Huey Lewis – “Hip to Be Square” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Huey Lewis’s “Hip to Be Square” is a catchy tune from the ’80s that celebrates conformity and goes against the rebellious grain. Instead of championing the idea of being a “renegade” or “fooling around,” the song playfully hints at the joy of settling down and embracing a more mainstream lifestyle. The message? It’s cool to be regular, to cut your wild hair, work out, watch TV, and even sport business suits. The transformation might seem odd to some, but as the song suggests, sometimes it feels right and modern just to be “square”.

It’s fascinating how a song can wrap up an entire era or sentiment into a few minutes. We’re about to uncover some cool insights behind this ’80s gem.

“Hip to Be Square” Lyrics Meaning

The song kicks off with a confession. The singer admits he used to be wild, perhaps living life on the edge. But there came a point where he grew tired of the chaos, leading to a more stable life. This stability isn’t dull or mundane. On the contrary, he’s fully embracing it and wants others to realize the charm in being “square.”

The line, “I like my bands in business suits, I watch them on TV” shows an appreciation for things that are considered mainstream or ‘normal.’ Instead of chasing the rock star dream, the singer enjoys the simplicity and predictability of a well-structured life.

Following this theme, working out and watching one’s diet are often associated with discipline and responsibility. The lyrics, however, have a twinge of irony; it’s like Lewis is saying, “I’m doing all these square things and loving it, even if others find it odd.”

The chorus, “It’s hip to be square,” is an anthem that turns the traditional idea of ‘cool’ on its head. What if, in the constant race to be edgy or different, we’ve overlooked the charm of being ordinary?

As the song progresses, it gives a nod to those who might resist this change, those who find the freeway of conformity not much fun. But Lewis suggests that this pull towards being ‘square’ is unstoppable, “An idea whose time has come.”

The repeating line, “Don’t tell me that I’m crazy, Don’t tell me I’m nowhere,” reinforces the idea that the singer is confident in his choice. He’s urging listeners to consider that maybe, just maybe, it’s not so bad to be square after all.

The Story Behind “Hip to Be Square”

The 1980s was a transformative decade, with cultural shifts happening left and right. From the rise of technology to new fashion styles, everything was changing rapidly. In the midst of this evolution, Huey Lewis and the News released “Hip to Be Square” as a lighthearted take on the era’s societal shifts.

The song came out in 1986, a time when corporate culture was booming, and many were trading in their wild, free-spirited ways for a more structured, mainstream lifestyle. It’s said that the song was, in part, a reaction to the changing times and a nod to the fact that sometimes, conformity can be freeing in its own right.

Huey Lewis, the lead singer, has mentioned in interviews how the song was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek take on his own life. After years of wild touring and the rock n’ roll lifestyle, he too found a certain peace in settling down a bit, trading in late nights for early mornings and chaotic tours for structured studio sessions.

While many songs of the ’80s revolved around rebellion and pushing against societal norms, “Hip to Be Square” stood out by celebrating the opposite. It was a fresh perspective, suggesting that maybe, in the hustle and chaos of the modern world, there was something truly liberating about embracing the ordinary.

For many listeners, the song became an anthem for those feeling the pressure to fit in or stand out. It reminded them that sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is just be yourself, whether that means being a renegade or being delightfully square.