Long gone are the days when innocent pop princes and princesses sang songs about puppy love and pining after their crushes. These days you are more likely to find them twerking their nonexistent asses while singing about how much Molly they did on a weeknight. But sometimes a song's true meaning is far less in-your-face than you would think. Consider this little cheat sheet a helpful list for any of you with younger siblings or children, because those seemingly innocuous lyrics could be subliminally programming your kids to boot cocaine into their eyelids and snort bath salts off the back of a dirty toilet.
#5. Halsey: "Colors"
If the name Halsey doesn't immediately ring a bell, don't worry. All you need to know is that she's a chick from New Jersey that makes poor life decisions when it comes to dating and doing drugs. Then again, that easily describes 98 percent of all females from Jersey, present company included. It's also possible that you do know who Halsey is but don't quite know the real meaning of her song "Colors."
If you were to watch the video for "Colors," you would think it was about some waspy private school girl that had the hots for her maybe-boyfriend's father, who coincidentally might also be her mother's boyfriend. Or maybe the mother wants to bang the boyfriend's father but never sealed the deal. Or maybe the mother is in a perpetual sex haze and therefore fails to notice the blatant blowjob/jizz-on-the-chin reference at the dinner table between her daughter and her man.
Subtlety is obviously not this director's strong point.
Either way, the girl is perving on this old man by stalking him and taking pictures of him naked in the country club locker room on the DL, which I'm pretty sure is illegal as fuck and a shitty message to send to young girls about dating. Not the part about becoming a real-life Lolita -- although that's probably also not a great life lesson -- the part about taking secret pics of dudes naked and showing them off to your friends before hopping back to class and making googly eyes at your boyfriend. That's just cold-hearted as fuck. But despite the video, banging dads is not at all what "Colors" is about.
According to the internet, which we all know is infallible, Halsey wrote "Colors" about Matt Healy, the lead singer from The 1975 whom she definitely-maybe fucked. In fact, according to fans that spend way too much time looking for any piece of evidence that can back that claim up, pretty much every song Halsey sings is somehow about that, like if Taylor Swift hadn't dated anyone after Joe Jonas.
Never forget. <3
Maybe they're right. Or maybe not. Because I'm pretty sure "Colors" is really about tripping on acid.
You needn't look any further than the lyrics themselves:
You're dripping like a saturated sunrise
You're spilling like an overflowing sink
That imagery right there is trippy as fuck. And that trip starts to get slightly more nightmarish as the song goes on, which, as anyone who has done acid can attest, is pretty much exactly what happens. One minute it's all rainbows and pixie dust and sunshine, the next you're bugging out and rocking in a corner, crying while "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads is playing for what seems like hours and you can't remember whose house you're in or where your shoes are or how your friend's cat learned how to speak and why no one but you is impressed and freaked out by that fact. Or maybe that's only happened to me.
Although, there is a stock photo of the event.
Anyway, the lyrics to "Colors" sound like they're explaining a bad trip that plays like that one scene in Willy Wonka. Come to think of it, I'm not entirely sure this song isn't about that actual scene, which was definitely about drugs.
#4. MGMT: "Electric Feel"
A few summers ago, "Electric Feel" was one of those breezy, chill tunes that became a #SundayFunday playlist staple. It's also one of those tunes that I'm pretty sure no one really listens or knows all the lyrics to, and if they do they don't really care what they mean. It's catchy and inoffensive and the perfect track to pass out to poolside.
If you were to listen to the lyrics, you might mistakenly think the song is about sex, maybe because you're a horny pervert and think everything is about sex. But you and your dirty mind are wrong, because the song's about drugs, specifically ayahuasca. That's a hallucinogenic tea that has become the drug of choice for the rich and famous seeking enlightenment via whitewashed shortcuts to spirituality; hence the articles about the drug in Elle, Marie Claire, and Vice and why an indie rock band from Connecticut is singing about it.
Just your average New England kitchen.
Ayahuasca, or yage, has been used as a traditional medicine in the Amazon pretty much forever, so it's very likely the woman MGMT is singing about meeting in the Amazon who had "the power in her hands" was part of some tea-drinking ritual and offering them the power of enlightenment via said beverage. Also the lyric that she is "teaching them to swim" probably means to "swim into consciousness," a new-age term that is often what people who have taken yage use to describe their experience.
More proof can be found in the video itself, which despite the initial appearance that it's a Burning Man dance circle featuring the Gremlins actually seems to depict a Santo Daime-esque ritual, one of the many religious ceremonies in which indigenous people in the Amazon have used the famous tea. I was confused at first, too, but witnessing ridiculous cultural appropriation occasionally has that effect on me.
#3. Yeasayer: "O.N.E."
Speaking of catchy summer jams, Yeasayer's "O.N.E." is just such a song. It's the kind of tune that makes you want to skip through life footloose and fancy-free while listening to it, sort of like in the video for Men at Work's "Safety Dance."
And because the lyrics also sound a bit like an upbeat breakup anthem, you may think it's about exactly that. Maybe you thought Yeasayer was singing about some dysfunctional relationship that ended when one party had finally broken free of whatever hold the lying narcissist they last dated had on them. Or maybe that's only happened to me. Whatever, moving on.
Writing for Cracked: better than therapy.
Despite "O.N.E." giving listeners the urge to dance if they want to, the '80s-influenced electro-funktastic track is actually about -- all together now -- DRUGS. More specifically, addiction. When lead singer Chris Keating sings You don't move me anymore and I'm glad because I can't take it anymore, he's singing about the powerful hold drugs and/or alcohol can have on someone struggling with addiction. Now don't you kinda feel like a dick for dancing around like some barefoot fool at a music festival knowing this song is about the powerful grip of substance abuse? Jerks.