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!

11 Comments

  1. Evy
    Oct 27, 2012

    Hey! in response to #1. In my defense, I’m going to say it’s a generational thing. Ask anyone over the age of 40 if they listen to the lyrics and I’ll bet you’d be surprised at how few do. And besides, you know I have a chronic case of lyricosis and never know the real words anyway (i.e., “jungle love, strawberry man, it’s making me crazy”).

    You know what’s funny? I’ve heard that Sting has said that Every Breath You Take isn’t about a guy stalking his ex-girlfriend! Yeah, right Sting.

    #11: I always look into people’s houses as I pass by to get design ideas. I didn’t know everyone else didn’t do this. hahahah

    #13: Ask anyone my age what this song is about and they’ll say it’s a love song. Period. 😉 We know nothing.

    This is hilarious, Heid. I would LOVE for you to do a whole book on it. It’s funny and clever and … written by you (my three favorite things!).

    I just thought of #14. How about that one by The Kiillers where he’s watching this girl through a window having sex with another guy. That’s pretty creepy.

    • Heidi Parton
      Oct 29, 2012

      Glad I could distract you from your homework for a bit! 🙂

      I almost included “Mr. Brightside,” but when I looked at the lyrics again, I realized that it’s more so about a love triangle and the guy imagining what his lover might be doing when he’s not around (he sings, “And it’s all in my head” during the chorus). There are lots of different interpretations of the situation described in the song, but I tend to think of it (based on the story in the music video and because he calls himself Mr. Brightside) that he’s the “other guy” in the girl’s life, and he’s imagining what she’s doing with her boyfriend/husband/sugar daddy when she gets home after being with him.

      I also almost added Paula Cole’s “Mississippi” to the list because I thought she was singing, “I’ve got a little bit of thunder / Trapped inside of the car,” in the chorus and imagined that she was singing about putting her ex-boyfriend in the trunk of her car (the thunder being him making a racket while trying to escape) and pushing the car into the Mississippi River. But then I double-checked the lyrics and saw that she’s actually singing, “I’ve got a little bit of thunder / Trapped inside of a cloud,” which is where thunder usually is, and she’s just pissed that her boyfriend left her. It turns out that lyricosis is a genetic disorder. Haha

      • Evy
        Oct 29, 2012

        @ lyricosis is a genetic disorder: ha! and you’re welcome. 😉

  2. Evy
    Oct 27, 2012

    By the way, thank you for the distraction. I am in homework overload!

  3. Rick Williams
    Oct 28, 2012

    Nutcases, all.

  4. Rivertrance
    Nov 1, 2012

    Concerning #11, This definitely has a cultural element. If you travel in the Netherlands, you’ll find nobody draws their drapes at night… assuming they have any in the first place. When you live in a country with small space, you don’t make it smaller at night by closing drapes. I’m constantly amazed in cities in the Netherlands as you walk by and you can see all that’s going on… people enjoying themselves, and a wonderful sense of interior design, all as if by invitation. There’s a nice saying the Netherlands “If you don’t have to sneak, there is no mystique” (-:}

    • Heidi Parton
      Nov 5, 2012

      Haha Yeah, I think the difference lies in the intent. If you’re like my mom, just passing by on a stroll or a drive and someone’s lights are on and you take a look at the room and say, “My, that’s a really nice couch, and oh! look at that table lamp,” it’s not really creepy. But (as in the song) if you’re infatuated with someone who is obviously not interested and make it a habit to “casually” walk by their house and stare into their windows to peek at them unawares, it’s creepy. 😛

      • Evy
        Nov 5, 2012

        I think you’re absolutely right, hon!

  5. Rivertrance
    Nov 1, 2012

    On a somewhat different level that will absolutely not be lost on anyone reading here, can I offer something in song that fits this genre in the sense of literally being frightening:

    Some verse (lyric) from, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem:

    Opening stanza:

    What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
    Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons
    No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, —
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
    What candles may be held to speed them at all?
    Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
    The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

    Refrain:

    Lord, have mercy upon them
    Christ, have mercy upon them
    Lord, have mercy upon them

    Stanza:

    Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death:
    Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
    Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
    We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
    Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
    He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed Shrapnel.
    We chorused when he sang aloft;
    We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.
    Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
    We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
    No soldier’s paid to kick against his powers.
    We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
    And greater wars; when each proud fighter brags
    He wars on Death – for Life; not men – for flags.

    Refrain:

    Remember, gentle Jesus,
    That I am the reason for Thy time on earth,
    Do not cast me out on that day.
    Seeking me, Thou didst sink down wearily,
    Thou hast saved me by enduring the cross,
    Such travail must not be in vain.
    I groan, like the sinner that I am,
    Guilt reddens my face,
    Oh God spare the supplicant.
    Thou, who pardoned Mary
    And heeded the thief,
    Hast given me hope as well.
    Give me a place among the sheep
    And separate me from the goats,
    Let me stand at Thy right hand.
    When the damned are cast away
    And consigned to the searing flames,
    Call me to be with the blessed.
    Bowed down in supplication I beg Thee,
    My heart as though ground to ashes:
    Help me in my last hour.

    The narrative Stanzas are poems by Wilfred Owen, an English first World War poet and soldier.

    Poetry has power to communicate; music to me is mystical.

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