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6 Popular Upbeat Songs You Didn't Realize Are Depressing

#3. Steely Dan -- "Everyone's Gone to the Movies"

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Most Deceptively Fun Lyric:


"Kids if you want some fun/See what you never have seen/Take off your cheaters and set right down/Start the projection machine."

Why It Makes People Happy:

To quote your favorite comic, Dane Cook, "Who doesn't love cinematic adventures?" Nobody, that's who. People love movies. And despite the gigantic financial commitment it involves these days, people still love seeing movies at the theater. So it's no wonder that this song, which some say is the first that Steely Dan recorded as a band, still resonates with people today.

There's no official video that I can post here, most likely because back when this song was released, your parents were too busy sitting around the radio listening to Fireside Chats to be concerned with seeing moving pictures to go along with their tunes. Instead, check out this unintentionally creepy and (as you'll soon see) horribly off-base fan-made video instead:


If you didn't watch it, what you missed was an acid-trip-worthy photo montage of old-timey pictures of things directly or vaguely relating to movies or children. And that makes perfect sense, because this song is about kids going to the movies, right?

Well, yes, it is. Just not in the way you think.

Why It's Secretly Depressing:

Steely Dan gets a lot of flack for being the kind of adult-oriented rock band that paved the way for the likes of Hall & Oates and countless other bands that cater to the much sought after "adults aged 53 to 57" demographic. But a far less discussed aspect of the Steely Dan legacy is that they're masters of slipping hidden meanings into their seemingly innocuous tunes. Hell, even their name is rumored to be a nod to a mechanical steel dildo in the William S. Burroughs bizarro classic Naked Lunch.

"Everyone's Gone to the Movies" kicked off Steely Dan's subversive history in fine fashion. Check out the opening lines and see if anything looks out of place:


"Kids if you want some fun/Mr. Lapage is your man/He's always laughing, having fun/Showing his films in his den."

Hey, parents, how would you react if your child came home and informed you that they met a dude named Mr. Lapage who wants them to come over and watch movies in his den? Right, you'd be a little bit suspicious, and in the case of this song, your suspicions would be totally correct.

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Steely Dan: Creepier than clown makeup.

See, Mr. Lapage isn't just showing the kids any movie. He's showing them porn. And to make matters even more terrifying, it seems like he's got a team of salespeople working to lure children into his porn den. Check out this line:


"Listen to what I say/He wants to show you the way/Right down the hallway with open arms/To teach you a new game to play."

You caught that, right? That's clearly not Mr. Lapage trying to sell kids on the joys of watching Nailin' Palin in a strange man's den. If it was, how do you explain the "he" part? But the creepiest aspect of all is that the porn he wants everyone to watch is on 8 mm film, apparently:


"We know you're used to 16 or more/Sorry we only have eight."

The last time 8 mm film wasn't used to film something terrible was sometime around the Great Depression. I can't say what the kids/victims in this song are in for, but whatever it is, it's a safe bet they'll be scarred for life when it's all over.

#2. Kiss -- "Detroit Rock City"

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Most Deceptively Fun Lyric:


"Get up/Everybody's gonna move their feet/Get down/Everybody's gonna leave their seat."

Why It Makes People Happy:

Has Kiss ever cranked out a song that didn't sound like its entire purpose was to get you in the mood to party? Yes, they have; that song was called "Beth." But the guy who sang that was also the guy who drew the "kitty cat" card when it came time for the band to decide what each member's makeup should look like. That guy is clearly a pussy (pun intended), so the band can be forgiven for that minor transgression.

In the annals of Kiss party anthems, "Detroit Rock City" is one of the greatest. Who can hear the words "Get up! Everybody's gonna move their feet!" and not quietly yearn to see Gene Simmons shooting fire out of his corporate sellout mouth?


But the problem with party music is that it's usually accompanied by a party. And in that situation, nobody listens to anything unless it's someone asking them if they'd like to step outside and smoke a joint. What else could you possibly need to listen to when a song called "Detroit Rock City" is playing?

Why It's Secretly Depressing:

The music-listening public can surely be forgiven for missing the point of this song. It's not like "You gotta lose your mind in Detroit Rock City" is a line that instills an impending sense of doom in people.

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The thought of having to live there probably does, though.

What could possibly go wrong?

For the unfortunate fan that this song was written about, the answer is "a whole hell of a lot." The album version of the song begins with a news report that talks about, among other things, a fatal car accident. If that seems like an odd choice for a party song, that's because it's not even kind of a party song. Check out these lyrics from the last verse of the song:


"12 o'clock, I gotta rock/There's a truck ahead, lights starin' at my eyes/Oh my God, no time to turn/I got to laugh, cause I know I'm gonna die/Why?"

If you pay attention to the rest of the lyrics leading up to that super fun moment, you can absolutely see what's coming. There's a dude trying to make it to a Kiss show by midnight, so his plan is to get high, get drunk and drive 95 miles per hour to make that happen. Shockingly, the plan ended in disaster.

But things don't get really depressing until you learn that Paul Stanley wrote the song because it's something that actually happened. A teenage dude really died on his way to a Kiss concert in Detroit.

Now, who's ready to party?

#1. Van Halen -- "Jump"

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Most Deceptively Fun Lyric:


"Well can't you see me standing here/I got my back against the record machine."

Why It Makes People Happy:

Depending on who you ask, "Jump" represents the exact moment in time when Van Halen either stopped or started being awesome. If you fall into the former category, you're probably a die-hard Van Halen fan. If you fall into the latter category, you're the type of person who ruins anything good and everybody hates you. Sorry to break that to you on a comedy site.

Speaking of comedy, have you ever seen the official video for this song? Who thought these outfits were a good idea?


No matter what your stance on Van Halen's "Jump" may be, there's one undeniable truth that nobody can dispute ... it's a damn fun song. It's hard to take anything too seriously when it features the absolute cheesiest synthesizer riff in recorded music history. I've played Nintendo cartridges that had more musical integrity than this song. And get a load of that carefree attitude Diamond Dave is exuding. When life is getting you down, just jump, man. Just, like, right where you're standing right now. Jump up in the air. Maybe click your heels together while you're up there. It's scientifically impossible to be in a bad mood after that.

Man, David Lee Roth is an alright kind of guy, isn't he?

Why It's Secretly Depressing:

Nope, he sure as shit isn't. See, it's not so much the lyrics that make this song depressing so much as David Lee Roth's inspiration for writing it. Don't take my word for it, though, let the man tell you himself:

"I was watching television one night and it was the five o'clock news and there was a fellow standing on top of the Arco Towers in Los Angeles and he was about to check out early, he was going to do the 33 stories drop -- and there was a whole crowd of people in the parking lot downstairs yelling "Don't jump, don't jump" and I thought to myself, "Jump." So, I wrote it down and ultimately it made in onto the record ..."

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"And then I decided to get old and less talented."

Classy! But not nearly as classy as the radio DJ who found himself entrenched in a raging shit storm for playing the song back in 2010.

Steve Penk was on the air at England's 96.2 FM while traffic on the M60, which I'm assuming is whatever British people call a highway, was stuck across all four lanes. What was the cause of the delay? A woman threatening to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. In one of the most egregious cases of misplaced sympathy of all time, Penk decided that, as a show of solidarity with the inconvenienced motorists, he should play Van Halen's "Jump."

It's never been clear if the woman threatening to jump actually heard the song blaring from the car of a passing motorist. What is quite clear though is that, while the song was playing, she took David Lee Roth's advice and jumped. She didn't die, though. She just suffered massive leg injuries.

So, I guess that makes it alright?


Adam hosts a podcast called Unpopular Opinion that you should check out right here. You should also be his friend on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.


For more from Adam, check out 6 Famous Songs That Don't Mean What You Think and The 7 Most Unforgivable Grammy Award Snubs of All Time.

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