Who here can honestly say they weren’t so obsessed with “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys back in the day. Personally, I’d basically memorized every word within a week of the song’s debut. And as soon as I got my hands on that Millenium album, I played the track on a constant loop for hours at a time, proudly singing along to it off-key. But of course, I didn’t have the slightest clue what the words really meant (which, let’s be honest, most of the songs we listened to at that age were total gibberish in our brains). But in the case of this classic BSB single, almost two decades later… I still don’t have any idea what the Boys were talking about. The same can be said for a lot of today’s most iconic pop songs because the fact of the matter is, the lyrics make absolutely no sense. Zero. Ziltch.
It’s pretty insane how songwriters will forego logic and reason just to get a certain lyrical rhythm that sounds good. In fact, Backstreet Boy, Kevin Richardson once explained that that’s exactly why the band chose to keep those nonsensical lyrics for “I Want It That Way,” rather than going with a second version that made more sense.
“Sometimes you overthink things,” he once told the Huffington Post. “I think the newer version or the second version that we did that was more of a literal context didn’t… It was the rhyming scheme that didn’t feel right. Yeah, it just didn’t feel as good, so sometimes you just got to go with what feels right.” …Okay then.
With this snippet, we’re finally starting to understand why these artists end up singing some of the weirdest lyrics ever. Sure, they may leave us all scratching our heads, but at the end of the day, it all boils down to what “feels good.” And not gonna lie, it does sound good… just don’t think about it too hard. Right?
1. “Summer Girls” by LFO
Sample Lyric: “New Kids On The Block had a bunch of hits, Chinese food makes me sick / And I think it’s fly when girl’s stop by for the summer”
Just… Wow. It’s like the writers just scribbled their most random thoughts onto a piece of paper and then decided “Hey! Let’s make this into a song!” Later on, the guy sings “Hip-hop mama, spic n span / Met you one summer and it all began.” #DoItForTheRhyme
2. “Spice Up Your Life” by the Spice Girls
Sample Lyric: “Yellow man in Timbuktu, Color for both me and you, Kung Fu Fighting, Dancing Queen, Tribal Spaceman and all that’s in between”
Wait, what in the world is this verse supposed to mean? “Yellow man in Timbuktu, color for both me and you?” First of all, referring to anyone as “yellow” is pretty offensive. And second… Is this man sharing a coloring book with the Spice Girls? Did they meet up with a Kung Fu fighter, dancing queen and spaceman and color together? What TF is going on?
3. “MmmBop” by Hanson
Sample Lyric: “Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose, You can plant any one of those, Keep planting to find out which one grows, It’s a secret no one knows”
Um, pretty sure we can tell what we’re planting before it starts to grow… It’s not a secret. It’s not like all seeds look the same.
4. “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys
Sample Lyric: “Am I your fire? Your one desire? Yes I know it’s too late, But I want it that way”
We probably all heard the rumor after this came out that BSB was actually talking about anal sex when they said “that way.” Which, as twisted as it sounds, kinda makes sense when you think about it. I know that puts some weird imagery into your head… sorry!
5. “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin
Sample Lyric: “But she’ll take away your pain, Like a bullet to your brain”
Seriously, Ricky? That went from happy to seriously depressing way too fast. And plus, a bullet to the brain probably shouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of a fun girl who makes you feel good.
6. “Barbie Girl” by Aqua
Sample Lyric: “Life in plastic, it’s fantastic! You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere. Imagination! Life is your creation”
“Getting treated like an object is so so exciting!” said no one ever. Although this song is catchy as heck, you’ve gotta admit that these lyrics are straight-up ridonkulous.
7. “Hey Baby” by No Doubt
Sample Lyric: “I’m just sipping on chamomile / Watching boys and girls and their sex appeal / With a stranger in the face who says he knows my mom and went to my high school”
Okay, so Gwen Stefani totally lost me at “with a stranger in the face.” Just… What??? Please, Gwen, EXPLAIN!
8. “Thong Song” by Sisqó
Sample Lyric: “She like to dance at all the hip hop spots, And she cruise to the crews like connect da dots, Not just urban she likes the pop, Cuz she was livin la vida loca”
“Cruise to the crews like connect da dots?” Was this hot girl also solving a mystery in the process? Did we miss something? Damn it’s catchy. I guess Sisqó probably wasn’t shooting for the height of prestige with “Thong Song,” anyway.
9. “***Flawless” by Beyoncé
Sample Lyric: “I’m bout that H town coming coming down, I’m coming down, drippin’ candy on the ground, H, Town, Town, I’m coming down, coming down, Drippin’ candy on the ground”
What exactly is “H Town”? And why is she dripping candy on the ground? Are they falling out of her pockets? Is she handing out treats on Halloween? Is she literally made of candy and dripping it every time she moves? It’s a JAM but we have so many questions!
10. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Sample Lyric: “Before you came into my life I missed you so bad, And you should know that, I missed you so so bad”
Newsflash: It’s impossible to miss somebody before you’ve even met them. Like, you don’t even know that they exist yet. Also, she’s rhyming bad with itse;f which is just annoying.
11. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift
Sample Lyric: “’Cause you were Romeo, I was a scarlet letter. And my daddy said, ‘Stay away from Juliet’”
Okay, so I’m understanding that this is about forbidden love but the reference to The Scarlet Letter (which is basically all about slut-shaming) really misses the mark, here. Has Tay actually read either of these novels? I’m thinkin’ no.
12. “Drops of Jupiter” by Train
Sample Lyric: “Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken, Your best friend always sticking up for you, even when I know you’re wrong”
There are so so many things wrong with this song, especially this one lyric. What the actual eff does fried chicken have to do with anything?!
13. “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by Ylvis
Sample Lyric: “What does the fox say? ‘Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!'”
The first time I heard this song I couldn’t stop laughing – specifically at the ridiculousness of these lyrics. After pointing out the fact that no one knows what foxes say, they, of course, proceed to make up these supposed “fox sounds” (that sound absolutely nothing like a fox).
14. “I Gotta Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas
Sample Lyric: “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Saturday to Sunday”
Well, life would be pretty awesome if there were two Saturdays in a week. But that’s just wishful thinking.
15. “California Gurls” by Katy Perry
Sample Lyric: “Bikinis, tankinis, martinis, no weenies / Just a King and a Queenie”
Literally the songwriters were just stacking up a list of rhymes and were like, “let’s put this whole damn list in a song!” Did Snoop Dogg mean Queenie Goldstein from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them?
16. “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65
Sample Lyric: “Blue, his house with a blue little window and a blue Corvette. And everything is blue for him and himself, And everybody around, ‘Cause he ain’t got nobody to listen to”
While some argue the song is about depression, it’s just so cheerful… how could that be? Plus, if blue = sadness then what does Eiffel 65 mean with the lyric, “If I were green, I would die,”? Tbh, I’m just confused.
17. “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears
Sample Lyric: “When I’m not with you I lose my mind, Give me a sign, Hit me, baby, one more time”
It legit sounds like some weird, kinky BDSM reference. But apparently, it was all a big misunderstanding because the writer thought that “hit” was a popular slang for “call.” So the song really should’ve been “Hit me up, baby, one more time” for it to make any sense. LOL.
18. “Work” by Rihanna ft. Drake
Sample Lyric: “He said me haffi work work work work work work, He see me do mi dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt dirt, And so me put in work work work work work work”
It’s that one song that we all mumble along to with uncertainty because we honestly have no freaking clue what’s being said. But a closer look at the actual lyrics show that they don’t make much sense anyway.
19. “Wannabe” by Spice Girls
Sample Lyric: “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends”
“Because my friends and I are a total package, take us all or get nothing at all!” Hahaha but seriously, who says that? We’re pretty sure the writer meant to say “get along with my friends” here because I don’t think any of us are trying to have our bae “get with” or hook up with our friends, too, right?
20. “Bootylicious” by Destiny’s Child
Sample Lyric: “I can’t help but wonder why, is my vibe too vibealacious for you, babe?”
THAT’S NOT THE WAY LYRICS WORK, LADIES. Sorry. We know that “vibealacious” (whatever that means) isn’t a real word. Fun fact: Beyoncé once said that we should call feminism “Bootylicious.” It’s true. Look it up.
21. “I Am The Walrus” by The Beatles
Sample Lyric: “I am the eggman, They are the eggmen, I am the walrus, Goo goo g’ joob”
It’s like gibberish in song form. This has got to be the strangest hit from The Beatles in existence. Yet I’m sure at least half of us have this song stuck in our head right now. My bad.