When you heard your favorite ‘90s song as a kid, you’d crank the volume and sing along with no care. But when you listen to throwback songs as an adult, your impression of them may be very different. Admit it: there are quite a few ‘90s songs that have way different meanings now that you’re an adult and actually able to understand what the singer is talking about.
Back in the ‘90s, there were some pretty subversive stuff going on during those rock out moments that you just can't ignore as an adult with a little bit of life experience. There was no Shazam to help you karaoke your way through a song. And that may have been a good thing, considering the mature content of certain ‘90s jams. These specific ‘90s songs touched on relationships, sex, and politics in a way that went over your adolescent head. You just saw (or rather, heard) these songs as banging beats accompanied by catchy lyrics. Now that you’re older and a little wiser, you’ll be able to sing along to these throwback songs with a renewed sense of understanding; one that actually gets what these bands and singers were trying to tell you through there music.
1. "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia
Let's hear it for the ultimate breakup song. It might have seemed just like a song about being very sad back then, but if you listen closely, this one definitely mirrors what it feels like to go through a breakup and have no idea what to do next with your life. It communicates all those dramatic, impulsive feelings you have right after a relationship has ended, where you're lying on the floor, feeling like you're "out of faith," and so on. Take this one out next time you're ending it, and prepare to relate so hard.
2. "Never Let You Go" Third Eye Blind
It's pretty obvious that "Semi-Charmed Life" is about crystal meth (It's literally mentioned right there in the lyrics, which you learn when you choose it as your karaoke jam years later. True story.) But Third Eye Blind's "Never Let You Go" may also have meth-related undertones. ("She's sneaky and smoked out, and it's starting to show.") Of course, when you listed as a kid, you may have thought it was about being with someone forever. In actually, the lyrics talk about getting older and falling out of touch with close friends. Bet you regret putting that on your BFF playlist.
3. "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by Backstreet Boys,
Once a song about your favorite boy band being back on the scene, "Everybody" is way more suggestive than you may have thought. With lyrics like "am I sexual" and "am I everything you need," this song gets a whole lot more perverse and awesome upon reflection, and is more about how they'd like to, ahem, rock you, and not just in the music way.
4. "Bills, Bills, Bills" by Destiny's Child
As a kid, a song about paying bills didn't mean much because, well, all your bills were paid for by the parentals. Now that you're in the real world, this song is an anthem about relationships, and finding out whether your SO is "triflin'" or actually going to be fiscally responsible enough to eventually share a bank account with you. It's a good reminder to be on the same financial page as your partner (Although you don't need them to necessarily pay your bills.)
5. "What's My Age Again?" by Blink-182,
A song about being totally immature seems to make sense when you're at a totally immature age. But now you're old enough to see the disparity between acting younger than you are (partying, drinking, staying up late) and what age you are now (a 20-something), and what a weird feeling that can be.
6. "Tubthumping" by Chumbawumba
The true meaning of this one, funny enough, was probably closer to what you thought as a kid than what you do now. But, nonetheless, it still has a different meaning. That awesome chorus about getting knocked down and getting back up again used to seem like it was all about beating The Man and the establishment (and for the record, it totally is). Now? It's about getting drunk and rallying all weekend even when you're not about it, and that chorus totally speaks to you throughout that bar crawl.
7. "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega
If you, like me, grew up with the squeaky clean Disney-fied version of this song, you'd have never known it was actually about him running around with a bunch of different women and how "you" could potentially get in on his list, too. Way less savory.
9. "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes
As a kid screaming, there probably wasn't that much room for interpretation other than that the song makes an awesome greeting. Years later, however, this song is now an awesome ode to 20-something angst, the opening lines setting up the perfect scene for being this age and still not knowing what you want to do with your life.
9. "Thank You" by Dido
You probably thought this Did song was about having a bad day. That's not so far off, but now this song is legitimately meaningful in a way it couldn't have been for you as a kid. When Dido mentions she "drank too much last night," she's "got bills to pay," and all the other things going wrong in her life. Yet in spite of all that, she thanks the person in her life for giving her the best day of her life, reminding listeners that relationships can make it all worth it (ant not just the romantic ones.) It's the kind of thing that could now totally bring a tear to your eye upon listening.