Four Lame Songs Hiding Much Deeper Meanings
The songs that latch onto your brain and refuse to let go like overproduced little leeches tend to do so exactly because they’re so mindlessly catchy. Their messages are simple: Tonight’s gonna be a good night. Chad Nickelback wants you to look at this photograph. Baby sharks exist.
Sometimes, though, even the dumbest drivel is concealing truths so devastating, you’ll feel kind of bad for ever making fun of it. Seemingly dumb drivel like…
‘Drops of Jupiter’
What It Sounds Like It’s About: “Drops of Jupiter” is Train’s signature song, by which we mean the lamest. Cringey lyrics? Check. Melodramatic love story? Check. Way too much chest hair from Mr. Train in the music video? Check almighty. Between name-checking fried chicken, soy lattes and late 1990s fitness crazes, the song seems to be about an erstwhile lover who had to leave the entire planet to find herself and comes back as a new woman who “talks like June,” whatever on not-Earth that means.
What It’s Actually About: Train singer/songwriter Pat Monahan’s mother’s death. “I woke up from a dream about a year after my mother passed away with the words ‘back in the atmosphere’” in his mind, he said, having seen visions of her “swimming through the planets … with drops of Jupiter in her hair.”
He wrote the song immediately, with “the thought of, ‘Hey, what if no one ever really leaves? What if you just kinda — you’re here, but different?’ And the idea was, she’s back. Here. In the atmosphere.”
That still kinda makes him sound like a stoner who just found out about reincarnation, and it doesn’t explain the parts about “looking for yourself out there,” as death is a uniquely ill-suited state for self-exploration, but it does cast a new light on lines like, “Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded and that heaven is overrated?” And: “Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day?” Oh, no. Oh, god. We’re crying about a Train song. Don’t look at us. Ugh, this is humiliating.
What It Sounds Like It’s About: James Blunt’s inescapable 2005 hit seems pretty straightforward. A guy decides to get stoned and then get on public transportation for some reason. He sees a pretty girl, and gets so sad about that he makes the even iller-advised decision to write a ballad you’ll hear forever at your least-favorite cousins’ weddings.
What It’s Actually About: Stalking (and possibly suicide). No one is more annoyed by “You’re Beautiful” than Blunt, who has seemingly been on an apology tour for the last decade, telling everyone from Oprah to Huffington Post that he knows it was “shoved down (everyone’s) fucking throat,” and more importantly, that everyone gets it wrong. He’s especially puzzled by its status as a wedding song. It really was inspired by a chance encounter with an ex-girlfriend on a subway, but what the song is about is “a guy who’s high as a fucking kite on drugs in the subway stalking someone else’s girlfriend when that guy is there in front of him, and he should be locked up or put in prison for being some kind of perv.”
We shudder to think what such a person might have in mind when he sings “I won’t lose no sleep on that ‘cause I’ve got a plan,” but the best-case scenario, for once, might be suicide. Blunt hasn’t commented on this interpretation, but it would certainly line up with the music video, which ends when he leaps naked from a cliff into the freezing water, never seen to emerge. Is it possible he only took a quick dip and went on with his life with renewed vigor and purpose? Sure. But that water looks pretty cold and that cliff pretty high.
What It Sounds Like It’s About: Pffbbbbff. Who knows, man? A huge klutz who bangs into stuff when she moves? For most of the song, Ricky Martin sings the praises of a woman whose primary characteristics are being very hot and very not into what he’s selling, which is a smart move, considering how things worked out. But that does nothing to clarify what he means when he says this woman “bangs.” It feels like an attempt to get a slang going that failed from the get-go. Stop trying to make “bangs” happen, Ricky.
What It’s Actually About: The big bang theory? Seriously? That’s what Desmond Child, who wrote the song and a depressing number of other hits, insists. “She bangs! It’s a metaphor for the universe,” he has explained. “You know the big bang theory? So the universe is really this ‘mother universe’ — she bangs, and explodes. She moves. The planets, the galaxies, are all moving. That’s what it means.”
So it’s the universe that’s hittin’ his heart like a drum, yeah, baby? It’s the planets who have one thing on their mind(s)? It’s the galaxy wearing leather and lace? You know what? Fine. This guy wants to fuck the cosmos. It’s the weirdest possible explanation, but we can get behind that.
What It Sounds Like It’s About: The dweebiest twerp ever seen on MTV doing crimes (and yes, we’re counting Tom Green). It’s hard to parse the fake Jamaican dialect, but over the course of Snow’s single American hit, he’s accused of stabbing someone and hauled off to jail. It’s kind of implied that he did it, because his friend refuses to rat him out and become the “informer,” but come on, look at that guy. We’ve seen actual infants give off more gangster vibes.
What It’s Actually About: Holy shit, Snow was an honest-to-God gangster. He was born into a Canadian crime family, which might seem like it can’t be as bad as normal crime families. What do they do, beat each other with hockey sticks? Crowbars, actually, which is what Snow was serving a year in prison for when he first saw the “Informer” music video.
The song is about two 1989 attempted murder charges against him, of which he was eventually acquitted, but his legal troubles were far from over. Six years later (and three years after the crowbar beating, for those struggling to keep track), he was convicted again of assault and uttering death threats. He claims his criminal history, which resulted in him being denied entry to America for most of the 1990s, is what kept him from further success in the country, and we’re not going to make any jokes about that. We can’t believe we’re saying this, but do not fuck with Snow.