Some songs simply have the ability to crawl under your skin and stay there. This is a list of five tracks that are of a disturbing nature, whether this is due to the melody, the vocals or the lyrics and subject matter. So here are five songs that should give you goose-bumps, with hopefully more to come.
Number Five: “97’ Bonnie & Clyde” by Tori Amos. “97’ Bonnie & Clyde” is an Eminem song covered by Tori Amos on her 2001 concept album, Strange Little Girls. While many would argue that Eminem’s version is equally or more disturbing, Eminem’s song is backed with beats; Tori’s version is a slow, bizarre dirge, where the words are spoken, not rapped. Of course the words themselves are what make this song demented: “…where’s mama? / She’s taking a little nap in the trunk / Oh that smell / da-da musta runned over a skunk.” The way Tori speaks these words, of someone deranged but trying to act innocent, is bone-chilling, and the backing violins really get your heart pumping.
Number Four: “Slow Motion” by Third Eye Blind. “Slow Motion” is a track off of Third Eye Blind’s 1999 albumBlue. This song is a slow-paced diary of a “young urban psychopath,” who gets off on hard drugs, depraved sex, domestic abuse and murder. But it isn’t that simple. There are lines in the song which suggest that he may have a conscience; for example, he says after shooting a classmate, “I guess I didn’t mean it.” However, this is followed by, “But man. You shoulda seen it / His flesh explode.” Every time the narrator does something criminal or psychotic, he seems to have second thoughts, but immediately these thoughts are vanquished by his fascination with death. Essentially, this song has a seductive melody with graphic lyrics, which in the end suggest that this boy’s obsession with violence is rooted in what he sees on TV. Personally, this song reminds me of Tawni O’Dell’s book, Back Roads.
Number Three: “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. “Red Right Hand” is a song from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, off of their 1994 album Let Love In. It was also featured in the movie Scream and has been covered by Pete Yorn and the Arctic Monkeys. From the title alone, one might surmise that this song is about a killer. Whether this is true or not, the lyrics suggest he is a man of mystery that you shouldn’t get involved with (“He’s a god, he’s a man, he’s a ghost, he’s a guru”). The song talks about being able to find this man in the “dusty black coat” on the outskirts of town and his ability to get you material things. Perhaps the most telling line is, “You’re one microscopic cog/in his catastrophic plan.” So, this song is clearly about a man of power, whether he’s a killer, a member of the mafia or the devil himself.
Number Two: “Vena Cava 1” by Diamanda Galas. “Vena Cava 1” is a track by Diamanda Galas, off of her 1993 album, Vena Cava. This is one of those songs that are creepy not because of the lyrics, but because of the way the lyrics are sung. In fact, this song is half spoken-word, half shriek, and is almost thirteen minutes long. When she repeatedly screeches and purrs “what time is it,” you get chills up your spine, not to mention the segments when she’s squawking like a bird. This song is the tale of a madwoman who seems to be locked inside her own head. “Vena Cava 1” is borderline violent in its suggestive, aggressive lunacy.
Number One: “Rape Me” by Nirvana. “Rape Me” is Nirvana’s second single from 1993’s In Utero. With a controversial title from a slightly controversial band (who played this song at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awardsdespite being told not to), one would expect this song to have been naturally hated by most. But despite the band’s lyrics (“rape me/rape me again,”) Cobain had openly stated to Spin magazine that the song is anti-rape: “It’s like she’s saying, ‘Rape me, go ahead, rape me, beat me. You’ll never kill me. I’ll survive this…’” Despite Nirvana’s true intentions, many hear this song and still think of violent abuse, and it’s hard not to, especially at the end when Cobain screams “Rape me!” over and over. If you want another eerie track from Nirvana, check out “Polly.”