26 People On The Dark, Disturbing Songs That Make Them Shudder

Music can soothe your soul–or disturb it. If you’re feeling brave today, then you should pop in your earphones and listen to these songs recommended on Ask Reddit.


1. Polly by Nirvana

“Polly is based on an actual incident which occurred in Tacoma in June of 1987. A Fourteen-year-old girl was kidnapped by a man named Gerald Friend who hung the girl upside down from a pulley attached to the ceiling of his mobile home and raped and tortured her with a leather whip, a razor, hot wax, and a blowtorch. After he was through raping and torturing her, Friend trussed her arms with a leather belt, gagged her with duct tape, and threw her on the floor of the back seat of his car for what could have been the last ride of her life. She escaped from his car when he stopped for gas. She jumped out of his car and ran into the gas station office and dove behind the clerk’s desk, cowering behind the clerk’s legs.” — natetan1234321

2. Limousine by Brand New

“This song is about the death of 7-year old Katie Flynn. Hours before her death, Katie was the flower girl at her aunt’s wedding, spreading petals down the aisle. As they left the wedding, they all got into a limousine and headed home. Martin Heidgen, 25, had had at least 14 drinks that night and his blood alcohol content (0.28) was more than three times the legal limit in New York (0.08). He drove more than two miles north in the southbound lane containing the Flynn family. Both the driver of the limousine, Stanley Rabinowitz, and Katie were killed instantly. Katie was decapitated and her mother held her head as rescue workers helped the rest of the family out of the vehicle.

The lyrics in this song draw many parallels to this tragedy. The first verse is seemingly from the mother’s perspective, telling Katie to spread the petals and mentioning that she had one more night to be her mother. The second verse is arguably from Heidgen’s perspective, referring to Katie as “My beauty supreme,” and lamenting the guilt that crushes him. Four lines are sung towards the very end of the song and are nearly inaudible against the refrain. These lines seem to be from Katie’s perspective and mention how she will never have to deal with loss herself, and therefore ‘should be the one laughing.'”  — Shadax

3. Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday

“Extremely dark both musically and lyrically.

Lyrics originally written by by Abel Meeropol as a poem, sung by Billie Holiday. It’s about the lynchings of African Americans in the earlier 1900’s.” — Biornen

4. Climbing up the Walls by Radiohead

“A song about being in the mind of a serial killer. Has the most terrifying scream at the end of the song.” — Scatterbrainpaul

5. Spirit Street by Radiohead

“Love this quote: ‘Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or maybe they don’t realize what they’re listening to. They don’t realize that ‘Street Spirit’ is about staring the fucking devil right in the eyes… and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he’ll get the last laugh… and it’s real… and true. The devil really will get the last laugh in all cases without exception, and if I let myself think about that to long, I’d crack. I can’t believe we have fans that can deal emotionally with that song… That’s why I’m convinced that they don’t know what it’s about. It’s why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell every time I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of it’s meaning, like when you’re going to have your dog put down and it’s wagging it’s tail on the way there. That’s what they all look like, and it breaks my heart.’” — Think_please

6. Epilogue by Antlers

“It is the finale to a concept album about a male hospice nurse who falls in love with his young patient. The album follows their relationship as she she slowly dies in front of him and leads to her eventual death. Those feels…” — KillingTheEgo

7. Mother, My Body Disgusts Me by Swans

“Makes me wanna hang myself.” — BadHeartburn

8. The Mariner’s Revenge Song by The Decemberists

“The Mariner’s Revenge Song with its phenomenal storytelling and imagery, and the mother’s creepy sing-song ‘Find him, bind him, tie him to a pole and break his fingers to splinters, drag him to a hole until he wakes up, naked, clawing at the ceiling of his grave…’

They really are a brilliant band. The consistent combination of upbeat tempos and dark, disturbing lyrics is genius.” — karlamorgan

9. Jeremy by Pearl Jam

“Jeremy is pretty frickin dark, too. It’s about a kid who was bullied at school and neglected at home and shot himself in front of his class. Jeremy spoke in class today. Try to erase this from the blackboard.” — lanemik

10. Stein um Stein by Rammstein

“Stein um Stein by Rammstein is lyrically very dark. At first it sounds romantic as he sings he’ll build a nice house for his girlfriend. But then it’s revealed that he actually plans to imprison her in a house without any doors or windows.” — Deleted

11. One by Metallica

“One by Metallica is pretty dark. It’s about a guy whose legs, arms, eyes, and mouth were blown off on the last day of WWI, and now he’s trapped in his body for the rest of his life with no hope of communicating to the outside world.

The guitar solo’s also really great.” — Jvlivs

12. Time Consumer by Coheed and Cambria

“Coheed and Cambria have a couple from their first album. Time consumer is about a man poisoning his baby twins. Then there is Everything Evil a song where the same man kills his recently, as in within the past hour or so, raped daughter with a hammer. The man’s final child, a son, comes home afterwards seeing his older sister dead on the floor with her head smashed in he then accidentally brings her back to life for a couple minutes before she dies again.

Between those two songs is Devil in Jersey City which is about the older daughter’s rape, however this song is actually kinda upbeat musically.” — RANewton

13. Kim by Eminem

“I can’t listen to Kim. It makes me feel physically uncomfortable to hear the words to that song.” — RANewton

14. Daddy by Korn

“It’s about Johnathan Davis being molested as a child. At the end he is just bawling. It’s so crazy to listen to.” — Atheist_Redditor

15. Daughter by Pearl Jam

Lyricist Vedder on the song: “And these kids, because they seemed unable or reluctant to learn, they’d end up getting the shit beaten outta them. The song ends, you know, with this idea of the shades going down—so that the neighbors can’t see what happens next.”

Listen to the song, the first dozen times you will feel like the neighbors. Unaware that its deeper than what it actually is. Then it will hit you as you listen closer. I think my reaction was “holy shit, this isn’t a happy song.” It’s wonderful what Guitarist Stone Gossard does. Playing with the sixth of the tonic chord (Emin6, giving it an aeolian feel), before switching to the actual sixth (G major6, again adding the “e” or the sixth of the chord, to produce a beautiful, yet simple musical atmosphere.)

I have had a lot of shit happen to me, so yeah, I connect to everything in the song. It’s kind of my favorite.”  — FitzyGFY

16. The Way by Fastball

“The Way by Fastball was inspired by a story of an old couple that drove off and got lost and disappeared in the middle of nowhere without informing their family and friends. I always thought that to be a little eerie and sad.” — corcordejesus

17. Frogs by Alice in Chains

“One of my all time favorite songs. The lead singer, Layne Staley, was so far into his heroin habit at this point that they didn’t tour for this album and he hardly saw his bandmates after recording it ever again. He spent 8 years after the release being a recluse, and eventually wasn’t heard from for 2 weeks. They found him dead surrounded by needles with heroin and cocaine. This song is the perfect foreshadowing of that awful path.” — PorkCork

18. In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins

“Takes me back to the torture facility I was in as a kid, and also makes me feel that the torturers will somehow get what’s coming to them, and that I’ll be there to witness it.” — mahi_1977

19. Kings Crossing by Elliot Smith

“I read in an interview one time that his girlfriend and sister, whenever he performed that song live when he said “give me one good reason not to do it” would yell from the crowd, “because I love you,” so that’s why they added that into the recorded track. It was actually them saying it. Heartbreaking.” — pell_well

20. Handcuffs by Brand New

“Seriously, that song is pretty fucked up. Lyrics make me shiver every time.” — elschultheis

21. King Park by La Dispute

“‘CAN I STILL GET INTO HEAVEN IF I KILL MYSELF?’ Chills. Every time.” — The_Lion_Man

22. No Children by the Mountain Goats

“Oh my God, this song.

My boyfriend said he didn’t understand it. I asked him what the longest relationship he’d ever been in was. At the time it was 11 months. That’s why he didn’t understand “No Children.”

To get this song, you have to know what it’s like to love and care for someone, to have them be your partner, your best friend, the center of your life for years, and then lose them. Watch them walk away. All of the tiny grievances, the little things that you ignored because you had to make it work, the big things that you tried to fix but never really did–all of that falls in between you like an avalanche, and there you are staring at their back as they leave you with this giant pile of shit.

I hope you die.

I hope we both die.” — byany_othername

23. No Surprises by Radiohead

“A heart that’s full up like a landfill

A job that slowly kills you

Bruises that won’t heal

You look so tired-unhappy

Bring down the government

They don’t, they don’t speak for us

I’ll take a quiet life

A handshake of carbon monoxide

With no alarms and no surprises

No alarms and no surprises

No alarms and no surprises

Silent, silent.” —  PEPE_22

24. Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton.

“Sings of the death of his four year old son after falling from a window.” — japdot

25. Kettering by The Antlers

“The entire Hospice album has an ambiance of desperate hopelessness to it, but this song in particular struck a chord with me. Its a shame really, a wonderful album that I can’t bring myself to listen to all that often because it has the ability to cast a shadow over an entire day.” — The_Lion_Man

26. Roads by Portishead

“The term I use is haunting. This is the most haunting song I have ever heard.

If you like this you should check out more PH stuff. They kick ass.” — Ephemeris Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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