Feb 13

Journey Into Fear

FT/12 comments • 780 views

peterwolf I asked a question on Twitter last night – what songs have actually scared you? – and it got a whole bunch of interesting replies.

So here they are. I haven’t gone through hunting YouTube/Spotify links because I was too lazy terrified.

“Scott Walker’s The Drift. Was listening to it doing data entry at my job and I got completely spooked.”

“Washed Up And Left For Dead by The Selecter always gives me The Fear. Also If You Tolerate This… by the Manics.”

“my first day at NME, Salem’s album was playing. I was worried I had made a huge mistake!”

“the last few minutes of lateralus… faaip de oiad… scared the crap out of me the first time i heard it.”

“Diamanda Galas Litanies of Satan. Never fall asleep with that on. same with Psychic TV’s Dreams Less Sweet.”

“My brother took perverse delight in playing the Vincent Price section of Thriller to the six year old me. It terrified me.”

“Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop.” The scream made me jump out of my skin the first time I heard it.”

“Do you mean musically or visually? There was a Music For Pleasure “Peter and the Wolf” LP whose cover terrified me”

“Great question. Patti Smith’s Horses, particularly the songs Redondo Beach and Birdland. I was 18. Brought out strange ideas.”

“That bit at the end of Two Tribes was a bit freaky. “Mine is the last voice that you will ever hear.””

“Wolf Eyes – Dead Hills 1. Not on YouTube – it’s too scary (or maybe too long).”

totp1CommonPeople4 “Not necessarily a record but the first TOTP performance of Common People (with the life-sized shopping trolley) scared me as a kid”

“The Residents – Mark Of The Mole. With hindsight, not the best choice for a chill out. LOL.”

“[Scott Walker’s] Tilt. Dark room, headphones, first listen, second track.” [“The Cockfighter”]

“‘Red Headed Stranger’ by Wilie Nelson, so detached from everything else to be overwhelming, a scary emotional plane.”

“”Snooks” by Elbow, when guitar solo like an elephant kicks in, scared the shit out of me first time.”

“Helter Skelter scared the crap out of a very young me.”

““The Boiler” by the Specials still freaks me out just to think about.”

“In 1984 our English teacher made us listen to Pink Floyd’s Careful With That Axe Eugene, saying it was the scariest song ever. (none of us were that impressed)”

“Closest is probably either Lady Godiva’s Operation by Velvet Underground or Good Morning Captain by Slint.”

“Come To The Sabbat, and by black widow obv”

“I don’t know if I have an answer! Perhaps I blotted it out for safety’s sake.”

“That flexi of voices from beyond that came with the Unexplained (as sampled on [The Smiths’] Rubber Ring).”

“oh also Hall and Oates’s “Maneater” scared me very much as a child. If you take that song literally it’s terrifying.”

“Bob Drake’s The Skull Mailbox is perennial chills.”

“ALONE AGAIN, NATURALLY by Gilbert O’Sullivan, and any suicide song (as a child).”

“Hamburger Lady by Throbbing Gristle”

“title track of last Swans album [The Seer], driving fast over Devon in midnight fog.”

“Psalm 60 by Ministry scared me a li’l bit. Specifically “Grace.” Some of the weird interludes on Smells Like Children by Marilyn Manson, too. “Fuck Frankie,” yikes.”

“Some K-Tel compilation or other. It was thrown straight towards my face at eye level. I ducked pretty sharpish, I can tell you.”

“As a kid the coda of “I Am The Walrus” freaked me out, particularly when the overdubbed voices pop up.”

“Mr Kirk? Do you have a son? A son named Robert? Robert Kirk? #scaryrecords” [4 Hero – “Mr Kirk’s Nightmare”]

“‘Get out of my house’ by Kate Bush, especially that bit when he turns into a donkey. Or does Kate turn into a donkey. Either way.”

“Lightwave’s Mundus Subterraneus. Brilliant record – eerie ambient with sudden screaming part way through.”

“I once fell asleep with orbital’s halcyon on repeat and woke up screaming and nauseated an hour later. I have no explanation.”

Gentle-Giant-Octopus-Cover“Not songs but the vid for Tom Petty’s Don’t Come Around Here No More scared me as a kid. The cover for Gentle Giant’s Octopus too.”

” Viva la Vida! I felt utterly betrayed @ time it released & violins mirrored the intensity I felt! Used it 2 turn fear n2 courage”

“boring answer – secret tracks on CDs after a long pause and I’ve forgotten it was still playing”

“The doors are where the windows should be” [Earth Leakage Trip – “No Idea”]

“as a child I was beyond terrified by lou reed and john cale’s “songs for drella””

“war of the worlds (I would have been about six)”

“Diamanda Galas’ PLAGUE MASS”

“Tori Amos covering Eminem’s “’98 Bonnie and Clyde” – flips the lyric so she’s narrating her own murder”

“The “wake up” at the end of Kate Bush’s Under Ice and the distorted eee-eee-eee vocal on JT’s Cry Me A River”

“God Save The Queen…..The sound of the world changing”


  1. 1
    Neil on 23 Feb 2013 #

    Angel of Death by Slayer.

  2. 2
    JimD on 23 Feb 2013 #

    The Carpenters’ version of Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft terrified me when I was little, because I though the alien voice was an actual Dalek.

  3. 3
    Chelovek na lune on 23 Feb 2013 #

    Most of “Music for the Masses” by Depeche Mode

  4. 4
    lonepilgrim on 23 Feb 2013 #

    The soundtrack to ‘Angel Heart’ featuring Courtney Pine along with dialogue from the movie used to freak me out quite a bit back in the day

  5. 5
    DV on 24 Feb 2013 #

    I remember being a bit freaked out once by the alien voices at the end of the Byrds’ CTA 102. I think drøgs may have had a part to play here.

  6. 6
    Billy Hicks on 24 Feb 2013 #

    Certain songs on my iPod are louder than others, even with ‘Sound Check’ enabled. It’s very often I can be listening to a chilled ballad when suddenly something loud and dancey envelopes my ears.

    Biggest culprit – the horn noise at the start of Yazz’s ‘The Only Way Is Up’ has made me jolt awake on many dazed night bus journeys home over the years :)

  7. 7
    Weej on 24 Feb 2013 #

    Aged 11 or so, listening on a walkman on holiday in France, I was quite scared by REM’s ‘Star Me Kitten’

  8. 8
    Pete on 24 Feb 2013 #

    Hmm, I don’t remember this being the most burning question asked on Friday. Which was “Are ears part of your face”

  9. 9
    swanstep on 24 Feb 2013 #

    Nico’s Innocent and Vain scared the bejesus out of me first time through.
    Perderecki’s Polymorphia (used as underscore in both The Exorcist and The Shining, it’s very hard to listen to by itself)
    Rhoda and the Special AKA’s The Boiler (campus radio used to play this during lunch-hours back in the day just to see who would freak/complain)

  10. 10
    will on 1 Mar 2013 #

    I’d second The Boiler. I’ve heard it just the once, but never forgotten it. I never want to listen to it ever again.

    O Superman scared the living daylights out of me the first few times I heard it. Especially the bit when it.. just..ends.

  11. 11
    James BC on 10 Apr 2013 #

    I used to find the dance act Cappella somewhat frightening.

  12. 12
    Gareth Parker on 22 Aug 2021 #

    Great shouts on the Boiler and Mr Kirk’s Nightmare as scary songs.

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