With Halloween upon us, it’s time to ask: What is the scariest song ever? I don’t mean jokey monster music like “Werewolves of London” or “Thriller,” or sorta ominous but safely abstract metaphorical fare like “Season of the Witch” or “Sympathy for the Devil.” No, I mean songs that actually scare you, like a good horror movie does. Top on my list is by Elvis Costello (pictured), of all people. His 1986 mini-epic “I Want You” is a terrifying depiction of an obsessive masochist confronting his cheating lover. As it builds to a climax, you don’t know if he’s going to kill her, kill himself, or both. At the end, the singer sounds spent, as if his will to live, or his very lifeblood, is spilling out. SInds shivers up my spine every time I hear it. (Fiona Apple has a faithful, thoroughly chilling live cover version, with Elvis backing her on guitar, that you can watch on YouTube.)
Other truly scary songs: Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” Genesis’ “Mama” (no, really!), Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You,” Britney Spears’ “… Baby One More Time” (I swear, I can hear her soul choking and dying), and of course, Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain.” Which songs frighten you, PopWatchers?
addCredit(“Elvis Costello: Richard Mildenhall/Camera Press/Retna”)