At some point, almost everyone in the world has related so deeply to a song. Whether you used the lyrics to your favorite song as a social media caption or sang the tune at the top of your lungs to release your emotions, music is made to connect to people's souls. What many people don't know, however, is when they're belting out songs, a good amount of the lyrics aren't quite what they seem. These 20 famous song titles have a secret meaning that will have you floored.
It's not just a new generation thing, either. Clever artists have been packing song titles and messages with double meanings for decades. So whether you crank the oldies when you're feeling ready to rock out, or wait for the newest No. 1 hit to drop, you'll want to know what these songs actually mean.
1. "WAP" By Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion
When Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion collabed in August 2020, the bop turned heads for many reasons: One being the meaning behind WAP. While some might have assumed it was just a cool-sounding word when they heard the title, if you actually listen to the lyrics, you quickly learned it stands for "wet ass p*ssy," a revelation that had conservative pundits in a twist.
2. "If U Seek Amy" By Britney Spears
While the sound of Brit's 2008 song appears to be about finding a woman named Amy, the lyrics prove there is something deeper beyond that. "If U Seek Amy" sounds a lot like "F*CK me," which is what it's supposed to mean. "Love me, hate me / Say what you want about me / But all of the boys and all of the girls / Are begging to if you seek Amy," the lyrics read.
3. “Summer of ’69” By Bryan Adams
Ah, the good 'ol days of 1969. Adams' famous track has been the anthem of the summer for many over the years but little did they know, the song isn't actually about reflecting on that specific summer. The song actually is inspired by the sexual position, often referred to as "69."
“The song is a bit autobiographical," Adams said during an interview with Classic Rock in July 2020. "But it’s really about summer love and, in my case being a musician. I love the song Night Moves by Bob Seger, which is about getting laid in the summer, and I always wanted to write an answer to that. There is a huge misconception that this song is about 1969, but it’s not. The reason I chose 69 is because of the sexual position."
4. "Love Myself" By Hailee Steinfeld
The title of Steinfeld's 2015 tune sounds like a powerful self-love anthem, and, according to Steainfelt, it is that. But it's also about self-pleasure. Steinfeld told LADYGUN Magazine:
There is that double meaning that some people perceive, and there’s even a triple meaning that some people hear when they listen. There was never a doubt in my mind that made me uncomfortable because again, I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. There are so many lines that are drawn between male and female when it comes to sexuality, lines that need to be cleared. I can only do and say what I can and I think, with this being my first single, it says enough as to how I feel.
5. "Royals" By Lorde
When fans heard Lorde's debut song "Royals" in 2013, most people's minds went to the British royal family. However, Lorde later confirmed that the track was inspired by a photo of former Royals MLB player George Brett being mobbed by fans.
6. "Rock the Boat" By Aaliyah
Aaliyah's track had some people thinking it was about, well, a boat. However, with lyrics like "stroke it for me" and "change positions" the song is actually using a boat as a metaphor for, well... sex.
7. "Cake By The Ocean" By DNCE
Sounds like a delicious dessert by a beautiful body of water, but the title couldn't be further from the meaning of DNCE's hit song. The title actually refers to having sex on the beach.
8. "Closing Time" By Semisonic
This song is often played during graduation ceremonies, or at the end of wedding receptions because the lyrics seem to reflect on the closing hours of a bar or life event. However, the track is actually about the birth of Semisonic singer Dan Wilson's daughter.
It's partially inspired by the birth of his daughter, Coco. "The guys wanted a new song to close our sets with," Wilson told Billboard. "I thought 'Closing Time' would be a good title. We had spent seven years of our lives at that point, four nights a week entertaining people. That was our life. Some bouncers yelling things, closing time coming, all that imagery, literally, that's how the song started and then when I was halfway done, I started realizing the whole thing was a pun about being born, so I just made sure that the rest of the thing could ride with that double meaning, but nobody got the joke and I didn't bother to explain. I thought everyone would get it."
9. "Every Breathe You Take" By The Police
Sure, this song is known as one of the most romantic love ballads of all time, but it's actually quite creepy. In fact, Sting wrote the song about a breakup and he didn't mean for it to come off romantic. "It sounds like a comforting love song," Sting told The Independent in 1993. "I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control."
10. "Wolves" By Selena Gomez
While dissecting the song in 2017, Gomez fans speculated the track was about her battle with lupus, as lupus is the Latin word for wolf. However, Gomez later explained that it was about a variety of things going on in her life.
“The song is very beautiful and personal, and the lyrics have a whole story of its own,” Gomez said during an interview with Zane Lowe in October 2017. “Weirdly, at the same time, I was working on it in Japan I was going through stuff too, so it’s mirrored everything.”
11. "Love Song" By Sara Bareilles
The super-catchy tune seems to be about Bareilles' frustration with men, but the track was made as a jab at her record label for trying to force her to write and release a certain type of music.
They had encouraged me to keep writing, and I just wasn't having any luck, and I was turning in the beginnings of ideas and snippets of moments of a song, and I was just getting a really sort of blasé reaction to everything.
12. "Harder to Breathe" By Maroon 5
"Harder to Breathe" sounds like a song about suffocation from a bad love life, but Adam Levine revealed in August 2002 that the track was actually about the pressure to make more music.
"That song comes sheerly from wanting to throw something," Levine said. "It was the 11th hour, and the label wanted more songs. It was the last crack. I was just pissed. I wanted to make a record and the label was applying a lot of pressure, but I'm glad they did."
13. "You’re Beautiful" By James Blunt
Sounds like a lovely tune to sing to your love interest, but Blunt's "You're Beautiful" is actually a pretty creepy song. Blunt told The Huffington Post that the track is about a drunk man stalking a woman on the subway. "He should be locked up or put in prison for being some kind of perv,” he said.
14. “Poker Face” By Lady Gaga
During an April 2019 performance, Lady Gaga revealed “Poker Face” was inspired by a real-life relationship. "You know this song is actually about when I was making love to this guy that I was dating a long time ago. I was thinking about chicks every time we had sex and I just didn't want him to figure it out because I felt so bad,” she explained.
15. “Chandelier” By Sia
With lyrics like “I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist,” fans may think “Chandelier” is a reference to being free and not having a care in the world. However, the real meaning behind the track is much darker because it’s about alcoholism, which Sia experienced early on in her music career. "That's why 'Chandelier' was interesting to me... I wrote the song because there's so many party-girl anthems in pop. And I thought it'd be interesting to do a different take on that," Sia said in a July 2014 interview with NPR.
16. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” By The Beatles
It’s a common misconception that this song is about LSD (a powerful hallucinogenic drug). The actual meaning is totally innocent. John Lennon explained during a 1971 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show that the title was inspired by a painting his son once made. “This is the truth: My son came home with a drawing and showed me this strange-looking woman flying around. I said, ‘What is it?’ and he said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,’ and I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote a song about it,” Lennon revealed.
He said after the group’s Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album dropped in 1967, someone noticed that “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” spelled out “LSD.” Ever since then, people thought it was about the drug, but Lennon insisted it was just a coincidence. “I had no idea about it, but nobody believes me,” he said.
17. “134340” By BTS
Casual listeners may think BTS’ Love Yourself: Tear song title “134340” has no meaning, but it actually references the number assigned to Pluto, which was once considered the ninth planet in our solar system. Since it’s been reduced to a dwarf planet, BTS uses Pluto as a metaphor for loneliness and the feeling of abandonment, which is totally genius.
18. “Hotel California” By Eagles
No, the song isn’t really about a hotel. In a 2002 60 Minutes interview, the band’s drummer and vocalist Don Henley said, “It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America.” So when the Eagles sing, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” they’re talking about being stuck in this cycle of greed and self-indulgence.
19. “34+35” By Ariana Grande
20. “Cornelia Street” By Taylor Swift
“Cornelia Street” tells a sweet story about two people falling in love. As it turns out, Taylor Swift wrote the song with her boyfriend Joe Alwyn in mind. The best part is they actually did fall in love on Cornelia Street. It’s a real location in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, where the singer rented an apartment in 2016 while her Tribeca home was being renovated.
This article was originally published on