Tales of Rock: These Are The Scariest Songs Of All Time, According To Pandora

Today begins an entire week’s worth of Halloween-related posts. Enjoy!

Pandora was on a mission to find the “scariest song of all time.”

So the Oakland-based internet radio company started looking at the many factors that go into making a song sound sinister. In all, 450 attributes were evaluated by the Pandora team.

“Scary songs use key, tempo and timbre to create tension and manipulate the way the listener interacts with sound,” according to a news release. “This includes the use of what scientists call ‘non-linear’ sound. Non-linear sounds are generally scratchy, disorganized, and chaotic, like the sound of vocal cords vibrating violently during a blood-curdling scream. Humans (and many other species) are hard-wired to perceive such sounds as life-threatening.

“The data science team identified structural and musicological properties best fit for frightening moods, including anguished, distraught, eerie, harsh, menacing, spooky, tense, anxious, and volatile, and scored each song against these traits.”

The song that topped the list turned out to be Nine Inch Nails’ “The Becoming.”

Here are the top 10 scariest songs of all time, complete with commentary from Pandora:

1, Nine Inch Nails, “The Becoming”

“This song makes use of distorted “non-linear” instrument timbres and effects, which humans are programmed to find distressing. This contrasts with the hushed + screaming vocals which creates a suspenseful & unsettling mood. Melodically, this song makes use of an exotic-sounding scale, which features a major third, but a flat second scale degree, which gives a dissonant quality.”

2, Pixies, “The Happening”

“Like ‘The Becoming,’ there is more use of distorted, ‘non-linear’ sound along with aggressive vocal attitude, and this one is in a minor key, which is usually perceived as a ‘dark’ sound.”

3, Bauhaus, “Dark Entries”

“The mood of this song is dominated by the tonal quality of the instruments, including distorted riffs and scratchy guitar solos. There is a high level of dissonance between the chromatically descending guitar line and the vocal, which is not a melody exactly, but a series of monotonic, almost unrelated pitches that clash with the accompaniment. The lo-fi aesthetic and freaky vocal delivery make for an unsettling experience, like being chased through the woods by a chainsaw-wielding maniac.”

4, Joy Division, “Transmission”

“The combination of lo-fi production, synth pads, and an exaggerated reverb effect creates a menacing, claustrophobic quality. The song finishes with an intense wall of sound, which along with the staccato and insistent bass guitar rhythm makes this a truly anxiety-provoking track.”

5, Lamb Of God, “Contractor”

“Due to its sheer aggression, it’s a typical example of the death metal genre: it’s loud and distorted, includes a fast tempo, makes use of technically proficient drumming and guitar riffs, and is rhythmically complex in the form of shifting tempos and syncopated hits. The vocals are extreme and gritty and a good example of the ‘death metal growl.’ Lyrically it’s confrontational and threatening.”

6, Tool, “‘nima”

“Similar to the Lamb Of God in its aggressive, confrontational vocal attitude, ‘nima also features loud distorted tones throughout. Still, there is some dynamic range too, with some quieter, more drone-like stretches.”

7, Nirvana, “Heart-Shaped Box”

Like many Nirvana songs, this one defies pop conventions. The harmonic progression is difficult to pin down as major or minor, but there is an unmistakable dark and menacing quality to the music. There is a dissonance between the vocal melody and instrumental parts that is disorienting and can be a bit disturbing to the listener. It makes use of heavy, distorted tones, but also features quieter, brooding stretches.

8, Korn, “Bottled Up Inside”

This song relies on loud, distorted timbres, and some ‘non-linear’ tones to create an aggressive, frightening effect that will transport you straight to the dungeon of despair. The relentless pounding of the drums and the deep, sludgy doom-guitar riffs give this song a truly menacing and diabolical feel.”

9, A Perfect Circle, “Thinking of You”

“This song has a creepy combination of tones, including heavier distorted ones, alongside more ambient & suspenseful tones that will leave you convinced the demons are watching you. The melody at times makes use of an exotic-sounding scale that adds to the mood — the first two vocal notes you’ll hear from a ‘diminished 5th,’ a musical interval which since the 18th century has been nicknamed ‘Diabolus in musica,’ or ‘The Devil in music’ due to its dissonant quality.

10, Whitechapel, “Eternal Refuge”

Eternal Refuge is another Death Metal entry, therefore it’s extreme in its volume and distortion, with that famous ‘death metal growl.’ Try putting this on at home in the dark.”

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Tales of Rock – The Cool Parents’ Guide to Rock Music for Kids

If there’s one universal truth to parenting, it’s that whatever songs your kid listens to will end up on repeat in your head at 3 a.m. Most of the time we’re fighting off tunes about frogs or balloons or shapes from Little Baby Bum, or we’re reluctantly humming a particularly annoying little ditty about a family of sharks (and just like that, dear reader, it’s now in your head too. Sorry).

Look, we have the power — the obligation — to introduce our kids to better music, for their sake, and very possibly, our own sanity. Nursery rhymes are adorable and learning-shapes songs are valuable. But with the state of things around us, social distancing and staying at home can provide a great opportunity for parents to expose their little ones to better music, some even with helpful life lessons.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite kid-friendly albums from what we dub the “Golden Age of Rock,” the classic oldies of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’50s through the ’70s, to help create a fun music experience for you and your kids. So, clear the living room, turn off the TV and fire up the record player (or Spotify playlist) and, hopefully, get to dancing.

Chuck Berry

The Great Twenty-Eight

Chuck Berry defined the sound and spirit of rock ‘n roll, so it’s only right that our kids hear his music. This compilation album, which Rolling Stone ranked No. 21 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, starts off with the toe-tapping “Maybellene,” and kids just know what to do when songs like this come on. Later on the album is “Johnny B Goode,” a fun opportunity for you to mention a great scene in Back to the Future when Marty McFly baffles everyone at a dance with a rendition of this hit. This album is a necessary lesson on the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. Nicknamed the “Father of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Berry was a major influence on decades of music that followed him.

Little Richard

Here’s Little Richard

With lyrics that go “A-wop-bop-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo,” “Tutti Frutti” is probably the most fun a kid will have singing to a song, and the second you drop a needle on this track, your toddler will light up. It’s the opening track on Little Richard’s 1957 debut album Here’s Little Richard, which also includes “Long Tall Sally (The Thing)” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Peepin’ and Hidin’)” Simply put, these are just fun songs.

The Beatles

Rubber Soul

The Beatles helped define 20th-century rock ‘n’ roll, but not before dominating the pop charts. If we had told fans of the hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand” that the same band would later be making songs like “Helter Skelter,” they wouldn’t have believed us. But, there’s one album, in particular, that is a great introduction to the Beatles for kids, and has both the catchy, pop-like melodies that launched the Fab Four to stardom, but a little more meaningful message than the idea that they want to hold your hand. And it seemingly has no references to drugs yet: Rubber Soul. It’s said that Beatlemania ended on Dec. 3, 1965, the day the record hit the shelves. It was the album that saw the Beatles as men, not boys, similar to a teenager coming of age. And tracks like “Nowhere Man” explored John Lennon’s own dealings with inadequacy.

David Bowie

Hunky Dory

David Bowie is a great artist to introduce to kids early on because he took on many alter-egos, opening up the possibility of a young person to find one that relates to their own personality. His music explores fantasy-like storylines, and he always encouraged young people to be themselves –– no matter how weird. His 1971 album Hunky Dory is especially great for kids, and the song “Changes” reflects those ever-changing personas. He also wrote the track “Kooks” for his first son, which is a great song to dedicate to your own children.

Wings

Wings Greatest

We’re the last people to reduce the fantastic music of Wings to “just another Beatles band,” but once your child realizes that the Beatles broke up in the summer of ’69 and are left wanting more, they may want to hear what one Beatles head songwriter, Paul McCartney, made in the ’70s. Only two years after John, Paul, George, and Ringo parted ways, McCartney co-founded Wings with his wife. Yes, we’re recommending a “greatest hits” album, but it’s a great start for kids, or anyone, who hasn’t taken the time to listen to the band before. It’s a fun record that highlights the best of a great band.

Melanie

Gather Me

This album is packed full of emotional ’70s folk-rock ballads. But track four, “Brand New Key,” recalls the innocent days of young love. A particularly adorable song from singer-songwriter Melanie, “Brand New Key” follows a young, empowered girl thriving off confidence and nudging a crush to play along as she roller skates along — and it’s super fun to dance to. The rest of the tracks are probably more fitting for a teenager, as it covers a lot of heartbreak, but it’s also a great introduction to blues-rock.

Bob Dylan

Another Side of Bob Dylan

Is your child an aspiring poet or songwriter? Look no further than Bob Dylan to inspire that creativity. And his fourth studio album, 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan, is a great introductory album for your little one. OK, this is a folk album, but Dylan has become an influential figure in rock ‘n’ roll. Like the album title suggests, this was the first album Dylan released that didn’t reflect his usual politically driven songwriting, making it easy listening for kiddo. In fact, it played on his humor quite a bit too. Give “All I Really Want to Do” and “I Shall Be Free No. 10” a listen with the kids around for a good laugh. “To Ramona,” though, shows Dylan at his best on this album. A beautiful, lullaby-like song, the melody alone is likely to capture your child’s attention.

The Beach Boys

Endless Summer / Pet Sounds

It’s hard to decide which album is best for introducing your little one to when it comes to The Beach Boys. Endless Summer, a great album for those summer pool days in the backyard, captures the best of The Beach Boys’ 1963-1966 catalog. Be sure to pick up the vinyl reissue that includes “I Get Around,” “Surfin’ USA” and “California Girls.” These are all great introductory songs to surf rock and capture a great slice of the band’s career. You can almost feel the warm sun and sound of the hot rods driving by.

Pet Sounds is universally regarded as The Beach Boys’ best album. So, go ahead and save your kid the future embarrassment of admitting they haven’t heard this album by introducing it to them now. It begins with the super catchy tune “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which captures the thoughts we have when we’re lovesick teenagers. It’s been said that Beach Boy Brian Wilson was aiming for tracks that kids could relate to on this album, and we think he did a pretty good job.

The Monkees

The Monkees Greatest Hits

Yeah, we’re recommending another greatest hits album. But look, this one cuts out some of the more experiential songs the band did (oh, you didn’t know about that?) We’re not going to recommend that you introduce your kids to The Monkees by having them watch the film Head, or listen to The Monkees’ soundtrack for it. Trust us. And, The Monkees didn’t have an endless catalog of amazing songs, but the hits they did have are upbeat, really fun, and definitely kid-friendly.

The Byrds

Mr. Tambourine Man / Turn! Turn! Turn!

This double album (not to be confused with a greatest hits album) was partly taken from earlier writings from Bob Dylan. It contains Dylan originals in a pop-rock-friendly tone, including: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “All I Really Want to Do” and more, so it’s a great opportunity to show your child how songs can be made differently.

Dusty Springfield

Dusty in Memphis

Dusty Springfield was an anomaly among the usual British female pop stars of the 1960s. Her voice was deep and rich, and her music sounded not unlike the hits coming from Motown or Stax. Her singles include “I Only Want to Be With You,” “Wishin’ and Hopin'” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” The latter of which is on one of the singles from her best-rated albums, Dusty in Memphis. A hallmark of the oldies we so love to wax nostalgic, Springfield’s music is a great lesson in love, and perfect for any lovelorn preteen.

Buddy Holly

20 Golden Greats: Buddy Holly Lives

Buddy Holly was a pioneer in 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, with hits like “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day.” His signature “hiccup,” unique spin on rockabilly and as-innocent-as-can-be songs make him perfect for introducing a young person to rock ‘n’ roll. After all, he’s said to have inspired greats like Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Unfortunately, he died shortly into his blossoming career, so his discography mainly includes compilations. But 20 Golden Greats: Buddy Holly Lives is listed on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and includes tracks he made with The Crickets — his band he played with before going solo.

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Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Stabbing Westward

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stabbing_Westward

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Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Tales of Rock – 29 Secret Backstories You Don’t Know To Hit Songs You Do

Songs have a way of worming themselves into our brains and lives in subtle ways, without us giving a single thought to how they arrived in our ears. And as it turns out, most songs have really interesting histories.

So we asked our plasticians to come up with fascinating facts about well-known songs, that you can worm into your brain alongside that catchy melody. Here’s what they came up with:

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – 5 Songs That Only Became Popular Because We Missed Their Meanings

Ronald Reagan famously misinterpreted “Born in the U.S.A.,” thinking it was about how awesome America was, spacing out during the lyrics about out-of-work vets hounded by memories of dead friends lost in a pointless war. The Gipper wasn’t the only one to miss the point. Pop music can be deceptively deep, and so some songs are only beloved and remembered due to us being completely oblivious.

Funny enough, when those smash hits make millions of dollars, artists generally don’t seem in too much of a hurry to correct us …

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Is About A Father Destroying His Family’s Lives For Money

Commissioned for the musical Meet Me In St. Louis, Ralph Blane & Hugh Martin churned out one of the most memorable Christmas songs ever written and one of Judy Garland’s signature numbers. Everybody loves a warm, cozy Christmas song. Too bad “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” isn’t one.

It’s actually about hard times and the economic necessity to pack up and take your family away from your small, close-knit little community to relocate to New York City, left only with pale memories of better times. Near the end of the film, Garland sings of friends and memories that are lost and might never be recovered, echoed in the line, “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow,” with the scene culminating in a child’s emotional breakdown. Not to mention that when Judy Garland sings of trauma, alienation, and lost innocence, she speaks as an authority.

Loew’s Inc.
“Hey, I think you lost your whiskey flask in that mound of asbestos, Judy.”

The song was so depressing that it was altered twice. First changed only superficially, altering the breathtakingly-nihilistic line: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, It may be your last,” to the slightly less pathetic: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light,” the song remaining very downbeat. And then a second time, the song altered by Frank Sinatra, who made it a habit of changing other songwriter’s lyrics, turning it saccharine and easily digestible. While Garland’s rendition remains the more iconic, the melancholy truth has been wiped away by a cheery erasure … which is probably the most on-point message for child stardom imaginable.

“The Clown Song” Was Written as an Epic, Heroic Theme

Nobody knows what it is called, but once you hear “clown music,” you’ll know it immediately.

If you have coulrophobia, shoot, we probably should have given you a trigger warning or something before we dropped that song. Sorry.

The disconnect between intent and interpretation apparent when you learn that the goofy-sounding tune was originally titled: “Entrance of the Gladiators.” And, no, the title is in no way being sarcastic; this was intended to be a grandiose, dramatic, awe-inspiring march to be played by a real military band or orchestra instead of an organ grinder in a circus.

The piece was written in the era when marches were the hottest genre of music, with no shortage of wars to play it during. Tonally, it was conceived to summon the pomp and life-and-death struggle that was armed combat in the Coliseum to life. It was composed by Czech military bandleader and prolific composer Julius Fucik, who, in all certainty, did not have a fez-bedecked simian sidekick.

Library of Congress
His monkey wore miniature gladiator armor.

Fucik approached his craft with great pride, studying under the tutelage of master Antonin Dvorak and touring across Europe, a respected figure. All well and good until one day, his song, also known as “Grande Marche Chromatique,” was reworked by a Canadian arranger as “Thunder and Blazes,” forever destroying Fucik’s creation. The tune would never be taken seriously by anyone not wearing greasepaint and a red nose ever again.

“Baba O’Riley” Is an Ode to Meditation and Warding off Peer Pressure

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” — or as it is usually referred to by everyone who isn’t a Rolling Stone writer, “Teenage Wasteland” — quickly attained status as a stoner classic. It’s a go-to title or reference for anything involving kids experimenting with drugs and rebelling against their parents.

Need background music to illustrate the generation gap while you give attention-seeking adolescents national TV coverage? Got ya covered:

“What are your kids doing in a back alley when you’re at work? Footage at 11!”

However, The Who’s Pete Townshend was not a dropout nor a casual-drug enthusiast like every other rock idol when he wrote “Baba O’Riley.” He penned the song when he was fed up with the cliched rock persona, making a point about drug dependency as a literal case of wasted potential. Townshend was really interested in trying to persuade us to open ourselves up to love and nourish our consciousness in a land of spiritual desolation. He failed, drowned out by the sound of a million bubbling bongs.

“Baba” refers to mute guru and avowed living god Meher Baba, of who Townshend was a zealous adherent. The mystic preached abstinence from drugs, with The Who songwriter gushing, “I felt more keen about getting into Meher Baba than I felt about being stoned all my life.” Listeners? They just wanted an awesome keyboard riff and refrain they could blast out a car window as they peeled out of the high school parking lot to pick up munchies.

“Song 2” Is a Smug Criticism of American Musical Tastes

The English “Brit-pop” outfit Blur was mostly overlooked by America in the mid-90s, with the grunge bands stealing all the spotlight. In response, “Song 2,” off their fifth studio album, was conceived as a joke. It imitates American grunge groups’ distorted, wailing guitar sound while also mocking their fan bases’ hyperactive antics, whom the band perceived as having trash taste. Even the title reminiscent of a hunk of molded plastic that rolls off an assembly line.

“Song 2” was a rebuke of everything that grunge stood for and a celebration of Blur’s Brit Pop genre. But, just like today, no one in America gave a shit about British musical pretensions, with listeners blasting it alongside grunge band de jour. Joining the pantheon of incoherent but catchy rock staples, the song was locked in at sports arenas and frat-party playlists.

Sounding like nothing the band had made to date …

… nobody understood the joke, assuming Blur were altering their sound and trying to appeal to Americans, yet more identical, skinny white dudes wailing over electric guitars. Their hit came to represent everything the singers were opposed to, as it became the most requested rock song on MTV. In America, it remains their only recognizable song despite a sizable back catalog. Blur seemed to forget about their message too and embraced it as their career-defining hit:

“Stayin’ Alive” Details Escaping a Depressing, Crumbling Dump

 

Soaring into the zeitgeist, fresh off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, “Stayin’ Alive” was the biggest hit and most recognizable single of the Bee Gees, the song emblematic of the disco era and decade. As the lyrics: “Somebody help me,” and “Life goin’ nowhere,” clearly hints at, the song was not designed to chronicle the local discotheque’s joys.

The Gibb Brothers were Brits, raised in Australia, and the song recorded in France. Their knowledge of America was limited to hotel rooms, buses, and newspapers. “The lyrics very obviously state the scenario of survival in the city, and it’s not about disco dancing at all,” Robin Gibb said. The city is New York, and survival is used quite literally. In 1977 the Big Apple was a laughingstock. If you know anything about its reputation as a failed, crime-ridden, miserable dump, you can figure it out what reality the song was really getting at…

The Bee Gees were trying to be profound, and we didn’t give them a chance. The line “New York Time’s effect on man,” is explained by the co-writer Barry Gibb, describing the song as bleak and intended for “desperate” people “crying out for help,” explaining why the music video was shot in a rubble-laden slum. There is a line about “dancing shoes,” but considering the rest of the song’s content, it’s metaphorical at best; according to Robin Gibb, the band completed “Stayin’ Alive” without even knowing the John Travolta film’s plot.

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

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Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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