Five ’80s Songs That Don’t Mean What You Think

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We love us some time warping and going back to the ’80s!

But even though we’ve sung to these songs thousands of times, we were surprised to know that the intention of the song doesn’t match up with our interpretation.

Here are five songs from the era that mean something differently than what the general public thinks:


Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation”

What people think the song is about: Being a rebel and not giving a damn about it
What the song is actually about: Joan Jett‘s “Bad Reputation” was written after she was rejected by 23 record companies. The video for the song reenacted this story, in which execs asked the video got pulled. MTV obliged.

Night Ranger – “Sister Christian”

What people think the song is about: A nun with lustful desires
What the song is actually about: Drummer Kelly Keagy wrote the song about his teenage sister, Christy, as he was shocked how fast she was growing up.


REM – “The One I Love”

What people think the song is about: A sweet song dedicated to a loved one
What the song is actually about: Michael Stipe says he wrote the song about using someone, manipulating someone, and describes it as a very “violent” relationship.

Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of the Heart

What people think the song is about: A lifelong relationship
What the song is actually about: Vampires. Songwriter Jim Steinman wrote the song as a vampire love story. “It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness,” he said.

Phil Collins – Take Me Home

What people think the song is about: Homesickness
What the song is actually about: Inspired by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, it’s about a patient at a mental hospital.


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