by Chris McGinty
I was listening to my current Spotify playlist earlier. The first song I’m going to discuss on this list made me think that there are songs out there that are in some way scary or creepy without really having Halloween or horror story themes. I’m not talking about songs like “Creepy Doll” by Jonathan Coultan, “Bela Legosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus, or just about anything by White and/or Rob Zombie. Those songs are inspired by the Halloween season or by the horror genre pretty directly. I decided to task myself with a list of songs that if inspired by either of those themes are less clear about it.
The Bolshoi – “By the River”
The “Giants” EP is overall pretty dark. There are themes of paranoia, violence, and worship. It’s something that Alistair Crowley might appreciate (don’t worry, I’ll likely put that in Part Two). The “Giants” era of The Bolshoi had a tone that you would associate with punk music, but it also had a creepy feel at times. This is the most mood inducing track on the EP. It was light out as I drove listening to the song today; yet, I could only think of nights in unpopulated areas, walking along the railroad tracks. It has that ability to make you feel isolated and far from home… but in a good way. At least, for me it’s a good association. I realized that it would fit on a Halloween playlist without being specifically themed as such, and I had my thought for this series of blog posts.
a-ha – “Scoundrel Days”
The first time I heard this song, the similarity to something you might hear in a John Carpenter film was striking. Perhaps, this is a little too close to being inspired by the horror genre, after all. “Scoundrel Days” is the title track from a-ha’s second album. The truth is there may be a bit of a theme to the album that could make it a good listen for the Halloween season. I’m not saying that it’s all scary or creepy, but there do seem to be some early autumn themes between “Cry Wolf” and “October.” “Scoundrel Days” is easily the best choice for this list though. Also, one of Morten’s best choruses, especially going into the mid-section.
Alice in Chains – “We Die Young”
I think “We Die Young,” much like “Them Bones” (and so many other Alice in Chains songs), is about the reality of dying of overdose. It’s the opening track of their “Facelift” album. This one doesn’t sound creepy, so much, but it may be a bit on the nose (or on the wall) as being scary. Addiction is scary and this song hits a nerve with me. To be fair, the video for “Man in the Box” also creeped me out a bit. Alice in Chains could get under your skin if they wanted to. I did realize when I was considering which Alice in Chains song to go with that “We Die Young” is about early death while “Them Bones” is about being ancient when you meet your end, albeit ancient in the context that five years later they would be considered old by music years as new artists were now the darlings of airplay. “We Die Young” could easily refer to the horror genre (which would break my rule again, damn it) because in the 80s there was a lot of fear around children dying. There were made for TV movies about child abduction, like Adam Walsh (who was found decapitated) and Steven Stayner (who was found safe, but tragically died at age 24 in a motorcycle accident). Then there was the horror trope of teenagers in isolated locations becoming slasher victims, usually one at a time. “We Die Young,” perhaps unintentionally, is an anthem for children of the 80s who grew up expecting an untimely death.
Chris McGinty is a blogger who may or may not be in the Halloween spirit.