Right, sorry to misrepresent you. I guess my feeling is that it isn’t much of a mystery; context counts for a huge amount in language, and pop songs tend not to be about abstruse philosophical ideas but love, jealousy, and other basic topics, so that what is being said is highly predictable. After all, Chinese speakers can usually understand foreigners who get the tones completely wrong (I speak from experience, having been such a foreigner!).
One lass did tell me that normally when she first hears a new song, it will be on a karaoke screen with the words written below.
As I understand it, Chinese is very rich in homonyms
I know, right? It is fascinating to me that they are even able to function. Humans really are remarkable.
Consider the S.H.E. song Super Star, which has the lyrics “This hand is not a hand”. Shǒu bù shì shǒu. Take away the tonal information and it would seemingly have many meanings but even _with_ the tonal information, (and I am referring to http://www.chinesetools.eu here) shǒu could be any of five different words (each with a different character):
shǒu 1/ hand / (formal) to hold / person engaged in certain types of work / person skilled in certain types of work / personal(ly) / convenient /
shǒu 2/ head / chief / first (occasion, thing etc) / classifier for poems, songs etc
shǒu 3/ to guard / to defend / to keep watch / to abide by the law / to observe (rules or ritual) / nearby / adjoining
shǒu 4/ bow of a ship
shǒu 5/ pickpocket