Monday, August 12, 2013

The Creepiness Factor

I don't trust or love anyone. Because people are so creepy. Creepy creepy creeps. Creeping around. Creeping here and creeping there. Creeping everywhere.
~Vincent Gallo *

Have you ever been listening to a song -- maybe one you've heard lots of times -- and suddenly noticed how creepy the lyrics are? It took me a long time to notice that "Rolling in the Deep" sounds a bit scary ("Don't underestimate the things that I will do"; "You're going to wish you never had met me").

"Every Breath You Take" by the Police is famous for being creepy, and probably everyone who heard "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" by the Beatles caught the lyrics the first time. What about "Wake Up Call" by Maroon 5 or "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People? Does the cheerfulness of the melody make the words seem less creepy?

Those lyrics are pretty directly threatening, but there are others that are a bit more ambiguous. Some people say that "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls is ominous. Think so? I like the song "You Are Mine" by Mutemath and some people even use it as a wedding reception song, but I can see how the lyrics can sound stalker-y:

In Miranda Lambert's popular Mama's Broken Heart, the narrator doesn't want to hide her crazy:

Better Dig Two reminds me of an Edgar Allan Poe story -- it seems intentionally spooky. What do you think about creepy lyrics? Do they ever scare you off a song?

* Is it ironic that Vincent Gallo's quote is creepy?


HWY said...

Great topic, Tab.

"Rollin' in the Deep" is one of my very favorite songs, and I guess I just let the lyrics go on by...a woman scorned, don't tick off Adele!

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a lively tune, too, even though the lyrics are not. :0

I guess the music itself outweighs the lyrics on these songs.

One of my favorite artists is Warren Zevon, who was a master of the lively/creepy song.

But I have to give Sublime's "Santeria" the prize for the quintessential upbeat but nasty song.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Even though I consider myself a writer (and was even a songwriter at one point), I usually fall in love with the musicality of a song before even bothering to listen to what the song is "saying" lyrically. So, no, creepiness doesn't particularly bother me. (Though Pumped Up Kicks was a bit of an eye opener-- until now, I never was able to decipher the lyrics to find out what the song was really about!)

But I must confess (and this is the old fogey in me talking I suppose), what disgusts me more than "creepy" lyrics are some of today's popular songs where the lyrics are so completely ego-centric and unapologetically irresponsible. But that's a post for another day.