18 Catchy Songs From The ’90s That Are Actually Pretty Dark And Disturbing

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«Angel» by Sarah McLachlan is NOT about saving animals.

We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share which ’90s songs they were shocked to learn actually had some pretty dark and disturbing lyrics. The first part was such a hit, we decided to share even more submissions! Here are some songs that’ll make you think of the ’90s very differently:

*Disclaimer: Many songs in this post mention heavy topics like violence, sexual abuse, drug use, and suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

1.

Matchbox 20, «3 AM»


Atlantic Records

«It’s so upbeat and catchy, but it’s about his mother’s cancer.»

—lastparismango22

2.

Sarah McLachlan, «Angel»


RCA Records

«One that always gets me is ‘Angel’ by Sarah McLachlan. It’s been covered a few times and it’s always done like a sweet love song, but it’s actually about deciding to relapse and take heroin again in a hotel room.»

—xlycanthropicfreakx

3.

Fool’s Garden, «Lemon Tree»


Polydor Records

«It always seemed so upbeat and happy. Turns out, it’s about depression.»

—jay224

4.

Nada Surf, «Popular»


Barsuk Records

«I don’t know how obvious it is, but it’s pretty depressing. For any attractive, well-liked/popular student, it really puts you in their shoes. Can’t imagine how lonely and suicidal one can feel from people expecting too much from them.»

—thrutheeyesofluna030899

«The lyrics to ‘Popular’ (aside from the chorus) are the actual text from the 1964 teen advice book, Penny’s Guide to Teen-Age Charm and Popularity.

—adamjunrein

5.

Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, «Brown Derby Jump»


Mojo Records

«It describes the protagonist’s glamorous, but ultimately shallow and self-destructive lifestyle.»

—mostlyapples

6.

Filter, «Hey Man, Nice Shot»


Reprise Records

«It’s often thought to be about Kurt Cobain, but it actually was written about the public suicide of Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer. Facing a lengthy prison sentence for bribery, Dwyer shot himself with a .357 Magnum during a televised press conference the day before his sentencing.»

—adamjunrein

7.

Hanson, «Yearbook»


Universal Music Group

«While it’s supposedly based on the band looking at their mom’s old yearbooks, the song heavily implies that someone died during the school year and now their picture is absent from the yearbook, and someone knows why but won’t say why. It’s a really heavy song from the three boys who also wrote ‘Mmmbop.'»

—colleend9

8.

Butthole Surfers, «Pepper»


Hollywood Records

«I always liked how it sounded and never really paid attention to the lyrics, but it’s all about teens dying.»

—tatertots03

9.

Sarah McLachlan, «Possession»


RCA Records

«I thought it was this beautiful love song until I found out the song was written using text from letters Sarah McLachlan got from a man who was obsessed with her!»

—cbaten

10.

Neutral Milk Hotel, «Holland 1945»


MrCaribooo / Via youtube.com

«Neutral Milk Hotel being dark isn’t exactly a surprise, but ‘Holland 1945’ is such an upbeat song with horribly dark content.»

—toml4ada66609

12.

Pearl Jam, «Jeremy»


RCA Records

«My mom recently told me that it was written about Jeremy Wade Delle, a high schooler who shot himself in front of his English class. I grew up hearing it on the radio and I never knew.»

—strangerthanitseems

13.

Stone Temple Pilots, «Interstate Love Song»


Atlantic Records

«It’s about a drug addict lying to the person they love about being an addict and that person leaving them. If you listen to the lyrics, you can tell it’s not a happy song, but the music allows you to pretend it is.»

—fiendishkitty

15.

The Wallflowers, «One Headlight»


Interscope Records

«I was young when it came out and thought it sounded like a happy song, but then my mom’s biker chick BFF was like, ‘nah, listen carefully.’ She then proceeded to explain it to me. I learned a lot about life that day.»

—m4b1d3e9cc

16.

The Northern Pikes, «Girl With A Problem»


Virgin Records

«I loved listening to this on road trips because it has a fun, happy tune, but then as I got older I realized that it’s about a woman suffering from alcoholism.»

—breannaarchibald28

17.

Alice in Chains, «Man in the Box»


Columbia Records

«I’m not a fan of the band, but the song recently came on the radio for the first time in a while and I decided to look up the lyrics (I do this periodically out of curiosity). The darkness of the lyrics really surprised me, honestly, especially the ‘buried in my shit / won’t you come and save me’ bit at the beginning.»

—kneeongravestones

18.

And Goo Goo Dolls, «Black Balloon»


Warner Records

«I’ve heard that it’s about heroin, but I’ve also heard that it’s about abortion. Reading the lyrics, I can see both. Either way, I absolutely love this song.»

—juliajaye

Want to be featured in similar BuzzFeed posts? Follow the BuzzFeed Community on Facebook and Twitter! And feel free to mention any songs we missed in the comments below.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.






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