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Songophobia
October 3, 2006 9:14 AM   Subscribe

What inoffensive songs do people find scary? A list asked for by a curious Jarvis Cocker, former frontman of the band Pulp.
My favorite entry:
"Laughing Gnome - Bowie. Scared the crap out of me as a kid. I remember getting my parents to check under the bed. My father, a bit of an evil electronics bastard put a speaker under my bed one night and played the song just as I was drifting off. He then ran in when I started screaming and pulled out a doll from under the bead and chopped its head off with a machete. God I need therapy."
posted by w0mbat (152 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hm, wouldn't this belong on Metafilter proper?
posted by muddgirl at 9:18 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


like it is?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:23 AM on October 3, 2006


Can I just tell you that Teddy Bear's Picnic creeps the fuck out of me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:23 AM on October 3, 2006


Ring Around the Rosie
posted by dead_ at 9:27 AM on October 3, 2006


Que Sera Sera.
posted by moss at 9:29 AM on October 3, 2006


It's full of stars. Couldn't make it past the first minute.
posted by jazon at 9:31 AM on October 3, 2006


Can I just tell you that Teddy Bear's Picnic creeps the fuck out of me.

As a little kid, I thought it was "watch them, catch their underwears" (not "catch them unawares"), which called to mind a vision of naked bears tossing their tightie whiteys about like caps on graduation day. Didn't creep me out, but maybe it should've. Sure puts a different spin on that Grateful Dead logo . . .
posted by gompa at 9:33 AM on October 3, 2006


uhhh...whoops.
posted by muddgirl at 9:34 AM on October 3, 2006


My old 5-cd changer always used to mean listening to mood-inappropriate music as the cd I just put in would finish and switch to something else. I'd often end up with Peter Gabriel's "Passion" (soundtrack to the Last Temptation of Christ) on about 2am with the lights dim, and parts of it really creeped me out.

My dog, on the other hand, is easily freaked out by Sigur Ros.
posted by dreamsign at 9:36 AM on October 3, 2006


The song "Big John" from Johnny Cash used to get me bolting out of the room.

Don't ask.
posted by gcbv at 9:44 AM on October 3, 2006


Chuck E's in Love (the "is he here" part).
posted by gubo at 9:46 AM on October 3, 2006


THat song about the cake in central park in the rain. Really! It was so bizarre, I remember as a 4th grader, I nearly went nuts trying to figure out what the hell it was about. Later, I went nuts from something else.
posted by Mister_A at 9:50 AM on October 3, 2006


You know, I had no idea that their were organizations out there like the bereavement register. You learn something new everyday.
posted by echo0720 at 9:52 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Sally Go Round the Roses
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:52 AM on October 3, 2006


I have no idea how I just managed to post that comment in this thread. Oops.
posted by echo0720 at 9:53 AM on October 3, 2006


I don't know the song, echo0720, but if you hum a few bars, I can fake it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 AM on October 3, 2006


That part in "Dazed And Confused" where Robert Plant sounds like he's hyperventilating. That used to scare me as a kid if it was late at night.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:58 AM on October 3, 2006


Two songs that come immediately to mind as scary are Nick Cave's "Where do we go now but nowhere" and Pavement's "Fight this generation" (from that tension-inducing half-tone step* in the middle section).

*Also used prominently in the score of Total Recall.
posted by Mapes at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2006


Bette Midler - "From a Distance" (God is watching us, God is watching us...)

I speak from experience when I declare that this is the worst song possible to have come on over the piped-in music at the love motel when you and your non-English-speaking date are just starting to get comfortable.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:01 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


"In The Air Tonight" by Phil Collins. My best friend & I would rock out to the Miami Vice soundtrack until this song came on. Then we would turn all the lights out in my room & listen to Phil & get progressively more freaked out. I still can't hear it without getting the willies...
posted by skilletfish at 10:03 AM on October 3, 2006


That Herbie Hancock video (Rock it) with the legs kicking in the air, etc. creeped me out and thus, so did the song. Couldn’t get that kicking pants image out of my head.
The most scary surreal song for me was “Bulls on Parade” - I woke up from a nap and turned on the t.v. and there was a smiling (and unblinking) Steve Forbes introduce Rage Against the Machine on SNL. I thought I had lost my mind for a minute there. (“Was that Steve...Forbes...? On SNL? Introducing...Rage Against the Machine?)

My dog used to bark uncontrollably whenever “Sweet Dreams” was played. (Also about 60% of the time when you said “Pittsburgh” - I have no idea why)
posted by Smedleyman at 10:04 AM on October 3, 2006


Though now I think it is by far the coolest TV theme song ever made, the theme from the cartoon Underdog really creeped me out as a little kid. The show itself was also pretty dark for a kid's show.

The great Butthole Surfers cover of the song does a good job of conveying the same ominous tone.
posted by Arch_Stanton at 10:07 AM on October 3, 2006


i've never been scared of a song like others are describing ... but i was once with a group of people that was listening to a retrospective of John Lennon's life. The host turned off 'revolution #9' because it was creeping him out.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 10:09 AM on October 3, 2006


I used to find 'Mr Roboto' by Styx pretty scary, whenever I was listening to my AM clock radio late at night. I was just 10 though.
posted by Flashman at 10:11 AM on October 3, 2006


I had a girlfriend once who could not listen to Witch Hunt by Rush, but I guess that song was intended to be scary so it doesn't count.
posted by effwerd at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2006


Crispin Glover's Clowny Clown Clown.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 10:16 AM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon freaked me out as a kid. Particularly that song, but the whole album, really.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:22 AM on October 3, 2006


Scary stuff is usually overtly weird or deeply personal.

For the overtly weird, I agree with others in the Cocker thead about Strawberry Fields Forever, A Day In The Life (but it's so cute after the crescendo, that one never really got me), and the Dr. Who theme.

For personal, I'd have to say that the echo-y bit in Going to California always used to send a shiver up my spine. As a kid, it always reminded me of drowning (something that had almost happened) what with "I think I might be sinking" and "throw me a line".

Maxwell's Silver Hammer freaked me out mostly because of all the happy, bopping-along adults who grinned cheerily while it played.

Both Puff the Magic Dragon and Teddy Bears Picnic kinda seemed off to me.

and though I can't at the moment think of a song that fits in this way, I thought this bit from the Cocker thread very insightful:

Anything with a waltz rhythm is scary by nature, like clowns, apart from a proper old-timey waltz of course.
posted by dreamsign at 10:25 AM on October 3, 2006


The song One of These Days by Pink Floyd creeped me out as a kid, because of the guttural "one of these days I'm going to tear you into little pieces" that comes out of nowhere in the middle.

There's a bit of electronica working its way around now that is freaky also. I don't know who does it or what it's called, but there is only one line that repeated over and over in a pitch shifted down voice - "The weekend starts here." Brrr.

The unnamed Ligeti piece in 2001 and the one in Eyes Wide Shut are creepy as well.

Now that I think about it, two creepiest songs I've heard are "Masked Ball" by Jocelyn Pook from the EWS soundtrack, and "Koyanisqaatsi" by Philip Glass.

Under no circumstances listen to those songs in the dark on a good stereo with a subwoofer.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:26 AM on October 3, 2006


A lot of the music from Twin Peaks is pretty scary.
posted by ddf at 10:29 AM on October 3, 2006


Pastabagel: The Ligeti piece in 2001 is creepier in the movie than it actually is. They took the liberty of adding effects to it to make it sound more creepy. Ligeti was not pleased because he had not been asked for permission.
posted by ddf at 10:31 AM on October 3, 2006


I always found "You Are My Sunshine" to be very, very sad. I hear people sobbing the background.
posted by sohcahtoa at 10:31 AM on October 3, 2006


Ah, see, now I feel silly, because I read the whole linked article, and he's referring to songs that were not written with the intention of being scary. I was thrown by the word "inoffensive" in the post.

So I'm going to second what someone else said and pick the Doctor Who theme. Here's some trivia for you - the song "one of these days" on that live pink floyd double album actually includes the dr. who theme as a little joke.

On a more analytical note, the classic scary music - Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, was not actually written as a scary piece of music, it just sounds that way to us now (or at least to our prior us-es in the 40's and 50's) because somehow organ music became synonymous with funerals.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:33 AM on October 3, 2006


ddf- that might exlpain why I can't find a recording of it anywhere. Would you perhaps know what it's called?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:35 AM on October 3, 2006


I've probably mentioned this before in another thread, but I find U2's Beautiful Day creepy because it reminds me of 9/11 (it was very popular at the time, and the video has low-flying airplanes in it).
posted by clevershark at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2006


I really dig "Expands body and show dominate" by brain_drain.
posted by Mister_A at 10:40 AM on October 3, 2006


"Sheep" by Pink Floyd always freaked me out, but I think it's actually supposed to.

Also, "Come on Eileen" skeeves me out still.
posted by psmealey at 10:40 AM on October 3, 2006


Numb's cover of "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood" will result in a bumper-crop of the willies.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:43 AM on October 3, 2006


The eel really creeps me out.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:43 AM on October 3, 2006


Love Roller Coaster, even after learning that the "rumor" of murder wasn't true. Still gives me the chills.
posted by winks007 at 10:47 AM on October 3, 2006


"I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen came out when I was in grade school and it freaked me out.

When I was a teenager, that song by Benny Mardones, "Into the Night" was skeevy, but it SHOULD freak people out.
posted by peep at 10:52 AM on October 3, 2006


dead_ , do you mean "Sally go round the roses" as mentioned by PinkStainlessTail, or is there another one?

"Sally go round the roses" was recorded by the Janettes or Jaynettes, a "girl-group" in the 1960s. It has a very mysterious sound. I heard it only once, on the radio years ago, and it made such an impression that I've always remembered it. I used to try to find a copy of it sometimes. From vague recollection of the lyrics I've wondered whether it alluded to young women getting pregnant in casual relationships. I've also wondered whether it influenced the Rolling Stones' "Just want to see his face".
posted by jam_pony at 10:56 AM on October 3, 2006


Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by The Crash Test Dummies

I think the vocal tones and patterns were so strange for mainstream radio at the time, it really caught my ear. It probably doesn't count because it's a dark song to begin with, but it's the only one I could relate this notion to.
posted by prostyle at 11:01 AM on October 3, 2006


Oh, and Guns and Roses "November Rain." That guitar solo would freak me out when I heard it while trying to go to sleep.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:04 AM on October 3, 2006


The song One of These Days by Pink Floyd creeped me out as a kid, because of the guttural "one of these days I'm going to tear you into little pieces" that comes out of nowhere in the middle.

I once knew a guy who thought that was "one of these days I'm gonna dance with the evil Jesus".

j_p, Sally Go "Round the Roses is on a ton of compilations. Rhino's Best of the Girl Groups 1 for choice.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:05 AM on October 3, 2006


"Careful with that Axe, Eugene" by Pink Floyd always seemed to do the trick.
Surfin' Bird by the Trashmen sounded exactly like the monsters below my bed arguing over what piece of me they'd divvy up (later on the soundtrack to Full Metal Jacket)
Razor Boy by Steely Dan.
Anything off of Smash Your Head Against The Wall by John Entwistle. Go ahead. I couldn't get past the album cover. It was in my brother's stack. I was afraid to put it on the turntable.
posted by hal9k at 11:06 AM on October 3, 2006


Church music used to really freak me out when I was a kid, but so did the whole thing in it's entirety I guess. The stations of the cross with the torture scenes, the art reproductions in the good family bible with militant vengeful angels, infernal pictures etc. The one I remember most was the picture of Abraham ready to sacrifice his son on the altar.
posted by substrate at 11:09 AM on October 3, 2006


For some reason, Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey by Paul McCartney & Wings used to scare the hell out of me as a kid. I have no idea why (it may have something to do the weird tempo shift in the Admiral Halsey part, which I have to admit still weirds me out a bit even now). I used to ask my dad to turn the car radio to a different station when it came on...
posted by Chrischris at 11:09 AM on October 3, 2006


Any song by Steely Dan.
posted by basicchannel at 11:09 AM on October 3, 2006


Mr. Rogers, "You'll Never Go Down the Drain"

When I was little my parents forbade all music but classical to be played in the house and chose not to own a television (they were religious hippies; we spoke in tongues and made our own yoghurt). In this pop culture void, "Mr. Rogers Sings!" somehow made it onto the record shelf, and that song in particular curdled my extremely impressionable young mind with terror. The lyrics:

"You'll never go down
you'll never go down
you'll never go down
the drain..."

made me absolutely certain that I would. Bathtime was torture.
posted by trichomaniac at 11:11 AM on October 3, 2006


Beach Boys, "Never learn not to love." (Barely altered cover of "Cease to exist" by little Charlie Manson.)
posted by jfuller at 11:18 AM on October 3, 2006


Music has never frightened me. But a dog I had once went silly to Biggie Smalls' One More Chance. A song that many would find certainly offensive and is no doubt scary to a parent or two.
posted by juiceCake at 11:23 AM on October 3, 2006


When I was a kid, Hall & Oates "Man Eater" freaked me out. Taken literally, it's a *horrible* song.

I was also really creeped out by that song in Ghostbusters right after the containment grid is shut down. The vocal processing on that guy saying "pleeaassseee" is just wrong.
posted by InnocentBystander at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2006


Was incredibly freaked out by the lyrics to "Aqualung" when I was a child.

When I was in middle school, a church camp workshop used music to accompany a guided meditation, only to inject the part from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" where all of the alarms go off, with all of us there in the darkness lying on the floor scared out of our wits. One of those things where years later I have NO idea what the hell they were trying to accomplish with that...
posted by hermitosis at 11:26 AM on October 3, 2006


"Stay" by Jackson Browne. The transition ("And we remember why we came...") had some startlingly loud drums that were really jarring in contrast to the earlier slow verses. It started me once as a little kid and creeped me out for a while afterward.
posted by rhiannon at 11:26 AM on October 3, 2006


"Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. I was about 16 or so. I was watching the rather creepy video of the song, when I picture fell off the wall behind me! After I peeled myself off the ceiling, I turned the TV off and ran to the safety of my room.

Also, "Feed Me" by Wire...but that song IS creepy.
posted by black8 at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2006


Shakedown Cruise and Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda used to scare the crap out of me when I was about 10. Same for Hotel California. Damn you, stoner DJ's of classic rock radio!

Skillitfish: My friends and I used to do the same thing with In The Air Tonight. I never felt scared though, just "cool." Oy.
posted by Kloryne at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2006


I'm relieved to note that A Day in the Life scares other people. As a kid, this song really terrified me. All my adult life I've carried this secret knowledge, thinkung I was somehow bizarre because this song suggested horrific visions in my head. Glad to know it wasn't just me.
posted by Miko at 11:37 AM on October 3, 2006


Any of that Moody Blues/War of the Worlds Stuff. Not a good album to give to ten-year-old.
posted by sourwookie at 11:38 AM on October 3, 2006


When my sister was young, she was scared to death by "Yello - Oh Yeah"... I mean she was terrified of that song for a long time.

I am suprised nobody has meantioned that one yet.

I think I was freaked out by one song on the "Dirty Dancing" soundtrack... don't remember what one... for some reason it reminded me of those scenes in Indiana Jones Temple of Doom, where they had to walk through and reach into all those roaches... or maybe when they sat down to eat that strange meal in the beginning.
posted by LoopSouth at 11:44 AM on October 3, 2006


It's Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds for me. Beatles or Elton John.
posted by punkfloyd at 11:46 AM on October 3, 2006


The songs that scared me come from seeing movies.

When I was a kid, my older brother and sister used to torment me by singing the theme song to The Blob, which was the first Burt Bacharach and Hal David written song ever recorded and which got me going no end there for awhile.

Now, after watching the movie Seven, I find hearing Time Is On My Side often brings back that scary street scene outside the station.
posted by y2karl at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2006


Night on Disco Mountain from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack... and it's instrumental!
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:53 AM on October 3, 2006


Speaking of Hall and Oates "Man Eater", at the tender age of 5 or 6, thanks to the video, I was firmly convinced that the song was about a werepanther.
posted by khaibit at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2006


Wow did I mess up the grammar on that post. Sorry about that.

As for the inncouous song that freaked me out, "Fly like an Eagle" used to terrify me.
posted by khaibit at 11:56 AM on October 3, 2006


Elton John's "Funeral For a Friend" lead-in to "Love Lies Bleeding" kinda bothered one of my sibs and his buddies, esp. in the dark, early in the morning, after an all night wide-awake slumber party. But they hadn't had much experience with classical music -- it sounds like typical Purcell or Elgar to me.

The Doors' "The Crystal Ship" seemed to have some dark subtext that I couldn't put my finger on, more of sadness and loss than creepiness, but as I got older and more used to the Doors, I realized it was pretty much just their sound.

A lot of medieval European instrumental music has an unaccountably chilling aspect for me.

Was Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" supposed to be scary? It really creeped the hell out of me late, late one night when I'd been reading Strieber and Kunetka's novel Warday, "O Superman came on the radio as I dozed, and I thought I heard the lyric..."in your nuclear arms" -- snapped bolt upright, totally awake and heart pounding at that one.

Finally, Traffic's "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" sounds pretty creepy if you pay attention to the lyrics.
posted by pax digita at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2006


Any song by Steely Dan.

Ditto.
posted by wfc123 at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2006


The Beatles' "Cry Baby Cry"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:27 PM on October 3, 2006


Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd creeped the hell out of me when I was a kid.
posted by hollygoheavy at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2006


Was also way freaked by the long "Funeral For a Friend" intro as a wee one, though I think some d.j. was doing a halloween thing on the radio, talking about skeletons dancing when the maracas came in and so on.

I always though "I am the Walrus" was the creepy Beatles one. Of the pretty well known ones, I mean.

Bowie's Ashes to Ashes video on SNL way back when (w/ Klaus Nomi, I think) was creepy.
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:34 PM on October 3, 2006


"Stay" by Jackson Browne. The transition ("And we remember why we came...") had some startlingly loud drums that were really jarring in contrast to the earlier slow verses. It started me once as a little kid and creeped me out for a while afterward.

It creeped the drummer his own self out. Big time.
posted by hal9k at 12:35 PM on October 3, 2006


Again, with the Steely Dan, and Phil Collins.

Eleanor rigby still freaks me out

Also, the theme songs from st. elsewhere, cheers, and hill st. blues, I think because they were on on sunday nights as i went to bed, and it meant i had to go to school the next day.
posted by HellKatonWheelz at 12:36 PM on October 3, 2006


Oh god, and all James Taylor. and most simon and garfunkle.
posted by HellKatonWheelz at 12:38 PM on October 3, 2006


I don't know if this song frightened me or not, but I DO remember being morbidly fascinated by Maxwell's Silver Hammer when I was a little kid, and listening to it on my dad's stereo over and over trying to figure it out.

Also, when I was in grade school (early 70s), they made us sing Octopus's Garden and I remember not getting it AT ALL and thinking it was very strange...the idea of living underwater like that, and having a garden, and there being shade. Yellow Submarine was another strange one.
posted by atlatl at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2006


Bowie's Ashes to Ashes video on SNL way back when (w/ Klaus Nomi, I think) was creepy.

12/19/1979: Man Who Sold The World, Boys Keep Swinging (YouTube) and TVC15 wit da Klaus.
posted by hal9k at 12:46 PM on October 3, 2006


My parents had the 8-track of the theme music for Summer of 42. I found it so emotionally overwhelming that the only way I could deal was to perform intense (for a 6 year old) interpretive dance around the living room and dining room.
posted by suki at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2006


We need to start a "movies that weren't intended to be scary but were" thread if we're getting into Bowie. As a kid, I had no idea what to make of The Man Who Fell to Earth, and by the time it got into bedroom strobe-light gunplay, the whole thing had me pretty freaked out.
posted by dreamsign at 12:52 PM on October 3, 2006


Another one that freaked me out a little as a college student: Peter Gabriel's "Jeux san Frontieres" ("Games without Frontiers") -- once I got used to it, I was fine, and even better when I heard about its origin, but the first time I caught it on the radio, I was all like, wha hell?
posted by pax digita at 1:01 PM on October 3, 2006


The Star-Spangled Banner
posted by Pendragon at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Somewhere Over The Rainbow used to freak me out when I was a little kid living with my mother in our single-parent household because I used to think it meant she was going to leave me all alone.
posted by kcds at 1:31 PM on October 3, 2006


Freaks Come Out At Night, by Whodini. I was about 8 at the time. I thought he was singing about, you know, freaks. Zombies, chainsaw murderers, and the like. I begged my parents not to go out after dark.
posted by Roommate at 1:33 PM on October 3, 2006


"Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" by Three Dog Night. I wouldn't call it innocuous, though; pernicious, more like.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 2:02 PM on October 3, 2006


Beatles are scary. "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," and "A Day in the Life" all give me the willies.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:25 PM on October 3, 2006


Not a song, but the Shel Silverstein poem Hungry Mungry gave me the WORST nightmares of the universe being gone except for his clacking teeth.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:29 PM on October 3, 2006


The opening of Beethoven's 9th.

I remember as a kid that was the opening theme to the NBC Nightly News, and what usually followed was casualty numbers from Vietnam. I was between 3 and 5 at the time, and it spooked the crap out of me everytime I heard it
posted by darren at 2:32 PM on October 3, 2006


Was Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" supposed to be scary?

Certainly freaked me out when my dad played it when I was little.

More terrifying songs my dad played and/or sang to me as lullabies - Brian Eno's "Put a Straw Under Baby" and the entire album "Eskimo" by The Residents.

"Come Together" scared me a lot when I was a kid, specifically "hair down to his knee"...I pictured a creepy Cousin It-type monster.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2006


When I was a leetle kid (1960s) there was a song, I think it was called "DOA".

More recently, there is a song (spiritual?) on the soundtrack for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". I wanna say it was called "Oh Death". That is one scary song.
posted by jaronson at 2:44 PM on October 3, 2006


When I was a kid, the commercial jingle for Tums terrified me. As soon as the commercial came on, I'd run out of the room or hide under a table. There's nothing like "Tum tum tum tum TUMMMSSS" to strike utter dread into the heart of a 4 year old.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 2:44 PM on October 3, 2006


>I once knew a guy who thought that was "one of these days I'm gonna dance with the evil Jesus".

Either we have mutual friends or this is much more common than I imagined.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:45 PM on October 3, 2006


jaronson: The DOA song is probably by Bloodrock.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:49 PM on October 3, 2006


As a young Wu, I was creeped the fuck out the first time I heard "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" on a scratchy FM radio broadcast just before going to sleep. Those voices are so ghostly and ethereal, and the (to my young ears) nonsense syllables were just otherworldly, in a very unsettling way.

I still find it mildly unsettling, actually.
posted by Dr. Wu at 3:00 PM on October 3, 2006


Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World has been used in a couple of movies/TV shows, where the music is playing over an incongruously violent scene. As such the song kinda gives me the creeps now.
posted by quin at 3:13 PM on October 3, 2006


Yeah, I'll second "Oh Death", jaronson. It was creepy in the movie and creepy period. "Go to Sleep You Little Baby" (the sirens' song) was creepy too, but more deliciously so.
posted by pax digita at 3:17 PM on October 3, 2006


jaronson : I wanna say it was called "Oh Death". That is one scary song.

The song is indeed called "O Death" (wiki lists it has having no 'h' in 'Oh')

The version they have in the movie, with the marching noises in the background, is good. But if you want to hear the truly impressive and creepy version, get a copy of the original. No music, no sound but his voice singing a cappella.

It's amazing and more than a little disturbing.
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on October 3, 2006


Now, after watching the movie Seven, I find hearing Time Is On My Side often brings back that scary street scene outside the station.

Is that in Seven? I remember the song being used to incredibly creepy effect in Fallen.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:26 PM on October 3, 2006


In the song Bimbo, an innocuous children's son, the singer describes the little boy in the song as having holes in his jeans that his knees were coming out of. My girlfriend always imagines that the little boy had some sort of horrific knee trauma, and was shocked by how glib everyone in the song was about the subject.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:44 PM on October 3, 2006


PinkStainlessTail, recently the company I work for used that song in an ad campaign that ran nearly constantly here in the office. It was unbelievably infectious, and inevitably everyone was walking around singing it under their breath.

Which as a fan of Fallen, creeped me right the fuck out.
posted by quin at 3:45 PM on October 3, 2006


35 years ago end of this month... the original alternative radio... Beeker Street after 11pm on KAAY Little Rock... Clyde Clifford and his slooooow FM voice fading in and out from distance... his studio wind chimes in the background. I'm listening to him in the dark long past this schoolboy's bedtime.

"Duane Allman has died... [FM fade] motorcycle accident... [pause] so in memory of Duane Allman... this is In Memory of Elizabeth Reed."
posted by hal9k at 4:18 PM on October 3, 2006


Hotel California always scared the fuck out of me as a kid, and I always turn it over now even still. Just gives me that sinking feeling I dont like it, I know it's stupid, but I just hate that song becasue as a kid I was spooked by it.
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 4:26 PM on October 3, 2006


Tom Waits version ( take on/ song about dwarves ) of Whistle While You Work... or whatever it was from some compilation
posted by RubberHen at 4:30 PM on October 3, 2006


Roommate - Freaks Come Out At Night, by Whodini.

By the time this had come out, I had already been informed that the freaks are on the floor now dancing to beats, I compute. Thus the escape of the freaks into the larger community did not upset me as they seemed not to pose too big a problem, being as they could easily be distracted by a fresh beat.

Slade used to freak me out after I watched a documentary about a person of limited mental capacity who was framed and sent down for a murder when he was at home watching Slade on Top of the Pops. He kept saying that the men with mirrors on their hats did it.
posted by asok at 4:48 PM on October 3, 2006


"...evil electronics bastard...."

Yeah...I've met a few of them in my day, too....
posted by rougy at 4:52 PM on October 3, 2006


My two cents:

Had a friend in high school who woke up in a cold sweat when he heard Kraftwerk's "We are the Robots" intro.

For me it was some stupid song on a kid's halloween album, "The Goblins" or something like that.

Dr. Demento had some songs on his show that I won't mention for fear of getting them stuck in my head....
posted by rougy at 4:57 PM on October 3, 2006


Suicide - Frankie Teardrop

From AMG:
"But none of this is adequate preparation for "Frankie Teardrop," one of the duo's definitive moments, and one of the most harrowing songs ever recorded. A ten-minute descent into the soul-crushing existence of a young factory worker, Rev's tense, repetitive rhythms and Vega's deadpan delivery and horrifying, almost inhuman screams make the song more literally and poetically political than the work of bands who wore their radical philosophies on their sleeves.'

That, and anything by Wolf Eyes, Hair Police, etc...
posted by heylight at 4:59 PM on October 3, 2006


When I was a kid, Charlie Daniels' "The Legend of Wooley Swamp" scared the living bejesus out of me. I had the .45 and my brother and I would play it over and over. More of a spoken-word ghost story, it's creepy.

Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" was kinda creepy, too.
posted by zardoz at 5:10 PM on October 3, 2006


Suicide - Frankie Teardrop

This didn't happen to me but to a friend: he dozed off while Frankie Teardrop was playing, and he ended up dreaming Alan Vega's narrative. When Vega screams, he woke up and thought he was dying.
posted by Kronoss at 5:11 PM on October 3, 2006


Time is on our side - For sure, that song gives me the creeps, all because of the movie Fallen. I live alone, and anytime it plays on the radio, I get goosebumps and change the station!
posted by ramix at 5:21 PM on October 3, 2006


My ex-girlfriend couldn't listen to Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. I occasionally used to freak her out just by humming it.
posted by Soulfather at 5:39 PM on October 3, 2006


Me and My Arrow - Harry Nilson, _The Point!_

Every time the line "straighter than narrow" came on I imagined horrible, inflexible, pointy arrow people pointing at me. Creeped me right out. Plus the album cover looked like it was knitted. Perhaps with arrows.
posted by Sparx at 5:50 PM on October 3, 2006


When I was a kid, I got really freaked out during the spoken word part in the middle of Knights in White Satin. It came on in the middle of the night when I had the radio on because I couldn't sleep, probably due to some deep family stress.
posted by matildaben at 6:01 PM on October 3, 2006


The ending of Wilco's Poor Places always gets me... when the mechanical voice of the operator pierces the static and repeats the letters Yankee, Hotel, Foxtrot...
posted by borborygmi at 6:05 PM on October 3, 2006


My ex-girlfriend couldn't listen to Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. I occasionally used to freak her out just by humming it.

You have to whistle it to be truly creepy.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:07 PM on October 3, 2006


Doctor Doctor by the Thompson Twins. I'm not entirely sure why, but to some extent, I think it was the same thing as a number of other songs that made me vaguely uncomfortable on the cusp of becoming a teenager: listening to them, I could touch the sense that the world was bigger than my experience and I'd have to confront that and all kinds of changes. The line "come with me and make believe, we can travel to eternity", along with the music behind it, created such a sense of that kind of enlarging space for me that I think I simply got a kind of vertigo every time I heard it.
posted by weston at 6:18 PM on October 3, 2006


The video for The Residents' "Hello Skinny." Everything about it is creepy. I saw it for the first time in 1984 or so and it weirded me out then, and is still very... odd.
posted by Zack_Replica at 6:19 PM on October 3, 2006


Man, just about everything by The Residents up to Cube-E (when they started getting kinda flaccid) is creepy.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:29 PM on October 3, 2006


"Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill. There's one line, "We both break down and cry" that made me think that both the singer and the subject of the song werer robots who were dying because they were running out of batteries or got wet or something. So upsetting to a four year old!
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 6:32 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


'Seasons In The Sun' by Terry Jacks. Every time I hear that song I'm instantly five years old and picturing the singer on his deathbed talking about how hard it was to die when all the birds were singing in the sky...
posted by spoobnooble at 6:48 PM on October 3, 2006


Yeah spoobnooble - Seasons In The Sun - I always think of “The Night Chicago Died” when I hear that too.

The Pogues do a mean “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out...” gives me the shivers.
Also, now, “In Dreams” by Roy Orbison. Yeah, thank you Blue Velvet.

Although for headache inducing - if I hear “Takin’ Care of Business” from Bachman Turner Overdrive again....
posted by Smedleyman at 7:05 PM on October 3, 2006


"Donna" by Ritchie Valens and "Sleep Walk" by Santo and Johnny.

Probably because they were both in that Lou Diamond Philips movie about Valens which I saw on TV when I was very young - one of the first movies I saw in which the main "character" died - and so much of those fifties tunes have a ghostly, detached feeling in their production.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:26 PM on October 3, 2006


Elvis Presley singing

"Hide in the kitchen, hide in the hall,
Ain't gonna do ya no -- good at all . . .:

scares me now as a grown up remembering certain scary, obsessive persons I have known.

As does Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee," where the singer reveals that the beloved Marie of his song "is only six years old" and that he can't be with her "because her mom did not agree."

That used to say "sad divorced Daddy" to me; and now it says "Humbert Humbert."
posted by jfwlucy at 7:32 PM on October 3, 2006


Kate Bush, Breathing. I was 10 years old when that song got high radio play about the same time I became paranoid about the U.S. and Soviet Union pointing nuclear weapons at each other.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:50 PM on October 3, 2006


"In heaven, everything is fine...."
posted by Sullenshady at 7:58 PM on October 3, 2006


Best of the Guess Who had some pretty dark stuff running through it, finishing out with "Hang On To Your Life". That was a spooky song! My buddy and I used to play it as loud as we could stand it in a dark room as ...yourlifeyourlifeyourlifeyourlife seemed to fade into a black silent abyss. Still kinda curls my toes.
posted by ironictwist at 8:02 PM on October 3, 2006


The Beatles, 'Run for your life'. And 'Jesus loves the acid' by the Electric Ecstasy Club.
posted by Mocata at 8:08 PM on October 3, 2006


Is that in Seven? I remember the song being used to incredibly creepy effect in Fallen.

Right you are. I am no movie maven. Well, I had the second syllable right.
posted by y2karl at 8:10 PM on October 3, 2006


Oh, Kirsty MacColl's Miss Otis Regrets and Dave Matthews Long Black Veil both have a certain ghostly quality...
posted by ironictwist at 8:14 PM on October 3, 2006


"God Bless America" and "I'm Proud To Be An American" strike me as creepy and scary, though they're apparently not meant to do so. (Neither of these songs is U.S. National Anthem by the way, though they emphasized both -- and ignored "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- at Louisville's last July 4th fireworks bash.)
posted by davy at 8:26 PM on October 3, 2006


Another vote for "O Superman" here. Back in the 80s, one of our rock stations played nothing but New Wave during the overnight hours, and I'd sleep with my radio on. That song woke me up the first time I heard it. I remember stirring awake, not knowing why, and then slowly becoming aware of this hypnotic strobing-type sound....and then the bit about "here come the planes..." Weirded me out big time.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:30 PM on October 3, 2006


"The cat came back". WTF indestructable zombie cat?
posted by flaterik at 8:49 PM on October 3, 2006


Holy CRAP! Other people who find the Teddy Bears' Picnic creepy.

My entire life, people have laughed at me for this. And finally, finally, finally I find that I'm not alone!
posted by Netzapper at 9:02 PM on October 3, 2006


Pink Floyd's "When the Tigers Broke Free, which ends "And that's how the High Command took my daddy from me." ....and I saw The Wall performed when I was ten, so.

Simon & Garfunkel's "Voices of Old People."

Tim Robbins does a version of Pete Seeger's "All My Children of the Sun" with a chorus of hypnotized-sounding kids singing about narrowly escaping death by plane crash and waterfall.

But the really bewildering one was a children's song called "Rubber Blubber Whale," in which the singer repeatedly instructs: "everybody rub-a-dub your rubber blubber whale." I took this to mean that every child but me had a little toy whale to love, and felt horribly bereft.
posted by hippugeek at 9:05 PM on October 3, 2006


Again, wasn't the FPP about songs that are NOT supposed to be scary and/or creepy?
posted by davy at 9:34 PM on October 3, 2006


Time of the Season by the Zombies...ahh
posted by dinah at 10:29 PM on October 3, 2006


My (then) 3-year old brother used to run up the stairs and hide under the bed when my Mom used to spin Nightflight to Venus by Boney M.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:34 PM on October 3, 2006


When I was 14, and living in London for a month on the prospect that my family might have been moving there permanently, I was having the time of my life. But whenever I listened to "Raining in Baltimore" by Counting Crows, which was masochistically frequent, I would freak out a little bit. Something about the line "I should buy myself a new car" just made me think of a guy who was one bad day away from killing himself. Maybe that was the point, though.

It was certainly the point in "A Warm Place," by Nine Inch Nails, which is a beautiful song set in hell
posted by Navelgazer at 11:46 PM on October 3, 2006


the Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"

I like the song, but it's really quite creepy. I'm not sure if this started before it was used in the remake of The Hills Have Eyes or not. But that's how it is.

I was also scared - terrified! - of the dancing letter U on Sesame Street when I was small (I'm pretty sure he had a song). Almost twenty years later, my parents still won't let me forget it.
posted by anjamu at 11:49 PM on October 3, 2006


Any song I may have found creepy as a small kid became something I loved latter. Or perhaps, I find 'creepy' a pleasure. Certainly I tend to think of music in a minor key more 'serious' than that in major.

But the song that first struck me hard was Donovan's "Atlantis". My radio got left on all night, and it was playing while I was in that special state between sleep and waking. I had to buy the 45. I find it haunting, and that delights me.

Bloodrock's DOA was mentioned above. Outstanding song way ahead of its time. One of the first songs I sought back when I got Napster:
"Life is flowing out of my body.
Pain is flowing out with my blood.
The sheets are warm and moist where I'm lying.
God in heaven, teach me how to die."


But then, that was intended to be creepy.
posted by Goofyy at 12:38 AM on October 4, 2006


I find 'creepy' a pleasure. I've never see a scary movie, heard a scary song, read a scary book. Ghost Story and Shadowland by Peter Straub (great novels) comer close.

You guys are just all silly!
posted by Chasuk at 2:05 AM on October 4, 2006


Third on "Seasons in the Sun." I never found it sad or maudlin, only horrifying. Bloodcurdling. I think that around the time it was popular one of my grandparents died, so it's just too damned literal for me. When I hear that song, I too am 6 years old again and overwhelmed by the awareness that we're all going to DIE.
posted by Pliskie at 2:37 AM on October 4, 2006


Years ago in college, I was hanging out with a friend who was playing a tape of Bach. "Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme" ("Sleepers Awake, the Voice is Calling") came on, and for some reason, I felt really anxious. This happened every time I would hear the song. I finally figured out why: it was the music used in the Friday the 13th video game for the Commodore 64 whenever you'd go into the chapel. The game's reliance on 'subliminal' (really, more like startling) horrific images led to my associating it with the song. How's that for some classical conditioning?

The instrumental bit at the end of "Strawberry Fields" creeped me out after I'd been told all the Paul is dead stuff. I couldn't listen to "Revolution #9" alone in the dark until I was about 21!

When I realized it was about a ghost horse, Michael Martin Murphey's "Wildfire" became creepy to me.

While it was designed to freak people out (and be a 'message' song), I've only been able to listen to Rhoda Dakar's "The Boiler" twice.

Something about the "intruder alert" timbre of "Subdivisions" by Rush freaked me out, but I liked the rest of the song.

There's one note in "Green Eyed Lady" by Sugarloaf that's a bit James Bondish that I still find somewhat unnerving.

"The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"

And I can't be the only one to say this: "Tubular Bells."
posted by kimota at 5:50 AM on October 4, 2006


Oh, my parents had a record with Ennio Morricone's "Man With A Harmonica." It absolutely freaked me out when I was about 9, and I had to leave the room rather than listen to it.
posted by kimota at 6:17 AM on October 4, 2006


Eli's Coming by Three Dog Night.

The song had always haunted me, given me chills when I heard it, but I could never explain why... until it was featured on the episode of Sports Night where they explained Robert Guillaume's stroke. The Dan character nailed it, even though it's literally a song about an inveterate womanizer, it comes off as a warning of a dark foreboding unknown, a harbinger of terrible news and consequence.

Hide your heart, girl.
posted by davelog at 7:52 AM on October 4, 2006


I remember hearing "I Put a Spell on You" as a kid. Just the eerie-waltzy chords following those words would give me goosebumps up my spine. It was like a song the zombies sang.
posted by melixxa600 at 8:22 AM on October 4, 2006


Whitney Houston - I Will Always Love You: No idea.

Prince - Seven: Used to have these weird nightmares about being sucked into tubes as in that video.

The theme song from Northern Exposure: Must have been the harmonica.
posted by sian at 10:19 AM on October 4, 2006


lol
spoonoble: seasons in the sun scared the crap out of me too, I give it a fourth.

Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" album made me really nervous, I called it "Bat Out of Heck."

Was a huge Kiss fan too - odd for a little catholic girl I know, but "Hotter than Hell" was "Hotter than Heck" in my lexicon, and the song "Great Expectations" on Destroyer creeped me right out the door. The "clutched breast" part and the weird-assed noises in it scared the jeebus out of me.

Also - Capital I song on Sesame Street. And a lot of these mentioned.

Great, great thread...

/Hides back in the closet
posted by mad_little_monkey at 11:16 AM on October 4, 2006


O Death never bothered me until I saw Ralph Stanley do it by himself fin a small bluegrass club alone in a spotlight. I was sure he was singing to The Reaper somewhere in th eshadows in the back of the room. Very creepy.

Capitol I off of Sesame Street is a very disconcerting song, and Andrew Bird does a live version of it that plays up this weirdness.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:11 PM on October 4, 2006


"I was also scared - terrified! - of the dancing letter U on Sesame Street when I was small "

Hey, me too! And Spider Man from the Electric Company weirded me out. He was nothing like the cartoon, he threw a net, it was an obviously fake Spider Man (the cartoon one was real) but everyone treated him like he was real - just what the HELL was going on there?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:13 PM on October 4, 2006


You know, I loved Orange sings Carmen from Sesame Street, but a lot of people were creeped out by it.


And the Capital I song, upon relistening, is still disconcerting, still haunts.

posted by mad_little_monkey at 6:39 PM on October 4, 2006


In my youth, I recall hearing "Boris the Spider" by The Who played very loudly in complete darkness. What overly imaginitive kid could really handle.... "creep-y, craw-ly, creep-y, craw-ly"... over and over w/o getting freaked?
posted by Just Ask, Just Tell at 7:38 PM on October 4, 2006


Yeah, great thread, and thanks for reminding me of Seasons in the Sun's creepiness. Vote #5. Also, Billy Don't Be a Hero.
posted by kcds at 7:53 AM on October 5, 2006


How the heck has noone mentioned Make Your Own Kind Of Music by Cass Elliot? And In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans?
posted by cerulgalactus at 3:08 AM on October 7, 2006


Mr_Zero! Perchance, would you happen to have a copy of the high fidelity version of The Eel ? Or would you know the nearest available hyperlink?

My gratitude would be yours!
posted by Tzarius at 4:53 AM on October 9, 2006


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