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  • February 2013
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Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying: Upbeat Songs with Sad Meanings

I will admit, right here and now, that I listen to pop radio in my car.  I was once the kind of person who, in high school and college, couldn’t be bothered to listen to anything on the radio unless it was NPR or WYEP because it was too “mainstream” and totally fake and lame.  But I find myself not having the energy to care so much these days and turning on the radio gives me a line into pop culture that I don’t have otherwise.  It’s a lot easier to hit a button that will always play music than to keep track of whether or not my ipod nano is charged.  Yes, I am on the cutting edge, here.

Also, let’s face it, the songs can be pretty catchy.  “Call Me Maybe,” anyone?

I’m posting about this because lately I’ve been hearing the fabulous Passion Pit song “Take A Walk,” on my radio.  Not only does this song have a great beat and a super catchy refrain but the lyrics are SUPER depressing.  Here’s just a few lines:

But then my partner called to say the pension funds were gone.

He made some bad investments, now the accounts are overdrawn.

I took a walk.


You see I am no criminal, I’m down on both bad knees.

I’m just too much a coward to admit when I’m in need.

I took a walk.

Depressing right?  For those of you who might not have heard the song, here it is:

I have to say, upbeat songs with depressing lyrics are one of my favorite things in the entire world.  There’s something awesome about feeling the urge to dance while contemplating the injustices and tragedies of life, both big and small.  I’m just saying.

Some other examples are Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks (lyrics, video), Robyn’s Dancing on My Own (lyrics, video), Lady Gaga’s Dance in the Dark (lyrics, video), and for a random taste of the classics, Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark (lyrics, video).

We’ve got a lot of dark dancing going on here.  I guess that comes with the territory.

One of my favorite songs that are sad with an upbeat tempo is from a band I was first introduced to as a teen and have continued to love forever after and always.  It’s Belle and Sebastian’s Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying:

What are your favorite sad, upbeat songs?

While you’re thinking, here are some awesome books to both help you in your selection and offer characters who might share your taste in music:


3 Responses

  1. I completely agree – these kinds of songs are awesome. Try the Magnetic Fields and other Stephin Merritt projects. Though a lot of the surface stories are insincere (unlike Belle and Sebastian), it’s depressing and fun at the same time. Oh, and I should mention – it’s generally extremely catchy.

    Special songs:
    The Magnetic Fields
    -The Saddest Story Ever Told
    -When You Were My Baby
    -Love Goes Home to Paris in the Spring
    -Born on a Train
    -I Don’t Believe You
    -You Must Be Out of Your Mind

    The 6ths
    -Falling out of Love(With You) – the holy grail of this type of song

  2. Everyday Is Like Sunday + Baby’s in Black are great examples of this phenomenon!

  3. I Am a Rock by Simon and Garfunkel really bummed me out when I listened to the lyrics. I thought it was a song about being strong! NOPE!

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