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Top 10 Songs about Tragedies

Updated on April 2, 2014

Green Day "21 Guns"

10. Green Day "21 Guns"

This is an anti-war anthem that hit the radio waves in the wake of September 11 when the U.S. went to war with a terrorist group. It's a powerful message about knowing what to fight for and if fighting is even worth it. On the album the listeners follow these 2 characters and this song is related to their story in that the man Jimmy is lied to by the girl he has fallen for, so it's safe to say that this song also relates to relationships. The song also has a message about the 21 gun salute that fallen soldiers receive. I think the message is that the fallen soldiers are fighting to defend this country, but for what. When they return they are treated like second rate citizens so is it even worth it to fight someone else's battle. The troopers were loyal to their country and because they were told to defend their freedom they did and it costs them their lives. But I don't think the message here is about 1 war, but all battles fought. If one fights they should know what they are fighting for and stand up to defend what they believe. With powerful lyrics such as, "Do you know what's worth fighting for / When it's not worth dying for / Does it take your breath away / and you feel yourself suffocating / Does the pain way out the pride / And you look for a place to hide / Did someone break your heart inside / Your in ruins" & "1 21 guns lay down your arms give up the fight / 1 21 guns throw up your arms into the sky" the anti-war message becomes clear. Green Day is sending a message to young people who feel that they have nowhere to turn so they enlist and they have other options and should seek out those options.

Third Eye Blind "Jumper"

9. Third Eye Blind "Jumper"

This song was written about a boy who goes to a conservative school and is gay. His sexual preference isn't accepted so he commits suicide by jumping off a bridge. This song was released in 1998 when being homosexual was still unaccepted and kids were being bullied for these choices. The lead singer Stephan Jenkins has also stated that the song is about him alienating himself during his childhood. "My parents divorced, and that hurt me. We were poor and I went to a rich high school. I was dyslexic and had attention deficit disorder, which I still have. So I carried all these things with me. One afternoon, I had this epiphany. I said 'You know what? I don't have it all together. I come from stuff that was really difficult, and that's me. That's who I am.' I embraced that. There's a line in the song that says, 'Everyone's got to face down the demons/Maybe today we can put the past away.' It's very much a song about putting the past away." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumper_(song)).

Kelly Rowland "Stole"

8. Kelly Rowland "Stole"

The song follows 3 young people and touches on topics such as school shootings, teen suicide and teen pregnancy. The first boy in the music video takes his own life in his school because he can't handle being bullied. It's a story that many young people can relate to. In some instances kids that are bullied also end up taking other people down with them, but here this kid wanted to send a message to his school by killing himself in his school. The female that we follow in the song is a message about teen pregnancy: "Mary's got the same size hands as Marilyn Monroe / she put her fingers in the imprints at Manns Chinese Theater Show / She could have been a movie star / Never got the chance to go that far / Her life was stole". At first I didn't see the teen pregnancy image until the end of the video when we see the girl again with an infant. The message is that young girls need to make smarter decisions so that their childhood isn't taken from them. The other character is Greg who is a rising basketball star in his school and he ends up getting shot by another student in a school shooting. The song is about actions having consequences and I feel that's something many young people are missing in their lives.

P!NK "Who Knew"

7. P!NK "Who Knew"

This is a song that highlights the evils of drug abuse. In Pink's younger years she was heavy into drugs and found a male friend dead from an overdose. I think she is reflecting on the time she had with this friend and how she was naïve to believe anything like this could happen. There is a part in the song where it becomes very emotional and that's near the end: "If someone said three years from now / you'd be long gone / I'd stand up and punch them out / cause they're all wrong / That last kiss / I'll cherish / Until we meet again / And time makes it harder / I wish I could remember / But I keep your memory / You visit me in my sleep / My darling / Who knew". I feel like this is a song where something tragic happened, but out of that tragedy came a positive message about drug abuse.

Simple Plan "Untitled"

6. Simple Plan "Untitled"

This is a song about drunk driving and the effects it has on innocent lives. The music video illustrates a car accident where 2 cars collide head on and in one of the cars is a male who is driving under the influence and he crashes into a young female of the same age. The innocent female involved in the crash ends up dying. This video also looks at the effects when these kinds of tragedies hit close to home. In the video we see a family doing everyday things and once the male crashes into the female the family is thrown around symbolizing how these tragedies effect more than just the people involved. The chorus is a powerful one that can touch many people; when these tragedies occur most people ask the question "how could this happen to me?" In a letter to MADD Simple Plan explained the video: "This song is a very personal look at what happens when tragedy hits close to home and we wanted to make a video that was as powerful and as special as the song was to the five of us. Over the last few years, a lot of people we know have been involved in tragic accidents caused by drinking and driving. One of the students at our high-school crashed his car driving back from a weekend trip and killed his best friend. It was a very sad time that none of us will ever forget. This is the story we wanted to tell with this video: the story of all the innocent victims caused by drinking and driving." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Untitled_(How_Could_This_Happen_to_Me%3F)).


Eve ft. Faith Evans "Love is Blind"

5. Eve ft. Faith Evans "Love is Blind"

Eve wrote this song for her friend who was in an abusive relationship and ended up being killed by her husband. Here is another song that brings something positive out of a tragic event. In this song Eve is trying to convince her friend that what she has with this man isn't love. If he loved her he wouldn't abuse her. The lyrics send a message that all young women should hear about relationships and how just because he says he loves you after every time he beats you it doesn't mean he loves you, or that he will stop the abuse. In this song the man buys his woman all of these nice things to make up for his actions and uses her weaknesses against her in order to manipulate her into submitting. Eve is bringing something very real to life, many women are trapped in relationships that are abusive and too many don't escape in time and end up being murdered by their significant others.

Yellowcard "Believe"

4. Yellowcard "Believe"

Believe is one of my favorite songs in light of September 11. It's a powerful heart wrenching song that highlights the importance of the first responders who go back into the fire to save innocent people: "Think about the chance I never had to say /Thank you for giving up your life that day / Never fearing, only hearing voices calling out / Let it all go, the life that you know, just to bring it down alive / And you still came back for me / You were strong and you believed". This second verse highlights the sacrifices those men and women made in order to save others. They put their own lives on the line to help complete strangers, but in the end that's what a real hero does. They put their lives aside in order to help those in peril. Then in the third verse we see how the ones who were saved are changed. They will no longer take anything for granted or forget what happened to them on that day: "Wanna hold my wife when I get home / Wanna tell the kids they'll never know how much I love to see them smile / Wanna make a change or two right now / Wanna live a life like you somehow / Wanna make your sacrifice worthwhile". I think this song is an excellent illustration of something positive coming out of a tragedy that touched millions in our country. It brought strength and hope back to this country, and entangled so many lives to where someone somewhere knew of someone who was either there that day or possibly lost their lives in the towers. It is an excellent tribute song to those who risked so much to save as many lives as they could.

Foster the People "Pumped Up Kicks"

3. Foster the People "Pumped Up Kicks"

What I enjoy about this song is it's upbeat melody because the lyrics tell a completely different story. When I first listened to this song I didn't even know that it was a song about school shootings, until I actually listened closely to the lyrics. It's a sick twist to have this up beat melody when the lyrics are about a homicidal teenager who plans on shooting up his school. The chorus is especially catchy: "All the other kids with the pumped up kicks / You better run, better run / out run my gun / All the other kids with the pumped up kicks / you better run, better run / faster than my bullet". This is a track that one would just jam out too and not even give the meaning a second thought. In a statement to CNN the lead singer Mark Foster had this to say about the song: "I wrote 'Pumped Up Kicks' when I began to read about the growing trend in teenage mental illness. I wanted to understand the psychology behind it because it was foreign to me. It was terrifying how mental illness among youth had skyrocketed in the last decade. I was scared to see where the pattern was headed if we didn't start changing the way we were bringing up the next generation." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumped_Up_Kicks). Fosters intent was to get inside the head of this youth and bring gun violence to light. This kind of violence hits close to home with the band. The lead singer was bullied in high school and the bassist Cubbie Fink has a cousin who survived the Columbine shootings in 1999.

The Fray "How to Save a Life"

2. The Fray "How to Save a Life"

According to the lead singer Issac Slade this song was written about his time he spent as a mentor at a camp for troubled teens. The song is about one boy he was paired up with, he was 17 and very troubled and it seemed that no one could reach him or save him. The first verse sets up an opening to try to reach out to this troubled teen, but he is just not willing to let anyone in: "Step one, you say, "We need to talk." / He walks, you say, "Sit down. It's just a talk." / He smiles politely back at you / You stare politely right on through / Some sort of window to your right / As he goes left and you stay right / Between the lines of fear and blame / You begin to wonder why you came". I think everyone struggles with how to save someone at some point in their life and there comes a point when you ask yourself what's the point when they just keep pushing you away. I think this song is about that struggle of how to save someone from themselves. It's about not giving up on the ones you love and letting them know that you hear them and that you're there.

"Slade claims that the song is about all of the people that tried to reach out to the boy but were unsuccessful. As Slade says in an interview, the boy'sfriends and family approached him by saying, "Quit taking drugs and cutting yourself or I won't talk to you again," but all he needed was some support. The boy was losing friends and going through depression. He lost his best friend and could not deal with it. The verses of the song describe an attempt by an adult to confront a troubled teen. In the chorus, the singer laments that he himself was unable to save a friend because he did not know how." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Save_a_Life_(song)).

P!NK "F**kin' Perfect"

1. P!NK "F**kin' Perfect"

This song has a controversial message about depression, self-mutilation and suicide. In the song Pink sends a message about these issues many young people deal with and the video illustrates how issues of depression, self-mutilation and suicide starts at a very young age. Young people need positive mentors in order to bring them out of these dark places and they also need reasons to love and celebrate themselves, without that they become lost in their own heads and begin to hate themselves. Cutting is an issue that is easily swept under the rug and some will even criticize the people who deal with this problem and color them the stupid suicide. I know first hand of dealing with this issue and it took me many years before I loved myself and even to this day I still struggle with my self-mutilating habits. It's a struggle that I deal with and take it one day at a time and remind myself that I am worth something. What helps bring me out of my darkness is when I look at my son, he is what keeps me grounded and focused on being better and showing him how confident his mom really is so that he will have confidence in himself and love himself no matter what people think of him.

"Pink explains that, while the video may be considered shocking, it is intended to open people's eyes to these problems. In addition, Pink believes the video is a message to everyone who needs help. Pink described the process of making the video as a "very emotional experience" and related the core theme of "Fuckin' Perfect" to her yet-to-be-born baby, saying, "I have a life inside of me, and I want her or him to know that I will accept him or her with open and loving and welcoming arms. And though I will prepare this little munchkin for a sometimes cruel world, I will also equip this kid to see all the beauty in it as well." She also noted that she expects the video to "ruffle some feathers", meaning it would cause controversy." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuckin_perfect).

The chorus itself speaks volumes it's a message to the people who deal with these issues that they are worth it even though they don't believe they are: "Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel / Like you're less than fucking perfect / Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel / Like you're nothing, you're fucking perfect to me". Music like this helps me get through my tough times because it reminds me that I'm not alone in this battle and that there are places I can turn to for help when things get too dark for me to see.

The video follows one girl from childhood to adulthood and allows you to see these struggles first hand, but the woman becomes a successful artist finding some strength from her pain that allows her to rise above her problems and become her version of perfection. What I like most is that this video and song illustrates that you don't have to be societies version of perfect, you have to find perfection in your imperfections cause that's the only way you will learn to deal with these problems and face them head on.

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