We know you thought "Puff the Magic Dragon" was about the innocence of childhood lost (hey, it actually is), but sometimes things are not quite what they seem, so we're here to help you and avoid the embarrassment next time you dedicated a song. In particular, mistaken about love.
Sinead O'Connor - Nothing compares 2 U
He has left her and she is crying. Nothing romantic to see here, move along.
Phil Collins – In The Air Tonight
Let's be honest, this song has one of the greatest drum lines of modern times, courtesy of gated reverb. However it is not about a drowning man and definitely not about love: Phil Collins just cobbled the lyrics together during a studio session to vent off about the divorce from his first wife. Not what you want in a song to your loved one.
Lord Huron – The Night We Met
A textbook example of recentism thanks to its pivotal role in the soundtrack of the very successful Netflix series "13 Reasons Why": lots of music illiterate youngsters people started giving it extra airtime for their loved ones. It may be the slow ballad played at high school dance, but the lyrics do nothing to hide it is about a relationship that started badly, dragged on, and eventually ended leaving an emotional chasm – and someone tip-toeing on the edge of it. It's not about love: it's about the void caused by a sudden loss.
Bruno Mars – Marry You
This modern times favourite is completely misunderstood. "We're looking for something dumb to do" is not the best foundation for a long lasting relationship. Good ole Bruno doesn't really want to get married, rather he's more than happy to write the wedding off as a drunken mistake: "If we wake up and you wanna break up that's cool / No, I won't blame you / It was fun, girl."
Ask yourself if THIS is what you want to tell your girlfriend or, even worse, your bride-to-be.
Richard Marx – Hold On To The Nights
He loves A but is already committed to B, so all he can do is beg A to cling on good memories. And move on with his life full of regrets as they will never know how it would have been: such a nice message to pass to your current partner.
Extreme – More Than Words
Sweet guitar ballad, right? Wrong. It's about sex, the kind of passive aggressive thing from someone who is feeling frisky but thwarted. Not recommended unless your relationship involves a twisted arm up behind the back of an unwilling lover.
Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On
He is dead, or in the best case gone forever. But she will survive. You don't want to express this as "your song".
Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You
This was Dolly Parton's before Whitney and yet again, you would be sorely mistaken thinking about love: it's about QUITTING YOUR JOB. Dolly wrote the song as a peace offering to Porter Wagoner, the country bandleader, TV star, Dolly's duet partner and the man who had mentored her and helped her establish her career. That she will always love him doesn't make it any better – for them, and for you too.
The Police – Every Breath You Take
Hard to say if this had any other meaning because things were different in 1983, but today it would never fly: he is a stalker, check the lyrics. So don't play the stalker song at your wedding and don't dedicate it to your loved one on the radio.
George Michael – Father Figure
Take a closer look and you'll figure out the lyrics aren't about a reassuring few-years-older lover, or coaching little league baseball, but more like coaching little league football.
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
A power ballad oftentimes favourite for ceremonies and dedications? Nope: author Jim Steinman clearly wrote it, and then confirmed, to be a vampire love song. Not sure you want the vampire thing.
Bryan Adams – Summer of ´69
It's not about the year or being nostalgic: truth be told, Adams himself confirmed it's about making love in summertime (in a very specific way). May actually be the message you want to send, but otherwise beware.
The Beatles - Norwegian Wood
He meets her, they drink together, she goes to his place and sleeps with him. In the morning he wakes up and she's gone, because she's got all she wanted, and he's miserable because all he can see is cheap furniture (as plywood's glorified name used to be, you guessed it, "norwegian wood"). Yep, it's just about a one night stand.
Juice Newton - Angel of the morning
"I see no need to take me home / Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby". Did you say another one night stand? Exactly.
REM - The one I love
Possibly the most misleading title of all times: REM's Michael Stipe describes this song as about using people over and over. Talk about seriously brutal feelings. Check the damn lyrics, fellas: the second line goes "This one goes out to the one I've left behind" (ah-ha!), and once you’ve sung the line about how the one you supposedly love is merely “a simple prop to occupy my time,” it shouldn’t take much effort to guess it’s not exactly the most romantic song in the world.
The Who – A Quick One While He's Away
First of all the title should raise some massive red flag. A quickie while HE is away? What if you are the Away Guy? Sure enough, He is gone for over a year: no one stays away for so long unless something fishy is going on. That's why She – as a human being with understandable needs – had a quick one... with Ivor the Engine Driver. And yet He forgives her, possibly hoping She won't ivor him again the next time He's gone for a year or so – which is a very, very long time.