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  • Zagar & Evans' "In the Year 2525" is an increasingly dystopian countdown toward the Apocalypse which may have already happened.
  • 311's song "Hey You" is a tribute to someone who the singer describes as a "constant companion," thanking him for the good times that they've spent together. In the final repetition of the chorus, it's revealed that the companion that the singer is describing is music.
  • Used to powerful effect in the video for The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up". The video is shot from first-person viewpoint, showing a clubgoer going about their routine... which starts with a line of cocaine in the clubgoer's home and later involves binge-drinking, vomiting into a toilet, assaulting a DJ, accosting a woman in a bar, meeting another woman in an alleyway, stealing a car, and then returning home with her to have sex. At the end, however, the camera finally turns to a mirror, and the clubgoer is revealed... as a woman. Most viewers will likely find their assessment of the preceding events jarred significantly by the discovery.
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  • A similar example in the music video for the Aerosmith song "Amazing". The video has a teenage boy using a virtual reality headset to program and create a perfect date adventure with the teenage girl he is secretly in love with. After the extended guitar solo which plays while the couple is having their adventure, its revealed in the end that the girl, herself, is the one doing the VR adventure thing and the whole narrative was hers from the beginning.
  • Also done in a country music video called "I Miss My Friend" by Darryl Worley. The video leads you to think that you're looking in on the girl that the singer misses, but in actuality, the woman is the singer's WIDOW, watching a video of her dead husband.
  • Christian song "Hammer" from the 1989 album "The Altar" by Ray Boltz is an excellent example of storytelling in a song. The narrator is an eyewitness to the crucifixion of Jesus; he vocally expresses his outrage over the cruel treatment of Jesus and calls out his executors. The crowd mocks him; confused, he sees a hammer in his hand. The narrator turns out to be a regular joe — roman soldier.
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  • The music video for Nickelback's "Someday," a man is trying to talk to his girlfriend, but she's ignoring him and becomes distraught about something in the newspaper, rushing out of their apartment. He follows. He's a ghost, and the newspaper article was about his death. She winds up dying in a car accident, reuniting them. This was hinted about halfway through the video: the woman knocked over some milk. The man walked through it without leaving any footprints.
  • The 1954 hit The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane sounds like a song about a scandalous young woman, until it's revealed she's only nine-days-old.
  • A well-known Spanish pop song by La Oreja de Van Gogh, Jueves (Thursday), tells a cute story of a girl who takes the subway everyday just to see a boy whom she's silently in love with, until she finally gathers the courage to talk to him and finds out he likes her too. Pretty romantic. Then, on the second-to-last verse she mentions that "this special day, March 11th" was when they declared their love to each other. On that particular day, a terrorist group set several bombs aboard four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people . Then, the last verse states: " the lights of the tunnel go out. I find your face with my hands, gather courage and kiss you. You say you love me and I give to you the very last beat of my heart", implying that they were riding one of those trains.
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  • "Sally Cinnamon" by The Stone Roses seems like a typical love song, then in the last verse, it's revealed that the preceding lyrics are actually the contents of a letter that was left on a train and found by the narrator.
  • The Vicki Lawrence song, "The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia" (later covered by Reba McEntire), has the singer tell the story about how her brother got railroaded and eventually hung by small-town justice for a murder he didn't commit. How does she know this? The last verse reveals that she is in fact the killer.
  • "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" could be considered a benign example, with the Tomato Surprise being that the singer's lady is secretly just as bored with him as vice versa ... at least, until they discover new common interests through the personal ads they took out behind each others' backs.
  • The 1964 hit song "Memphis" by Chuck Berry (covered by Johnny Rivers) has a man calling "long-distance information" to "get in touch with my Marie". He and Marie were "torn apart because her mom did not agree". In the last line of the song, the singer reveals that "Marie is only six years old" - she's his daughter.
  • A very mild example is found in Gaelic Storm's "Go Home Girl." The surprise here doesn't really change the narrative any, but it does lend a slightly humorous new layer to it. Having spent the song trying to gently turn down a girl who's become infatuated with him, the gypsy narrator reveals in the last line the main reason he's trying to get her to go home. "For I am twenty-two years old / And you are only eight!"
  • The Offspring's "Hammerhead" seems like a song told by some kind of soldier... and the last stanza reveals it's a school shooter.
  • "Save Your Kisses for Me" by Brotherhood of Man seems like a love song by a man leaving his loved one at home when he goes to work but it ends on "Won't you save them for me... even though you're only three?" revealing the fact he's singing to his child.
    • "My Sweet Rosalie" has a similar twist. The man sings about his love for his fun-loving, free-spirited companion who always manages to cheer him up whenever he's down. Turns out that Rosalie is his dog.
  • Modest Mouse does this very cleverly in the music video for their song "Little Motel." The whole video is shown in reverse - we start with a woman with her child in a motel room as she tucks him into the bed. It then plays the preceding events leading up to this in reverse and the "ending" reveals that the young boy was actually dead (the viewer assumes he's been asleep) the whole time, since we see him flat-lining in a hospital room before she grabs him up and runs out to head to the motel and spend a few final moments with her son. Saddest music video ever.
    • Anberlin has a very similar video for "Paperthin Hymn" involving a young couple. It centers on a woman in a hospital room being whisked away on a wheelchair joyride down the halls by her boyfriend. Near the end of the song, she wakes up still in the hospital bed; he is being worked on by hospital staff in the bed next to hers. He then flatlines.
  • Garth Brooks' "Victim of the Game" describes someone who's been hurt emotionally, possibly by a failed relationship. Turns out, the last lines reveal that he's "staring in the mirror / At a victim of the game".
  • Immortal Technique's "You Never Know" tells a story of the singer falling in love with an ice-queenish bookish girl. They take the relationship slow until he tells his true feelings for her. She starts crying until he leaves her. We find out what happens to him and then we find out what happens to her. She contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in 1993 and met/broke up with him in 1997 and died 2 months before he tried to contact her again.
  • Porter Wagoner's 1968 country hit "The Carroll County Accident". The narrator tells about a car accident that killed a prominent small-town man who was riding in a car driven by a female friend. She survives and says she found him on the side of the road feeling sick and was giving him a ride back into town. The narrator then says he learned what really happened: he went to look at the wrecked car and found the man's wedding ring in a box, indicating that the man and the woman were having an affair. But that's not the final twist: in the very last lines of the song, the narrator reveals that the man who died was his father.
  • In Eminem's "25 to Life", he raps things such as, "I don't think she understands/the sacrifices that I made, I've done my best to give you/nothing less then perfectness, Go marry someone else/and make em famous/and take away their freedom/like you did to me/treat me like you don't need em/and they ain't worthy of you/feed em the same s*** that you made me eat, and my friends keep asking me/why I can't just walk away from/I'm addicted/to the pain, the stress, the drama." The whole song reads as something to a girl who doesn't appreciate him. Then one of the last lines, "f*** you hip hop," changes the whole meaning of the song.
  • In the 90s, rapper Common did a hit song called "I Used To Love Her" In the song, he talks about being in love with a woman, only to watch her go from being sweet and innocent, to falling under many different negative influences and ruining her life as a result. Then he reveals he won't give up on her, because he's not talking about a real woman, but the music genre Hip-Hop.
  • Queensryche's Gonna Get Close To You is all about the joys of being a stalker. The end of the clip, however, reveals that the woman he's stalking is a vampire. For no apparent reason.
  • The Kinks's "Lola" is about a woman the narrator met in a bar and fell in love with, but after dropping a number of hints the last line indicates (still a bit ambiguously, perhaps to avoid censorship) that Lola is actually a crossdresser.
    But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man / And so is Lola
  • New Order's song "Fine Time" plays like a conventional love song praising the sexual qualities of the narrator's love interest until the song ends and fades out, and if the listener is paying attention... the sounds of a sheep can be heard.
  • Devo's "Beautiful World", the verses of which are filled with positive lyrics about the world. It's only hinted at during the chorus "It's a beautiful world - for you" that not all is as it seems. Towards the end of the song the chorus becomes "It's a beautiful world - for you - but not for me", changing the entire meaning of the song to one of sarcasm.
  • "Bus Rider" by The Guess Who appears to be an ode to the working man, who must get up early in the morning to catch the bus to work each day just to make a dime. Towards the end of the song, the singer states that he is glad to not be a bus rider, meaning the entire song was actually describing how being one totally sucks.
  • The Rays' "Silhouettes (on the Shade)" tells of the jealousy which the narrator felt when he saw two silhouettes making romantic gestures while passing the shaded window of his girlfriend's house. He rushes in only to discover... he's on the wrong block and the silhouettes belonged to a couple of total strangers.
  • Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" is about the narrator, driven insane by the departure of someone close to him, ending up at the funny farm. And if that someone ever returns... "they'll put you in the ASPCA, you mangy mutt!!!"
  • Van Morrison's "Cyprus Avenue" is told from the point of view of a man who is desperately in love with someone. It's a 14-year-old girl.
  • This is more of an informed Tomato Surprise, since it's not in the song proper, but it's rather surprising how many couples regard the Michael Jackson song Ben as "our song", given that it was written for the movie of the same name in which Ben is a rat. Not in the slang sense, a literal rat.
  • "The Troublemaker", written by Bruce Belland and Dave Somerville and recorded by several people, most notably Willie Nelson. The narrator complains about a hippie-ish "troublemaker" who's turning the kids into "a disrespectful mob" and expresses relief that he was arrested and will soon be executed. The last two lines reveal that the song takes place in the 1st century AD and the "troublemaker" is Jesus.
    • Kenny Rogers had a similar song, in which the narrator sings about this guy who's kind of weird and how he and his friends would have liked him more if he were "A Little More Like Me" (the title of the song). The song itself doesn't explicitly make it clear (though there are some strong hints), but the subtitle ("The Crucifixion") does.
  • Ween's "Buenos Tardes Amigo" is a series of threats delivered by the narrator to another man. He swears revenge for the murder of his brother but confesses in the last verse that he in fact committed the murder and the other man is merely a patsy.
  • Jim Stafford's "My Girl Bill" leads the listener to believe that it's about two men in love - very risqué for 1974 - only to discover that the singer and Bill are fighting over a girl ... "She's my girl, Bill." That's right, the Tomato Surprise here is a comma.
  • Don McLean had on his debut album Tapestry a song called "General Store". In it, a Southerner comes into a general store and shops and talks about events in the neighborhood. Buys gas, shotgun shells, a newspaper. There was a wedding. There was a big fire, "Says here there ain't no hope / they all were burned alive". In the last line, the song takes a turn for the creepy. "Too bad about the wedding but don't you get me wrong / We got to teach these people how to stay where they belong". Read: the - supposedly - redneck doing the shopping was one of the guys who started the fire... to burn down the wedding party because a local girl married an outsider.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic had two on his Bad Hair Day album:
    • "Since You've Been Gone" has him singing to a former lover describing how miserable he's felt since she left him. The final line: "I feel almost as bad as I did when you were still here."
    • "I Remember Larry" has the singer reminiscing about a local prankster as if about a childhood friend who was annoying at the time but in hindsight is now remembered fondly. Most of the first two verses, as well as the bridge, list a series of pranks committed by Larry. The final verse reveals the singer got tired of Larry's antics, killed him, and hid his body in the forest.
    • In Torch Song "Melanie", it seems like the song's gag is that every verse will reveal more evidence that the weirdo singer is a Stalker with a Crush. The last verse reveals that the singer already committed suicide because Melanie kept turning him down, and is still pestering her for a date.
  • The country classic "Laura (What's He Got That I Ain't Got)," originally by Leon Ashley. Laura's husband has caught her cheating on him. Throughout the song, he points out the many things he has done for her and asks her why she would choose to be with the other man instead. In the last line of the song, it is revealed that he's had a gun in his hand all along, and he's about to pull the trigger. The listener must speculate whether the gun is aimed at the cheating Laura, at himself, or at the interloping other man.
  • The song "In Time" by Abney Park seemingly tells the story of a couple in love: The first verse describes their love, but mentions a curse that would eventually tear them apart. The second verse then reveals that the man knew that their love would die and dreaded the day it would happen. Then comes the third verse: "From the day she was born, they were in love. / A father's love as strong as the sea. [...] He suffered the curse of all fathers through time. / Eventually she'd lose faith in him."
  • In the music video of the Foo Fighters' cover of "Brown-Eyed Girl", the main character follows the eponymous girl around in such a way that it's not clear whether he's a Dogged Nice Guy or a Stalker with a Crush. At the end of the video, it turns out that she is his younger sister and he is being protective. Then the viewer remembers that the lyrics of the song reference the two of them "making love in the green grass."
  • Randy Travis's "Three Wooden Crosses" relates the story of four travelers on a bus that was hit by an eighteen-wheeler. As the chorus repeatedly and emphatically states, only three of the travelers received a proper burial, raising the question of why the fourth did not. The bridge reveals that one of the four didn't need burial; that person survived. The listener then assumes the survivor is the preacher, but it soon turns out to be the hooker.
  • John Conlee's "I Don't Remember Loving You" sounds like it's about a man who's moved on from a failed relationship and no longer remembers his ex. Then the last verse reveals the reason he doesn't remember her: he's been committed to a psychiatric ward.


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