10 Great Metaphors from Popular 1980’s Songs

Metaphors are used to color the lyrics and convey the messages ready to relate to the listeners. The similarities, comparisons, and references in the 80s’ were similar to the previous decades. However, the music changed further, and metaphors were lighter when compared to the 60s and 70s. It was the time of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. Music Journalism was at its peak, and this era is known as the ‘golden era of rock& pop and quality English songwriting.’ Lyricists beautify their songs with metaphors and many other literary devices. Most of these metaphors were used to regain confidence and encourage those who had faced losses. Here are a few examples of metaphors from the 1980s songs.

Survivor- Eye of The Tiger

So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all with the eye of the tiger

This song was written for the film “Rocky III”. The title character, Rocky, was a boxer in “Rocky II”. The figure of the tiger is a metaphor for a person who has valor, strength, confidence, and power like a tiger to fight to win and achieve his dreams. The lyricist wants to say that no matter how many times you face failure but you should keep your eyes on the prize.

Another Day In Paradise by Phil Collins

Oh think twice, it’s another day for you and me in paradise
Oh think twice, ’cause it’s just another day for you,
You and me in paradise, think about it

She calls out to the man on the street
He can see she’s been crying
She’s got blisters on the soles of her feet
She can’t walk but she’s trying

This song is the best depiction of American society. There is a constant problem of homelessness and hunger in third world countries. The refugees don’t home to live, and no one was there to help them. In the lines, ‘She’s got blisters on the soles of her feet’, blisters are a metaphor for the hardships or problems which people were facing at that time. There is a vivid comparison between the comforts of life and terrible, unfed life.

Walk Like An Egyptian by The Bangles

All the bazaar men by the Nile
They got the money on a bet
Gold crocodiles (oh whey oh)
They snap their teeth on your cigarette

Foreign types with the hookah pipes say
Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh
Walk like an Egyptian

Blond waitresses take their trays
They spin around and they cross the floor
They’ve got the moves (oh whey oh)
You drop your drink and they give you more

This song is about the people who struggle to keep their balance while being confused and disoriented by the cold war, civil war, and uprising. ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ is a metaphor for rebelling; a revolt from the old traditions, or perhaps it’s a revolt from war or politicians. The song is trying to address the issues in the whole society. ‘Blond waitresses take their trays’ means women who are not ready to follow old traditions’. ‘Gold Crocodiles’ is a metaphor for love and wealth who like a crocodile is snapping the people.

Purple Rain by Prince Rogers

Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too

You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain

We can feel that purple color is dominating imagery in the song. Though the song’s tone is light, the message is very deep. Purple rain is a metaphor for spiritual fulfillment. It relates to peace of mind. The singer is apologizing and wishes his love to lead a happy life. The purple color is for royalty. Also, purple rain might be the grace or blessings of God as this color is very elegant and mystical. Perhaps, the singer is also using the purple color as a metaphor for the cleaning of earth, body, and soul.

When Doves Cry by Prince

Why do we scream at each other?
This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

Touch if you will my stomach
Feel how it trembles inside
You’ve got the butterflies all tied up
Don’t make me chase you
Even doves have pride

This song is about how the couple’s relationship is going bad. The ‘doves’ is here a metaphor for the couple. Doves are also a symbol of beauty, friendship, and peace. However, now they are mourning over their destroyed love and pride.

Welcome to The jungle by Axl Rose

Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games
We got everything you want honey, we know the names
We are the people that can find whatever you may need
If you got the money, honey we got your disease

Jungle, welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your shun n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n knees, knees

In these lines, the lyricist says that how money runs this world. The jungle is a metaphor for Los Angles city or the world we are living in. It exposes the darker side of city, that how a wealthy man can spin the world on his fingers. ‘We are the people that can find whatever you may need’ means that the people with money can get whatever they want in the world. The jungle rules are running on the earth where the feeble are crushed brutally.

Love Is a Battlefield by Pat Benatar.

No promises
No demands
Love is a battlefield

We are strong
No one can tell us we’re wrong
Searching our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing
Love is a battlefield

In the above lines, the battlefield is used as a metaphor for love. Love is compared to a war zone because war is also full of confusion, challenges, sacrifices, emotions, and compromises. We can conquer love with determination and courage.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison

Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn

This song is about the hard fact of life. The rose is a metaphor for a person, a career, or good opportunities. And thorn is a metaphor for troubles and challenges. The rose can also be compared to opportunities of life, and still have issues, which are thorns.

Mr Roboto by Styx

Domo arigato Mr. Roboto mata au hi made
Domo arigato Mr. Roboto himitsu o shiritai

We are alive, full of energy
We are working with a battery, now yeah
It’s nothing but mechanics
We’ll play it automatically

The lyrics tell how humans are losing our jobs to a machine. The singer also tells that humans are becoming like a machine and working under orders. Metaphorically the robot is described as the changing positions of humans. The machines are replacing humans at the workplace, but humans are behaving like machines too. Mr Roboto, in the song, is called as a friend who takes the place of all associations and relations

Cars by Gary Numan

Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It’s the only way to live in cars.

Here in my car
I can only receive
I can listen to you
It keeps me stable for days in cars.

Here in my car
Where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please
If I open my door in cars

In the song, the ‘car’ is a metaphor for isolation or comfort zone. The singer has locked himself. He doesn’t want to leave his isolation. However, he is willing to invite the other person to visit him. Perhaps the lyrics are an extended metaphor of material goods to isolate themselves from relations and contacts. Here the car is like a metaphysical cocoon inside the world.