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5 Unconventional Spooky Songs For Halloween

From Urban Legends to Hellish Butt Music

By Bri CraigPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 6 min read
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

Trigger Warnings: Discussion of Death & Suicide

We all love Halloween music classics like Thriller and the Monster Mash, but what about a spooky playlist that is a little less... conventional? There are many non-Halloween songs that are so creepy they deserve a spot on your most nerve-wracking playlists. This article discusses five songs that you definitely missed when making your Halloween playlist, and while you may not want to dance to some of these, they all have fascinating stories and legends that can help you break that spooky-season ice.

1.) Hieronymous Bosch Butt Music

The Vibe: Eerie, Hellish, Creepy

Okay, hear me out on this one. Around 1503, artist Hieronymus Bosch painted The Garden of Earthly Delights, pictured above. Featured in this painting, there is a man getting crushed by musical instruments in the depths of hell. His bare buttocks stick out from underneath, where a series of musical notes are written. Amelia Hamrick, a student at the time, translated the music into a modern-day score, taking special considerations for the historical context of 15th and 16th-century music.

This means that over 500 years later, you and I have the pleasure of listening to an early Renaissance interpretation of the music of Hell. Below is a more "traditionally" styled version of the song, featuring the lute, harp, and hurdy-gurdy.

Or, if you would prefer, YouTube also has a metal version of the song. I think Bosch would be proud.


(2.) Love Rollercoaster by Ohio Players

The Vibe: Groovy all the way to the grave

When you first hear Love Rollercoaster, it's difficult to imagine this disco hit as a terrifying tune. Between the lovey lyrics and the groovy beat, the song is overwhelmingly happy. However, the controversy occurs in the instrumental break of the song. Between 2:32 and 2:35 in the audio below, a shrill scream can be heard in the background. Urban legend implies that the scream in the song is actually the last cry of a woman before she is murdered. Some people have suggested that the sound is borrowed from a 911 call, but others have suggested that the murder occurred in the very studio Ohio Players recorded in! As for the woman in question, theorists proposed that the murder victim was the very same woman featured on the band's album cover.

Although keyboardist Billy Beck has since claimed to be the "screamer," not everyone is convinced. Listen to the song yourself and see what it sounds like to you. At the very least, Love Rollercoaster is a fun party song with an intriguing twist.


(3) Gloomy Sunday by Rezső Seress

The Vibe: Gloomy, it's in the title, what did you expect?

Also referred to as the "Hungarian Suicide Song," Gloomy Sunday was originally published in 1933 by Hungarian pianist Rezső Seress, and famously covered by American singer, Billie Holiday, in 1941. The song's infamy stems from an urban legend insinuating that a large number of suicides occurred while listening to this song. Some people even went so far as to suggest the song caused suicides, and it was reportedly banned by the BBC in England until 2002.

More likely, this is a classic correlation over causation argument. Gloomy Sunday was written in the 1930s, a time where the Hungarian people experienced the turmoil of famine and economic disparity. The psychological distress attributed to Gloomy Sunday is probably better attributed to the traumas of widespread poverty.

While Gloomy Sunday is admittedly not the best choice for a Halloween party, its connection with such a dark urban legend makes it an interesting and unconventional topic of conversation. However, I would still feel wrong including the link to this song, so we're going to skip this one.

(Note: The US Suicide Hotline is 800-273-8255).

Rezső Seress (1899 - 1968)


(4) Revolution 9 by the Beatles

The Vibe: Disorienting, Creepy

Given the fame and prolificacy of the British rock band, The Beatles, there are several songs and connected stories that could have made it onto this list. For example, Charles Manson, a cult leader and mass murder, claimed that the music of The Beatles inspired his violent urges and treated songs from their White Album like spiritual and prophetic messages. Most famously, Charles Manson believed that Helter Skelter was connected with the four horsemen of the Apocalypse and his desire to kill.

However, Revolution 9 is creepy for more reasons. The avant-garde nature of the song makes it very disorienting to listen to, and some people have claimed that playing the song backward reveals a slew of subliminal and secret messages. Charles Manson himself misheard the distorted screams of "Right!" as a call to "Rise!" in an apocalyptic race war. Additionally, a subset of fanatics believes the conspiracy theory that Beatles member Paul McCartney actually died in a car crash during the band's run and was secretly replaced. These fans cite Revolution 9 as part of their evidence, saying that if the song is played backward, you can hear the words “turn me on, dead man.” This is supposedly a reference to Paul's death.

While the members of The Beatles openly condemned the actions of Charles Manson and the "Paul is Dead" conspiracy, there is no doubt that Revolution 9 is still a disorienting melody in its own right. This makes it a perfect, albeit weird, addition to a spooky playlist.



(5) In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins

The Vibe: Moodier than the Tarzan Soundtrack

Unlike some of the other songs on this list, this song gets its sinister reputation entirely because of its lyrics. The verses in question? "If you told me you were drowning/I would not lend a hand,” and then, later, “Well, I was there and I saw what you did/I saw it with my own two eyes.”

These lyrics set in motion the theory that Phil Collins witnessed someone drowning - but there are a lot of variations to the how and when. In some versions, Phil Collins is a child, and in others, he is an adult when the drowning occurs. In some versions, Phil is watching someone drown, while in other versions, Phil is watching someone else watching someone drown. One of my favorite iterations of the story involved Phil Collins tracking down the man who did not help the drowning victim. Phil invites the man to one of his concerts. Then, during the show, Phil instructed that the spotlight be shone down on the culprit in an accusatory display for all the audience to see.

Phil Collins has since stated that the song was intended to be about his divorce, but what do you think? Are the lyrics entirely metaphorical?


Honorable Mentions

  • The Legend of Dogman is a song that is popular in Michigan folklore because rumored sightings of the "Dogman" occurred after the song was played.
  • When played backward, some verses of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin sound like messages to Satan.


About the Creator

Bri Craig

Bri Craig (she/her) is a variety pack writer. She enjoys writing poetry, webcomic features, humor, short stories, and personal anecdotes. Basically, neither of us will ever know what will be posted next!

Let's connect! More about me here.

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  • Sandra Tena Cole3 days ago

    This is a very creepy and well-put together list! In the air tonight is indeed soooo creepy! Many years ago I made myself a sleeping CD and added it - and woke up sweating and screaming tbh 😅

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