Creepiest Songs Playlist

My sister and I have been working on this for years, gradually adding songs to the list as we hear them. The general rule: they have to seem normal (even romantic) until you listen to the lyrics because it’s always creepier when the creepiness sneaks up on you. Like deranged toddlers. It’s delicious. And the work isn’t done yet — like Pokémon fans, we want to catch ’em all. But since it’s that special time of year where we celebrate all things creepy, and because I haven’t posted anything in a while, I figured I’d share what we have so far. Enjoy! And if you can think of any additions, please list them below. (Also, these are in no particular order, and the links go to Youtube videos as official as achievable.)

1. “Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates
H&O are a guilty pleasure of mine, and this song seems really upbeat when you don’t pay attention to the lyrics (which my mom, for one, never does). The first verse even seems pretty run-of-the-mill until you get to the last line before the chorus that says, “You can’t escape my private eyes…” And suddenly it becomes a stalker theme song.

2. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
This is probably the most famous stalker theme song, but it still counts because if you’re not really paying attention to the lyrics, it sounds like a normal, you-broke-my-heart-but-I’m-still-in-love song. But it’s really, really not.

3. “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” by Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra, featuring vocalist Val Rosing
This is a little different from the others on the list because it sounds super-creepy but is actually — when considering the lyrics alone — just a sweet children’s song from the ’30s. Which makes the song as a whole even creepier.

4. “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart
My sister and I used to laugh about this song — the bad synths, the cheesy, wailing guitar, the fact that Hart seems to think that wearing sunglasses at night makes him cool — until we heard it on the radio on the way to the airport one fateful day. And we realized two things: a) it’s actually pretty awesome (in a cheesy, ’80s pop music way), and b) it’s a classic stalker song filled with veiled threats alluding to switchblades and at the same time trying to be reassuring by telling the beloved, “Don’t be afraid.” Which makes me afraid.

5. “Living Room” by Tegan and Sara
My sister gets the credit for this one. Another stalker song, this time with a banjo. But, admittedly, if Tegan Quin confessed to spending every morning obsessively watching me go about my daily business, I’d invite her in for a glass of wine instead of calling the cops.

6. “One Way or Another” by Blondie
If we were to compare songs to real stalkers, this one would be Stalker Sarah, a little bit older, in heels.

7. “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band
It really does sound like a regular love song throughout most of it, until you get to 3:17. I won’t spoil the surprise in case you don’t already know what I’m talking about.

8. “One of These Nights” by The Eagles
It took me forever to realize that this was actually a threat veiled in sweet nothings. Don Henley, a love song is no longer romantic if you threaten to come up behind and “get” me.

9. “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League
Like the Police song above, this one is pretty obviously stalker-creepy, but I didn’t realize it until the Swiffer commercials. I’m going to assume that other people lived the majority of their lives thinking this was just a New Wave dance song, too, and I’m blowing your minds right now.

10. “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull
The line “Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent” and the later, connected line, “Sitting in the cold sun, watching the frilly panties run” is really all that needs to be mentioned about this song. Also, ick.

11. “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie
Another seemingly normal love song, assuming that the title isn’t a literal vow. But the line at 5:38 changes everything. As casual as he tries to make it sound, it is not okay to look into someone’s window as you “slowly pass.” Maybe it’s not at the stalker level, but it’s still creepy.

12. “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” by Coheed and Cambria
While the parenthetical subtitle of the song is pretty metal, most of the lyrics are fairly tame on a surface level. It’s just a guy debating with himself about leaving his girlfriend, right? Nope. In the spoken part in the middle of the song, it’s revealed that the protagonist is having a conversation with his bicycle about killing her off. Which takes this song (and the rest of the album) to a Son of Sam level of creepiness.

13. “Come Sail Away” by Styx
No, it isn’t a love song. It’s about an alien abduction. That may not surprise you, but it took some people I know (see #1) around 20 years to realize it. Which makes it perfect for the list.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween: A Celebration of Death and Rebirth

Halloween, short for All Hallows Evening (–> Hallow-even’–> Hallowe’en) is best known as a festival for spirits, the night when the veil between the worlds of the living and dead are thinnest. Celtic pagans call it Samhain (pronounced ‘sah-win, ‘sow-in, or sown with the ow pronounced like the onomatopoeia), which means “summer’s end” in Old Irish. It marks the beginning of the “dark half” of the year when the natural world dies and the days grow short. To keep at bay the spirits who would emerge as vegetation shriveled and animals were going to slaughter, people would leave offerings outside their doors, light bonfires, and disguise themselves in the costumes of ghosts and goblins. These are the origins of our Halloween traditions.

Interestingly, many scholars believe that the “dark half” of the year preceded the “light half” in the old Celtic calendar, making Samhain the Celtic pagan New Year. This juxtaposition of death and new beginnings is incredibly powerful, not only as a symbol of the unending cycle of life and death, but also as a metaphor for personal reinvention and rebirth. One doesn’t need to be religious in order to appreciate the regenerative symbolism of traditional Samhain rites, such as walking between two bonfires — a ritual of purification — and throwing the bones of slaughtered livestock into a fire in an effort, I assume, to symbolically and literally cast away death. The latter reminds me, in a way, of the temple burning ritual held at burns across the world (Burning Man being the most famous). Throughout the festival, burners bring photos, letters, various objects reminding them of loved ones or precious or painful memories, and on the last night (or, at the Georgia burn Alchemy, the last sunrise), the temple goes up in flames. It’s a time of both communion with the past and of rebirth — not by burying the past, but releasing it. Likewise, Samhain offers a night to both honor the dead (be it loved ones or old regrets) and celebrate the promise of new life come morning.