber mood therapeutic. Bands began to spring up, driven both by demand and by individual metal musicians taking up the genre as a coping measure against their own issues. He was pissed off no end by that.
  • "Entrance of the Gladiators" by Julius Fučík was written as a serious military march. However, it soon became popular among circus bands. To this day, it is an iconic Standard Snippet for clowns and circuses.