If you’ve ever gone into a music store, chances are you’ve eventually picked up a cassette disc with a big black and white sticker on the front. The parental advisory sticker is a familiar sight to anyone wanting to purchase music that is a bit saucier than your average set list. But what happens if the lyrics of the song in question are opaqu e enough that it’s a coin toss whether or not it requires the aforementioned sticker? Lyricists have ways of getting around the more naughty subject matters, injecting euphemisms and metaphors over blatant explicit material. Therefore, some lyrics can make it past censors without too much detection. However, when the listener moves past the initial joy of a slick new beat, they might take a certain amount of pause and wonder if they really just heard what they thought they heard. This list is comprised of ten songs with some questionable lyrics that may have escaped your notice the first time around.
10. Lady Gaga: Poker Face
Suspect Lyric: I won’t tell you that I love you/ Kiss or hug you/ Cause I’m bluffin’ with my muffin/I’m not lying I’m just stunnin’ with my love-glue-gunning
Yes, even the all-powerful Lady Gaga is guilty of writing some rather head turning lyrics. The 2008 pop song, Poker Face, put Gaga on the music map and is still one of the best selling singles of all time. The lyrics in question might simply breeze by you when you are caught up in the synthetic sounding mega hit, but if you stop and think about it carefully, “muffin” is almost certainly a euphemism for the private female organ. In fact, in a 2009 Rolling Stones article, the queen of pop herself admitted that the word is a coy nod to the female vulva and the lyric as a whole is a metaphor for cunnilingus. Adolescents and teens everywhere ate up the song, almost blissfully ignorant of the double entendre.
9. Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun
Suspect lyric: Body and beats, I stain my sheets, I don’t even know why
In your youth, you may not have realized why the singer was staining his sheets but chances are, since then, you’ve figured it out. An older song, but still highly suggestive and naughty, the 1982 alternative rock lyrics aren’t that opaque once read carefully. Wet dreams can be frequently alluded to and this might be a rather clever way of doing it. In your youthful days, maybe he just spilled a glass of milk, but now, when you’re all grown up, it’s pretty obvious what is going on here.
8. Alien Ant Farm: Glow
Suspect Lyric: I’ll be the switch she turns on/ She’ll be mine too, I get on/ I’ll be the fuse that she blows/ And even with the lights out we’ll glo-o-o-o-o-ow
The 2003 song from the oddly named rock band is almost romantic. The idea that, together, two people can create light and magic seems to be behind the chorus of the song. But maybe that is because your eyes seem to speed by the rather suggestive lyric that the singer is getting his “fuse blown.” Couple that with the lyrics about someone getting turned on and the naughtiness intensifies. Once you take a breathe and re-read the lyrics, the song is much more perverse than you originally thought.
7. Mariah Carey: Honey
Suspect Lyric: Now I’m strung out on you darlin’/ Don’t you see every night and day/ I can’t hardly wait for another taste of honey
In 1997, Mariah Carey released this song, which helped redefine her career, as she moved more into the world of hip-hop. The song came at a controversial time in Carey’s life when rumors of a failed marriage haunted her; some even claimed that the song in question was a tongue in cheek reference to her marital woes. Whether or not the song is about Carey’s marriage is a subjective interpretation, but the lyrics get decidedly raunchy during the chorus when Carey asks for more “honey” and compares it to a drug. Couple those lyrics with “It’s like honey really washes over me/ You know sugar never ever was so sweet/ And I’m dyin’ for ya, cryin’ for ya, I adore ya,” and you’ve got a genuine love making song.
6. Fall Out Boy: Sugar, We’re Going Down
Suspect Lyric: Oh don’t mind me I’m watching you two from the closet/ Wishing to be the friction in your jeans/ Isn’t it messed up how I’m just dying to be him
This was the first song for the rock band that broke into the top 10 of the Billboard Top 100, thus exposing the Illinois group to new listeners. The song itself was catchy, one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. The music video—featuring a boy with antlers—was innocuous enough to pass the concerned parent inspection. But take a closer look at the lyrics. The singer is a voyeur, spying on an intimate moment between the object of his desire and her beau. And not only is he witness to the sexual liaison, but he wishes he could be the girl’s willing partner! A song about a peeping Tom? Not quite what you thought the first time.
5. Backstreet Boys: Get Down
Suspect lyric: Get down, get down/ And move it all around/ Get down, get down/ And move it all around.
Also, from rapper Smooth T. in the song :All the girls/ Get on your knees/ Tryin’ to scream/ Or touch me please
This 1996 song from the boy band is a prime example of hidden perversity in songs. Because it’s an upbeat dance number, listening to the chorus the first time seems less suggestive of a sexual encounter and more asking the listener to dance and lose themselves to the music. And how naughty could it really be, coming from a band whose staple is the romantic ballad? However, if you take this seemingly innocent chorus and couple it with the following: “Bang, bang, bang, here we come, here we slam/ It’s the Fun Factory with the B S B’s/ Y’all you guys, get on your knees tryin’ to scream or touch me, please/ Backstreet Boys, are you with it? A J, hit it/ Come on, girl, and get down/ Smack it up, flip it and move it all around” and suddenly the overt fellatio reference is crystal clear, though perhaps with a title like “Get Down,” we should have been prepared for something not-so-innocent. Quite raunchy for the quintet to which millions of pre-teen and teenage girls flocked.
4. Savage Garden: I Want You
Suspect Lyric: Any time I need to see your face/ I just close my eyes and I am taken to a place/ Where your crystal mind and magenta feelings take up shelter/ In the base of my spine, sweet like a chica cherry cola
In 1997, the Australian pop rock band released this single in America to much acclaim. The song was fast and catchy, even if you weren’t entirely sure what cherry cola had to do with anything. The singer seems to be romantically remembering a crush and how just the memory of her takes him to a happy place. However, look at the lyrics again. The memory of someone the singer sexually loved causes closed eyes and ends with cola—a sticky sweet substance. The song is laced with sexual overtones—specifically wet dreams and masturbation–that you probably didn’t catch as a kid. Almost makes you cringe thinking about how you probably belted this song out in the car next to your parents.
3. Spice Girls: Wannabe
Suspect Lyric: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends/ Make it last forever/ friendship never ends
This dance-pop song was everywhere in 1996; there was no escaping it. Girls flocked to the group in droves, often times picking out which Spice Girl they would be if they had the choice. The song was almost annoyingly catchy, even with its ludicrous made up words like “zigazig-ha.” However, the main chorus seems to be advocating not just sex but rather permissible cheating with your lover’s friends in order to make them feel good because “friendship lasts forever.” At the time, adolescents liked the idea that people could be friends forever, but apparently in order for that to happen, a boy must be shared.
2. Green Day: Longview
Suspect Lyric: So, bite my lip and close my eyes/ Take me away to paradise/ I’m so damn bored, I’m going blind/ And loneliness has to suffice/ Bite my lip and close my eyes/ I’m slipping away to paradise/ Some say, quit or I’ll go blind/ But it’s just a myth
The hidden meaning might be more overt than the others on this list, but it made our top ten because it doesn’t come right out and say what it’s about. And, indeed, neither has lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong. When asked, Armstrong said that the 1994 punk song that helped put his band on the map was about “boredom and smoking dope,” all of which is true until you begin to unpack the actual chorus. A popular cultural myth is that masturbation causes blindness, and here we have our singer with eyes closed, rejecting the myth in order to relieve…boredom. Not so subtle but dirty nonetheless.
1. Christina Aguliera “Genie in a Bottle”
Suspect lyrics: My body is saying let’s go/ But my heart is saying no/ If you wanna be with me, baby there’s a price to pay/ I’m a genie in a bottle, you gotta rub me the right way/ If you wanna be with me, I can make your wish come true/ You gotta make a big impression, I gotta like what you do
When this 1999 song was released, it was instantly gobbled up by teenage girls and has sold, to date, 7 million copies worldwide. Christina Aguliera was sassy but sweet and her song was enchanting. But, were you really listening to what it is she is singing? The metaphor of a genie in a bottle and being rubbed is almost cutesy upon first listen because Aguliera is singing that she can make wishes come true which plays off the familiar myth of genies. However, with her body apparently ready and willing, and her desire to be rubbed and well…you get the point.