This is not your traditional Halloween playlist. This is my off-beat, indie-influenced, thought-provoking list of music that I love to listen to during the Hallow's Eve festivities. Some of these are down-right chilling. Some are fun and whimsical at first listen, but upon hearing the lyrics, you'll realize they are sinister and horrible. Some are perfectly harmless when taken out of context, but unnerving once you understand where they come from.
I would like to thank all the folks who submitted suggestions on facebook for this entry. There were many suggestions that fit the criteria, but I had to trim it down. Because of this, I disqualified anything that was purely instrumental, or sung in a foreign language (sorry Mark). I also trimmed out any hardcore metal or screamer music, because it is generally more annoying than scary (Sorry Rob Zombie). What I came up with is simply my picks - not the ultimate list.
Feel free to suggest other songs - I'll add them into the lineup, or save them for next year!
Mad world - Gary Jules (Originally by Tears for Fears)
As scary as any of these other songs may be, this tune will always be my number one creepy song of the century. Written for Stevens' 2005 Come on, Feel the Illinoise album, the song both depicts the gruesome acts that Gacy committed in the 1970's, but also shares tragic insights into what possibly led the serial killer to commit the horrendous crimes he carried out.
At the end of the song, Stevens makes some unsettling comparisons between Gacy and the common man, which takes this distance horror and makes it incredibly real and personal.
The music video takes this chilling song to a new level of creepy, depicting "Stranger Danger" student safety videos of the 1950 and 1960's, as well as spliced in footage of hitchhikers, kids playing in parks, and youth interacting with older men that bear striking resemblance to Gacy.
Creepiest ending to a song:
"And in my best behavior I am really just like him. Look beneath the floor boards for the secrets I have hid."
Why is it that such disturbing content makes for great music? Why are these songs, while being brutal and disgusting in nature, so catchy and fun to sing? Does this, as Sufjan Stevens implies, say something about the nature of all of us? Or is it simply the conflict that makes for good storytelling.
Either way, this is my top ten for Halloween. I encourage you all to post your thoughts and to let me know which horrifying tunes I missed.