So, it’s not exactly Halloween, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate a good creepy song or two before then. There are songs that unnerve you for one reason or another. It could be gruesome lyrics, odd music that gives you nightmares, or it could creep you out for reasons you don’t even understand. Sometimes you don’t even realize how disturbing a song is until after you finished singing it out loud. I know there are a ton of songs like this out there and that I’m missing a whole lot, but here are some of the creepiest, most disturbing songs I have run into.
18. “Tear You Apart”- She Wants Revenge
The list kicks off with this song from a band everyone probably has forgotten by now. The reason why this is creepy is because it makes a simple crush sound like the most horrifying thing a person could ask for. The person in the song is obsessing over it and obviously does not want these feelings: “It’s just like all the others it’ll go away/Or maybe this is danger and you just don’t know/You pray it all away but it continues to grow.” This is a guy who is about to have a mental breakdown over a crush, but it’s the chorus that really unnerves you; I don’t know if I want to go out with anyone who tells me “I want to fucking tear you apart.” Whenever I hear this part I just think of some monster going on a rampage.
17. “Always Something”- Cage the Elephant
While it may not be the most disturbing song on the list, there’s something unnerving about the whole thing from the weird hypnotizing music to the howl that Matt Shultz lets out at the beginning. The song is pretty much saying there’s always something out to get you in the night whether it’s something emotional, such as walking in on a cheating spouse or literal, as in a homeless guy killing you when you were just trying to give him a ride. The song also paints this creepy picture of the singer with the line “Sometimes I caught myself looking in the mirror/with my eyeballs out/and I’m looking at the fear.” Note: never listen when you’re riding a bus at night; you’ll think someone is coming for you next.
16. “Floyd the Barber”- Nirvana
An early gem from Nirvana that’s pretty weird and disturbing. It follows a guy going to get a haircut and a shave from Floyd the barber from The Andy Griffith Show, but things go wrong as the entire cast proceeds to torture, piss, and cut up their customer. The entire thing paints this bleak, bizarre scene of what we picture as a wholesome cast from Mayberry. Why Kurt had this going on in his head, he probably doesn’t even know, but the cool guitar riff and Cobain’s unique vocals distract you, even if only temporarily from what’s really going on here. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never look at the show the same way again.
15. “Invisible”- Clay Aiken
I understand Clay is trying to be sweet and adoring, but the song starts off with him saying “Whatcha’ doin’ tonight/I wish I could be a fly on your wall/Are you really alone/Who’s stealin’ your dreams.” This makes it sound like he’s standing outside of her bedroom window acting like he’s not trying to stalk her. The chorus is even worse: “If I was invisible/ I would just watch you in your room.” Just think about that for a minute. He would just watch her and she would have no idea he was in there. And they actually put this song on a Kidz Bop album! Do you really want a kid walking around singing this? That line always makes me think of when Kevin Bacon sneaks into that girl’s house and scares the shit out of her in Hollowman. Who knew Clay was such a creeper.
14. “Little Sister”- Queens of the Stone Age
This is one of those sneaky songs where don’t really realize what it’s about until you’ve heard about three or four times. It doesn’t out right say it, but it pretty much implies that this guy wants to hook up with his sister. First, he’s standing outside her window and then he wants to show her all his love. The lyrics are subtle, but the message is pretty clear. It’s also one of those songs that makes you feel dirty for liking it so much. Maybe now you’ll think twice about playing this song when relatives are around. It’s easy to not notice the topic of the song when the guitar riff is so killer. Smooth, Josh Homme, real smooth.
13. “Lullaby”- The Cure
Due to the soft nature of the song, it’s sometimes easy to forget how terrifying it is. The song describes some mythical, horrible spider man (not the one that swings through New York City) coming to eat children. The way Robert Smith describes the spider man hugging you, his tongue being in your eyes, and being eaten by “a thousand shivering, furry holes” is enough to drive any arachnophobe insane. Smith also does double duty as the poor sap who’s so frightened he can barely speak and as the creepy spider man, who begins teasing the victim. The video is even worse. There’s something really scary about Robert Smith looming on the ceiling covered in spider webs. 24 years later and it’s still pretty unnerving.
12. “Ghost”- Depeche Mode
This song seems to get overlooked as being creepy, but it’s downright disturbing. It doesn’t help that it begins with whispering voices that you can only hear if you’re wearing headphones. The song then goes on to describe a girl who is in a way being haunted by her ex. He even says that she’ll grieve until he dies. The thing that makes it so creepy is that he seems to be taking some sort of pleasure out of it; it even seems like he’s out to destroy her life: “Now you’re falling to pieces/Seeing my face wherever you go/Talking to strangers/From a place they’ll never know.” This girl can’t even talk to people anymore all because of her spiteful ex. It even ends with the voices saying “This is her.” “Where?” “There.” It’s almost as if he wants to kill her by the song’s end. I know Depeche Mode is dark, but here they go into disturbing territory.
11. “Rape Me”- Nirvana
The most controversial track off Nirvana’s third studio album In Utero begins with the line “Rape me, rape me my friend.” That alone makes the song disturbing. It’s also what got the song’s meaning misconstrued over the years, even though Cobain has stated that it’s an anti-rape song. Many also attributed the song to being about Cobain’s feelings towards superstardom. Add that on top of the already heavy subject and the track gets even more depressing. Songs about horrifying experiences such as this are always sticky things to deal with and though this is one of the best songs off the album, you always feel weird singing along with it out loud.
10. “Obsession”- Siouxsie and the Banshees
This track makes the act of being a stalker sound normal. It talks about this guy who stalks this poor girl and even breaks into her room just to leave a lock of his hair. He then goes on to apologize since he doesn’t seem to understand why she’s so angry, as if he accidentally left the oven on: “You screamed into my face, get the hell out of my place/Another sign for me/Can you forgive me/For not understanding your ways.” There’s even a hint that he sees it as a game between the two of them. Also, the opening lyrics make it sound like this person is very aware of their problem: “Do you hear this breath it’s an obsessive breath/Do you hear this beat/It’s an obsessive beat.” The music along with the lyrics does a great job of showing the mental breakdown of this person. After listening to this you’ll make sure all the doors and windows are locked tight.
9. “I Want You Now”- Depeche Mode
The song begins with really creepy, awkward heavy breathing followed by some deep moaning and grunting. You sit there wondering how long you have to listen to this when Martin Gore finally sings “I want you now, tomorrow won’t do/There’s a yearning inside/and it’s showing through.” It doesn’t sound that bad at first, but the way he sounds like he’s pleading when he says “We’ve waited for too long/Enough is enough/I want you now,” he’s obviously fed up. It sounds like he’s going to get his way whether she wants him to or not. It’s like he’s hunting her down and ready to tear her apart. To make it worse, there’s some random clip of laughter before the song’s end. To top it all off you can still hear that disturbing moaning throughout the entire song. Moral: be wary of Depeche Mode songs that sound sweet; they usually aren’t.
8. “Black Sabbath”- Black Sabbath
The first track of the heavy metal band’s debut album is the stuff nightmares are made of. Tolling church bells, a damning guitar riff made for any horror movie, and Ozzy’s haunting howls for help all make your skin crawl. The entire song sounds like its own doomsday. The image of Ozzy trying to run from a figure in black and the coming of Satan is terrifying. Even when things pick up after the second verse, it doesn’t do anything to calm your nerves. The entire song does an excellent job of setting up the creepy, haunting atmosphere. Whenever you hear it, you suddenly feel like you’re in an abandon house hoping not to run into any ghouls. Even though the track is creepy, it shows why Black Sabbath are one of the most legendary heavy metal bands around.
7. “Iowa” – Slipknot
There are a lot of intense, grueling songs from Slipknot, but this one is the worst. It’s fifteen minutes of obscure ambient noises that make you uncomfortable, followed by lots of screaming, and even maniacal laughing. The lyrics seem to allude to someone who just killed their lover in an attempt to be with them forever. There’s even a point midway through the song where everything starts playing in reverse. The way Corey Taylor growls “Relax/it’s over/you belong to me/I fill your mouth with dirt/relax, you can never leave” is disturbing enough, but due to its length you have to sit through an assault of sound. It’s like all your senses are being abused at once as you sit there wondering when it’ll end. After a while you’ll want to skip to the next track, but just like a gruesome accident, you sit through wanting to know where the song is going next.
6. “Kinderfeld” – Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson are one of the creepiest bands around and this song shows why. It has demented circus like music playing throughout along with disturbing laughter while Manson whispers “Then I got my wings/and I never even knew it/when I was a worm thought I couldn’t get through it.” There’s also this part during the bridge where a pan flute eerily chirps along. What makes the song even more disturbing is how it’s based on Manson’s grandfather who used to masturbate in the basement and turn on his toy trains to mask what he was doing. Manson would kick up the creepiness factor live when he crawled around on stilts and crutches on stage.
5. “Every Breath You Take” – The Police
The thing that’s funny about this song is everyone thinks Sting is being sentimental; he’s obviously just missing his sweetheart and wants to be with her everywhere she goes. But those people who play it at their weddings are wrong. It’s pretty much a song about stalking and Sting has said this himself. What is so romantic about someone saying “Oh, can’t you see? You belong to me?” Or when he sings “Every bond you break/Every step you take/I’ll be watching you.” And if you need any further proof that this song is about being a total creeper, just look at the video which is pretty much Sting giving the camera intense stares like he’s about the molest the camera crew.
4. “Hurt”- Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash
There are no spooky effects or lyrics describing some horrifying monster here. What makes this song so disturbing is the mellow, somber music while Trent Reznor sings “I hurt myself today/to see if I could feel.” There are so many chilling moments here that it’s hard to pinpoint one, but the chorus has to have the most heartbreaking statement in the entire song: “I will let you down/I will make you hurt.” It’s the ultimate anthem of apathy; this person has completely surrendered and sounds like they’re ready to die. This is why the 2002 cover by Johnny Cash is downright scary. Not only did Cash sound like he was drawing his last breath while singing, he died seven months after its release.
3. “Cryptorchid”- Marilyn Manson
I’ve listened to Manson for quite a while now; I’ve even seen him live twice. While some of his antics did freak me out when I was little, nothing he does really gets to me now, except for this song. There’s something about the weird, distorted music and the opening line “Each time I make my mother cry/an angel dies and falls from heaven” gets under my skin. It doesn’t help that he goes into this creepy falsetto voice at the end of every line. There was a time when I couldn’t even listen to the song at all. I’m over that, sort of. I usually cut the song off before it ends because the ethereal, alien voices chanting “prick your finger it is done/the moon has now eclipsed the sun” is beyond haunting. If you really want to be freaked out, check out the grainy black and white video that accompanies the song. It’s no surprise that MTV refused to play it.
2. The entire Pornography album- The Cure
Okay, so this is cheating, but when listening to this record again, it’s so hard to pick which song is creepier and more disturbing than the others. They’re all chilling and make you picture some gruesome things in your head whether you want to or not. The first song on the album opens with the line “It doesn’t matter if we all die.” It doesn’t get any bleaker than that. Recurring themes of depression and death matched with the inner band turmoil that was going on at the time make this one of the most haunting albums around.
1. “Kim”- Eminem
I am a huge Eminem fan and I’ve been listening to him since I was a kid. When I first heard “Kim” I was really shocked; I just didn’t know what to think. A song about brutally murdering you ex-wife is pretty intense and this song doesn’t hold anything back. It starts out deceptively with him cooing over his daughter before he breaks into “Sit down, bitch you move again I’ll beat the shit out of you!” Then we hear the rapper screaming at the top of his lungs, while a woman representing Kim cries in the background. While those moments are disturbing on their own, there are times where you feel sorry for him, like when he says “You think I’m ugly don’t you?” and “You were supposed to love me.” I get that he was venting his frustration over his marriage at the time and this was certainly better than actually hurting her, but this song is so intense and at times scary that I rarely listen to it today.