Pop Culture | 90s

The Real Meaning Behind TLC's "Waterfalls" Is Actually Pretty Dark

Lately, we've been listening to a lot of pop songs from the 90s, but instead of jamming out to the tunes like we used to do back in the day, we find ourselves dissecting the lyrics among other things.

Turns out, there are a lot of songs whose lyrics mean the complete opposite of what we thought they were really about. For instance, the 1998 hit "Closing Time" by Semisonic isn't about a night out at the bar. Dan Wilson, who wrote and produced the song, explained that we've all been misinterpreting the song and that it's actually about "being born and coming into the world, seeing the bright lights, cutting the cord, opening up into something deeper and more universal."

Houston Press

If you thought that was weird, get this: "Spice Up Your Life" by the iconic Spice Girls is supposedly about drugs. Some people believe that the lyrics "Slam it to the left" and Shake it to the right" are steps in the meth-cooking process. Oops!

Also, if you really must know, "The Macarena" isn't a squeaky clean dance jam. The song is about a girl having a trifling affair while her boyfriend is out of town.

Since we're no longer sticking by the ignorance is bliss rule, we might as well let you know about the real meaning another popular song from the 90s: TLC's "Waterfalls."

Lawyers, guns & money

The song is said to have a really dark meaning behind it, and even one of the members, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, agrees.

Not that you really need it, but in case you do, here's a refresher of what the 1994 hit song sounded like, here's the video:

Alright, now that the lyrics are stuck in your head, let's uncover what they really mean.

According to Bustle, the song is actually about a bunch of serious issues, including drugs and H.I.V. Of course, we knew that they weren't singing about literally chasing a waterfall, and that the song was inspirational, but we never guessed what it actually meant.

Apparently the line "three letters took him to his final resting place," was referring to someone dying of AIDS.


In an interview a few years ago, T-Boz explained that the group wanted to address the issues young people dealt with and "get the message across without seeming like preaching."

The AIDS epidemic was something TLC felt strongly about, and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes would often wear condoms on her clothes to bring awareness to the issue and promote safer sex.

This definitely changes the way we'll be listening to the song from now on.

Did you know this about "Waterfalls"? Let us know in the comments!