Usually it’s easy to spot a sad song. There are some dead giveaways, like a somber melody or a slow beat. But that’s not the case with these songs. They all sound bright and happy on the outside, sure. Then, once you’re minding your own business singing along on a car ride, you realize they’re not happy. That they fooled you. That they’re actually sad—like, really freaking sad!
Try not to let it get to you. Here are 12 songs that sound happy but are actually super-depressing:
“Sleep In The Heat” by PUP
The beachy guitar riffs are balanced by happy yelling of the saddest lyrics.“You’re not waking up/I want you to know that I’d spend every bit of my pitiful savings and loans just to see you again/But I know I won’t.” FEELS.
“Take A Walk” by Passion Pit
Most of Passion Pit’s songs are super-depressing but sound super-bouncy. Especially “Take A Walk,” which is all about money troubles. “But then my partner called to say the pension funds were gone/He made some bad investments/now the counts are overdrawn.” Passion Pit: always there to remind us why life (and capitalism) is hard and sad.
“Rusholme Ruffians” by the Smiths
Okay, so, any song by the Smiths pretty much qualifies for this list; sounding happy but actually being unhappy was their whole thing. But jeez, “Rusholme Ruffians” takes it to a different level. Right off the bat, Morrissey hits you with a sad story: “The last night of the fair by the big wheel generator/a boy is stabbed and his money is grabbed/and the air hangs heavy like a dulling wine.” They had to go there.
“Wedding Singer” by Modern Baseball
Modern Baseball are usually not too peppy in their songs; they fully embrace the sad jam. But “Wedding Singer” is different; it’s fast-paced and sunshiney, except for lyrics like, “I always wonder if you’re smiling at us or if you’re looking away/I’d ask, but either way I feel sorry for you.” Those tricksters.
“The Plan (Fuck Jobs)” by the Front Bottoms
This song is about the darkest days, and for the Front Bottoms that’s gotta be pretty dark. These lyrics are raw: “Cause I love you, I miss you, I wanna hug and kiss you/(What it will do, to get through the hell of life).” Great for a breakup. Not as great if you just want an actually happy song for once.
“Can’t Kick Up The Roots” by Neck Deep
Small-town hopelessness and boredom is all over the place in this song: “I’ve been wasting away/but in a town with no way out, there’s not much else to do anyway.” Womp, womp.
“Bouncing Off The Walls” by Sugarcult
It’s about doing drugs, but masking the decay addiction brings in a sweet hook. “I’m bouncing off the walls again/And I’m looking like a fool again/Waking up on the bathroom floor/Pull myself back together just to fall once more.”
“Dead!” by My Chemical Romance
MCR are super-dark in this one, which is kind of disturbing (but also fun) with the peppy melody. “Have you heard the news that you’re dead?/No one ever had much nice to say/I think they never liked you anyway.” Just plain savage.
“Life Itself” by Glass Animals
“I can’t get a job so I live with my mom/I take her money but not quite enough/I make my own fun in grandmama’s basement/Said I look mad, she said I look wasted.” This song is so funky you want it to be happy, more than anything else. But it’s not. It’s really not.
“Heavy Boots” by Motion City Soundtrack
“Destiny is probably a waste hope for me and I don’t care/A waste hope for me.” Hopelessness does sound fun, doesn’t it?
“Kings Of The Weekend” by blink-182
This one’s sad when it points out the downside of a partying lifestyle. Life might be fun on the weekend, but it kind of sucks every other time: “Did you steal my prayers/I don’t know where I was/I feel numb and all or nothing.” :’(
“Angel In The Snow” by Joyce Manor
This one’s bouncy and great until you listen in to the progressively sadder lyrics, which end with: “You’ve gotta stay this way forever/until it makes you want to die/You needed something out of nothing.”