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Top 20 Songs That Are Actually Really Creepy

Top 20 Songs That Are Actually Really Creepy
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Andy Hammersmith
You might love a song, but have you listened closely? For this list, we'll be looking at the most unsettling, strange, and/or creepy-sounding lyrics in music. Our countdown includes songs by artists Maroon 5, Suzanne Vega, The Police and more!

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Songs with Disturbing Lyrics. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most unsettling, strange, and/or creepy-sounding lyrics in music. Did we forget a song that freaks you out? Let us know in the comments below.

#20: “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” (1967)

Neil Diamond

No stranger to pop hits, Neil Diamond has made a career out of fantastic singles. This particular one focuses on a coming-of-age moment for a woman. Considering that this comes from the singer’s older perspective, it all sounds a bit creepy in hindsight. Diamond mentions that the girl is on the cusp of maturity while saying that he loves her. There’s a gray area in the words that leaves this song to be open to interpretation. It’s uncertain if this situation goes as far as being illegal, but the words make this apparent love story seem less than normal.

#19: “Animals” (2014)

Maroon 5

While the band is likely working in metaphors, Maroon 5 still brings a dark edge to “Animals” that’s hard to ignore. The lyrics deal with a person so obsessed with love that they portray their relationship in brutal terms. In a constant state of turmoil, these lovers find themselves back together despite their toxic energy. Adam Levine also describes hunting down his partner like prey and eating her. When you watch the music video, this graphic imagery really comes through in violent terms. The pop song definitely doesn’t mince words about the twisted mindset of its protagonist. It might be all for show, but there’s still an undeniably disturbing feel to the words.

#18: “Blurred Lines” (2013)

Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Williams

In the spring and summer of 2013, “Blurred Lines” was a sensation that couldn’t be escaped. The song also attracted tons of controversy for the writers’ lyrics about gender roles. Robin Thicke throws around terms like “domesticate” and “liberate,” insinuating that women need men around to guide them. Some called the track misogynistic and others felt like it was just fluff that fueled a catchy single. Either way, there are still some choice lines from Thicke and T.I. that complicate things. It’s difficult to sidestep the apparent meaning of the words, even if the technical elements of the production are on point.

#17: “Seventeen” (1989)

Winger

Before the end of glam metal, Winger came out with a catchy song that contains some questionable lyrics. “Seventeen” deals with a man encountering an underage girl and contemplating a relationship with her. The singer doesn’t spend much time thinking things over, appearing to be all too eager to be with a seventeen-year-old. There’s even the inclusion of her father saying that she’s clearly too young for this guy. It’s a hit that engages with a controversial subject, without ever stopping to consider the larger implications. Other tracks might try to hide their creepiness, but this single seems to revel in it.

#16: “Pumped Up Kicks” (2010)

Foster the People

Breaking into the mainstream with this hit, Foster the People attracted headlines for their topical lyrics. “Pumped Up Kicks” has all the buzzy energy of an indie pop single with a focus on gun violence. The band is able to juggle these two opposites with confidence, telling the story of a student that seeks revenge on his classmates. It’s a plot with several real-life inspirations in recent American history. With an upbeat delivery, the singer tells the listeners about a disturbed individual that feels even more relevant as the years go by. This earned the track a more controversial reputation in the US.

#15: “Sail Away” (1972)

Randy Newman

In his early singer/songwriter days, Randy Newman confronted difficult subjects in unpredictable ways. His track “Sail Away” talks directly about one of the more taboo topics of its kind. Using the point of view of a slave trader, the main character issues a false promise to people heading for a new world. It’s a song full of ironies that feel applicable to the injustice of today’s world. Full of sadness, the real meaning behind Newman’s words speaks to one of the worst chapters in human history. It’s a heavy theme that’s poignant and profound in its depiction of slavery.

#14: “Luka” (1987)

Suzanne Vega

Using a folksy blend of rock, Suzanne Vega crafted a musical gem from the 1980s. The serious plot concerns a boy named Luka that grapples with mistreatment from his family. Clearly referencing physical violence, the singer paints a picture of abuse in the titular character’s life. The saddest part is that the child blames himself for everything. Setting itself apart from other songwriting of the era, this track chooses to engage with an issue that many artists shy away from. It’s ultimately a devastating story that makes us reconsider an important topic from a kid’s perspective.

#13: “Excitable Boy” (1978)

Warren Zevon

An underrated songwriter from the 1970s, Warren Zevon wrote satirical songs that weren’t afraid to be outrageous and even humorous. “Excitable Boy” is one such track that follows a young man’s violent journey to adulthood. Early lyrics detail his eccentric behavior, before going on to explain the character’s awful crimes. All the while, the hook keeps talking about how people write him off with the titular phrase. Things take a very dark turn despite the happy piano and vocal performance. Zevon’s words might be shocking to some, but they also create a story that’s entirely unique for its content.

#12: “Every Breath You Take” (1983)

The Police

Among the more famous songs of the 1980s, “Every Breath You Take” is well-known for its lyrics about a jealous man. Sting pulls no punches in describing the worst impulses of a person consumed by his former lover. This includes behavior that can only be described as stalking, with the narrator saying that they’re watching their partner’s every move. It’s a complicated tale of a controlling personality that doesn’t conform to the usual cliches about love. Instead of creating a typical narrative, the songwriter delves into the kind of relationship that should be avoided at all costs.

#11: “Closer” (1994)

Nine Inch Nails

With complete intensity in its every second, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails can terrify listeners that aren’t ready for its darkest depths. Singer Trent Reznor presents a murky tale about lust that’s equal parts disturbing and X-rated. The harsh lyrics leave nothing to the imagination with their sexual content, making many other rock songs sound tame by comparison. Reznor’s tone of voice turns this track into a deeply unsettling look at desire and love. Containing some of the most raw and alarming word choices in music history, this 1994 single is not for your casual listener.

#10: “Seasons in the Sun” (1974)

Terry Jacks

Thanks to the very bright pop sounds this big time ‘70s hit, it's easy to think of the song as purely a happy reflection on life. Despite its cheery sound however, the lyrics tell a story of death and passing on. Each verse describes a loved one who the dying narrator is leaving behind, whether friends, parents or lovers. This catchy interpretation of Jacques Brel's “Le Moribond,” (which is considerably darker than even this version), helped it top charts around the world. As Elton John famously sang: sad songs say so much.

#9: “Thirteen” (1972)

Big Star

'Thirteen' is ostensibly a loving and tender song about childhood innocence, that has inspired power-poppers for decades. Legendary singer-songwriter Alex Chilton insisted that the song is written from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old boy who's falling in love. But though he claimed the song is about naive childhood, many have suggested it's actually about having sex with underage girls. Lines like 'Would you be an outlaw for my love,” even suggest the song's sinister undertones. Alex Chilton also questionably once dedicated the track at a concert to Michael Jackson, when Jackson was facing criminal accusations. Joke or not, that wasn’t cool.

#8: “Father Figure” (1987)

George Michael

Given how much interpretation and personal experience can affect lyrics, the late, great George Michael was definitely inviting controversy when he wrote “Father Figure.” Many of the lyrics suggest a boundless and paternal love that will last forever. The complicated part, however, is the song's clear focus on sex, which makes all of its youthful references seem, well, criminal. Michael even says in one part of the song that love can be mistaken for a crime. In George's defense, there's plenty of evidence to suggest his daddy, preacher, and teacher are more of a sexual role-play. Though Michael's love may be lawful, he certainly leaves you guessing.

#7: “Run for Your Life” (1965)

The Beatles

The Beatles drew plenty of inspiration from Elvis, and based 'Run For Your Life' on a line from his song “Baby, Let's Play House.” John Lennon focused in on the words 'I'd rather see you dead little girl/Than to be with another man,' and built around that sinister tone and content for his track. Lennon’s narrator goes on to admit how awful he is and threatens his partner with murder repeatedly. The song was so disturbing that Lennon later called it his least favorite Beatles track, and one he didn't spend much time on. The song is all the more horrific, considering how blatant its message is.

#6: "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)" (1967)

The Doors

This cover of a Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht show song is a strange and dark track by the Doors, filled with polka, drinking, and debauchery. Even the early verses about whisky bars show a level of alcohol dependency that most would consider worrisome. It's when singer Jim Morrison screams this line, however, "Show me the way to the next little girl" that the track becomes scary. Along with the implications of drunken, underage sex, the desperation in the Doors’ delivery is just as haunting. Needless to say, this track grows creepier the more you listen to it, particularly since the original was sung from the perspective of a group of sex workers.

#5: “Brown Sugar” (1971)

The Rolling Stones

Though Mick Jagger slurs his way through the lyrics of “Brown Sugar,” a keen ear reveals the song is about slavery and sex. The opening verse is particularly brutal as it describes slaves' journey to America, and a relentless whipping from a slaver. Jagger goes on to describe how good his African-American partner tastes, before crooning 'Just like a young girl should.' While each of these lines is individually repugnant, placing them back-to-back is even worse. Considering the layers of misogyny, colonialism, violence, and other issues present in the song, it's no surprise Mick has continued to censor the lyrics live.

#4: “Wrong Way” (1996)

Sublime

Here’s a Sublime-ly depressing song. Annie is a teen girl, soon forced into sex work to support her drunk father and awful brothers. When the song's protagonist steps in to help her, he realizes that leaving her job will make her life an even bigger challenge. Though the man tries to be good to Annie, he too objectifies her and uses Annie for his own sexual pleasure. They run away together, but it doesn’t last. Despite its peppy music, 'Wrong Way' is not only sad, but grimly realistic; the band’s bassist maintained it was based on a true story. What makes it truly depressing, however, is how even the good-intentioned acts make things worse.

#3: "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" (1962)

The Crystals

Iconic songwriter Carole King once saw her friend Eva covered in bruises after a weekend with her boyfriend. Eva explained her partner hit her because he loved her, so King and her husband wrote “He Hit Me” to highlight her delusions. Despite positive intentions, the song comes off as disturbingly pro-abuse thanks to the production of Phil Spector (who, decades later, was convicted of murdering his a woman). Even The Crystals have said they felt weird recording the song, especially since Spector insisted they sing it sincerely. The offensive content kept the song from selling well and many radio stations refused to play it.

#2: "Lemon Incest" (1984)

Serge Gainsbourg & Charlotte Gainsbourg

Before her own musical and acting career really took off in the 2000s, Charlotte Gainsbourg sang on a track with her famous father, Serge. 'Lemon Incest' is about a love between a father and daughter, who lament that they can't pursue their desire for each other. The lyrics were even more scandalous because, well, let’s see . . . Charlotte was a teen when it was recorded . . . aaaaaand Serge and Charlotte were also father and daughter themselves. The suggestive music video featuring both Gainsbourgs doubled down on the provocation, and sure didn't ease the claims that the song glorified multiple sex offenses.

#1: "Where The Wild Roses Grow" (1995)

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds & Kylie Minogue

Nick Cave sure loves his traditional murder ballads. But the Australian bard himself wrote “Where The Wild Roses Grow” to tell both sides of a brutal story. The track opens as Cave quickly romances Kylie Minogue (with her haunting refrain in the song: “They call me The Wild Rose /But my name was Elisa Day). He almost immediately becomes the first man she ever loves. But as the story agonizingly plays out from both characters’ perspectives, within days, Cave takes Kylie out to the river to kill her. As poetic and haunting as the song may be, it's a supremely disturbing tale of love turned deadly.
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