Sometimes the sound of a song or the ambiguous choice of words it uses can mask what it’s truly about. Indeed, the history of pop music is littered with classics that most listeners have interpreted incorrectly. With that in mind, here’s a look at 20 tracks whose true meanings may totally surprise you.
20. Bonnie Tyler – “Total Eclipse of the Heart”
One of the all-time great power ballads, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” came equipped with a spooky gothic video, shot at an old Victorian hospital. But most people don’t know that the song itself is also steeped in horror. Songwriter Jim Steinman told Playbill that the 1980s megahit was originally known as “Vampires in Love.” He said, “If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in the dark.”
19. Semisonic – “Closing Time”
Semisonic’s Grammy-nominated “Closing Time” is widely assumed to be about the moment when everyone has to drink up and leave the bar or club. However, in an interview with NPR, frontman Dan Wilson revealed the song was actually about the birth of his first-born. He said, “It’s kind of like being cut off, you know, your umbilical cord is going to get cut off and, you know, you’re done here. You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here in the womb.”