They say music is a way to express emotions, and the range is pretty wide. Over the years, popular music has given us everything from Bob Dylan’s Boots of Spanish Leather to Nicki Minaj’s Stupid hoe (quite a range, eh?). While some listeners prefer to go with the tune of the song, there are some who care about the words. And whoever said that all songs that come under ‘easy listening’ cannot be disturbing, needs to explore further.
Here are 20 songs by musicians which have deeply disturbing lyrics.
[Trigger warning: some of these talk about assault, murder and rape]
In 1939, Billie Holiday sang the protest poem written by teacher Abel Meeropol, which critiqued racism in the southern states of USA.
Sufjan Stevens music might be part of your ‘go to sleep’ playlist, but remember, one of them is about the Killer Clown, who sexually assaulted and murder over 33 young boys from 1972 to 1978 in Illinois.
Frank Zappa’s lyrical slap to the face of the American dream, was a masterclass of sarcasm that many didn’t get at that time. This probably wouldn’t have released today.
Angst + ’90s + violent lyrics + a crazy video = This.
Van Halen’s classic hit was written from the perspective of a man who’s watching someone else threaten the crowd by committing suicide by jumping off a building.
When it comes to a guy writing songs for his wife, nothing beats Eminem’s Kim.
This grunge classic is about a boy who shoots himself in front of his classmates.
Blue Oyster Cult might not be as popular as some of the other bands on this list but this ‘love song’ of theirs, about a lover trying to convince his partner to join him in suicide, made waves all over.
This fairly upbeat number by Zevon is actually a boy whose initial transgressions were ignored. And then suddenly it gets darker. Way darker.
Bob Geldof (the singer who played Pink in The Wall ) and his band wrote this song to tell the story of 16-year-old Brenda Spencer, who was involved in a school shooting in ’70s San Diego. The song’s title is the band telling the world why she did it.
A freaky song sung in the most mellow way, this became more infamous as it used an actual 911 call by a woman who was hiding from an intruder in her house.
This Pink Floyd classic, especially among harcore Roger Waters fans, was cut from The Wall album, even though it was featured in the film. It talks about a boy who discovered one day how his father had died in battle.
A kidnapper’s love song to his victim. WTF!
Randy Newman, the voice behind many classic songs, especially if you’re a fan of ’90s animated films and rom coms, wrote this one song about how society shuns ‘the other’. Too bad, not too many people got the sarcasm. They believed Newman hated short people.
Yep, that ‘chill dance number’ you always play in your parties is about a bunch of soon-to-be-school shooters.
This Rolling Stones classic has slavery, rape and borderline pedophilia – all mixed in one.
Yep, I’ve been jiving to this song for way too long. Realized today, it’s almost a pedo anthem.
Domestic abuse, sexual violence, kidnapping – yes, Nirvana’s Polly has it all.
Saved the best one for the last – one of my favourite bands’ classic portrayal of urban decadence talks about drug abuse, gun violence, sexual abuse… yes, it’s a long list. Listen to it here.
I need to watch some family friendly sitcoms now.