The 5 Most Mind-Blowing Predictions Ever Made in Pop Songs
Most of us imagine that the creative process as it relates to songwriting probably goes something like this: take drugs, hallucinate, and then write down what you see. Strangely, that's also how a lot of history's most famous "prophets" came upon the predictions that eventually made them famous. So it should come as no surprise that, from time to time, the two fields meet in a rocktastic explosion of guitars, drums, and telling people about stuff before it happens.
Here are five songs that eerily predicted the future, in mind-boggling detail ...
Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Was to Be Released on 9/11, Features Songs That Sound Like 9/11
Even though it was ranked among Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time, Wilco's career-defining album almost didn't see the light of day. And, surprisingly, it had nothing to do with the fact that it predicted one of the biggest national tragedies ever in two different songs. Check out these terrifying lines and try picturing them as something other than a reference to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. First, from the song "Jesus, Etc.":
"Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs ...
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking"
And now, from "War on War":
"Moving forward through the flaming doors ...
You have to lose
You have to learn how to die if you want to be alive"
The lyrics in "Jesus, Etc." -- with descriptions of quaking skyscrapers and whining voices -- are obvious allusions to the terrible images we saw on the news for the months following the terrorist attacks. "War on War" then, is about the aftermath and the rebuilding of New York City. Of course, the title is also an apt description of the disenchantment many Americans felt about the wars that followed.
Excited at the prospect of a justifiable platform for their sarcastic political comments.
However, not only was all of it recorded well in advance, but if it were not for some legendary record label dickery, it would have been released on the exact day of the tragedy it accidentally documented.
A couple of other nifty notes about this album: 1) It features another song called "Ashes of American Flags" and 2) The cover art bears a passing resemblance to a couple of tall buildings. So there's that. Reviews of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel call the album "telepathic" and "mysterious," because calling it "sonic witchcraft" is too on the nose.
But the all-seeing Eye of Varglanos still gets digital rights.
Nicki Minaj Predicts a Fatal Shooting a Year in Advance
Nicki Minaj may be best known for portraying an Ecstasy-overloaded Barbie doll with multiple personalities and an ass that swallowed Lil' Kim's career, but did you know she also has clairvoyant abilities behind those insane, dead eyes? Check out these Nostradamabars:
"Why'd you have to leave in July?
On a peaceful and serene summer night ...
Why the doctors could not stop the bleeding ...
Now you see you not bullet proof ...
I could've told you about my intuition ...
Why'd you have to go so soon?"
Then she cast a levitation spell and flew away, giggling.
When that track, called "We Miss You," showed up online, it was almost immediately following the news that Nicki Minaj's cousin, Nicholas Telemaque, had been shot to death. Clearly it was written in response to the tragedy -- for starters, her cousin was gunned down on July 4 ("Why'd you have to leave in July?"), in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Although we're not sure any night in Brooklyn counts as serene, unless Minaj was just mispronouncing "siren."
So big deal, a lot of rappers write about losing loved ones due to gang violence, even the ones who grew up in Malibu. But in fact, Minaj recorded the song almost a year earlier, and had even shopped it around to artists like Mariah Carey and Keyshia Cole to see if they'd be interested in recording it instead. And knowing that, the other details thrown in are downright creepy -- she says paramedics rushed him to the hospital, but he unfortunately bled out ("Why the doctors could not stop the bleeding?") from his multiple gunshot wounds.
"The doctor's Social Security number is ..."
Adding a little extra spookiness, Minaj actually mentions her own prescience in a verse, lamenting how she should have warned the subject of her song about his impending death.
Now, some believe this wasn't a prediction at all, but a ritual sacrifice to the Dark Lord of Hip-Hop to ensure that Minaj received a slice of fame. These logical people believe that her cousin gave his life, retroactively, in exchange for the success of "Super Bass." Nothing in the preceding three sentences was a joke.
Thank you, Satan!
Andrew McMahon Records an Album About Getting Cancer, Gets Cancer
Jesus Christ, do any of these albums predict good things? Nobody wrote a song about finding a stray puppy, only to have one later show up at his door and become his best friend forever?
After breaking away from Something Corporate -- a band that made Good Charlotte seem downright dangerous by comparison -- lead singer Andrew McMahon decided he wanted to write something a little more personal. So, under the name Jack's Mannequin, he recorded Everything in Transit, an album about a man returning home to his native Los Angeles and settling into the groove of everyday life after being on tour for the last several years. It's possible that it's autobiographical.
His last album was about a piano player who sometimes has a weird discharge from his butthole.
But amid an album so upbeat that it sounds like the Beach Boys mid-coitus, it might be difficult to see the subtler, more sinister story being told. Buckle up, happy face:
"She thinks I'm much too thin, she asks me if I'm sick."
"I'm far too unstable to settle, I doubt that the doctors are wrong."
"I'll wait for the ambulance to come pick us up off the floor. What did you possibly expect under this condition?"
"Come quick, I am losing feeling."
"It's unclear, but this may be my last song."
"Someone get this man to a hospital!"
"No, seriously, there's a list of allergies tattooed on my neck."
You probably don't need us to tell you what's coming. Two months before Everything in Transit was scheduled for release, Andrew McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). And here's a fun coincidence: The day he was diagnosed with cancer was the same day he finished mastering the last song on the album. So all of those sad words above that are very obviously about a very sick man were written before McMahon had any idea he had cancer. In fact, it was nothing more than a few instances of losing his voice that initially sent McMahon to the doctor, who could tell that something was amiss just from the state of McMahon's complexion.
Though he never actually sings the word "cancer," the album is absolutely littered with references to hospitals and doctor's visits -- the first track even opens with a distant siren -- as well as frequent suggestions that the narrator needs to take some time away from his career, something that constant chemotherapy treatments and lengthy hospital stays could certainly cause.
Adding another layer of eerie frosting to this coincidence cake is this little tidbit about the origins of the band name. Jack's Mannequin is named for one of the first songs McMahon wrote during his hiatus from Something Corporate called "Dear Jack." The "Jack" in that title -- and the person who inspired the song -- was the younger brother of one of McMahon's friends. And he happened to be battling leukemia.
Like a fucking man.
McMahon acknowledges the eeriness of these coincidences, noting that "if you listen to the record, there are all these odd little premonitions worked into it." Yeah, "odd" is one word to describe it. McMahon tiptoes around the fact that his own songwriting practically diagnosed him with cancer before doctors did, but we're pretty sure he still thinks he has those psychic abilities, judging from the title of his next album: Candy Blow Jobs in a Gold-Plated Mansion Rocket.
"Video Killed the Radio Star" Predicts the Rise of Music Television
If you don't know the song "Video Killed the Radio Star," close your browser and go back to planking or Harlem Shaking or whatever it is the youth of this week are supposed to be doing. For the rest of us, let's take some time to remember the Buggles. They recorded the definitive version of "Video Killed the Radio Star" that became the very first music video to air on MTV. And ... they named themselves the Buggles. That about sums it up. Oh, and they were basically describing the next decade or so in music with this one line:
"Put the blame on VTR
Video killed the radio star"
As we mentioned, despite its reflective title, "Video Killed the Radio Star" was around before MTV became a music video juggernaut. The title was more of a warning, letting us all know that they were coming to take over our world, but the person writing it didn't even know who "they" were at the time.
"They," in this instance, were clearly not the Buggles, because unless we're mistaken, the Buggles stopped being a thing almost instantly (like, they finished filming that music video and then they all died or moved to Asia or something). Point being, people were coming to take over the music industry, and those people were Michael Jackson and Madonna and Peter Gabriel and -- yes, we said Peter Gabriel. The point still being, the visual medium in which the music was represented became nearly as important, and then, for a long stretch, much more important than the music itself. (Thanks for that, TRL.)
To understand the boldness of this prediction, though, you need to remember that music videos had been around for more than a decade before the Buggles claimed they were a game changer. They were known as "promotional clips" or "song videos," and the Beatles had them, along with Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger. So to suggest that music videos would overtake the radio -- even though such established musical icons hadn't made that happen -- was a little bit insane. Especially for a band called the Buggles. Come on.
No, that's not Rivers Cuomo and Dave Mustaine.
But it happened. Suddenly, people weren't waking up early to listen to Sunday morning's American Top 40. They were staying up late to watch Friday Night Video Fights. Rather than taping songs off the radio onto worn-out cassette tapes, kids were taping music videos off the television onto worn-out VHS cassettes. It was ... different, somehow.
The music video's reign today is certainly questionable. They've been mostly phased out of standard programming by reality TV and clip shows, and exist primarily in the form of viral YouTube videos. Fittingly, English sex machine Robbie Williams released an album called Reality Killed the Video Star in 2009. Extra mind-blower: The album was produced by Trevor Horn, founding member of the Buggles.
Which explains why all of Robbie's sets turned into black-and-white Q*bert boards.
Related: 15 Ways the ‘80s Changed Music
Brazilian Country Music Song Accurately Predicts Which Band Member Will Die in Tragic Nightclub Fire
We'll admit right now that tragic nightclub fires seem to happen with some frequency. So maybe it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that a recent nightclub fire in Brazil was "predicted" by a Brazilian country band, even if the fact that Brazil has a country band is kind of shocking. But once more, things get weird when you catalog how terrifyingly accurate they were with their prediction.
Because the details Brazilian country band Teodoro E Sampaio get correct about that tragic nightclub fire make Nicki Minaj predicting the month of her cousin's death seem like a bunch of Miss Cleo psychic hotline bullshit. Here are a few lines from the song in question, "Pegou Fogo Na Zona," released in 2009:
"The nightclub caught fire ...
Threw a bomb at 3 in the morning ...
I've never seen so many women lying there on the floor ...
The accordionist died."
Yeah, you read that right. The accordionist. As in "person who plays the accordion."
The incident that may pop into your mind when you hear "Brazil nightclub fire" happened in January of 2013, more than three years after the lyrics above were penned. It was caused when the lead singer of a Brazilian country band decided that shooting off flares inside an almost sure to be flammable nightclub was a good idea. Unsurprisingly to anyone with a basic knowledge of fire and enclosed spaces, the building was almost immediately set ablaze, trapping and killing hundreds inside.
We know what some of you are thinking, and no, the band that wrote the song was not the same band that set the fire. That would actually make this story a lot less strange and potentially even more criminal. However, the details of the real-life tragedy match up to the song so accurately that we've now double-checked 17 times to make sure the song was actually written before the incident happened. (After an 18th check, we can now assure you it did.) Here are the facts:
1) Yes, that's their real hair.
The "bomb" that caused the fire was, obviously, the flare that some dipshit shot off while no doubt sticking his tongue out and throwing up devil horns. He did so about five songs into their set, roughly around 2:45 a.m. (We realize we're being a little lenient with this particular prophecy since the song said 3 a.m. sharp, but we'd appreciate it if you held onto your skepticism for just a moment.)
In the song, set to a jaunty country rhythm, the singer laments how he's "never seen so many women lying there on the floor," because that's as light-hearted as country music gets in Brazil. We won't get into the gruesome details of the aftermath, but it's safe to say that any police officer at the scene would have agreed that the song gets this part right. And the big bonus omen? The fact that the only band member to perish in the fire was Danilo Jacques, the accordionist. Not the drummer, not the lead singer who caused the fire, but the goddamn accordionist. Just like the song says.
If it was an accordion that shot out flames, that would be another story entirely.
In yet another strange coincidence, the foreboding story in the song is told, as most songs are, from the perspective of the singer. Which makes lyrics like "I was at the police station, explaining what happened" that much freakier when you consider that the singer was the only member of the band playing that night to be arrested in connection with the incident.
OK, just checking one more time, are we sure there's more than one country music band in Brazil?
For more scary foretellings, check out 6 Musicians Who Predicted Their Own Death in Song and 6 Movies That Predicted Disasters With Eerie Accuracy.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out How a Conspiracy to Raise Beer Prices Invented Hipsters.