4 Reasons Why the Horror Genre Jams for the Music Industry

From Alice Cooper to Rob Zombie, music plays a massive role.

4 Reasons Why the Horror Genre Jams for the Music Industry

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense: music sets the mood. And there's nothing moodier than a good, sultry, sick horror film! Or horror TV series, for that matter. When looking at the thematic displays of how horror plays out in music, the fact is for quite a while we only saw the genre penetrate a certain type of music: rock n' roll.

Case in Point: Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Etc. Etc.

Something about rock n' roll and heavy metal just fit the mood viscerally. It wasn't for everyone, though. Some of it was just way too freakish. Like how many couldn't stomach splatterpunk or the likes of the Human Centipede, many couldn't handle Ozzy Osbourne ripping off the head of a bat during a live performance.

Still, we're seeing a bit of a resurgence of horrific imagery, but not quite as, say, intense as we may be used to. Simply put, horror has earned subtlety that's propelled the genre into a new kind of regimen. We have examples like GET OUT and A QUIET PLACE and gothic horror pieces like CRIMSON PEAK and Guillermo del Toro's foray into the SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK brand. Long story short, it's less about the freak factor and jump scares and more about the ambiance, the vision, the characters, and the resonation with good ol' fashioned human fear!

Without a doubt, that's playing up in the music industry, too.

Here we have examples of how many bands and musicians are taking cue from the likes of Alice Cooper and evolving it into their own beasts. Like we said, it's not about sensational stabbing anymore. Don't get us wrong: we dig some Rob Zombie just as much as anybody else—

But these days, while some of the imagery you'll see in music videos might still make your skin crawl, it's not so much what's crawling on your skin as it is why and how. Check out these still wicked music videos and see for yourself. They're winners in horror (and believe it or not, not all of them are from the hard rock or heavy metal genre!).

Billie Eilish

Disturbing. Really. Like a true artist breaking the mold, the chick here took a sort of theme that was deep under the surface with the likes of Lorde, and put it right on the skin. With spiders.

Nine Inch Nails

Ah, yes. A classic rock band with horror sentimentality. However, they're not as gritty as White Zombie or even Marilyn Manson. There's always been something so mature about the work Trent Reznor does, but this particular video launches something not as prevalent in NIN work: goth horror. And it's simply gorgeous to look at. In fact, if Edgar Allan Poe ever did make a music video, this would be it.


The first time I saw this video, I felt traumatized—didn't know what to think of it. This was especially the case when I reviewed some of her other work, and it was so not like this video. She was some weird combination of Christina Aguilera meets Lilith the night demon, and she was going to eat my kids in the middle of the night. Clearly we were getting somewhere with a type of music that merged that hideous horror we were so used to for years and injected a bit of psychological terror that got burned in the brain for days. Maybe even weeks.

And Lastly, Die Antwoord

I'm baffled. Literally. By the way, did anyone know that this duo had roles in the iconic throwback sci-fi film CHAPPY? Yep. Still, aside from that, I saw this video and I was beyond perplexed. The content bordered on sheer auditory porn laced with fierce visuals of haunting perversion—and yet you didn't see a single ounce of blood, or corpse, or demons, or other supernatural entities. Essentially it seemed like humanity at its ugliest, but not with necessarily negative connotation—but quirkiness, oddity and the bluntly bizarre. We're thinking that was the point. You just have to check out the video for yourself. It'll freek you out.

And This Happens to Be Only Just Four Examples....

Rest assured, more and more artists are experimenting with the kind of visuals that ring true with the horror genre and heighten the musicality that penetrates the soul and turns you into a spirit-sucking demon. After all, think of Evanescence for one. Powerful stuff. Deep. Dark. Devilish even. The subject matter echoes with us deeply in a way the horror genre does, because it's those things we fear in life that reminds us of just how frail we really are and how we can fight and fight to rise up against it, which normally is how horror tends to be—it's about a conflict between good and evil, and yes sometimes evil wins, but good also does by simply trying to survive. Something we identify with quite a bit.

Let us know what other scores you've heard that awaken the dead inside you as well! And let's keep feeding our ears with the shadows that mean the most.

pop culture
Pierre Roustan, Author of THE CAIN LETTERS and SCARY HORROR STUFF!
Pierre Roustan, Author of THE CAIN LETTERS and SCARY HORROR STUFF!
Read next: Jay Z: From Worst to Best
Pierre Roustan, Author of THE CAIN LETTERS and SCARY HORROR STUFF!

I am an author, adventurer, and father, living with my wife, four daughters and one son in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I've trekked through tundras, waded through swamps, wandered through deserts, and swam in the Great Barrier Reef.

See all posts by Pierre Roustan, Author of THE CAIN LETTERS and SCARY HORROR STUFF!