songs

Two weeks ago, I shared my favorite films and television episodes to watch during the month of October. With today being Halloween, I figured it’d be fitting to also share some of my favorite scary songs.

Much like my taste in movies, I tend to seek out music that has a dark or haunting quality to it, either lyrically or instrumentally. Out of all the songs I’ve ever listened to, these are the five that always send a shiver down my spine:

1. “Night of the Sadist” (1965) by Larry and the Blue Notes

This chilling garage rock classic tells the story of a psychopath attacking a young couple late at night on lovers’ lane, only to inexplicably spare their lives. Every time I listen to this song, I can’t help but think of the Phantom Killer and the Zodiac Killer — two real-life serial killers who had a similar M.O.

He grabbed my throat
I could feel the blade of his knife

songs

2. “Ballad of Dwight Fry” (1971) by Alice Cooper

In both his band and solo career, Alice Cooper became known for his unique brand of shock-rock antics and macabre music. One of the Alice Cooper band’s greatest compositions is the haunting and chaotic “Ballad of Dwight Fry,” which depicts the mental breakdown of a man locked away in an insane asylum.

See my lonely mind explode
When I’ve gone insane

songs

3. “Subway Song” (1979) by The Cure

Over their nearly 40-year career, the goth/new wave band The Cure have released many dark and despairing tunes. “Subway Song” is easily the most terrifying of them all. It reminds me of the 1980 film Maniac, which has a scene where the killer stalks a woman in the subway. Unlike the couple in “Night of the Sadist,” the victim in this song doesn’t make it out alive.

She tries hard not to run
But she feels she’s not alone

songs

4. “Meet Murder My Angel” (1984) by Soft Cell

Soft Cell may be best known for their hit cover of “Tainted Love,” but the synthpop duo’s original songs often explored darker themes and the seedier side of life. “Meet Murder My Angel” is among their most disturbing output; in the song, a killer describes the pleasure he derives from murdering his victim.

You’re shaking all over
It’s time to cross over the threshold

songs

5. Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

Composed by J. S. Bach, this 18th-century work is one of the most famous pieces of organ music. Unsurprisingly, the spooky composition is a popular choice for classic Halloween playlists. I’ve always thought of the organ as an inherently eerie instrument. It should be used in horror movie soundtracks more often.

songs