Most composers make songs about irony to express humor in different aspects of life. Irony is easier to highlight and understand when you come across it in music songs.
The best definition of irony in music is it involves two truths that ordinary people would not mix together but in a brief moment do.
While there are multiple theories on how irony in music works, I believe they can be summarized through a protagonist or antagonist situation, their ignorance and their verbal response to their tragedy.
The listener sees the character’s actions from different angles.
21 Songs About Irony
This compilation will explore multiple songs from different genres and generations that uniquely highlight the subject of irony.
1. Ironic – Alanis Morissette
To start, the list is a song by Alanis that describes the ironic events in life. The song’s lyrics show us how life has a funny way of helping us despite our regular challenges.
One of life’s biggest ironies is that the challenges we face sometimes help us get where we intend to be.
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2. The World’s Worst Band – 10CC
This song is an ironic depiction of many modern bands that don’t really try to make good music and instead of writing quality music, they only use catchy choruses to get fans.
The composers didn’t even try to create rhyming words, and they pushed for the song’s release without changing the lyrics.
3. John Lee Hooker For President – Ry Cooder
Political satire doesn’t get better than this piece, as this record is a protest album presented in multiple genres. The ironic song provides comic relief about crooked bankers, hurt soldiers, and corrupt politicians.
This song, in which Ry Cooder imagines an infamous bluesman on a presidential campaign, has a very strong message underneath its humor.
4. Kids – MGMT
Kids by MGMT is from the band’s debut album, released in 2007. The band wrote this piece to see if their fans would listen to the type of music, and ironically it marked the end of their music career for some time.
The song has various layers of irony, such as the reason for its composition and its effect.
5. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People
The reason why this song is so ironic is that it’s super catchy, even though it has super dark lyrics. The song was released in 2010, and if you don’t pay much attention, the lyrics seem to talk about someone running, but that is not the case.
The song is written from a school shooter’s perspective. I find the song’s beat simultaneously upbeat and haunting after realizing its meaning.
6. Misery – Maroon 5
One of my favorite songs about irony, here Maroon 5 decides to express suffering in an upbeat way. Though the composer might have suffered while writing the song, the song sounds entertaining.
It is truly ironic to compose a pitiful song that comforts people in misery while the lyrics clarify that no one can comfort you. You have to watch the song video.
7. (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) – The Beastie Boys
If you are a fan of classic eighties music, then you have probably heard of this party anthem. The song was released in 1986 in their Licensed to Ill album and rose to number 7 on American music charts.
The song composition by Adam Yauch is an ironic parody of the party attitude theme songs such as I Wanna Rock and Smoking in the Boys Room.
8. Eyez Closed – Snoop Dogg & Kanye West & John Legend
Eyez Closed is a rap track produced by Kanye West. The song’s opening and chorus introduce to the listeners the irony of seeing with eyes while closed.
Though it seems like an impossible act, the lyrics show the artists have had an awakening in their lives, and they see things differently.
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9. Take Me To Church – Hozier
With over 720 million views, Take Me To Church is one of the most popular songs about irony, with one of the heaviest messages I could find. The song’s chorus is an explicit and satirical attack on the religions that preaches shame.
While listening to the song, you might assume it is a religious ode, but with a closer look into the lyrics, you will learn it is about a man’s devotion to another man. The full intent of the composer’s message of irony is only revealed through the song’s video.
10. No One Is To Blame – Howard Jones
This song is about wanting to be in relationships that you can’t be with. It uses various ironic metaphors to express this meaning, such as being the fastest runner but not being allowed to win. Even though we want them and will never get them, it’s fine as there are commonplace in life.
11. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
With over 1.3 billion views, this timeless classic by Whitney is a powerful love ballad. But is it a love song? Though the song is used in propositions and weddings as a declaration of love, its lyrics are about a breakup.
No matter how the song is portrayed or the composer’s message of love, the song has a bitter-sweet message of partying ways.
12. Who’s Making Love – Johnny Taylor
This song by Johnny Taylor is about loyalty. The singer composed this piece as a way to advise men. The track questions mend if they ever wonder while cheating on their spouses if a man is out there stepping up to fill their missing roles.
He learned better because he himself was treated the same way, when he was out cheating, his woman was also cheating on him.
13. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous – Good Charlotte
The idea of this song is about the obsession with fame by celebrities and how they are unappreciative as they are always complaining. They’ll do anything for fame but they will complain about the slightest inconvenience.
Good Charlotte says that these people would never be able to live on the streets like normal people. Why complain if you’re already better than 99% of the people?
14. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Fortunate Son is one of the most popular political songs from the seventies. The track talks about social injustices experienced between the different social classes during the Vietnam war.
The lyrics ironically show how wealthy and powerful people act in times of war and how luckier they are compared to the average citizen.
15. The Kids Aren’t Alright – The Offspring
The lead singer of The Offspring, Dexter Holland, was inspired to write this piece when he took a trip to his old neighborhood and was nostalgic about the people he knew and their tragedy.
Though the track seems like a message about teenage lack of satisfaction, it is an ironic commentary on how life can be hard for youth.
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16. Chandelier – Sia
The biggest misconception among many listeners of this track is that it is a party anthem as it highlights the life of a party girl.
Sia wrote the song from personal experience, highlighting that she is living with frustration and becoming an alcoholic as a coping mechanism. The irony is that she realizes it does more damage to her but continues to repeat the same.
17. What Does The Fox Say? – Ylvis
What Does The Fox is one of the most bizarre songs about irony in this compilation that you will ever listen to. Though the song was written as a joke, its popularity exceeded the composer’s expectations becoming the top trending video of 2013.
18. Haven’t Met You Yet – Michael Bublé
The song’s lyrics are an ironic take on love as it tells the story of the composer on his quest to find love but still struggling to find it.
The upbeat and romantic piece shows romance’s uncertainty as it suggests love is elusive. The irony is when you think you have found the one, you could be in for a wild-goose chase.
19. Rapture – Blondie
Rapture is the first hit rap song to hit the number-one spot in music charts. The hip-hop song features an ironic depiction of the desperate search for heaven.
Though the artist’s rapping sounds goofy and might seem like a mockery, that is not the case as the genre evolved from this style to the flawless rap we love.
20. Celebrity Skin – Hole
Hole struck gold in the music industry with this one as they enjoyed great success. This song highlights the plights of artists who struggle to become famous and the downside of earning enormous amounts of money.
The song is ironic as it criticizes the same industry that made them who they are.
21. Dear God – XTC
The last song on this compilation is controversial, as the composer penned down controversial and bold lyrics that question the existence of a higher power. The message is ironic as the prayer is addressed to God, the entity that the composer does not believe in.
Ranging in all genres, songs about irony are a clear juxtaposition of what the composer wants on the surface to appear than what really is the case.
Irony is rooted in Greek comics, which feature multiple layered story phenomena that can be deciphered by wit. It has come a long way from ancient Greek times to now be represented in music songs.