'90s Songs With Dark Meanings & Lyrics That You Totally Didn't Understand As A Kid

RICHMOND, VA - OCTOBER 26: Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, Dave Matthews, performing a free concert at the ALLTEL Pavilion in the Stuart C. Siegel Center of Virginia Commonwealth University on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008, on behalf of the Barack Obama campaign. (Photo by Gary Knapp/Getty Images)
Source: Gary Knapp/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Ahh, the '90s — a time that most people look back on with a trace of nostalgia, whether or not their formative years fell during the decade or not. Nineties music was a big part of that — who doesn't hear a TLC song and feel instantly happier? Maybe the people who know the surprisingly dark meaning behind even the most upbeat and catchy '90s hits. Sure, you knew that not every '90s artist sat around all day writing songs about their love of slap bracelets and the Tanner family, but you might be surprised to learn that some of your old favorite '90s songs are actually really dark. Sorry to burst your bubble, friends. 

So why didn't we notice just how sad and dark these '90s hits were? I blame our lack of a reliable source for lyrics on the Web. I mean, this was a time when we read our lyrics off the tiny print on the inside of CD covers — it's easy to see why we would have missed an important phrase or two. Then there are the songs that keep their real meaning cloaked with fancy metaphors, giving listeners absolutely no chance to successfully interpret their meaning. 

Here are the '90s songs that were way darker than you realized — read on if you're willing to trade your happiness for the truth. 

Len, "Steal My Sunshine" 

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What You Thought: Not letting the proverbial "haters" get you down. 

What It's Really About: Struggling with depression around people who don't understand. 

James, "Laid" 

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What You Thought: A guy getting, well, laid. (It was on the American Pie soundtrack!) 

What It's Really About: A dysfunctional relationship where the girl ends up stalking her ex. Even his therapist warns him against dating her!

Fastball, "The Way"

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What You Thought: A couple taking a happy summer stroll. 

What It's Really About: An elderly couple who goes missing on a short trip. The last verse is our only clue to the chilling meaning: "Their children woke up, and they couldn't find them." 

The Cranberries, "Zombie" 

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What You Thought: You probably had no idea, considering the lyrics aren't particularly easy to hear, outside of the repeating chorus. So...maybe a really bad breakup? 

What It's Really About: Terrorism in Northern Ireland, which you probably didn't get because this is the same band that brought you sweet love ballad "Linger."

Dave Matthews Band, "Crash Into Me" 

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What You Thought: A guy talking about the girl he loves. 

What It's Really About: A stalker talking about the girl he's obsessed with. The song is written from the perspective of a Peeping Tom, which you can only gather from the last verse where the singer mentions watching the girl he's speaking to from outside her window. 

Tonic, "If Only You Could See" 

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What You Thought: A man confessing his love for his blue-eyed girlfriend.

What It's Really About: A man explaining why being with his older girlfriend is worth it to the mother who has disowned him for doing so. It really happened to Tonic singer Emerson Hart, and things didn't even work out with the girl.

Ben Folds, "Brick" 

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What You Thought: A relationship that's slowly turning sour. 

What It's Really About: The relationship in the song does take a turn, but it's for a specific reason — Folds wrote the song about the time that his high school girlfriend got an abortion.

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