You’ve seen our “Hype’s Now Playing” features about DJs/producers who made songs for pop artistes and music videos that were filmed in one shot, now get a load of this! In the past, there have been songs were about drugs, from as early as The Beatles’ days to the more recent “Can’t Feel My Face” release by The Weeknd.
Whether they were outrightly written about drugs or have hidden drug references, unless if you’ve listened to them a few times over and really scrutinised the lyrics, you wouldn’t have realised what they were really about.
The interesting part is that some of these songs even made it into the charts and continue to be addictive (no pun intended).
Now, there’s no knowing if the below artistes were intoxicated at the time (of writing the respective songs), and we don’t condone the “glamification” of drugs, but here are 10 popular songs that were about drugs throughout the ages:
1. The Beatles – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967)
Albeit chirpy-sounding with happy vibes to boot, The Beatles’ songs were laced with many, many hidden references. This includes their song “Day Tripper” which was about acid, as well as “Got to Get You Into My Life” which was about pot, and let’s not forget their most popular release, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Also known as (L)ucy in the (S)ky with (D)iamonds aka LSD.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge (1991)
Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis wrote this about his days as a heroin addict and the loneliness that went with it. The bridge mentioned in the song is a place where he sometimes went to buy drugs and get high. And according to Vulture, that bridge is located in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park. Ironically, “Under the Bridge” went on to become Red Hot Chili Peppers’ biggest hit.
3. Cypress Hill – Hits From the Bong (1993)
Well, actually, the title says it all. The multiplatinum-selling rap group made no secret that their song was about marijuana. They even performed show after show with a gigantic inflatable Buddha smiling beatifically behind them, amongst other crazy things. And as seen in the video above, performing with a giant bong is totally normal.
4. Third Eye Blind – Semi-Charmed Life (1997)
With that chipper melody, it’s hard to guess that Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” was in any way in reference to drugs! In Songfacts’ interview with lead singer Stephan Jenkins, he said the song is “about falling apart”. It also related to a drug-influenced high that makes everything shiny, bright, and fleetingly better. To be precise, it describes a drug user’s crystal meth experience.
5. Sarah McLachlan – Angel (1997)
This calm and somewhat sad song has been used for many, many commercials, most notably for SPCA in which Sarah McLachlan serves as the spokesperson. But as they all say, “still water runs deep” and in actual fact, Sarah wrote “Angel” based on a drug addict’s struggles. She explained on VH1 Storytellers that the song is about the Smashing Pumpkins touring keyboard player Jonathan Melvoin, who overdosed on heroin and died in 1996.
6. Marilyn Manson – Coma White (1998)
“Coma White” has a pretty peculiar storyline, but nothing too strange or out of character for Marilyn Manson. The music video depicts the JFK assassination and the lyrics describes how Jackie Kennedy deals with JFK’s death, packing on the anti-depressants but unable to numb the pain. The overall message kinda says that pills aren’t the solution because it’s not going to make you feel better or make the pain go away. Something to that effect.
7. Afroman – Because I Got High (2000)
This one doesn’t really need any introduction. The title says it all, no?
8. MGMT – Electric Feel (2007)
“Electric Feel” is the second single from MGMT’s debut album titled, “Oracular Spectacular”. For a long time, the song was thought to be about sex, but really, it’s about drugs. In fact, when MGMT performed it on the David Letterman Show, lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden said, “This song is not about eels, its about drugs.”
9. Eminem – Beautiful (2009)
In 2005, when Eminem entered rehab to treat his dependency on drugs, it forced him to take a break from his rapping career. People speculated that “Slim Shady” was dunzo for good but in the time that he was away, he made a few recordings and one of them was “Beautiful” – the only one that he kept. The now sober Eminem said it’s the only song that marks that dark period without bringing him back to that place.
10. Ed Sheeran – The A Team (2010)
“The A Team” was based on a true story, written by Ed Sheeran after meeting a girl named Angel while he was volunteering at a Crisis homeless shelter. Her dark story inspired him to write the song so he wrote about a similar situation, not entirely based on her. As for the song title, Ed said, “A drug like crack cocaine is called a ‘class A’ drug. That’s in the same category as heroin. Instead of making it clear and just saying what the problem was, I’d say, ‘She’s in the ‘class A’ team.’ It was kind of my way of covering up (a person’s addiction), I guess, making it a bit more subtle.”
The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face (2015)
Just in case you were ever confused by The Weeknd’s lyrics to “Can’t Feel My Face”, you’re not the only one. After all, it does go: “And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb” before getting into “I can’t feel my face when I’m with you, but I love it, but I love it”. Let’s just say that he’s not singing about the cold or the snow. Okay, maybe a different kind of “snow” (read: cocaine).
Surprised by the above list? Do you know of any other songs that you’d like us to check out or to add to this? Leave us a comment in the comments box below!