15 Dark Songs From the ’90s That Probably Didn’t Realize

Photo Credit: YouTube

The 90s were a tough time and the songs from that decade often reflect it. Especially the big hits we sang in the car on summer days with the windows down. But we weren’t really paying that much attention because if we did, we’d be sad and not feeling much like singing. Some were dark with lyrics about violence, drug addiction and suicide.

Yes, that’s a trigger and content warning.

But if you decide to read on, here are 15 songs you may not realize have dark lyrics.

1. Matchbox 20, “3 AM”

“She says it’s all gonna end and it might as well be my fault. And she only sleeps when it’s raining. And she screams, and her voice is straining.”

Written by Rob Thomas as a boy living with his mother while she fought cancer.

Photo Credit: Atlantic Records

2. Sarah McLachlan, “Angel”

“In the arms of the angel, fly away from here. From this dark, cold, hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear. You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie. You’re in the arms of the angel. May you find some comfort here.”

About checking into a hotel to take heroin.

Photo Credit: YouTube

3. Fool’s Garden, “Lemon Tree”

“I’d like to go out takin’ a shower, but there’s a heavy cloud inside my head. I feel so tired, put myself into bed. Well, nothing ever happens and I wonder.”

About depression.

Photo Credit: YouTube

4. Nada Surf, “Popular”

“Being attractive is the most important thing there is, if you want to catch the biggest fish in your pond. You have to be as attractive as possible. Make sure to keep your hair spotless and clean.”

About striving for perfection. Much of the lyrics were lifted from the 1964 book, Penny’s Guide to Teen-Age Charm and Popularity.

Photo Credit: YouTube

5. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, “Brown Derby Jump”

“She was a woman of mystery and what she wanted I could not see. A three-year trip on the dragon, ’til the clinic had to get me clean.” A

bout self-destruction.

Photo Credit: YouTube

6. Filter, “Hey Man, Nice Shot”

“They think that your early ending was all wrong. For the most part they’re right. But look how they all got strong. That’s why I say hey man, nice shot.”

About Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer who shot himself with a .357 Magnum during a televised press conference the day he was to be sentenced to a lengthy prison stay for bribery.

Photo Credit: YouTube

7. Hanson, “Yearbook”

“It says ‘picture unavailable’ right here. More than sad, but makes me mad to know somebody knows. There’s a lying in your silence. Tell me, where did Johnny go?”

About the deliberate silence surrounding the sudden death of a school student.

Photo Credit: Universal Music Group

8. Butthole Surfers, “Pepper”

“Pauly caught a bullet, but it only hit his leg. Well it should have been a better shot and got him in the head.”

This song is a list of how teens die.

Photo Credit: YouTube

9. Sarah McLachlan, “Possession”

“And I would be the one to hold you down. Kiss you so hard I’ll take your breath away. And after, I’d wipe away the tears. Just close your eyes dear.”

Lyrics lifted from letters she received from one of her stalkers.

Photo Credit: YouTube

10. Neutral Milk Hotel, “Holland 1945”

“The only girl I’ve ever loved was born with roses in her eyes. But then they buried her alive one evening in 1945 with just her sister at her side. And only weeks before the guns all came and rained on everyone.”

This song is a more straightforward, but still dark and disturbing in spite of its upbeat tempo.

Photo Credit: YouTube

11. The Cranberries, “The Icicle Melts”

“There’s a place for the baby that died and there’s a time for the mother who cried. And she will hold him in her arms sometime ’cause nine months is too long, too long, too long.”

Based on the horrific murder of toddler James Bulger, but may also be about abortion.

Photo Credit: YouTube

12. Pearl Jam, “Jeremy”

“Dead lay in pools of maroon below. Daddy didn’t give attention, oh, to the fact that mommy didn’t care. King Jeremy the wicked, oh, ruled his world.”

About high school student Jeremy Wade Delle who shot himself in front of his English class.

Photo Credit: YouTube

13. Stone Temple Pilots, “Interstate Love Song”

“Waiting on a Sunday afternoon for what I read between the lines. Your lies. Feelin’ like a hand in rusted shame. So do you laugh at those who cry?”

About the lies a drug addict tells.

Photo Credit: YouTube

14. Sloan, “The Lines You Amend”

“Said you’d found a way to end it peacefully. I remember finding shoes near the lake under a tree. And I’m sittin’ on the shore, I thought I saw your charm float by. It doesn’t matter now, ’cause all you wanted to do was die.”

It may sound cheerful, but it’s about suicide.

Photo Credit: YouTube

15. The Wallflowers, “One Headlight”

“I seen the sun comin’ up at the funeral at dawn. The long broken arm of human law. Now it always seemed such a waste, she always had a pretty face. So I wondered how she hung around this place.”

Jakob Dylan said this song is about the “death of ideas” and how he wasn’t getting much support for recording his album.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Even though the beat is uptempo and the tune quite catchy, a song’s lyrics can be a trip into the dark recesses of the writer’s soul. Next time you find yourself cranking up the volume and singing one of your ’90s faves, think about the lines you’re hearing. You may be surprised.

Have any lyrics you love that are dark AF? Let us know in the comments!