This feature was originally published in October 2016.
If it haunts, chills, or creeps you out, you’ll find it at Forever Halloween, where it’s Friday the 13th, Devil’s Night, and All Hallow’s Eve 365 days a year. Yeah, we’re pretty much sick bastards.
Halloween traditionally celebrates the ghoulish, haunting, and gory facets of fright, but let’s not forget the three scariest words in the English language: I love you. To some, “love is patient, love is kind,” but to the musicians on this list, love is violence, stalking, and destruction of property. So, this week — in anticipation of Valentine’s Day come Friday — we bring you a different type of terror: The 13 Scariest Love Songs.
With themes ranging from keying cars to necrophilia, these artists seem to have just as much trouble with their love lives as us regular folk. Most of the songs seem fairly tongue-in-cheek, but in all seriousness, if you are a victim of domestic violence or stalking, please seek help via The National Domestic Violence hotline.
13. The Cardigans – “Lovefool”
On the surface, the disco-pop sheen of The Cardigans’ “Lovefool” is all Lisa Frank hearts and unicorns. The song’s dreamy element is only further cemented by Nina Persson’s Swedish dimples and its affiliation with Baz Luhrmann’s psychedelic Romeo + Juliet. Fans never seem to remember that Shakespeare’s tortured lovebirds perish at the end of the tale when played by the scrawny-yet-sublime Leonardo DiCaprio and ethereal Claire Danes. And all those crushing teens who once religiously said goodnight to a poster of the Oscar-nominated actor gazing through a fish tank don’t realize that the tune paints their devotion as pathetic, if not obsessive.
The narrator of the song cries, prays, and begs for the object of her affection to declare his undying love, even if it’s a downright lie. Go ahead and fool her if he must; she only wants him to promise to never leave — the underlying and unspoken threat here being that if he ever tries to escape her clutches, she’ll cut him. The only appropriate response when faced with this kind of break from reality is borrowed from The Dismemberment Plan’s “The Ice of Boston”, where Travis Morrison bellows to an imaginary Gladys Knight: “Oh, Gladys, girl, I love you, but oh, get a life!” –Janine Schaults
12. Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats”
Carrie Underwood hit it big with “Before He Cheats” in 2006. The song rationalizes trashing her former lover’s car because of his wandering ways. Keying cars seems to be a go-to for jilted exes, but this song takes it to extremes by busting in the windows and the headlights, “[slashing] a hole in all four tires,” and then justifies it all by making it seem like an altruistic endeavor because she “might’ve saved a little trouble for the next girl” — presumably the one he’s cheating on her with. Personally, I would love to hear the follow-up song to this where Carrie spends the night in jail because her ex prosecutes her for the destruction of property, which can carry jail time and hefty fines. So before carving your “name into his leather seats” (seriously, that’s how you get caught) and keying your ex’s car, maybe try writing a strongly worded letter instead. –Claire Sevigny
1`1. The Cure – “Pictures of You”
When an obsession over someone becomes all-consuming to the point where it’s all you can think about, you lose track of time. Friends seem far away. You go about daily tasks like an automaton because your passion is lost wandering in the emptiness that lies between love and unlove. You retrace your memories (“Remembering you standing quiet in the rain”) and regrets (“If only I’d thought of the right words, I could have held on to your heart”) in hopes of finding solace, but the yearning only serves as a reminder of what you no longer have. “Pictures of You” comes from a pit of despair, and it’s scary because it’s so damn real. –Jon Hadusek