Now that you’re sufficiently on edge, lets talk scary music! So when people think music, “scary” isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind, right? Well the magical thing about music is that it is capable of invoking any kind of emotion. In horror movies a soundtrack is particularly important to the overall impact of what’s happening on screen. The music helps to create atmosphere which allows for a deeper emotional response
Example you say?
Take this video by YouTuber and filmaker, Bobby Burns.
Add a Gothic filter, some chilling music (yes that was a pun); and Voilà! Disney’s hit film “Frozen” makes your hair stand on end, and your blood run cold. (Okay I’ll stop)
I know you’re interested right? So in honor of the Halloween season, lets take a look at some of the ‘scariest’ music out there!
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Song of Joy” 1996
Contrary to it’s lighthearted title, Nick Cave’s “Song of Joy” is a dark and eerie piece from his album “Murder Ballads”..Equally dark and eerie. It chronicles a mysterious man who, on a cold winter night, chooses a house at random to seek shelter. He tells the story of a murderer, and the gruesome crimes in which he committed. The lyrics are beautifully poetic, but if I were the dude listening to his story. . . I probably wouldn’t let him in.
Radiohead – “Climbing Up the Walls” 1997
When you think Radiohead, you think of music that is utterly haunting. Probably best known for their song Creep, Radiohead has remained relevant through the years with music that is so masterful in form and execution, it still can’t be topped. One song that stands out in particular in my quest for ‘scary’ is “Climbing Up the Walls” from their album “OK COMPUTER”. A song that is presented from the point of view of . . . well a murderous psychopath. The lyrics are so intense that it feels as though you’re looking directly into the mind of someone truly disturbed.
The Beatles – “Revolution 9” 1968
Okay so this one is just weird and creepy, not simply because of the song itself, but because of its place in history. This experimental sound collage by The Beatles apparently inspired cult leader Charles Manson to commit the atrocities he did, due to some strange interpretation he had of the piece.
Randy Newman – “In Germany Before the War” 1977
Randy Newman is probably best known for his work in various Pixar films; (“Toy Story”, “A Bugs Life”, “Monsters Inc”, Etc.) Before that however, Newman wrote some pretty harrowing pieces. I chose to add “In Germany Before the War” because of how genuinely powerful, and very real, the emotions that are evoked from this song seem to be. On the surface, this song is about the “Düsseldorf Ripper”, a serial killer of children who was at large in 1931. Going even deeper, it is a powerful metaphor for a country about to enter a period more horrific than any form of media could possibly conjure. The melody of this song is absolutely chilling, and I can’t listen to it without getting some serious goosebumps.
Joseph Bishara – “Insidious” 2011
Okay I hope you didn’t listen to that with headphones in. . . Oh wait – Yes I do! I’m insidious like that. (Sorry, I said I’d stop…I lied.)
Insidious, though receiving mixed reviews, it was positively received overall due to its fresh take on a been there done that genre. No matter how you felt about the movie, you can’t deny that the soundtrack was absolutely terrifying. Most of the score was actually improvised, with a sort of atonal screeching of the violins to put you on edge, and sudden bangs on the keys of a piano to really make your heart pounce. Composer, Joseph Bishara, did an amazing job at creating a tense and suspenseful atmosphere. (Fun fact: Bishara also plays the red faced demon in the film.)
Giuseppe Tartini – “Devil’s Trill Sonata” 1713 – 1740 (Exact date unknown)
So I felt I needed to add a little classical to the compilation. This masterpiece is by the Italian Baroque Composer, Tartini; a violinist known for his incredible technique. There is so much mystique to this song and its creation that it definitely gets a place on the list. The legend goes that Tartini was visited by the Devil in his dreams, in which he made a contract with the entity, that it would be at his service on all occasions. In order to see what kind of musician he was, Tartini handed the Devil his violin. What followed was a sonata so absolutely beautiful that it left Tartini breathless. A song that surpassed anything he had ever heard or could possibly imagine. When he awoke he grabbed his fiddle and desperately attempted to recreate the piece he had heard in his dreams. The result was his greatest work, the “Devil’s Trill Sonata”. However, Tartini found his piece to be so inferior to the song in his dreams, that he was tempted to destroy his fiddle and leave the world of music forever. Over the years, the sonata and its composer have been stooped in mystery, and only a violinist of virtuosic skill could possibly play a piece so ‘devilishly’ difficult. Take a listen (I mean REALLY listen), and its supernatural origins will seem very real.
Cover by Hit House (Original by Duran Duran) – “Ordinary World” 2017
Okay I got a little carried away on the last dude, so here is a cool one. “Ordinary World” is a song by Duran Duran released in 1993, Essentially it’s about dealing with the loss of someone you love, and learning how to cope and move on with life. Recently it was used as the theme song for the Horror Survival game “The Evil Within 2“, where it has been reworked by Hit House to create a more eerie and menacing twist to the song. In the context of the game, the words become very literal, as the protagonist must overcome the ghosts of his past, traverse a nightmarish world to find his daughter, and return to the peaceful life he once knew. “And as I try to make my way / To the ordinary world / I will learn to survive”.
This list could go on and on, but I think I’m gonna end it here. . . Cause I’m writing this at 3 in the morning, It’s storming outside, and I’m pretty sure I heard something in the other room.
Got some songs you find scary? Let us know in the comments!
Got some topics you’d like to see us tackle? Let us know in the comments!
I guess what I’m trying to say is. . .LET’S HEAR YOUR COMMENTS PEOPLE!