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Catchy songs about f*cked up things: A playlist by Jana and Erin

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Playlists

Last Thursday of the month means it’s time for another playlist with Jana  and Erin. Although June is our birthday month and we could have done birthday themed songs, we opted for something a little darker because let’s face it, that makes way more sense. Playlist

You know the saying “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and how it means something sinister disguised as something sweet and cute? Well, that’s essentially the theme of this month’s playlist except we’re calling it “Catchy Songs About Fucked Up Things”. We actually had to whittle the list down, and I’m sure we could do a part 2, but for now, we’ll just go with these 12:

“Make it Stop (September’s Children)” by Rise Against. I (Jana) had actually mentioned this song to Erin pre-Pulse shooting because this song makes me tear up every time I listen to it, particularly when they list some of the kids–CHILDREN–who’ve committed suicide because of being gay. Post-Pulse, it’s even more poignant and a necessary inclusion. 

“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. School shooting song. We shouldn’t even still be talking about school or any type of mass shootings but that’s another topic for another time. 

“Fade to Black” by Metallica. This one’s about death and suicidal feelings. 

“Last Resort” by Papa Roach. Also about death and suicide. I (Jana) think that’s enough on this topic for now so we’ll move to something else. 

“Mr. Brownstone” by Guns N Roses. Drugs! This one’s about drugs. We struggled between using this one or “Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue so I’m mentioning the latter to sneak it into the post anyway. #sorrynotsorry

“Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. Another song about drugs. Meth this time, instead of cocaine or heroin. Not sure that we’re moving up or down but at least it’s not death. 

“Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also drugs but also about loneliness and desperation and isolation because of drugs. 

“Crawling” by Linkin Park. Another one about the battle with substance abuse, drawing on Chester Bennington’s own experiences. 

“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam. This is the first song I (Jana) was consciously aware of the lyrics and the meaning and having it impact me. Suzanne Vega’s “Luka” should have that honor but I was only 10 at the time of the song’s release so I didn’t pick up on it right away (I actually believe it’s one of the most heartwrenching songs ever). We’re showing the video for “Jeremy” instead of just the song because Erin feels that it’s the most impactful video ever made. 

“Wrong Way” by Sublime. A nice song about child prostitution. Maybe also a little child abuse. Bradley Nowell was masterful at writing awesome songs about fucked up things (see: “Santeria”, “April 29, 1992”, “Date Rape”) and who knows what else he could have done. Sadly, he’s a member of the 27 Club so we’ll never know. 

“Face Down” by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. This one’s about domestic violence. It’s more obvious in subject matter than some of the others, and the band has done a lot of stuff for domestic violence prevention in the years since. 

“Manhattan Project” by Rush. Pretty obvious what this is about. It’s not as dark as some of the others so I (Jana) thought it was a fitting way to end the list. Also a good way to finally get Rush on one of these playlists. 

Honorable mentions: “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks (murder, domestic violence), “Never Again” by Nickelback (domestic violence), “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith (child abuse, murder), “Me and a Gun” by Tori Amos (rape), “Hurt” by NIN (so many things), “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Warrant (murder with a not so thinly veiled racist title), “Coming Undone” by Korn (mental health issues), “Adam’s Song” by Blink 182 (teen suicide). It’s a really long list. 

What are some of your favorite songs about fucked up things? 

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  1. Linda Sheridan

    I always change the station when gun or violent songs come on. I am sure it helps to write and sing about it. Music is the sound of feelings.
    Love. Stephs. Momma !

  2. Kelli

    I love all these songs but Janie’s Got A Gun would have made the top of the list for me, like you with Jeremy it’s the first song where the lyrics impacted me because I understood what they were talking about. I still turn it up when it comes on the radio.

  3. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    I love Pumped Up Kicks so much still, so catchy, even though its subject is horrible.

    Luka for me, Janie’s Got a Gun, Goodbye Earl.

  4. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    It’s crazy because sometimes when you’re singing along you don’t quite understand what the song is saying until you stop and think about it for a second. It took me a while to realize that Pumped Up Kicks was about a school shooting, but now that’s all I think about when I listen to that song!

  5. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    I loved Luka when I was kid too. Then someone told me what the song was about and it shocked me. I lived a very innocent, sheltered life and it was the first time I realized music had power beyond getting people to dance or head bang. In most instances, I prefer GNR over Motley Crue, except here. Dr FeelGood FTW! It’s strange, but until now I never realized that metal or hard rock did a much better job than virtually all other genres (except for maybe rap) on writing songs with meaning.

  6. alyssa

    As soon as I read this post title, “Pumped Up Kicks” was the first one that popped into my head. It should NOT be allowed to be about something so awful when it’s so upbeat and catchy!

  7. Heather Lockhart

    Always love these lists! “Independence Day” by Martina McBride is one that comes to mind (domestic violence)

  8. kristen

    woah. i had no idea that Pumped Up Kicks was about a shooting. i should really pay more attention to lyrics.
    i’ll have to watch that jeremy video when i get home, i have never heard that song but you’ve intrigued me with the video!

  9. Micah @ Unabashedly Me

    “Papa Loved Mama” by Garth Brooks — murder (after the husband finds out the wife is cheating)

    I’m sure there are many others. Most I didn’t even register as being about dark things when I was younger. Now some of them make me cringe though.
    Micah @ Unabashedly Me recently posted…Run to Exile 5K recapMy Profile


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