We’ve all had this moment. You’re singing along to a catchy song you’ve heard a million times growing up. Then all of a sudden you hear yourself innocently belt out something like “hike up your skirt a little more and show the world to me in a boy’s dream,” and you realize you actually have no idea what “Crash into Me” by Dave Matthews Band is all about.
When it comes to unexpectedly creepy hits, the 80s in particular were out of control. The funny thing is, many of these songs still topped the charts, and very few people even noticed they were a little icky. Here are some standouts that will have you shuddering over some of your past karaoke choices.
“Girlfriend in a Coma” by the Smiths (1987). “No I don’t want to see her. Do you really think she’ll pull through?” Although it may seem like he is upset over his girlfriend being in a coma, the twisted lyrics and thick sarcasm in the vocals reveal that he is actually hoping she will die. He even says, “There are times when I could have murdered her…there are times when I could have strangled her.”
“Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams (1985). “We were young and restless, we needed to unwind…it was the summer of 69, oh yeah” What’s so bad about this song? Bryan Adams was just singing about his high school memories from back in 1969. That makes perfect sense, until you find out that Adams was only 10 years old in 1969. In 2008, Adams appeared on The Early Show and admitted that the song is actually about a certain sexual position, rather than the year.
“Every Breath You Take” by the Police (1983). “Every breath you take, every move you make…every step you take, I’ll be watching you” Ironically, I would probably call the police if someone said that to me.
“Turning Japanese” by the Vapors (1980). “I want a doctor to take your picture so I can look at you from inside as well” If you thought this song was about adapting to interesting new cultures, you’re in for a shock. The group later revealed that the entire song is about masturbation. This is why he keeps saying, “I’ve got your picture!”, and “Turning Japanese” apparently refers to him squinting his eyes during the act.
“Abracadabra” by Steve Miller Band (1982). “Abra, abracadabra. I wanna reach out and grab ya!” Please don’t.
“Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes (1983). “Body and beats, I stain my sheets, I don’t even know why. My girlfriend, she’s at the end, she is starting to cry” This song is so catchy it’s easy to breeze right past its storyline when you’re timing out your claps. Basically, he gets high, accidentally checks out a dude, has a certain kind of dream, and then fantasizes about leaving his girlfriend. The line, “Big hands, I know you’re the one,” supposedly refers to him wanting a more masculine touch.
“Your Love” by the Outfield (1985). “Josie’s on a vacation far away, come around and talk it over…I just wanna use your love tonight” Nothing says romance like a guy wanting to take advantage of you for one night while his girlfriend is out of town.
“Centerfold” by J. Geils Band (1981). “Years go by I’m lookin’ through a girly magazine and there’s my homeroom angel on the pages in between!” “Centerfold” is actually kind of sweet at first. The singer discovers that his high school sweetheart has become a lingerie model for a racy magazine. But instead of being creepy, he describes his shock, disappointment, and a desire to protect her. He even says “It’s okay, I understand…I hope that when this issue’s gone I’ll see you when your clothes are on.” But all of that chivalry goes out the window when he abruptly gives in and says, “Oh well! I guess I gotta’ buy it!”
“One Way or Another” by Blondie (1979). “One way or another, I’m gonna find ya, I’m gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha!” I’m feeling a little threatened.
“P.Y.T.” by Michael Jackson (1983). “We can dim the lights just to make it right, hit the lovin’ spot…I want to love you, pretty young thing, you need some lovin’” This song had a good ten-year run before anyone really thought of it as creepy. Unfortunately, the 1993 child sexual abuse allegations against Jackson changed the tone of the hit quite a bit.
“Surrender” by Cheap Trick (1978). “She also told me ‘stay away, you’ll never know what you’ll catch. Just the other day I heard of a soldier’s __ falling off, some Indonesian junk that’s going ’round.’” What was his mother warning him about in the beginning of this song? Interpretations of the lyrics have found that she is not only cautioning about STDs, but how a soldier had a particular body part fall off because of them. Whoa.
“My Sharona” by the Knack (1979). “Such a dirty man, I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind” The lyrics say it all. This song is like a pedophile’s anthem.
Y.M.C.A by Village People (1978). “They have everything for you men to enjoy, you can hang out with all the boys…you can do whatever you feel” Wait a minute… everybody’s favorite wedding reception dance song is actually about a gay hookup spot? That was the implicit understanding among the members of the homosexual community from which the group sprung. Singer and lyricist Victor Willis has spoken of his fondness for the hidden meaning, and the real YMCA even threatened to sue them for using the organization’s name alongside so many double entendres.
“Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard (1987). “Little miss innocent…Pour your sugar on me oh, I can’t get enough…I’m hot, sticky sweet from my head to my feet, yeah…you’ve got the peaches, I got the cream” “Pour Some Sugar on Me” could only be acceptable if they were singing from the perspective of pancakes or French toast, but for some reason, I get the feeling Def Leppard wasn’t thinking about breakfast.