Have you ever been listening to a song, rocking out, singing along with the lyrics (probably incorrectly) when all of the sudden it hits you … “Wait, this song is about what!?!”

There are lots of really fun and, dare I say, catchy songs that take on a whole new meaning when you really listen to the lyrics. For the first of many “A Therapist Ruins Pop Culture” articles, I aim to make you chuckle and maybe think a little bit too as I put my therapist spin on three popular songs from throughout the past few decades.

Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne

This highly questionable song was all the rage in 2002. It’s hard not to tap your foot or drum against the steering wheel to the catchy beat. But did you ever stop to think about what the relationship dynamic would be if the singer actually pursued a relationship with Stacy’s mom, whether she’s got it going on or not?

How would Stacy feel? Poor Stacy has gone through enough. Her dad “walked out.”

And what if Stacy’s mom is pretty but is actually a terrible person? If anything, this is a good example of why it is not healthy to reduce someone else’s desirability down to one variable.

I Want You to Want Me by Cheap Trick

People sing this song at karaoke, add it to their road trip mix and generally seem to just bop along happily to it. In fact, the common train of thought is that the protagonist is simply confessing his feelings about being romantically interested in someone.

However, what the actual lyrics are saying is that the protagonist wants someone to want them. It’s a purely selfish expression. He never says anything about reciprocating the feelings he is pretty much demanding of the other person. He wants but does not give in return. And that, my friends, is not sweet. So I want you to want to stop liking this song.

Escape (The Piña Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes

“The Piña Colada Song” (no one calls it “Escape”) is often considered so nice and romantic. But the couple both take out personal ads in the paper, which were not cheap by the way for those who have only ever known Craigslist or online dating, to actively solicit a new partner just because they’re “tired” of the person they’re with.

Sure, they end up together and even discover new things about one another (and who really likes getting caught in the rain?!?), but they’re pretty much the poster couple for what not to do when your relationship is rocky (and not smooth like the dunes of the cape). Instead of communicating through personal ads, they should have been talking to each other. Which is free, by the way.

A Final Note

Am I completely overthinking these songs? Of, course! This is what I’m trained to do as a therapist. So in true therapist fashion, I won’t tell you what I think. Instead, I will ask: What do you think (or feel) when you listen to these tunes?

Here to Listen

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