If you have ever listened to the words of some of the songs on the radio, you probably have wondered how in the world they decided to write a song like that.
Writing a song is hard. I have never done it, but I know it is hard. Actually, let me correct that. It is not hard to write a song or music, but it is hard to write a song that other people are going to like. Thousands of songs are written every month, but only a few ever make it to the studio.
Then there are the songs that made it to the radio that probably shouldn’t have, at least not in the form they ended up as. Some of them are quite funny. I try not to make the mistake a lot of people make when judging historical figures, movies or music. You have to judge everyone and everything by the time and traditions they lived in. If you try to apply the norms of the present, everyone from the past will seem like a horrible person by today's standards.
However, with that said, there are some songs that probably should have had a verse or two tweaked before release.
Here are my choices for five of the creepiest songs over the last half century. Yes, there are many others but I had to settle on five and they really started to flow in 70s and 80s music.
If you think this is going to be a list of only obscure songs, you are wrong. How about a Grammy winner to start us off?
Every Breath You Take
This single was the biggest hit of 1983, topping the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for eight weeks. It also won the Grammy for Song of the Year. And with lyrics like this, how could it have not?
“Every breath you take, every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I'll be watching you.
Every single day, every word you say, every game you play, every night you stay, I'll be watching you.
Oh can't you see, You belong to me. How my poor heart aches with every step you take.
Every move you make , every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I'll be watching you.”
How did these lyrics come to be? Well according to Sting in a 1983 Rolling Stone article:
“I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.”
Several years later after he left The Police and went solo, he penned “If You Love Someone, Set Them free” to balance out this classic, yet disturbingly creepy song.
The Police - Every Breath You Take
Where to begin with this one. Hey, let's sit down and write a song about statutory rape!
I remember hearing this one on oldies stations when I was growing up. Songs do not get any creepier than Young Girl by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.
I am tempted to call 911 on myself just for writing the lyrics. Check it out.
“Young girl, get out of my mind, my love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl… you're much too young, girl
With all the charms of a woman, you've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe, you're old enough
To give me love, and now it hurts to know the truth”
Need more convincing?
“Beneath your perfume and make-up, you're just a baby in disguise
And though you know that it's wrong to be
Alone with me that come on look is in your eyes”
What in God’s name were they thinking when they wrote this? I know that a couple of centuries ago, 14 year old girls used to get married, but that was because everyone died by the time they were 40. This song came out in 1968 so Gary Puckett and this Union Gap crowd have no excuse.
There is really no tweaking this song to bring it back from pedophilia. Great tune, just tragic words.
Gary Puckett - Young Girl
Truly one of the most creepy songs in the history of music.
Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
I love this cat. He just decides he was “tired of my lady”. He's just going to cut her loose and toss her right on back in the sea. And why wouldn't he? Rupert is quite the looker.
So he places a personal ad only to finally meet up with someone who turns out to actually be his girlfriend, or wife, who is also cheating on him.
Wow, what a great love story. It is right up there with the one in Pretty Woman.
And then if you believe the song, they live happily ever after.
Rupert Holmes - Escape (The Pina Colada Song)
Don't You Want Me Baby
The female in this song from The Human League has enough evidence to get a restraining order. Just check out some of the lyrics and the obvious threat.
“Now five years later on you've got the world at your feet
Success has been so easy for you
But don't forget it's me who put you where you are now
And I can put you back down too.”
Not convinced? Well, here is more.
“You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me
It's much too late to find
When you think you've changed your mind
You'd better change it back or we will both be sorry”
There are people that have served time in jail for making threats less than that.
The Human League - Don't You Want Me
Going back to the inappropriate relationships theme, there is this gem from the late 70s from the rock band Kiss. All of the members were around 30 years old at the time, dreaming about a 16 year old girl named Christine. Here are some of the lyrics.
She sees me through to the end
She's got me in her hands
And there's no use in pretending"
I want to give her all I've got
And she's hot every day and night
There is no doubt about it"
How much effort would it have taken to at least change the age to 18? Still creepy, but at least legal. I suppose it came down to finding a name than rhymed with an age. Right off the bat, I can't think of anything you could pair with 18, but that is no excuse.
Kiss - Christine Sixteen
Singing about a girl that is sweet sixteen when you are 30 is very creepy.
Eminem is part psychopath and he has acknowledged as much in his latest hit “The Monster” where he talks about the monster inside his head and how he has grown to accept it. Well that helps to explain this creepy song he put out about his on-again, off-again ex or current wife Kim.
It is a song basically about murdering her and I have condensed some of the lyrics here to give you an example. However, where you see XXX, use your imagination. I don't want to violate the Infobarrel's terms of service, nor Google Adsense.
“Sit down bXXX, if you move again I'll beat the XXX out of you
Don't make me wake this baby, she don't need to see what I'm about to do
Quit crying bXXX, why do you always make me shout at you?
Come on we're going for a ride bXXX, sit up front, we'll be right back, well I will you'll be in the trunk
So long, bXXX you did me so wrong, I don't wanna go on, living in this world without you
BullXXX you bXXX don't fXXX lie to me, I hate you, I hate you, I swear to God I hate you, Oh my God I love you."
You get the point.
Toward the end of the song , there is a woman choking in the background. Disturbing to say the least.
Thankfully, there is no video for this song but if there had been, it would have been similar to his other hit in 2010 "I love the way you lie".
Eminem - Love the Way You Lie
This list could go on for a hundred more songs. I have a couple of others ones in my head that I may use to expand this list to ten in the future. There is an old southern blues song originally written by Willie Dixon, and later covered by The Doors, called “Back Door Man” from 1961. It refers to a man having an affair with a married woman and sneaking out the back door of her house before her husband gets back home. While a song about adultery isn’t exactly unique in the music industry this one is both creepy and funny given the way the slang has changed over the years. Let’s move on.
There are some very strange people in the music business, but I suppose it takes a certain type of person to succeed in that very competitive market.
There is a fine line between genius and crazy, neuroses and well adjusted and happy. I am beginning to believe that one cannot exist without the other. Some of the most successful people in the world in entertainment or business seem to have some demons they are dealing with but that might be the common denominator that drives success and ambition from Steve Jobs to Michael Jackson.
Not to say all of these creative people are nuts. Some of them just sat down and wrote a creepy song or had it handed to them to record. I suppose we should not judge people too harshly when they are pouring out their souls in lyrics, however, as these five examples demonstrate, sometimes they can get a little carried away with emotion.