Subliminal messages are alive and well in the world of music, and they are nothing new. Whether it’s a song, that, played backward, has a totally different meaning, or a music video that nods to an artist’s ex-lover, singers often put hidden messages within their creative work. Many people fail to notice the messages. Sometimes they happen so quickly that you miss it if you’re not looking for it, and sometimes they’re showcased in plain sight for all to see, but only some catch on. It could be an item showcased in the video that an ex gave to them when they were still together, or a sign signaling their journey to a new path.
In Nick Jonas’ video for “Jealous” not everything has to do with him being jealous over a girl. At one point he’s riding his motorcycle with a billboard in the background. The words on the billboard signal something more significant than the song’s lyrics. It was his first hit single since he left his brothers’ musical group and the words on the sign say it all. In another boyband-turned-solo artist subliminal message, if you didn’t think Zayn Malik had any feels for One Direction, think again. At one point in his music video for “Pillow Talk” he makes reference to his time with the boy band. Have you caught it yet?
Of course there are always the odes to ex-lovers. The most notable is Taylor Swift, who seems to make her fortune off of writing songs about her past relationships. If the song title “Style” wasn’t enough of a clue, there’s another hidden symbol in her video that makes it clear the song is about her ex Harry Styles. And her song “We Are Never Getting Back Together” is about one of her other former flames. In the video she wears a scarf that belonged to him, making the correlation pretty obvious. But she’s not the only. In Justin Bieber’s music video for “Where Are U Now” he makes it apparent that the song is about his ex Selena Gomez, using her name at one point.
From Beyoncé making a strong statement in “Reformation” about the Black Lives Matter movement, to Lady Gaga nodding to mind control in her “Telephone” music video, things are about to get deep. Check out 10 subliminal messages in popular artist music videos. You’re about to think about every single one of these songs differently.