Quick, what’s the single most popular subject for a song? If you answered “love”, you’re correct, probably. At least, that’s what it feels like most of the time. Songwriters just can’t seem to get enough of the stuff.
Whether it’s celebrating a newfound spark, meditating on a passing fling, dissecting a love gone bad, or longing for a little more romance in their lives, songwriters have mined love perhaps more than any other topic.
But in some cases, songwriters weren’t as interested in love as we seem to think. Other times, they were a little too interested, if you catch our drift. Here are 12 times when songwriters’ obsession with love got a little creepy.
One Direction – ‘Steal My Girl’
On the surface, this track from the UK boy band sensation isn’t so bad. Just more of their regular candy-coated garbage. But when you actually read the lyrics out loud, perhaps with some ominous backing music, that its inner creepiness begins to surface.
Randy Newman – ‘Suzanne’
This track off Newman’s classic 1970 album 12 Songs has been described as a “heartbreaking ballad”, but it’s really about — you guessed it — a stalker. In this case, the narrator finds his obsession’s name in a phone booth and begins to hang out in the bushes by her house. It gets even creepier from there.
Leona Lewis – ‘Bleeding Love’
It doesn’t matter how many dramatic metaphors you come up with, you should never stay in a dysfunctional relationship. That’s really why this delusional 2007 tune, which was co-written by teen idol Jesse McCartney, is so creepy.
The Crystals – ‘He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)’
Released in 1962, this is one of those songs that you originally assume must be a metaphor, but it was in fact written after Gerry Goffin and Carole King discovered that their babysitter, singer Little Eva was being regularly beaten by her boyfriend.
Dave Matthews Band – ‘Crash Into Me’
This is another one that Generation X yuppies loved to play at weddings. After all, the sweetly sung lyrics and the sombre chords make for one romantic sounding tune. Except, like many songs on this list, it’s actually about a stalker. Go figure, eh?
George Michael – ‘Father Figure’
Like most of George Michael’s output, the man’s silky vocals and the sensual rhythm of the music make it easy to pretty much ignore the lyrics. Should you forget to do so for a second, you might just find a rather unnerving song about… we don’t know, but it could anything from incest, to a really dysfunctional relationship.
Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
At first, this shimmering synth-pop tune sounds like another case of unrequited love. That is, until you realise it’s actually about a jilted lover who’s been following her ex around and watching him with his new fling – “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her“.
Goo Goo Dolls – ‘Iris’
Everything in context, right? Yeah, the lyrics are a little obsessive, but it’s a love song, so that’s almost expected. Even borderline suicidal lines like, “When everything feels like the movies / Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive” aren’t creepy in the right context… right?
Various – ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’
This wintertime standard has been covered by everyone from Dean Martin to She & Him. Another situation where the dude can’t take the hint with the creepiness culminating in the line, “Say, what’s in this drink?” Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon Levitt recently subverted this one by switching the male and female roles. Yeah, still creepy.
Death Cab For Cutie – ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’
If Death Cab For Cutie frontman Benjamin Gibbard is the protagonist of this particular indie-pop jam, then Ben mate, you need to take the hint. This single from the band’s 2008 album labours the point for eight minutes, but she’s just not that into you, Ben.
Lionel Richie – ‘Hello’
This ’80s classic is as famous for its themes of longing and lust as it is for its incredibly cheesy music video which sees Richie playing a drama teacher (watch it, you won’t regret it). So why is it creepy? It’s actually about a teacher who harbours a crush on a blind student.
The Police – ‘Every Breath You Take’
This is a popular one at weddings and it’s not exactly surprising, even the riff is sentimental-sounding. The thing is, the song is actually about a stalker. No, this isn’t just us reading into the lyrics too deeply, Sting has actually confirmed it as fact.