Five Songs That Were Grossly Misinterpreted

Photo by Abrahan Garza
Songs get misinterpreted all the time. Sometimes it's because they have vague lyrics, others it's because singers can't enunciate properly -- looking at you, Eddie Vedder -- and still others it's just because they're misleading and people don't take the time to think them through all the way.

That happens with satirical songs a lot, and these five have for sure been taken too much at face value. Especially in the realm of pop, it's easy to just look at a title and assume you know what it's about, but satire can take on many different forms, as seen here.

5. Morrissey, "The National Front Disco"
The National Front doesn't mean much to those of us in America, but in England they are a group of right-wing nationalists who want to kick anybody who isn't white straight out of the country. You could say they're the English version of the what was Morrissey doing writing a tribute song to them?

Obviously anyone who knows Moz's music and his sense of humor could guess that he was being satirical with this so-called anthem, but that didn't stop the music media from viciously reaming him for it upon the song's release. Questions abounded about whether he might really be a racist, and his typically sardonic responses probably didn't help his own case much.

4. Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"
Most people now are in the know with this one, understanding that it's a hell of a lot closer to a protest song than a patriotic anthem. Nonetheless, this distinction has continued to elude politicians since the song's release in 1984.

Ronald Reagan, embroiled in a reelection campaign at the time, famously came out in support of the song and Springsteen himself, completely oblivious to the song's true meaning or Springsteen's own political ideals. It was an embarrassment for conservatives among the young and in the know, but it didn't hurt Reagan enough to prevent him from winning the presidency in a landslide victory.

3. Black Sabbath, "N.I.B."
This one wasn't really a joke, but more posturing. Black Sabbath were well aware of how to craft an image, and also what they were interested in doing lyrically. When they came up with "N.I.B.," along with many others dealing in Satanic imagery, it was born from the same horror-movie mindset that spawned the band's name and artwork.

That didn't stop them from becoming the poster children of Satanism in the 1970s, though. This was an especially hilarious occurrence, because soon after this they released the song "After Forever," which deals heavily in pro-religious themes. This confusion over their true beliefs would become a recurring theme throughout front man Ozzy Osbourne's solo career as well.

List continues on the next page.

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Manfred Mann's "Blinded by the Light." 


Not to be left out "Lust for Life" by David Bowie.  This was the almost incomprehensible lyric that starts off with "Here comes Johnny Yen again.  Lust for life!"  It was used in commercials (including one for a vacation travel agent) and even in a couple of wholesome-type TV shows.  But the lyric - if you play it again and again and pay close attention - is a song in praise of someone's heroin dealer!


Another misinterpreted song was Send In the Clowns.  It was thought to be a sort of upbeat thing about how circus clowns make people happy happy happy.  No, it's the traditional call when a trapeze artist falls to his death.  It's an indication of a terrible tragedy.


How about the Beastie Boys' Fight For Your Right? It was making fun of jocks and bros and ended up becoming a dude-bro anthem. Didn't they refuse to perform it live?

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