You’ve heard of bad and bougie, now get ready for sad and spooky. Halloween is here and idk about y’all but I feel like I’m pulling teeth to try to rally the festive spirit. Like I’m literally hopping on a plane this weekend to visit my niece and nephew with the hopes of doing festive things.
As I’ve explained in recent posts, I’ve been ghostbusting some serious ghosts of my past through therapy. That plus the fact that in true pre-pandemic me fashion, I’ve been running away to a concert every week this month has understandably had me in a weird head space.
So what better way to recap this weird and overwhelming time than to bust out the ol’ “nothing’s scarier than real life” theme that I started with my first post ever on the blog! Wow, can you believe it’s almost been 2 years since that?
Anyway, I didn’t call this a sad girl fall for nothing, let’s talk sad and spooky faves as of late.
Halloween by Phoebe Bridgers
I’m pretty sure I could get away with putting the entirety of her album Punisher in this playlist but I had to choose the most apt one. Phoebe is the queen of hauntingly sad and beautiful songwriting. In this song she talks about a dead relationship in a playfully sarcastic tone, but the imagery borders on the tragic. The Halloween metaphor of pretending to be ok in a dying relationship is just brilliant. Then sonically, it ends in a very unsettling way. It’s perfect spooky sad girl vibes.
Lullabies by Chvrches
Another album that I could put in its entirety in this playlist, the latest Chvrches album Screen Violence. I love how the band was inspired by horror movies and horror movie scores for this album. The lyrics in this song are dripping in regret and resignation. Production-wise, I love how it balances driving 80s drum beats with a sad pop melody. The imagery behind the phrase “we’re better off inside of the screen sometimes” points to the album’s central theme of screens and the violent emotions they cause. Hopeless comfort masked by a beautiful pop melody.
I’m Only Sleeping by the Beatles
This is one of my all time favorite Beatles songs but I feel like it hauntingly describes a depressive episode. I would know because I feel like I gravitate towards this song in a “oh this is how I’m feeling!” way when I’m on the verge of one. On the Revolver album, this one directly follows “Eleanor Rigby” and I feel like it continues the unsettling feelings of it but without a proper musical resolution like “Eleanor Rigby” does. But mad props for that backwards guitar solo; it’s one of my favorite tidbits of Beatles innovation.
Just for Today by Clairo
Battling mental illness is scary and Clairo somehow shows the mundane, the inconvenient, and the scary parts of depression and anxiety in this song. What is absolutely heartbreaking about this song is how almost nonchalant Clairo is when she references her inner demons in this song. My friends who’ve been battling depression and anxiety have expressed how scary it feels to experience that loss of control and honestly, I think it’s time we acknowledge how frightening that is. That’s how we start to destigmatize it — we call it what it is.
Way Out by Indigo de Souza
This song gives very much Alanis Morissette’s 90s rock but with the spooky imagery of Phoebe Bridgers. It starts off haunting with Indigo’s croaky “I’m looking for a way out” followed by mentions of ghosts, darkness, and monsters but then deceivingly takes a turn to a positive set of lyrics with the “I wanna be light” part at the end. I feel like ending this song on a seemingly positive note is intentionally unsettling. It almost makes me wonder if maybe she’s singing to her inner demons and getting to a screaming match with them at the end. It’s a delightful listen.
Creep by Radiohead
Often covered, but never quite imitated, this classic song is chilling on so many levels. The lyrics, the production, the sonic space, the chords — it just adds to the sad and spooky vibe of this song. I always thought the bridge was especially scary, like why is the protagonist of this story pointing out a woman who’s running out the door? And then you realize “oh! this is the theme song of a serial killer.” Fun.
Whispers by Halsey
The Halloween imagery in this one is strong but what really makes this a frightening song is the storytelling and the chilling whispers in the chorus. Halsey is no stranger to spooky and unsettling and that comes together so artistically here. The whispers in the chorus are really the best representation of inner demons I’ve heard in a song because they feel too close for comfort. And giving power to those scary voices can lead to something so tragic.
Everybody Dies by Billie Eilish
Ah yes, the princess of sad and spooky, Miss Billie. Although the tone of Happier Than Ever is a more famous badass than ‘things that go bump in the night’ like her last album, this song explores the terrifying truth of the reality of death. Billie is candid and sarcastic in this song, lamenting the loss of her sense of normality and musing on the great equalizer of all people, death. Her curiosity is haunting and existentialism at its finest. Isn’t it terrifying to be alive?
Welcome to Eden by Samia
This song just drips in regret and heartbreak and the way Samia sings about death and extremes here is chilling. She expresses remorse in such a poetic way: “Well I thought I was Eve, but I guess I’m the snake.” This one honestly hurts to listen to.
The Plague by Jensen McRae
You know what’s really terrifying? Hopelessness. And this song by Jensen McRae is the perfect encapsulation of that vulnerable place we’ve all been in because of the chaos of this world we have lived in since the pandemic started. Jensen’s vocals are so raw and the stripped back production really makes this song chilling to the bone.