The phrase "red flag" originates from the use of red flags as a signal of danger or warning. Using red flags to indicate danger has a long history dating back to ancient civilizations, where it was used as a symbol of warning or to signal the start of battle. In the 19th century, red flags were commonly used in maritime contexts, such as on ships, to indicate a dangerous condition or to warn other vessels to keep their distance. Later on, the phrase "red flag" came to be used more generally to refer to any warning or sign of danger, especially in the context of relationships when someone's behavior or actions are deemed problematic or potentially harmful.
Here are some more songs that mention or are about red flags in the context of relationships.
1989 "Storm Front
" by Billy Joel ("Red flags are flying from the Coast Guard mast. They told me to stay, I heard all the information").
2012 "I Knew You Were Trouble
" by Taylor Swift ("It's a song about being frustrated with yourself because here you are heartbroken and you knew when you first saw this person, you saw all these red flags and you went for it anyway," Swift explained on Good Morning America. "So, shame on me").
2013 "Elastic Heart
" by Sia ("And I want it and I wanted it bad. But there were so many red flags").
2016 "Red Flag
" by Gwen Stefani (She vents about the warning signs in her marriage to Gavin Rossdale).
" by Cassadee Pope ("Piano" was inspired by a relationship that Cassadee Pope had, where it took her a long time to spot the red flag).
2020 "Next Girl
" by Carly Pearce ("He'll charm your mama with that smile. Hide the red flags for a little while").