25 Really Scary Songs (2023)

As Halloween approaches,Feel free to ignore "Monster Mash" in favor of these more modest coolers: retro murder ballad, dissonant classic spine, psychedelic eerie, shock rock, southern gothic alternative rock melancholy, arty noise and more waiting.

  • Carolina Buddies, "The Lawson Family Murders" (circa 1930)

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    like this murderThe ballads became a folk standard, most famously a 1956 recording by the Stanley Brothers, the events of which became a hazy legend. But when the struggling trio first sang those lyrics in 1930, their Charlie Lawson story was yanked from the headlines. Just over a year ago, on Christmas Day, Lawson murdered his wife and six of their seven children, resting their heads on stone pillows before killing himself. (Seventh child was out on business at the time.) Friends sing with cool Appalachian submission, acknowledging but not exaggerating the horrors of violence lurking in everyday life. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the idea that a man might one day implode without explanation and destroy his family and himself feels all the more tragic, showing that even family life offers no escape from the economic desperation of this era .

  • Louvin Brothers, "The Knoxville Girl" (1956)

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    perhaps the best knownBallad of Appalachian Murder, tells the first-person account of a seemingly ordinary man from Tennessee who inexplicably finds time to walk with his girlfriend as she beats her to death despite her heartbreaking protests. On recording for their debut LP in 1956the sad song of life(which would later become a country song), Ira and Charlie Louvin harmonize with grim directness over a brisk, light waltz rhythm that adds to the doom of its clean-cut moralistic ending, a violent creep that disappears into prison. (Though the killer doesn't really sound more remorseful in prison than when he throws the murdered girl into the river and goes home to sleep.) First recorded in its recognizable modern form in the 1920s, Knox The Weir Girls " It actually comes from material handed down over the centuries, perhaps dating back to an actual murder in Wetham, England, in the 17th century. Over the years, the title victims have come from a variety of towns - from Oxford, England to Wexford, Ireland - and it's pretty scary to suggest that almost everywhere has sung about at least one bloodthirsty female killer.

  • Krzysztof Penderecki, "Elegy for the Victims of Hiroshima" (1960)

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    Calling music scholarsThis important piece of 20th century classical music is an exemplary use of 'sonism' - but the cloud of 52 chords is more simply described as controlled anarchy. Instruments were struck, bows were cut, and where the bows were indifferent, the whole orchestra buzzed like a swarm of angry bees. Naturally, the voice of the Polish composer has become synonymous with tension and psychological suffocation in cinema:Bad hotelandson of manUsed projects? His music influenced the music of Jonny Greenwoodthere will be bloodand Mica Levi's scoreunder the skin"For certain pieces, like 'Melody,' I prefer to have young people play because they're still willing to learn," Penderecki said.tell the relevant adviser"Some of the notes I invented then are common now, but there are still special techniques, different types of tremolo played on the tail of the bridge, played right behind the bridge. These things are unusual. Yes, even after 50 years. called regular symphony orchestras, I sometimes refuse to include this piece in the program because it requires too many rehearsals. Some of the older musicians in the orchestra don't want to learn anything new."

  • György Ligeti, "Orgelrolle" (1962)

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    Hungarian composer GyorgyLigeti manipulates clusters of sound to create space-filling chaos and motion blur. ofroll, a solo instrument that begins with the player's forearm resting on the keys - which has been known to cause the engine of a Gothenburg organ to catch fire. While the track is more about "colors" than notes, "Volumina" gets quite angry with its long dissonant passages and its duration hovering somewhere north or south of 15 minutes.

  • The Door, "The End" (1967)

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    Drill timeClocking in at nearly 12 minutes, Jim Morrison's epic 'End' is a wicked ride that builds to a wild, surprising conclusion. The psychedelic rock epic has been widely interpreted as a farewell to childhood innocence, and Morrison has echoed that sentiment in interviews. It begins peacefully with the singer saying goodbye to his only friend, ends and then turns the lyrical melody into wilder verses, imploring the listener to "ride the snake" and "ride the highway west." The final section tells the story of Oedipus in the form of an oral narrative, with the narrator telling his father that he wants to kill him and his mother that he wants to have sex with her, before devolving into a chaotic "fuck" sequence. . But. "The End" was developed during the group's stint as the Whiskey a Go Go Band, and Morrison improvised the song's intense ending one night after taking acid. They were fired the next day.

  • Pink Floyd, "Eugene, Mind the Axe" (1969)

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    the psychedelicThe 60s turned their dire imaginings into ominous swirls of sound, echoes of ill-fated journeys deep into the wormy subconscious of the listener. But in its final form - a live version of Pink Floyda chewing gumLP – "Handle That Ax Carefully, Eugene" isn't so much a whimsical rock 'n' roll freak as it is a haunted house called by the gods, door to door for you to open instead of your best judge. In the beginning, Richard Wright's organ flickers, Nick Mason's cymbal vibrates and soft, distant moans portend doom. Then the title is whispered and Roger Waters screams repeatedly in hideous paranoia before the implied danger emerges. David Gilmour's guitars provoke a frantic response, but the music quickly returns to the quiet, eerie calm that preceded the violent interlude. Something terrible happened and we can only imagine.

  • Brad Rock, "D.O.A." (1971)

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    One Hit Miracle BloodrockThe chilling eight-and-a-half-minute first-person account of death made a smash hit in the Top 40. The hard rock band's music sounds like a British ambulance siren, with lyrics describing the bloody aftermath of a plane crash, with a man being attended to by EMTs. He felt "something warm running down his fingers" and tried to move his hands, but when he looked he found "there was nothing there". He looks for his girlfriend and sees her face covered in blood watching from a distance. Finally, he offers this couplet: "Where I lie, the sheets are red and wet/God in heaven, teach me to die." It ends with the sound of an American siren. Keyboardist Steve Hill said: “I think maybe it's the whole thing as a package [music and lyrics] that scares people, on top of that the sirens.I have an interview in 2010"The FCC banned 'D.O.A.' A lot of stations didn't play it because people backed off because they thought there was an ambulance behind them."

  • Leonard Cohen, "Avalanche" (1971)

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    the song of loveand hatredPerhaps Leonard Cohen's most depraved album, and that's saying a lot. Stories of suicide ("Dress Rehearsal Rag") and infidelity ("Famous Blue Raincoat") leave undeniable stings, but the 1971 LP comes first on "Avalanche," where Cohen plays his classic Styrian bard to perfection. Over flamenco guitars and swelling strings, he paints a picture of a hunchback living at the bottom of a gold mine: "Your laws won't force me / To kneel grotesque and naked," he mocks. Even when the song descends into dark obsession and eventually turns to pure terror ("It's Your Turn Honey / I'm Wearing Your Flesh"), Cohen's voice maintains a trance-like calm. No wonder dark rock poet Nick Cave has been covering the song for more than 30 years.

  • Alice Cooper, "I Love the Dead" (1973)

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    rock and roll at its finestThe act could add any number of songs to its list of truly terrifying songs - "Dead Babies" (about child neglect), "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" (an insider's view of madness), "Sick Things " (thing) - but he's one of at least three (!) Alice Coopers who want necrophilia, and it's still his creepiest. The recorded version of "I Love the Dead" has an unsettling honesty - Bbillion dollars babyGothic and sometimes solemn closing number - beyond irony: "As friends and lovers mourn your foolish grave / I have other uses for you, baby." It is right on stage, the song is a library Prelude to the nocturnal beheading of Pere by guillotine, turned into a camp. existsRolling Stone-Interview in 2014, Alice Cooper was not impressed with how powerful the track was. "To me, anyone who takes it seriously… yes," he said, his voice trailing off. "I don't think you can shock an audience anymore [today]. If I cut my hand off and ate it, it would be a shock. But you can only do it twice."

  • Suicide, "Frankie Tears" (1977)

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    suicidal thoughts alan vegaFeaturing the protagonist, a 20-year-old factory worker who struggles to support his family in a breathless burst like he wants to get into "Be-Bop-A-Lula," but lives in a world too harsh, unable to enjoy this kind of freedom and fun. In this nearly 10-and-a-half-minute long elegy, Frankie kills his family and himself, but not even death can escape — "Frankie's in hell," Vega insists. And there is no way out of the claustrophobic suicidal feeling either. Vega's screams aren't cathartic—first they're half-choked with shame, then they're convulsive outbursts before collapsing into sobs or shattering into infinity from delayed effects. If Frankie Teardrop's story takes place against the screeching guitar and racing backdrops of Suicide's CBGB mates, but Martin Rev's electronic background is combined with the unsettling cacophony of home appliances that haunt you during periods of insomnia, it suggests a unique modern vision. for damnation: not the biblical raging fire, but the gray, weary static of eternal despair.

  • Vibrating Cartilage, "Ms. Hamburger" (1978)

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    ex fetishCreepy UK group Throbbing Gristle hit the pinnacle of body horror with standout track 'Hamburger Lady' from their 1978 albumD.O.A: Throbbing Gristle's third and final exhibition.The lyrics are taken directly from (and incorporated into) the written will of Blaster artist Al Ackerman - who served as a medic in Vietnam and later cared for a woman with a burn to her face in a burn hospital. "Mrs. Berger," repeated Genesis P-Orridge deadpan, "she's dying, she's burned from the waist up." More eerie than the words themselves are the ominous mechanical hums of the engines, hovering over a background of clinical white noise.

  • Birthday Party, "Dead Joe" (1982)

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    "Welcome toCar smash," 25-year-old Nick Cave violently screams. "Dead Joe" is a macabre car crash fiasco, probably set around Christmas (according to Cave's ho-ho-ho-ing), so terrifying that "you can't tell a boy from a girl anymore" - a fun metaphor for the London Post-punk scene. The song was co-written by Cave and his then-girlfriend Anita Lane, who incorporated tonal elements of American Southern Gothic into the riotous comic art rock.Although the band disbanded after just one year, Birthday Party influenced gothic rock by incorporating various blues and rock styles to eerie effect.

  • Bruce Springsteen, "Nebraska" (1982)

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    just another stepSongs about boys, cars and girls. Except this time, the driver who offers to drive his girlfriend out of her town full of losers is Charlie Starkweather, the real-life hit man who married his "Pretty Baby" and 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate for two. -Months of rage in the American West. Bruce has talked about desperate souls before, but they're usually good people in need. He's never sung like a bum before, his painting has an appropriately sociopathic creepiness and his harmonica scrapes like a rusty weather grain on top of an abandoned barn. When Charlie's captors demand to know the reason for his brutality, as all of us horror movie fans know by now, a psychotherapy explanation emerges. Starkweather shrugged and said, "There is only one evil in this world."

  • Metallica, "The One" (1989)

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    Although Metallica isUnderground trendsetters in the first half of the '80s, they burst into the mainstream consciousness in 1989 with "One", a single about a quadriplegic soldier begging to die. “When we writepuppeteerOn the album, James [Hetfield] brings an idea of ​​what it would be like to be in a living state of consciousness, like a man in a basket, where you couldn't reach out and communicate with anyone around you. "La Lars Ulrich once said." You have no arms, no legs, and apparently can't see, hear or speak. They revisited the idea in the fall of 1987, when their manager directed them for Dalton Trumbo's anti-war novel and film.Johnny took his gun, recounts the ordeal of Joe Bonham, a patriotic American soldier in World War I who wakes up one day to find that mines have taken away his limbs, eyes, ears and most of his mouth - but he can still think and to feel. He ended up hitting his head in morse code on the pillow and begged his doctor to kill him. For Metallica, the story - set against a nearly eight-minute machine-gun-whip riff - produced an unlikely Top 40 hit, a haunting music video that used film footage and a greyhound beauty award.

  • PJ Harvey, "By the Water" (1995)

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    a story to tellWith the highest rank of swamp witch. On the lead single from her 1995 album,to bring you my love, Polly Jean Harvey transforms into a charming, fertile mother from the swampy underworld, beckoning her drowned daughter into the river. In the music video, Harvey struggles underwater in a red satin dress that billows to a menacing cha-cha: she's literally fighting to surface, she says.to rotate, thanks to the weight of her heavy black wig. The chorus plays the otherwise innocuous "Salty Dog Blues," an American standard first recorded by New Orleans legend Charlie Jackson's father: "Little fish, big fish swimin' in the water," mutters Harvey. . Go back and give me my daughter"

  • Scott Walker, Farmers in the City (1995)

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    lav droneThe opening of Scott Walker's 1995 track "Farmer in the City" only hints at the palpable horror to come. The pop singer turned experimental tragedian has a voice that can't be described in simple terms like "haunting" or "funereal"—he has a precisely calibrated tremolo wail, as well as the inky music he's released in the past two decades. use his voice and grim outlook to compelling effect. "Farmer in the City" is probably the closest to a pop song of late, though it's still pretty hectic. In a tense, concise arrangement by the London Symphony Orchestra, Walker mourns his abstract interpretation of the last thoughts of Italian director and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini (who was murdered in 1975). "Paulo take me with you/It's been the trip of a lifetime," he whispers toward the end of the song, flashes of regretful self-reflection that express the basic fear of not knowing when it's over.

  • Ο Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "Song of Joy" (1996)

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    almost any nicknameHole songs are scary; Few artists have devoted themselves to the bleak and sinister like the Aussie Bad Seeds frontman. In the mid-90s, he was responsible for writing and recording the self-titled albumballad of murder, whose songs claimed the lives of dozens of unfortunate fictional victims. Its melancholic title track, originally conceived as a follow-up to Cave's Milton "Red Right Hand" soundtrack, tells the determined story of a man who meets a "sweet, happy" girl named Joy, whom he eventually only marries. only to discover a day later that she was "electrically taped and gagged / stabbed repeatedly and put in a sleeping bag." The killer also took away the narrator's three other daughters. by the end of the song, the Narrator seems to know more than he is letting on. "They never caught that guy," Cave sings. "He's still free."

  • Diamanda Galás, "25 minutes left" (1998)

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    A masterpiece by Diamanda GalásFour octaves ahead of her. But on her 1998 cover of Shel Silverstein's 1962 new song, "25 Minutes to Go," her voice entered in a softer way. When Johnny Cash covered the song at Folsom Prison in 1965 and 1968, his version of the death row inmate's song contained the song's dark humor. Galás, on the other hand, inhales from the cell as if transforming into Mary Surratt. Her lilting piano voice is almost feline, beginning the song's 25-minute countdown with a false, circus-like tap before fading into a slow strum of keys. Galás illuminates the darkest lines. "Now hear the missionaries come to save my soul / 13 more minutes," she sings, her lungs feeling like liquid is filling them. In contrast to the stony ending of the folk version ("Just a minute left / Now I'm swinging, I'm going!"), Gala's voice lowers its last layer to terrifying effect, emphasizing the comedy of tragedy. The songwriter and singer made that clear on his album of blues coverscurses and prayers, pays homage to the tortured aria of Maria Callas in her tradition of dry murder ballads.

  • Tom Waits, "What Builds?" (1999)

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    this dramatic monologueA creepy set of sound effects from a nosy neighbor – soft metal clangs, cheap electronics vibrating – would be the envy of any haunted house designer. Always a creepy guy (it's no coincidence that Francis Ford Coppola made him the insect-eating Renfield in his portrayal of Dracula), Tom Waits gasps here, it's like he shoved a flashlight under his chin to scare off a bunch of nervous scouts. Away. . In fact, they end up, as he repeatedly shouts "what's he building there?" - each time stressing the word 'builder' with a twinge of uneasiness - making the narrator sound more like the eccentric loner he spies on. suspect. At least until the disturbing epilogue where we hear the whistling coming from the eccentric worker's house.

  • Tori Amos, "97 Bonnie and Clyde" (2001)

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    Eminem's Revenge Fantasia"97 Bonnie And Clyde" is an upbeat yet haunting number, as the bleached blonde describes a father-daughter trip to the beach and suggests that the "mother" in the trunk isn't exactly keen to go along. Tori Amos A revamp of her 2001 cover albumstrange little girlUpping the American Gothic music quotient with horror movie strings, second-rate synths and twists of song perspective - her choked delivery and parental tenderness make the monologue sound like it's coming from a victim as the life bleeds out of her. "'Bonnie and Clyde' is a song that describes domestic violence very accurately, very accurately," Amos said.In 2001 he told MTV"I don't identify with the character she represents. There's one person who definitely doesn't dance for it, and that's the woman in the trunk. She's talking to me. … [She] grabs my hand and says, 'She needs to hear how I hear.'

  • Eminem, "Kim" (2000)

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    rap oneMost of the haunting songs feature Eminem's rhyming renditions of the moment an abusive relationship turned fatal. Written and released when his relationship with ex-wife Kim Scott was at its worst, the rapper murdered Kim's husband and stepson while abusing her from his home in his car until he ended her life at the point . She screams throughout the song and even imitates King's voice while contradicting his statements. "If I were her, I'd run as soon as I heard that shit," says mentor Dr. Drehe told Rolling Stone magazine in 1999"He was over the top — he was screaming the whole song. But it was good. Kim gave him an idea."

  • Khanate, "Reduced Sentence" (2003)

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    "Extreme" wordIn metal now denotes a subspecies rather than a measure of actual strength. But the sound of now-defunct New York quartet Khanate, created in the first decade of the 2000s, lived up to that description, to a rare degree of forbidding gloom. In 2001, guitarist Stephen O'Malley, also of Sunn O))) said: "The music is pure experimentation with structure and an obvious attempt to transform troubled moods through dissonance and temporal relaxation." stretched and abstracted into exhaustingly tense epics like this 19-minute behemoth. O'Malley's sour chords crackle gently, Tim Wyskida's bass drum beats peacefully, and frontman Alan Dubin screams what sounds like a real-time description of what it's like to lose your mind: "Oh my god /smile/sneeze/ Speak…” When the whole band finally erupts into a series of raw, stumbling climaxes, he is shocked asBad hotelDanny Torrance caught a horrible glimpse of the twins in the hallway of the Overlook Hotel.

  • Sufjan Stevens, "John Wayne Gacy Jr." (2005)

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    Stevens ambitionIllinoisIt tackles several moments in the state's history, including the chilling story of 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr. – aka “The Killer Clown” – The bodies of 26 teenagers he sexually assaulted and killed were buried in cramped quarters at his home. "I felt an overwhelming sympathy for his behavior rather than his nature, and I was unable to admit it, terrible as it sounded," he explained.in the interviewAround the album's release, Gacy was noted elsewhere as a foil for the more upbeat Illinois figures he had explored, such as Abraham Lincoln and Carl Sandburg. Stevens' gentle musical delivery—singing softly over the gentle pluck of the guitar—made his almost tender sympathy for Gaisi all the more soothing.

  • Haxan Cloak, "雙" (2013)

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    Like Hassan's cloak,Bobby Krlic has won critical acclaim for music that pulses like underground techno, but with a tense, tingling, nautical texture that seems straight out of the tight soundscape of horror movie Foley work. Albeit a groundbreaking albumin the graveFilled with ominous hisses, hums and thumps, "Miste" is the creepiest, thanks (spoiler alert!) to starting with a good old-fashioned jump scare. When the scream hits in the opening, it recedes and embeds itself into the skin of the track before giving way to siren-like waves. "I don't find darkness depressing. I actually find it very uplifting and soothing," Krlic said.says quiet man"At certain points I challenge myself and try to make myself as uncomfortable as possible. It's not that I'm a dark person, it's like an adrenaline rush."

  • Wolf Eye, "Asbest Youth" (2015)

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    Detroit scuzz-wallopers ulvFor more than 20 years, Eyes has left a legacy of intense distortion, throat-splitting screams, and knife-dragging, shovel sounds across more than 250 releases. But their latest release for Third Man Records enters new domestic horror territory,I'm a problem: broken heart.They've removed the growl for a more soulless, haunted, desolate feel, full of stray trash and whining woodwinds. Or like John OlsonSay Pop Matters: "It's not as dystopian as our other records. ...We're the older guys, the new guy in the band, Jim [Baljo], is a laid-back rocker, you know we're all hippies at heart. We don't feel the need to wipe out everything in our path. You know what? You get older, you notice more and attack less." Adolescent asbestos may not attack on its own, but it would creep into the tool shed as anxiously as a John Carpenter soundtrack.

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