Rolling Stone’s Songs That Are Truly Terrifying

What’s This Playlist All About? Forget “Thriller” and “Monster Mash”: This here is a mix made of true nightmares. Toss aside that old scary-sounds cassette tape, and choose this playlist as your ultimate Halloween soundtrack—especially if you’d prefer to scare off those trick-or-treaters for good.

What You Get: This is the gist, in Rolling Stone’s own words: “vintage murder ballads, dissonant classical spine-tinglers, psychedelic freak-outs, shock-rock creep-outs, Southern gothic alt-rock gloom, art-noise desolation and more.” Their list is presented in chronological order, starting with the 1930 folk standard “The Murder of the Lawson Family,” a real-life story of one Charlie Lawson, who murdered his wife and six of seven children. From there, we’re taken on a haunting journey through the years, with The Louvin Brothers’ heavenly Appalachian harmonies detailing a bloody murder (“Knoxville Girl”), Hungarian composer György Ligeti drawing out every possible anxiety with a single organ (“Volumina”), Leonard Cohen stoically claiming, “It is your flesh that I wear” (“Avalanche”), and plenty of other brooding bards like Nick Cave, Scott Walker, and Tom Waits laying out tales of horror and depravity.

Greatest Discovery: There’s something oddly satisfying about Tori Amos’ whispery, theatrical interpretation of Eminem’s murder fantasy “’97 Bonnie & Clyde,” in which he imagines killing his wife Kim and tossing her dead body into a lake, with his baby daughter along for the ride. Amos lures you right into the disgusting scene itself, exposing way more about the rapper than he ever could himself.

Most Terrifying of Them All: There’s nothing that will ever beat the relentless motor buzz that ripples underneath Throbbing Gristle’s “Hamburger Lady” as Genesis P-Orridge recites words from a letter written by a medic in Vietnam who cared for a woman who had horrific burns covering the top half of her body. Seriously, just try to listen to this one with the lights off.