Songwriters have been writing lyrics with double meanings for a long time. Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ‘69” was certainly not about the season.
More recently, The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” has been likened to, albeit unconfirmed, taking cocaine. Even Rihanna has used thought-provoking lyrics in songs such as “Shut up and Drive.”
Many more examples come to mind as it relates to song lyrics that produce ‘ah-ha’ moments or caused you to raise an eyebrow wondering “…is that line saying what I think it means?” But have you ever thought about doing it too? Here are a few tips:
- Think about a suitable overall theme
What do you want the song to be about? Most songs with double meanings often have undertones relating to sex, violence, death, addiction, or even intense love. The trick is to make it subtle.
- Give your song a seemingly insignificant topic
Think about a topic that no one would consider to be typical for a song, such as: a type of drink, an electrical device or tool, even a household chore (the possibilities are endless). Using a topic that doesn’t seem significant will make the listener underestimate the intention of your song before it hits home.
- Tie in lyrics that are profound meaning but relate to the topic
A good example of this is “Daddy” by Emeli Sandé, where the main topic alludes to having an abusive relationships with a ‘player’. However, it has striking lines such as “Put it in your pocket, don’t tell anyone I gave you” and “It can be your daddy, daddy / if you take it gladly, gladly,” which has left many speculating that the song is really about drug addiction.
- Try not to give away the details
The best songs that have dual meanings keep people guessing even after several replays and combing through the lyrics. Some of your lyrics can come close to revealing the true meaning but still maintain the mystery. If you’re able to do this, you could generate quite a buzz.
That art of writing lyrics with a double meaning can keep your fans guessing and help you make a bigger impact with your music if you learn to master it.