This playlist is comprised of songs that are about serial killers, zombies, witches and all other kinds of folk lore, supernatural and paranormal. Many of these songs seem to be like any other on first listen, but when paying closer attention to the lyrics it is clear that the subject matter is far from ordinary.
“John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” by Sufjan Stevens
This song on Sufjan’s album titled “Come on, feel the Illinoise” features piano, soft guitar and Sufjan’s gentle voice. The song tells the story of American serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who killed 33 boys between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. Sufjan’s music is frequently quirky and discusses a variety of topics. In fact he has an entire album dedicated to birds. This album focuses all things Illinois related and is not the only chilling song featured on the album.
Chilling Lyric: “He dressed up like a clown for them, with his face paint white and red/And on his best behavior in a dark room on a bed, he kissed them all/He killed 10,000 people.”
“Zombie” by the Cranberries
“Zombie” was written by The Cranberries in the 1990’s in memory of the victims of the 1993 IRA bombings. The song discusses death and loss, effectively a song of protest. Dolores O’Riordan’s voice is strong and distinct overlaying the background of deep and heavy base notes. Dolores O’Riordan, Irish singer and songwriter, passed away this past January.
Chilling Lyric: “When the violence causes silence, who must be mistaken.”
“White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes
The meaning of this song is less clear, but with multiple part harmony and an upbeat tempo listeners might not realize that the song talks of bloodshed staining the white snow. Consistent with Fleet Foxes style, the song features both percussion, back up singers, harmony, and guitar riffs. Given that this song may seem cheerful to some listeners there is an added dimension of creepiness to the song’s otherwise sunshine personality.
Chilling Lyric: “To keep their little heads from falling in the snow, and I turn rough and there you go/And Michael you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime.”
“In a Week” by Hozier, ft. Karen Crowley
This song tells the story of two individuals who lay down to die together. From the lyrics it appears that these two individuals are lovers. Hozier’s voice is soothing like a lullaby providing quite the juxtaposition with death and the story of the earth reclaiming bodies after death. Interestingly enough, this song is told from the perspective of the two people laying in the field dying. Hozier is also from Ireland and this song takes place in his home country in an area where people frequently met mysterious ends.
Chilling Lyric: “So long we become the flowers, two corpses we were, two corpses I saw/And they’d find us in a week, after the weather gets hot/After the insects have made their claim I’ll be home with you.”
“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon was released in 1978. Zevon describes the werewolves prowling London, eating chinese food and drinking piña coladas. The song is upbeat featuring a consistent piano riff and a guitar solo in the middle. While the song is not exactly scary it gives life to one of the most famous supernatural creatures. “Werewolves of London” was originally written as a dance tune.
Chilling Lyric: “Little old lady got mutilated late last night, werewolves of London again.”
“The Hanging Tree” by Angus and Julia Stone
Angus and Julia Stone sing quietly in haunting voices to tell the story of a man hung at the hanging tree. The story goes that the man hung there killed three people. Angus and Julia Stone match each other’s voices in perfect conversation creating a clear picture of midnight beneath the hanging tree. Most famously featured in the Hunger Games trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, the motion picture “Mocking Jay Part 1” launched this song into fame.
Chilling Lyric: “Are you, are you, coming to the tree?/Where a dead man called out for his love to flee/Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be.”
“Black Magic” by Magic Wands
“Black Magic” is exactly what listeners would expect this song to be about. “Black Magic” by Magic Wands likens this magic to falling in love. The entire song has a form of witchy vibes to it with echoing lyrics and minor chords. This song was Magi Wands’ first single, and the first of songs to come that talked about the supernatural.
Chilling Lyric: “White light my time has come
“Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine
Florence and Machine is well known by many for her extremely powerful voice. In this song Florence sings about seven devils that are plaguing her. She describes them as within her and all around her. This is simply speculation, but seven devils might refer to the seven deadly sins. Florence’s real name is Florence Welch and the song “Seven Devils” was on Welch's second album released in 2011.
Chilling Lyric: “Seven devils all around you, seven devils in your home/See I was dead when I awoke this morning and I will be dead before the day is done.”
“Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
CCR is known for its catchy lyrics and upbeat rock tunes. “Bad Moon Rising” is one of the most well known songs written by them but many do not realize that this song discusses Vietnam, bad luck, death and storms to come. “Bad Moon Rising” was released by CCR in 1969 and is as political as it is spooky.
Chilling Lyric: “Hope you have got your things together, hope you are quite prepared to die.”
Megan Holmen is the assistant news editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_holmen.