Have you ever been singing along to a song for the 100th time, when suddenly, you realize that something’s not quite right about it? Maybe you’ve howled out the chorus every other time, but never paid attention to a key verse, and now you have that disquieting urge to seek a restraining order … for yourself. That, my friends, is “Stalker Rock.”
We’re not talking about overtly creepy songs, either, like The Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” or Eminem’s “Kim,” but rather, songs that sound upbeat and poppy until you get to that key moment in the song. For example, there’s that point in The Turtles’ “Happy Together” where you realize the entire song is hypothetical.
To save you the embarrassment of gifting your honey with an inadvertantly terrifying mixtape/playlist, we have assembled a list of the creepiest songs you’ll ever tap a toe to.
867-5309 (Jenny) – Tommy Tutone
One of the catchiest songs of all time is also one of the creepiest. Ostensibly an ode to men’s room graffiti, the song’s narrator quickly develops an unhealthy fixation on the titular good-time girl. Still, it’s got to be better than their initial effort, "Here I Sit, Broken-Hearted."
Disturbing Lyric: Tell me if this doesn’t put a queasy picture in your head. The guy is pondering Jenny’s phone number in a bathroom stall, and says "I tried my imagination, but I was disturbed." AWK-ward.
Jesse’s Girl – Rick Springfield
The premise alone is pretty creepy. Rick notices his pal, Jesse, has got himself a girl and he wants to make her his. What puts this in "altar-building" mode is the painstaking detail with which Rick describes his quarry’s activities. Watching him with those eyes, lovin’ him with that body, makin’ him omelets with that Magic Bullet…okay, that last one’s made up, but you get the idea.
Disturbing Lyric: "You know, I feel so dirty when they start talkin’ cute…" You’re a dude, you don’t get to "feel dirty."
Don’t You Want Me, Baby – Human League
This has got to be the catchiest, most danceable threat of murder/suicide ever. The "He said/She said" verses are the novelty of this song, but after she says she still wants to split up, he drops this…
Disturbing Lyric: "It’s much to late to find, you think you’ve changed your mind. You’d better change it back, or we will both be sorry…"
Hello – Lionel Richie
Set aside, for the moment, the uber-creepy video that culminates in that zombie Lionel sculpture. Lionel, if you want to know how to win her heart, but you haven’t got a clue, you definitely don’t start by saying "I love you." You start by saying "Why don’t we grab some coffee?" or "Hey, how do you sculpt so good when you’re all blind and stuff?"
Disturbing Lyric: "and in my dreams, I’ve kissed your lips a thousand times…" And in those dreams, your lips are cracked and bleeding after kiss #643.
Just My Imagination – The Temptations
When a normal guy sees a hot girl pass by his window, he thinks "Damn! She was hot! Wonder if she likes dollar drafts?" The narrator of this Motown classic constructs an elaborate inner life with said hottie, spilling over into psycho territory with the addition of "2 children, maybe 3." Having a brief dirty thought is one thing, knitting booties is another.
Disturbing Lyric: "Every night, on my knees, I pray…" That’s great, a stalker on a mission from God.
One Way or Another – Blondie
This one seems a little obvious, as Debbie Harry talks literally about following you around. What took me awhile to notice is that, halfway through the song, she flips a switch and wants to lose you. That takes her from obsessed stalker to unhinged bunny boiler, in my book.
Disturbing Lyric: "I will drive past your house, and if the lights are all down, I’ll see who’s hangin’ around." Time to install those motion-sensing floodlights that used to make you crap your pants when you’d go pool-hopping.
I’ll be Around – The Spinners
Things are going along fine through most of the chorus, with the overly-attentive-but-not-quite creepy "I’ll be there…" refrain, but then they take an ominous turn at the end with "I’ll be around…" Just what every girl wants, a suitor who can emerge from the shadows at the slightest provocation.
Disturbing Lyric: "…sparks turn into flames…" Is this a love song, or an arson threat?
Is She Really Going Out With Him? – Joe Jackson
As a general rule, any time your song takes place "from your window," you’re off to a bad start. The character in this Joe Jackson song is a serial killer in the making, taking the existence of every woman’s boyfriend as a personal insult. What sounds like a mopey loser’s lament veers into Ted Bundy territory with this…
Disturbing Lyric: "But if looks could kill, there’s a man there who is marked down as dead…take your hands off her head…" What the…why does her boyfriend have his hands on her head? Who’s the psycho here, anyway?
Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley
Better known as the "Rick Roll Song," this insistent ditty trades in creepy absolutes. Never gonna give you up. Inside, we both know what’s been going on. Gotta make you understand. But the kicker is this…
Disturbing Lyric: "You’re heart’s been aching but you’re too shy to say it." No, Rick, it’s because you put duct tape over her mouth.
Girlfriend – Avril Lavigne
I have to give Avril props for kicking out some hardcore profanity, lessened somewhat by the fact that she follows the word "MFin’" with the word "princess." Still, this is one hard sell that the average guy could do without. I dare you to tell Avril, "Hey, baby, there’s enough of me to go around!"
Disturbing Lyric: "Better yet, make your girlfriend disappear. I don’t wanna hear you say her name ever again." So, first, she has you rub out your GF, and for good measure, tears out your larynx. No thanks.