Remember the days when you were but a mere child who saw the world through innocent eyes? You watched your favorite TV shows and films without getting all of the secretly-dirty jokes that your parents laughed at. Even if you knew how babies were made, you didn’t pick up on how often sex was actually mentioned in pop culture. You listened to your favorite songs without realizing how horrifically inappropriate the lyrics actually were. We’ve all had those moments where it’s finally dawned on us that our childhood faves weren’t actually the innocent tunes we thought they were. If you’re in your twenties, chances are that most of your childhood is ruined by now.
It’s a sad fact that a lot of songs that were particular favorites among children of the ’90s and ’00s all contain a hefty dollop of sexual innuendo. In fact, some of them don’t even try to be subtle. We’ve rounded up some of the biggest culprits just to ruin your childhood that little bit more. Did you realize just how inappropriate these songs were? If not, the penny is about to drop.
16. Los Del Rio – “The Macarena”
To any non-Spanish speaking child, “The Macarena” is just that cool Latin song with the funny dance. We all did it at school dances and birthday parties. We can all probably remember the steps even to this day. However, behind this seemingly innocent childhood tune is a pretty X-rated story. Are you ready to have your childhood ruined? Turns out this song is about a girl called Macarena who cheats on her boyfriend. When said boyfriend goes off to fight in the army, Macarena “gives it” to two friends, possibly at the same time. She also dreams of moving to New York and finding yet another guy to seduce. Aaaaay, Macarena! Make better life choices, girl!
15. Christina Aguilera – “Genie in a Bottle”
Back in 1999, Christina Aguilera released the soon-to-be-iconic track, “Genie in a Bottle” from her self-titled debut album. It quickly became a hugely popular song, even amongst the kids of the day. I mean, what 90s kid didn’t go through a Christina phase at some point? Our young and innocent minds assumed that the song was just a reference to Disney’s Aladdin or something: we didn’t think about it much more.
However, hindsight can teach you a lot about a song that’s basically about a woman wanting to have good sex for once in her life. She needs someone to “release” her after a ton of “lonely nights,” but most importantly needs someone to “rub her the right way.” Hmmmm. As if all of this doesn’t make the situation perfectly clear, Christina then talks about “hormones racing,” a line we DEFINITELY didn’t pick up on back in the day. It’s raunchy stuff!
14. Spice Girls – “2 Become 1”
When you’re a young an innocent child, classic Spice Girls hit “2 Become 1” seems like nothing more than a song about being deeply in love. Isn’t that cute – these two are so close that they’re practically the same person! Yeah… No. Turns out it’s more about “physical bonding” than emotional closeness. It’s all one great big metaphor for sex. Apparently, the inspiration for the song came when the other girls saw the “special relationship” between Geri Halliwell and writer Matthew Rowe. Basically, the two were banging and decided to write a song about it. It’s also got some nice, wholesome safe-sex messages: “be a little bit wiser baby, put it on, put it on” springs to mind. How responsible!
13. Aqua – “Barbie Girl”
Let’s be real: “Barbie Girl” is a truly awful song. When you hear it as an adult, it makes you want to scream and run in the direction of the nearest set of earplugs. However, for some reason every child ever loves it. It was a staple tune at any school disco and will (unfortunately) be forever ingrained in our memories. While the song initially seems to be a tune about everyone’s favorite plastic doll franchise, it’s actually so blatantly sexual that it’s a surprise that it received as much airplay as it did.
Choice lyrics such as “undress me everywhere” and “come on Barbie, let’s go party, uh, uh, uh, YEAH” certainly take on new meaning when you’re an adult. The worst part has to be “make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please… I can bend on my knees.” We’re certainly not in Toy Story any more.
12. B*Witched – “C’est La Vie”
Remember B*Witched, the Irish pop band who brought their unique blend of folk and bubblegum pop to the charts? They were incorporating Irish themes into their music WAY before Ed Sheeran released “Galway Girl.” Their infinitely catchy 1998 offering “C’est La Vie” has to be their most popular song.
At the time, nobody would have guessed that these double-denim clad girls were singing about anything raunchy. Their image was squeaky-clean to the extent that they weren’t even allowed to have boyfriends. However, in 2013 the band finally revealed that “C’est La Vie” is, in fact, about sex. The line “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” wasn’t actually a reference to their jeans. The line “I’ll huff, I’ll puff, I’ll blow you away” now takes on a whole new meaning.
11. 50 Cent – “Candy Shop”
Not to crush your childhood dreams or anything, but 50 Cent wasn’t actually singing about a candy shop. More to the point, he wasn’t inviting all of those lovely ladies to lick an actual lollipop. To be honest, I’m not sure why people allowed this song to get so popular amongst kids: the innuendo is barely hidden. However, become popular, it did.
Pretty much every child of the 2000s knew the words to this song, which is kind of disturbing with hindsight. Just think about the line “I melt in your mouth girl, not in your hand,” for one. Fiddy isn’t trying to be Willy Wonka here: he’s trying to be an actual pimp.
10. Madonna – “Like A Prayer”
“Like A Prayer” is one of Madonna’s most popular songs of all time. While it was always a bit controversial due to its religious imagery – especially in the video – only grown-ups can truly appreciate how dodgy the song is. Let’s just take that one famous line from the chorus: “I’m down on my knees, I wanna take you there.” Is Madge just innocently praying? Probably not. Is she alluding to getting freaky with actual Jesus? A lot of people seem to think so!
Even if her lover isn’t Christ himself, Madonna does seem to be on her knees for more than religious reasons. Also, “in the midnight hour, I can feel your power” is a definite allusion to the singer’s nocturnal activities being less-than-holy. Are we really surprised? It’s Madonna!
9. Kelis – “Milkshake”
A generation of ’90s kids everywhere can probably remember the crushing moment they realized that Kelis wasn’t singing about an actual milkshake. Nope: the whole song is just about sex. There are a lot of different theories regarding exactly what this milky drink represents. Is it boobs? Is it oral sex? There are so many potential meanings! Kelis herself hasn’t been that much help, claiming that the milkshake in question is merely a metaphor for each woman’s individual sensual qualities. We need firm answers, Kelis! What totally inappropriate thing did we spend most of our childhoods singing about? We deserve to know!
8. Spice Girls – “Wannabe”
I’ll tell you what we want, what we really really want: to know the true meaning behind this Spice Girls smash hit! “Wannabe” was the anthem of a whole generation of young girls. However, its lyrics are questionable, to say the least. For one, the idea that a guy has to “get with” a girl’s friends to be her lover is a bit strange. In British slang, “get with” definitely has sexual connotations… But why would you want your friends to sleep with your new guy? Also, you know the whole bit where each girl is introduced? Well turns out this refers to how each one likes sex. For example, “We got G like MC who likes it on a / Easy” refers to the fact that Geri Halliwell and Mel C liked to get freaky while on the drug Ecstacy. Nice.
7. Pink – “U + UR Hand”
As pop artists go, Pink is known for being a bit of a rebel. She’s always refused to conform to the “sickly sweet bubblegum pop princess” stereotype. Thus, it’s maybe not much of a surprise that one of her best-known songs from the 2000s is dirty as hell. Even the title of “U + UR Hand” is one big euphemism for masturbation. I’d imagine that most of our generation didn’t pick up on that when the song was first released!
It’s easy to assume that it’s just a tune about a woman refusing to be a man’s plaything: the line “I’m not here for your entertainment” certainly gives off that vibe. However, it turns out Pink is also refusing the guy’s unwanted sexual advances and telling him that he’ll have to get himself off tonight. Good for her!
6. Fergie – “Fergalicious”
Former Black Eyed Peas star Fergie‘s solo career gave us a few cracking songs. “London Bridge” and “Glamorous” immediately spring to mind. However, “Fergalicious” has to be her most iconic tune of all. I’d imagine that a whole load of ’90s and ’00s kids can still rap the entirety of this.
However, the song’s true meaning probably went over their heads the first time around. Turns out “Fergalicious” is all about Fergie being pretty tasty… Down there. Yep. It’s all about the vagina. The line “I keep on repeating how the boys want to eat it” makes that pretty clear. She’s not talking about food, guys. She’s talking about her female anatomy. It was a bit of a shock to find that one out, let me tell you.
5. Rihanna – “Shut Up and Drive”
Now that we’re all adults here, it’s pretty obvious that Rihanna’s 2007 hit “Shut Up And Drive” is most definitely not about cars. Nope: she’s asking the guys to come and ride her. The innuendo isn’t exactly subtle! How did we all get away with listening to this as kids? When you look back at the lyrics, they’re eye-wateringly inappropriate. For example: “my engine’s ready to explode,” “Can you handle the curves?”, and “you look like you can handle what’s under my hood/ you keep saying that you will, boy, I wish you would!” Yep. So many blatant metaphors for both sex itself and Ri’s naked body. Although compared to her later hit “S & M,” this song is pretty tame.
4. Daddy Yankee – “Gasolina”
“Gasolina” is another Spanish-language song that young fans never bothered to translate before singing along. There’s still a pretty hot debate raging regarding what it’s about: is it drugs, alcohol, sex, or something else? A lot of people seem to go with the “sex” interpretation, although it’s not actually the most likely answer. In Puerto Rico, a girl who likes “gasoline” is one who has lots of energy and likes to party. It doesn’t necessarily mean she likes to sleep with a lot of people: she just likes to have a good time. On the flipside, some people have tried to claim that “Gasoline” has no raunchy meaning whatsoever, and is instead a social commentary regarding society’s overuse of fossil fuels. Perhaps not.
3. Christina Aguilera – “Candyman”
A lot of kids in the mid-aughts were really confused when various lyrics got bleeped out of Christina Aguilera’s hit song “Candyman.” Wasn’t it just about a guy who really liked sweets or some kind of weird love song to Willy Wonka? Apparently not. “Candyman” is actually one of the dirtiest songs out there: 12-year-old-you had no idea what you were really singing about. The whole thing is rife with sex references. “Makes my cherry pop,” “makin’ all the panties drop,” and “he really got me working up an appetite” are just a few examples. She’s not getting hungry for food, that’s for sure. There’s also the not-so-subtle “he’s a one-stop shop with a real big (uh)!” Lucky Christina.
2. Rednex – “Cotton Eye Joe”
“Cotton Eye Joe” is another song that got played at every single birthday party or school dance ever. This up-tempo country-jig-turned-pop-sensation got us all up and dancing. We didn’t tend to listen to the lyrics very much, and if we did, we just assumed that Cotton Eye Joe was a guy who ruined the singer’s romantic prospects. Where did Joe come from? Where did he go? Either way, he stole the lead singer’s girl.
Unfortunately, the reality of the song’s story is a lot grimmer than that. It’s actually a tale about the devastating effects of sexually transmitted diseases. “If it hadn’t been for cotton-eye Joe, I’d been married a long time ago” actually refers to disease ruining this guy’s dating life, not some random guy called Joe. And we all spent our younger years singing along to this. Awkward.
1. Bryan Adams – “Summer of ’69”
I’m really sorry to have to break this to you, but Bryan Adams‘ song “Summer of ’69” isn’t actually about the summer of 1969. That’s not what the title is trying to get at. When it speaks of “69,” it speaks not of a year but of a rather famous sexual position. Yep. Bryan Adams was actually telling us about a summer when he was particularly promiscuous. Adams himself has actually confirmed this.
So yeah, you know that song that everyone loves because it evokes feelings of nostalgia? It’s actually all about oral sex. It makes sense considering Adams himself would only have been ten years old in the summer of 1969. It was probably more like the summer of 1982 when he had the fun that the song describes. Frankly, we don’t really want to think about it.