What are the scariest songs ever?

Elvis_lWith Halloween upon us, it’s time to ask: What is the scariest song ever? I don’t mean jokey monster music like "Werewolves of London" or "Thriller," or sorta ominous but safely abstract metaphorical fare like "Season of the Witch" or "Sympathy for the Devil." No, I mean songs that actually scare you, like a good horror movie does. Top on my list is by Elvis Costello (pictured), of all people. His 1986 mini-epic "I Want You" is a terrifying depiction of an obsessive masochist confronting his cheating lover. As it builds to a climax, you don’t know if he’s going to kill her, kill himself, or both. At the end, the singer sounds spent, as if his will to live, or his very lifeblood, is spilling out. SInds shivers up my spine every time I hear it. (Fiona Apple has a faithful, thoroughly chilling live cover version, with Elvis backing her on guitar, that you can watch on YouTube.)

Other truly scary songs: Geto Boys’ "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," Genesis’ "Mama" (no, really!), Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ "I Put a Spell on You," Britney Spears’ "… Baby One More Time" (I swear, I can hear her soul choking and dying), and of course, Mussorgsky’s "Night on Bald Mountain." Which songs frighten you, PopWatchers?

addCredit(“Elvis Costello: Richard Mildenhall/Camera Press/Retna”)

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  • Jael

    “Every Breath You Take” by the Police. Stalkers are freaky.

  • Anonymous

    House of the Raising Sun by The Animals

  • Babuda

    Joe Walsh’s “The Confessor” always creeped me out.

  • Eddie

    “Holocaust,” by Big Star, is scarily bleak (“Your mother’s dead, she said, ‘don’t be afraid.’” Your mother’s dead, you’re all alone, she’s in her bed.”).

    • clyde amberton

      no not really holocaust i mean thats not even scary

  • John

    Scariest song ever to me-DOA by Bloodrock from the early 70′s. It disturbs me to this day to hear it

  • kath

    I have two, both creeped me out as a kid. I remember listening to “I Shot The Sherrif” in the dark one night and was terrified! Same goes for “Tainted Love”, that song scared me for some reason.

  • TBA

    “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell really creeped me out as a kid growing up in the 80s. Video was chilling.

  • susan

    Peter Gabriel’s “Intruder” about somebody breaking into your house, and “snapshot” about an assassination of a politician (or so you think)

  • Adam

    The scariest song ever is “Spinal Meningitis Got Me Down” by Ween. Hearing that child like voice say “Am I going to see God mommy, Am I going to die” is chilling.

  • Gringo

    the song that always sends chills up my spine is Tori Amos’ rendition of Eminim’s “97 Bonnie & Clyde”

  • Houstonian Jen in DC

    I don’t know why, but when I was younger De La Soul’s “Me, Myself, and I” used to freak me out. A close second on the freak-out-meter was “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” by the Geto Boys. “I sit alone in my four-cornered room staring at candles…” Yikes!

  • SH

    Eminem’s “Stan” a few years ago used to creep the hell out of me and still does.

  • Jennifer

    “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Creep-y!

  • Stephen

    “Helter Skelter” and “Sexy Sadie” by The Beatles creep me out by default. I can’t listen to them without picturing a wide-eyed maniacal Charles Manson.

  • Jack Fear

    @Susan: That was the album that caused Atlantic Record president Ahmet Ertegun to ask, with genuine concern, “Has Peter been *hospitalized*?”

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