When popular music is made correctly, it shows itself to be more than just a catchy tune and lyrics. It is a way to express a message or tell a story of importance to the artist.
And sometimes, these stories are far darker than originally perceived by the listener. Many popular bands of recent years have played this trick on unsuspecting listeners, from The Beatles and The Jam through to more modern day examples such as Foster The People. With examples of the themes hidden ranging from but not limited to, murder, drug abuse and suicide.
This list will hopefully illuminate my top ten picks of these darker sides nestled away in some of the most unexpected songs recorded. But without anymore hesitation let’s move on to the first song on the list which is…
10. The Kinks – Lola
Released: 12 June 1970
Lola was a massive hit for The Kinks reaching number 2 in the charts of their home country, the UK. With it’s folk styled guitar playing paired with Ray Davies’ vocals making it sound as if it is yet another story of love told through a pop song. Which by itself wouldn’t justify it’s inclusion in this list. Thankfully however, there is a much darker side present here, which is only revealed upon further inspection.
The song is in fact a retelling of Davies seeing the band’s manager at the time, Robert Wace, spending the night with a transvestite. It is full of hints towards this hidden theme,throughout it’s darkly humourous lyrics. Such as the narrator’s confusion upon meeting Lola for the first time in “Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand, why she walked like a woman and talked like a man” and again in the fourth verse “Girls will be boys and boys will be girls” both comically pointing out the confusion, described in Davies’ autobiography, felt by Wace upon the realisation that the woman he was dancing with had stubble.
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