Author Topic: Dark Pop Songs  (Read 912 times)

Dark Pop Songs
« on: July 01, 2019, 12:21:21 AM »
After watching an episode of Inside Number 9 last night, where a character sings the start of Take That's Shine, I've had the song stuck in my head ever since, the opening lyrics go...

You, you're such a big star to me
You're everything I wanna be
But you're stuck in a hole and I want you to get out
I don't know what there is to see
But I know it's time for you to leave
We're all just pushing along
Trying to figure it out, out, out

I love shit like this. Hiding in plain sight desolation. Outkast's Hey Ya is a famous example of a dark pop song, better still for its a gaudy level of pop.

Any other good examples of pop songs that are sickly sweet to the ear but are actually standard issue misery?

grassbath

  • Crocker was too green to see it
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2019, 12:39:59 AM »
I sometimes think that an enormous percentage of commercial love songs are like this, with a depressed or obsessive edge, or both. 1960s girl group stuff would be an obvious example.

Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out of My Head', with its hypnotic, childlike 'la la' refrain and pleas to 'stay, forever and ever and ever,' has always struck me as the ravings of a stalker.

Miley Cyrus's 'We Can't Stop' is, on the surface, typical 'we own the night' chart party fare. But it's always struck me as a mouthpiece for something more sinister. The insane greed and wantonness of an entire horrible industry speaks through her, a young teenager co-opted totally into an existence as a corporate entertainment cyborg. The impossibility of stopping the party, the runaway money train and the absolute chaos of modern culture. [/overthinking]

Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together' was a slinky, seductive love song with no cause for upset until Low's recent cover explored how easily pliability and desperation go hand in hand. 'I'm so in love with you - whatever you want to do is alright with me.'

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2019, 12:57:38 AM »
Rachel Stevens and 'Some Girls' from 2004, released in the transient period when she was a bankable solo artist and right off the back of her work with the eminently child-friendly S Club 7, was about a struggling pop star being plied with alcohol by her bosses and coerced into performing sex acts in exchange for the implied guarantee of hit singles.

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2019, 01:13:02 AM »
Rachel Stevens and 'Some Girls' from 2004, released in the transient period when she was a bankable solo artist and right off the back of her work with the eminently child-friendly S Club 7, was about a struggling pop star being plied with alcohol by her bosses and coerced into performing sex acts in exchange for the implied guarantee of hit singles.

Oh yes. I am obsessed with this song and agree with you entirely about it's sentiment as a pre-MeToo banger. But, if you don't mind me correcting you your timeline is slightly out.

Some Girls was a single released after her first solo album Funky Dory" was a moderate success (i.e. flop compared with label high expectations). Some Girls was initially a stand alone single that was a hit and I am not sure whether it was released after or during the sessions for second album Come And Get It but for what I have read elsewhere the album was consisdered something of a punt with her career on it's last legs so the producers including Richard X and Xenomania just pushed the boat out a bit.

Was it on here or somewhere else where I read the Richard X Geri Halliwell story? Anyone?

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2019, 01:21:32 AM »
I sometimes think that an enormous percentage of commercial love songs are like this, with a depressed or obsessive edge, or both. 1960s girl group stuff would be an obvious example.

Kylie's 'Can't Get You Out of My Head', with its hypnotic, childlike 'la la' refrain and pleas to 'stay, forever and ever and ever,' has always struck me as the ravings of a stalker.

Miley Cyrus's 'We Can't Stop' is, on the surface, typical 'we own the night' chart party fare. But it's always struck me as a mouthpiece for something more sinister. The insane greed and wantonness of an entire horrible industry speaks through her, a young teenager co-opted totally into an existence as a corporate entertainment cyborg. The impossibility of stopping the party, the runaway money train and the absolute chaos of modern culture. [/overthinking]

Al Green's 'Let's Stay Together' was a slinky, seductive love song with no cause for upset until Low's recent cover explored how easily pliability and desperation go hand in hand. 'I'm so in love with you - whatever you want to do is alright with me.'

Think I'd tend to agree, if someone had the personality of a pop song, a constant shallow jolliness would seem like a desperate attempt to hide suffering in plain sight.

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2019, 01:30:17 AM »
Rachel Stevens and 'Some Girls' from 2004, released in the transient period when she was a bankable solo artist and right off the back of her work with the eminently child-friendly S Club 7, was about a struggling pop star being plied with alcohol by her bosses and coerced into performing sex acts in exchange for the implied guarantee of hit singles.

Ooooo that is prime mundane corporate evil. Are we that unobservant that we hear these songs and don't bat an eyelid? I suppose when you don't see any reason to care, you don't take notice.

The adage 'the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing' rings true when you hear Rachel Stevens sing a song about sucking and fucking to the top of the pops.

buzby

  • Member
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Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2019, 01:07:36 PM »
Oh yes. I am obsessed with this song and agree with you entirely about it's sentiment as a pre-MeToo banger. But, if you don't mind me correcting you your timeline is slightly out.

Some Girls was a single released after her first solo album Funky Dory" was a moderate success (i.e. flop compared with label high expectations). Some Girls was initially a stand alone single that was a hit and I am not sure whether it was released after or during the sessions for second album Come And Get It but for what I have read elsewhere the album was consisdered something of a punt with her career on it's last legs so the producers including Richard X and Xenomania just pushed the boat out a bit.

Was it on here or somewhere else where I read the Richard X Geri Halliwell story? Anyone?
Possibly from me in this thread, as I'm also obsessed with it. It was originally written with Hannah Robinson to be offered to Girls Aloud, but after hearing the demo Warp wanted it for Halliwell and Simon Fuller wanted it for Stevens. Richard X decided to give it to Stevens after Richard Curtis asked if she could record it as the Sport Relief single (much to his surprise, given the lyrical content). When she heard Stevens had got it, Halliwell locked herself in her car outside his studio in a tantrum.

He and Robinson subsequently wrote Me Plus One for Annie, whose lyrics are basically a biography of Halliwell's life to that point, and features this spoken verse that refers specifically to the car incident (with barking in the background, imitating Geri's dog):
Quote from: Richard X, Hannah Robinson
People around you
Won't tell you how it is
Don't you think it's gone on long enough?
Take a look at yourself
Get out of the car
You know it's time
You've got to let it go
It's gone

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2019, 02:37:35 PM »
Lucky by Britney Spears is a classic in terms of what this thread's getting at, it really stood out for me at the time and it still seems like a real watershed moment of pop becoming self-aware.

For surprisingly dark lyrics, does anyone remember the words to MMMbop by Hanson?
Quote
You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they're gone so fast
Oh yeah
And they're gone so fast, yeah
Oh, so hold on the ones who really care
In the end they'll be the only ones there
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care?

Captain Z

  • Oh yeah my cholesterol's going down
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2019, 03:56:46 PM »
Despite many people thinking of it as nothing more than a fun, feel-good, festive number 1, 'Mad World' actually has quite depressing lyrics.

another Mr. Lizard

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Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2019, 06:17:26 PM »
Old standard 'You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming' (I'm most familiar with George Formby's version but it has been recorded many times by US acts too). Premise - the object of a young man's affections won't let him near, but via the medium of popular song he infers that his imagination can conjure up all manner of depravity.

Here's Bill Haley and his Comets ripping it up: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-PaDqSTJ5U


Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2019, 06:22:24 PM »
Formby's "With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock" is actually about his penis.

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2019, 06:47:58 PM »
The Land Of Make Believe - Bucks Fizz

"the song was a subtle attack on Margaret Thatcher and her government’s policy at the time"

Absorb the anus burn

  • I'll serve raw potatoes at my summer party
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2019, 06:54:49 PM »
Down At The Tube Station At Midnight by The Jam is pretty damn dark....

"..... I first felt a fist
and then a kick.
I could now smell their breath -
they smelled of pubs
and wormwood scrubs
and too many right wing meetings...."


then the later suggestion that (as he lies dying) his wife is going to be assaulted as well:

"... I glanced back on my life
and thought about my wife -
because they took the keys,
and she'll think it's me....
"

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2019, 06:58:50 PM »
I always wondered about that, how would they know where he lived? Did his keys have his address on them?

Phoenix Lazarus

  • Why bother writing stuff below your avatar?
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2019, 07:01:15 PM »
Wang Chung, Dance Hall Days.

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2019, 07:58:22 PM »
I always wondered about that, how would they know where he lived? Did his keys have his address on them?

There would probably have been something with his address in his wallet.

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2019, 09:03:59 PM »
’Mr Bombastic’ by Shaggy is about the Armenian Genocide.

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2019, 12:04:36 AM »
I always wondered about that, how would they know where he lived? Did his keys have his address on them?

There was an entire discussion over here about what on earth was supposed to be going on in that song, it went on for pages and pages. https://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?action=showall&boardid=41&threadid=33212


All of Ace Of Base's back catalogue has become darker in retrospect, in light of the revelation that their songwriter was a neo-Nazi. "All That She Wants" is basically an anti-immigration rant.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2019, 05:35:12 AM »
Wang Chung, Dance Hall Days.
Take your baby by the ears and play upon her darkest fears.

Er, okay, whatever.

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2019, 05:39:27 AM »
This is actually quite sweet rather than dark, but take it from me, I've been there...
https://tomreeder.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/save-the-last-dance-for-me/

Norton Canes

  • Watching the Wednesday wheel
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2019, 07:33:10 AM »
Formby's "With My Little Stick Of Blackpool Rock" is actually about his penis

That and Ken Dodd's 'Happiness'

Norton Canes

  • Watching the Wednesday wheel
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2019, 08:01:18 AM »
Rachel Stevens and 'Some Girls' from 2004, released in the transient period when she was a bankable solo artist and right off the back of her work with the eminently child-friendly S Club 7, was about a struggling pop star being plied with alcohol by her bosses and coerced into performing sex acts in exchange for the implied guarantee of hit singles

I liked the Popbitch theory that the "dreams of number one" line and the reference to champagne meant it was about watersports

Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #22 on: July 02, 2019, 11:38:13 AM »

icehaven

  • Please don't hi five people in Tamworth
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #23 on: July 02, 2019, 08:14:49 PM »
Mentioned this before but "You'll Never Stop Me From Loving You" by Sonia is the undisputed stalker anthem, it shits on the perceived classic of the genre; "Every Breath You Take", for obsessive creepiness;

Even when you're home
you won't pick up your phone
and take my call
When I see you on the street
You stare down at your feet
you won't talk at all

If only you would see me
one more time and maybe
some day you will find
that you could really love me
you could really need me
Maybe you could change your mind

But you'll never stop me from loving you
It doesn't really matter what you put me through
You'll never stop me from loving you

When I know that you're alone
I wander to your home
and catch a glimpse or two
It seems that all the time
the thought is on my mind
of being with you

The times I've tried to see you
you know I would meet you
any time, night or day
But still you just refuse
and no matter what you do
I'll never let you get away

But you'll never stop me from loving you
It doesn't really matter what you put me through
You'll never stop me from loving you

You'll never stop me from loving you
Wherever you can go I will follow you
You'll never stop me from loving you

Never stop 2x
Never stop me

If only you would see me
one more time and maybe
some day you will find
that you could really love me
you could really need me
Maybe you could change your mind

Jockice

  • I really have red hair. And a **********.
Re: Dark Pop Songs
« Reply #24 on: July 02, 2019, 08:49:13 PM »
It also rips off the chorus of Get Over You by The Undertones.