13 Behind The Scenes Song Facts

Alicia Keys wrote “If I Ain’t Got You” when she heard about Aaliyah’s tragic death.

1.

Alanis Morissette’s legendary ’90s anthem, “You Oughta Know”, is not about Dave Coulier, aka Uncle Joey, from Full House.

In HBO’s documentary series, Music Box, Alanis Morissette discussed the ongoing rumor that started in 1995. In the 2021 episode titled “Jagged Little Pill,” Morissette revealed: “It’s funny, because I was dating so many more people than [Dave Coulier], but because of ‘You Oughta Know’ and people saying it was about Dave Coulier, all of the attention was like: ‘She dated one person!’ There’s been about eight people who’ve claimed that the song is about them, and I’m always just like, ‘Who is this? Interesting that you think this song is about you, huh?'”


Maverick / Reprise

26 years earlier in Billboard, Morissette talked about the emotional experience of recording “You Oughta Know” (instead of focusing on the distracting rumor). She said: “I wasn’t aware of what was coming out of me. I’d go in the booth when the ink wasn’t even dry and sing. I’d listen the next day and not really remember it.”

2.

“Umbrella” by Rihanna and Jay-Z is actually about God.

The song’s co-writer, The-Dream, initially wrote it for Britney Spears during a difficult time in her career in the late 2000s. He said: “Britney was starting to work on [Blackout], and her personal life was a little out of control. We thought: ‘Let’s save our friend — let’s give her a record.'”


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Allegedly someone on Spears’ team turned down the song without her knowing.

Rihanna ultimately recorded “Umbrella” and made the song an instant classic. The-Dream claimed he was “thinking about God” at first when penning the hit. “Like, God would say, ‘I’ve got you under my umbrella. I’ll protect you.'”

3.

Queen’s “We Will Rock You” was written specifically for their fans. One night after a concert was over in England, Queen fans stayed and serenaded the band with a song.


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Brian May, Queen’s lead guitarist, said: “We did an encore and then went off, and instead of just clapping, they sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ to us, and we were just completely knocked out and taken aback. It was quite an emotional experience, really, and I think these chant things are in some way connected to that…I went to bed thinking: ‘What could you ask them to do?'”


EMI / Elektra

“They’re all squeezed in there, but they can clap their hands, they can stamp their feet, and they can sing,” said May. “In the morning, I woke up and had the idea in my head for ‘We Will Rock You.'”

4.

“Like a Virgin” by Madonna is not about her having sex for the first time — it’s actually about the thrill of falling in love again.

One of the cowriter’s of the massive ’80s hit, Billy Steinberg, revealed the song wasn’t written with Madonna in mind. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said: “I was saying that I may not really be a ‘virgin’ — I’ve been battered romantically and emotionally like many people — but I’m starting a new relationship, and it just feels so good. It’s healing all the wounds and making me feel like I’ve never done this before because it’s so much deeper and more profound than anything I’ve ever felt.”

24 years after “Like a Virgin” was released, Madonna said in an interview with Z100 she was sick of performing the song on tour: “I’m not sure I can sing ‘Holiday’ or ‘Like a Virgin’ ever again. I just can’t (unless somebody paid me, like, $30 million or something).”

5.

“Oops (Oh My)” by Tweet is NOT about masturbation — it’s actually about being confident in your body and your mind.

The song’s cowriter, Missy Elliott, revealed the true meaning behind the song on Twitter in 2021. Elliott tweeted: “#FunFact this song was never ’bout masturbation — it was always about [Tweet] appreciating her dark skin (self-love) when she looked in the mirror. It was the listeners who thought it was about sex and just ran with it. We just let the consumers’ minds create what they wanted.”

6.

Katy Perry recently revealed on American Idol that the actual lyrics to the chorus of “Firework” are “Awe, awe, awe,” NOT “Oh, oh, oh.” So, yes: We’ve been singing it wrong the whole time!

On American Idol, Perry corrected Luke Bryan when he started singing the chorus wrong. She said: “It’s not, ‘Up, up, up’ and not, ‘Uh, uh, uh.’ It’s, ‘Awe, awe, awe’ — A-W-E.” Bryan wittingly asked if “awe” was in the dictionary, and Perry responded with a firm, “Yes, it is.”

“Firework” was also inspired by Jack Kerouac’s classic 1957 novel On the Road. Katy Perry uploaded a specific passage that inspired the hit on her Instagram.

7.

“Moonlight” by Jay-Z from his album 4:44 is about the Best Picture incident at the 2017 Oscars, and how La La Land was announced the winner when really Moonlight won the golden statue.

In an iHeart Radio interview in 2017, Jay-Z explained the significance behind every song on 4:44. When it came down to “Moonlight,” he revealed: “The hook is ‘We stuck in La La Land, even if we win, we gonna lose.’ It’s like a subtle nod to La La Land winning the Oscar, and then having to give it to Moonlight. It’s really a commentary on the culture and where we’re going.”


Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

Jay-Z’s music video for “Moonlight,” starring famous actors like Issa Rae, Tessa Thompson, and LaKeith Stanfield, adds additional commentary to “the culture.” It essentially illustrates how Friends was the “winning sitcom” of the ’90s, when in reality, the premise was stolen from Living Single.


Warner Bros. / Courtesy of Everett Collection / NBC / Courtesy of Everett Collection

8.

Ricky Martin’s 1999 smash “Livin’ la Vida Loca” is the first song in music history to be recorded digitally (with zero use of analog) to hit Number 1.

“Livin’ la Vida Loca’s” cowriter, Desmond Child, said: “We were the first to record and mix a record [in] what they called ‘in the box’ in Pro Tools. One of the things about that new sound of digital, it had a kind of metallic sound, and to compensate for that metallic sound, we made it drier than Latin music had ever been (which is more like ambient dance music).”

This hit changed the approach to music recording forever, according to Child. “We got [Ricky Martin’s] voice right in everybody’s face. It really worked, and from that moment on, nothing has ever sounded like it used to sound.”

9.

Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Mirabel Madrigal in the iconic Disney movie Encanto, recorded “Waiting on a Miracle” while she was going into labor.

In a recent interview with Variety, Beatriz revealed: “I didn’t want to tell anybody at Disney because I didn’t want anyone to freak out. But, I was already having some contractions when we were scheduled to record that day — I was like, ‘Well, fingers crossed I finish the song before [the baby] comes!'”

Variety reported that Beatriz’s daughter was born the day after she recorded “Waiting on a Miracle” (a miracle indeed!!!)

10.

Dolly Parton used her acrylic nails to write “9 to 5” because she believed they sounded like a typewriter.

Parton reflected on her time writing the title track for 9 to 5 on The Tonight Show in 2019, telling Jimmy Fallon: “When I wrote this song, I used my acrylic nails on the set. I did because they make noise, and it kind of sounded like a typewriter to me. And I played it on the actual record — it says ‘Nails by Dolly’ on the album!”

11.

The inspiration behind “Closer” by the Chainsmokers and Halsey is Blink-182, and other 2000s rock bands, who were candid when it came to writing their lyrics.


Disruptor / Columbia

In the second verse of the song, Taggart makes a direct shoutout to Blink-182: “Stay and play that Blink-182 song / That we beat to death in Tucson.”

According to Drew Taggart (one half of the electric pop duo), “We had been listening to all this Blink-182 and Dashboard Confessional — all these guys who just kind of tell it how it is.”

And when it came down to writing “Closer”, the Chainsmokers took that inspiration and let it flow into their lyrics. Taggart said: “I want to do a song kind of very visual that’s an unsexy sex scene, and I want to talk to someone that I’m [not] in love with, [but that] I’m indifferent to. The song’s a culmination of pretty much all my ex-girlfriends and all my old friends.”


Kevin Mazur / Getty Images

12.

Alicia Keys wrote “If I Ain’t Got You” on a plane immediately after she found out that Aaliyah had died in a plane crash.

In an interview for The Voice in 2017, Keys said, “I wrote it right after I found out that Aaliyah passed away, and I was on a plane. I think being on the plane and knowing that she passed away after a plane crash — there was just this sentiment of being present in the moment and really nothing else mattering but those you love.”


Sal Idriss / Redferns / Getty Images

Keys got candid about the difficult production process behind “If I Ain’t Got You,” and how it turned out to be one of her favorite songs. She said, “I remember I wrote it really fast, but in order to produce it the way that you hear it, it took forever. Every arrangement that I did was wrong. You never really know what’s gonna come of them, [and] you never know who’s gonna fall in love with them.”

13.

And Harry Styles wrote “Falling” in just a shower towel with Fine Line songwriter and producer, Kid Harpoon, in only 20 minutes.

In an interview for Apple Music, Styles said it took him only 20 minutes to write the emotional ballad “Falling”: “I was going out for dinner and I was getting picked up from [Kid Harpoon’s] house. As I came out of the shower, he was playing. I went and stood next to him at the piano, just in a towel, and we just wrote the whole thing.”

Styles talked candidly about his emotional state while writing “Falling”, claiming that while he was recording Fine Line, “The times when I felt good and happy were the happiest I’ve ever felt in my life, and the times when I felt sad were the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life.”


Anthony Pham / Getty Images

Do *you* have any fun song facts up your sleeve? Share with us in the comments below!

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