If you’re bored of ‘Thriller’ and the ‘Monster Mash’, this special 31 Days of Horror edition of What’s Going On is for you. This instalment features songs from Aphex Twin, Book of Love, PJ Harvey, Fever Ray and industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. Some of these songs are spooky and some are downright chilling but they are all deserving of a spot on your Halloween playlists.
Aphex Twin – “I want your soul/I will eat your soul.” That’s the opening vocal of Aphex Twin’s 1997 classic ‘Come to Daddy’, letting you know right off the bat that you’re in for a wild ride. British electronic producer Richard D. James, best known as Aphex Twin, largely came up with ‘Come to Daddy’ as a parody of death metal. Speaking with Index Magazine, James said: “’Come to Daddy’ came about while I was just hanging around my house, getting pissed and doing this crappy death metal jingle. Then it got marketed, and a video was made, and this little idea that I had, which was a joke, turned into something huge.” The Chris Cunningham directed music video was shot where scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange were filmed and features the distinctly creepy image of children running around wearing Aphex Twin’s face.
Listen to Aphex Twin’s ‘Come to Daddy’ below.
Book of Love – American synth-pop band Book of Love are probably best known for their 1988 dance single that tackled the ever-growing AIDS crisis, ‘Pretty Boys And Pretty Girls’; however, today, we’re going to focus on the track that was on the b-side of that single. If you flipped your vinyl single of ‘Pretty Boys And Pretty Girls’ over, you’d see that the band covered Mike Oldfield’s classic ‘Tubular Bells’, the iconic theme of The Exorcist. Their version of ‘Tubular Bells’ features vocal samples of band member Lauren Roselli screaming “Mother, make it stop!”, doing her best Linda Blair impression. The song also features as the opening track to their 1988 album Lullaby. Equal parts spooky and danceable, Book of Love definitely did that cover justice.
Listen to Book of Love’s cover of ‘Tubular Bells’ below.
PJ Harvey – The lead single from PJ Harvey’s 1995 album To Bring You My Love is also one of PJ Harvey’s darkest tracks. Lyrically, ‘Down by the Water’ is a tortured tale of a woman drowning her daughter in the river. The song features Harvey singing the chilling line: “Little fish/big fish swimming in the water/come back here, man/gimme my daughter.” That line in particular was inspired by ‘Salty Dog Blues’, an old American folk tune. The accompanying music video for ‘Down by the Water’ is equally as unsettling, with Harvey donning a large wig, over the top makeup, and a red satin dress and alternating between her questionable dance moves and her flailing under water.
Listen to PJ Harvey’s ‘Down by the Water’ below.
Fever Ray – ‘If I Had a Heart’ was the debut solo single for Swedish artist Fever Ray after they left The Knife. The organ in the slow backing track adds a decidedly creepy element to the already dark and hypnotic song. The lyrics of ‘If I Had a Heart’ were inspired by the observations of their children. Andreas Nilsson directed the captivating music video after having worked on music videos for The Knife. You’ve likely heard this one before as it has been featured in popular television programs like Vikings, Breaking Bad, Person of Interest and What/If, among others.
Listen to Fever Ray’s ‘If I Had a Heart’ below.
Throbbing Gristle – English group Throbbing Gristle are widely considered to be pioneers of industrial music. The group often peddled in disturbing imagery taken from real life, a great example of this is the track ‘Hamburger Lady’ off their 1978 album D.O.A: The Third and Final Report of Throbbing Gristle. ‘Hamburger Lady’ gets its lyrics from a letter from American writer Blaster Al Ackerman’s about caring for a woman who was severely burned from the waist up while he worked as a medic in a burn unit in Vietnam. Throbbing Gristle’s late lead vocalist Genesis P-Orridge chanting “She’s dying/she is burned from the waist up” over an ominous industrial soundscape makes ‘Hamburger Lady’ an eerie listen.
Listen to Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Hamburger Lady’ below.