If music be the fuel of fear, play on: Tunes of terror, songs to scare

Want to come out to play? Image: Pixabay

Want to come out to play?
Image: Pixabay

Ah, music. There’s not a lot can convey and channel emotion like a tune. Whether you’re hearts achey-breaking and you need a good old weep, or you’re in the mood to shake you’re booty and crave a tune you can throw some shapes to, listening to music can be the catharsis you need.

But put aside your sparkly boob tubes and your glittery platform heels. And stop your sobbing, you big Jessie, cos today we don’t want to be cheered up and the only tears I want to see are tears of sheer terror.

Today I’m gonna share with you my top creepy chords, horns of horror and songs of Satan.

Now, being an old Goth, this task has proved all the easier by the fact I’ve spent years listening to bands whose intention was creep me out.

So, first up, housewive’s favourite The Cure with Lullaby.

Now, I confess it’s the video that freaks me out as much as the song. Okay, the lyrics are pretty creepy – it all seems to be about being eaten – but Rob Smith trapped in bed, with a DARK version of his pyjama-clad self crawling around the ceiling? Horrific.

Now for a proper bit of full-on, non-commercial Goth-ness. The Fields of the Nephilim’s Psychonaut.

I don’t think these guys ever troubled the charts. They never cropped up on Top of the Pops – front men who look like a cross between a Spaghetti Western anti-hero and Brad Pitt’s Louis from Interview with the Vampire wouldn’t have rubbed along well in the party-fuelled, brainless atmosphere of late eighties / early nineties TOTP.

Want to know the scariest thing about the Neff?

We knew a Watchman (not a  DC superhero – it’s what the Neff’s hardcore fans called themselves) called Nigel who followed the band around the country, going to every gig. As one of the privileged few, Nige got to know frontman Carl McCoy, one day asking him what the words of the chant in the 12 inch version of Psychonaut meant. You see, Carl wasn’t playing Weekend Goth, he was a follower of Sumerian Gods, a fan of occultist Aleister Crowley …

All of the prayers and chants on Nephilim records are real. So Carl didn’t exactly say ‘if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you’ … But it was close. Dark forces indeed.

Next up, a truly nasty song from Siouxsie and the Banshees – Rawhead and Bloody Bones.

I coud’ve chosen Peek-A-Boo or Happy House or Carouselthe first about voyeurs, the second with its jangly, off key tune, the last a kid’s nightmare about fairground rides – but Rawhead is truly unpleasant. You can probably tell from the title.

Things are hiding – in wells, cupboards, under the stairs. These things have claws – and teeth. And there’s drowning.

Someone put the lights on.

Let’s leave my youth and try a classic – Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens.

You can hear the bones rattle, the scrape of coffin lids as the dead rise. This is what I want played at my funeral. That or maybe Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult – which I’m sure will be a great comfort to my grieving relatives … Or not.

Last and possibly weirdest in a Halloween countdown – The Police, Every Breath You Take.

Yes, I know, it’s a lovely tune and it sounds romantic – oh, he can’t bear to spend a moment away from her, ain’t that grand! However. Listen to the lyrics. Really listen.

He wants to own her. He talks about her oath breaking and fake smiles – he’s watching every move she makes, listening to her breathing.

Does that sound like love – or stalking?*

Yup, Every Breath You Take is the scariest song on the list – by far.


What’s your favourite scary song? Do let me know – I love them.

*If you add Wrapped Around Your Finger, Roxanne, Can’t Stand Losing You, Don’t Stand So Close to Me … Sting had some real issues around women and relationships.

6 thoughts on “If music be the fuel of fear, play on: Tunes of terror, songs to scare

    1. Yes Carl McCoy! Despite his questionable occult dabblings, he really was one of the most handsome human beings I’d ever seen- him and Adam Ant. Trudy Styler, is it? Yes, it is, I just googled her. I think much of Sting’s chuntering about how awful women are came before they got together – though not Every Breath You Take, so not sure what that says about their relationship!.

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  1. You know, you are right about EBYT. I don’t focus on lyrics much, my mind wanders. I’m more about the mood of the song and the feeling I get from the music and the voice. But in that video, Sting very much looks like a psychopath. You’re absolutely right. I’ve never been a fan of Sting, he’s always rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ve never been able to say why. Now I have some ammunition.

    That Siouxsie video is incredibly creepy. As far as creepy videos go, I’m not sure I’ve seen its equal.

    I was disappointed that the Cure video was something I was “not authorized to view in this country.” I don’t know what that’s all about. I thought there was freedom and whatnot on this half of the globe. Probably a capitalist somewhere being a dick about it.

    I never took you for a Goth, Lynn, but I must say, I suddenly understand why you take to my writing. I’m more metal than Goth (am I supposed to capitalize it?) but I did kind of dabble in it back in the day.

    Reading the words “Fields of the Nephilim” activated some long dead synapses in the far reaches of my brain. I had completely forgotten that there ever was such a band, or that I bought their cassette just because I liked the cover. Wow.

    Good post, high five!

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    1. Thanks Walt! Yes, a Goth long ago, though never a white faced one and always kept my own hair colour – black hair with freckles doesn’t really go. Still listen to this stuff too, which is probably undignified in such an ageing old fart.
      Sorry about the Cure vid-very odd. As you say, someone’s making money out of that somewhere.
      Sting is irritating – his last project was a musical set in the Tyneside shipyards (which bombed disastrously) and there’s something ingenious about a man who bangs on about how marvellous their hometown is when they haven’t lived there for decades…
      I listen to a bit of rock too, well Foo Fighters and loved Nirvana – though I’m not an ACDC, Metallica gal or anything of that ilk.
      And the Neff are still plugging away, if you fancy popping along to one of their gigs …

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