We’ve all had one of them at some point in our lives—that person that lingers too long when shaking your hand, or that you bump into way too many times for it to be a coincidence. They’re everywhere—creeps, that is. And no one ever said that musicians were exceptions. So, what happens when they try to have successful relationships with others? Or what if they care for someone and don’t really know how to express it?
Today we’ll take a look at some of music’s not-so-proud romantic moments. Although lyrics are always left up to interpretation—and many of these artists would probably deny some of the creepier imagery—there’s enough compelling evidence in the words and images behind these songs to give them a spot on the list.
1. Tegan and Sara – “Living Room”
My windows look into your living room where I spend the afternoon on top of you.
I wonder what it is that I did to make you move in across away from me.
I hope I never figure out who broke your heart. And if I do, if I do I’d spend all night losing sleep I’d spend the night and I’d lose my mind, well I’d spend the night and I’d lose my mind. My windows look into your bathroom where I spend the evening watching you get yourself clean.
Hey, what’s up? Oh, no, sorry, I sorta have plans tonight. I was just thinking I’d watch my depressed neighbor through her window and fantasize about being on top of her. I don’t know if I’ll be done early, she usually takes her showers around nine. Oh, you’ve got binoculars? Sure, come on over.
2. The Beegees – “Nights on Broadway”
Here we are in the room full of strangers
Standing in the dark where your eyes couldn’t see me
Well, I had to follow you though you did not want me to
But that won’t stop my lovin’ you, I can’t stay away
On “Nights on Broadway,” the harmonizing brothers in the Beegees channel their inner John Hinkley Jr. by being moved by an invisible force to love someone. The lyrics are directly stalker-y, and it must be hard for the disco kings to argue about the undeniably creepy, “I had to follow you though you did not want me to.”
3. Clay Aiken – “Invisible”
If I was invisible then I could just watch you in your room
If I was invincible I’d make you mine tonight
If hearts were unbreakable then I could just tell you where I stand
I would be the smartest man If I was invisible (Wait, I already am)
It only takes a line of Clay Aiken’s “Invisible” for listeners to be thankful that the American Idol finalist isn’t. The track provokes cringe-worthy thoughts of Kevin Bacon’s invisible character in Hollow Man brushing against a sleeping female’s hair, among other things. But instead we’ve got Aiken, who we find out in the last line is just metaphorically invisible, and that’s a huge relief.
4. The Police – “Every Breath You Take”
Oh can’t you see you belong to me
How my poor heart aches with every step you take
Every move you make, every vow you break
Every smile you fake, every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you
The meaning of “Every Breath You Take” has been debated and misunderstood for decades. But it’s hard to think of the song as anything other than the ultimate stalker anthem after reading the words on paper. By using moving instrumentation and melodies, Sting and The Police created possibly the only creeper anthem played at half of all weddings.
5. Piebald – “The Stalker”
I’ll be around every corner you go. Don’t you look so surprised
I’ll be in every dressing room that you’re in
I’ll be holding every door you walk through. You don’t even have to say thanks
I’ll get groceries at the same time as you
Don’t think I don’t know what suits you well. Don’t think I don’t know
I’ll be in every smoky corner you’ve seen counting your drinks
I’ll be the guy who drives past your house
I’ll be hiding behind your mirror watching you crimp your hair
I’ll follow you with sunglasses on
Some stalkers are in denial, but not the person in Piebald’s “The Stalker.” The lyrics speak for themselves, with the narrator laying it out plainly and simply — the psycho lets you know that he or she will be there every time you’re getting groceries, grabbing a drink or watching TV.
6. Lionel Richie – “Hello”
‘Cause I wonder where you are, and I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart, for I haven’t got a clue
But let me start by saying I love you
In the music video for “Hello,” Lionel Richie is a teacher who falls for his blind student. Maybe it wouldn’t be so creepy if the metaphor wasn’t so in your face, but the video tells the story of a woman who literally can’t see her teacher as he follows her through a school from class to class. And the fact that he’s jumping the gun with “I Love You” before even really talking to the girl ices the cake.
Hopelessly Devoted Creeps
7. Death Cab for Cutie – “I Will Possess Your Heart”
How I wish you could see the potential, the potential of you and me.
It’s like a book elegantly bound but, in a language that you can’t read. Just yet.
You gotta spend some time, Love.You gotta spend some time with me. And I know that you’ll find, love. I will possess your heart.
They’re probably the creepiest lines that have emerged from the indie scene. In “I Will Possess Your Heart,” vocalist Ben Gibbard plays the part of the guy that just won’t get the hint. And to make matters worse, the guy thinks he’s speaking to the one girl in the world that doesn’t believe in love at first, or second, or ninth sight. Gibbard and co. drag the song on for an unforgiving eight minutes, rehashing line after spent line and creating the sonic equivalent of that guy (or girl) who has you planning your fake uncle’s funeral or fictional camping trips weeks in advance.
8. Radiohead – “All I Need”
I’m a moth who just wants to share your light
I’m just an insect trying to get out of the night
I only stick with you because there are no others
“You are all I need, you’re all I need
I’m in the middle your picture lying in the reeds
“All I Need” is eye-openingly creepy on paper, but it’s the hypnotic way Thom Yorke’s lines lazily slur and reverberate that earns the song a place on the list. He mumbles line after obsessed line about a love that he’s waiting to come around that starts, which kicks off with the heartbreaking (but still weird) “I’m the next act waiting in the wings”
9. Smashing Pumpkins – “Ava Adore”
And I’ll pull your crooked teeth
You’ll be perfect just like me
You’ll be a lover in my bed
And a gun to my head
We must never be apart
We must never be apart
For some struggling couples, things can’t be fixed. But Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan doesn’t really give the object of his affection a choice in the single Ava Adore. Shedding light on a relationship where one of the parties is molding the other, Corgan sings “I’ll pull your crooked teeth. You’ll be perfect just like me” before chanting the haunting “We must never be apart” over and over again.
10. Carly Simon – “You Belong to Me”
You belong to me. Can it be, honey, that you’re not sure
You belong to me. Thought we’d closed the book – locked the door
Remember Wayne Campbell’s insane, over-possessive ex-girlfriend Stacy who just couldn’t “get the net” in Wayne’s World? Wayne did everything he could to keep her away; he dissed her “anniversary present,” which she gave him months after they broke up and made her jealous with the super-babe Cassandra. For “You Belong to Me,” Carly Simon sure sounds a lot like Stacy with lines like “Can it be, honey, that you’re not sure?”
11. Eminem – “Kim”
Bullshit you bitch, don’t fucking lie to me. What the fuck’s this guy’s problem on the side of me? Fuck you asshole, yeah bite me. Kim, KIM! Why don’t you like me?
You think I’m ugly don’t you? (It’s not that) No you think I’m ugly (Baby)
Get the fuck away from me, don’t touch me. I hate you. I hate you.
I swear to God I hate you. Oh my God I love you. How the fuck could you do this to me?
While it doesn’t quite seem like a love song, Eminem’s Kim documents the explosiveness of living in a jealousy-fueled on-and-off relationship. The track gets ugly with the rapper’s squabbles with his ex-wive, who he married and then promptly divorced since the track’s release. He berates, he chokes, he contradicts himself, and when all is said and done, he realizes that there is still love under all of the anger.
12. Alice Cooper – “This Maniac’s In Love With You”
I used to be so in control, but reality is losing its hold
Now I don’t know where to begin, just look at the state that I’m in
My mind is in total decay, I’m coming to take you away
There’s nothing more that I can do, this maniac’s in love with you
You know things are going to be rough when even the singer of a deranged song knows he’s bad news. In “This Maniac’s in Love With You,” Alice Cooper doesn’t really come off as an unrealized weirdo following someone around. Instead, he’s writing a begging and pleading letter to the listener to get out while she still can.
13. Gnarls Barkley – “Necromancer”
Did you hear what I said? With this ring I do wed a body in my bed
She was cool when I met her but I think I like her better dead
You can take the lyrics to “Necromancer” a few different ways. But it doesn’t really matter whether Cee-lo Green is talking about an actual dead woman or someone that is just coked to the gills and passed out — the song’s creepy. The singer talks about having his fun before the subject “dies,” and it’s enough to make the majority of listeners’ skin crawl.
14. Florence and the Machine – “Kiss With a Fist”
My black eye casts no shadow, your red eye sees no pain
Your slaps don’t stick, your kicks don’t hit, so we remain the same
Blood sticks and sweat drips, break the lock if it don’t fit
A kick in the teeth is good for some, a kiss with a fist is better than none
There are off-kilter, dysfunctional couples, and then there’s whatever Florence Welch is talking about in “Kiss With a Fist.” The song goes so far as to embrace physical confrontation with a loved one by stating that it’s better to stay with an abusive person than remain alone. But Welch shows she isn’t exactly a battered woman—she’s slapping, hitting and committing arson. Run guys!
15. The Misfits – “Die, Die My Darling”
Come cryin’ to me now baby
Your future’s in an oblong box yeah
Come cryin’ to me oh baby
Should’ve seen it was coming on
Come crying to me now baby
Had to know it was in your palm
Come crying to me now baby
Dead end zone for a dead end girl
Come crying to me now baby
And now your life drains on the floor
Come crying to me now baby
The Misfits were always fueled by horror and shock value. It leaks from their image, whether it’s their trademark skull or ghoulish font they use for their name. And one of their best known songs, “Die, Die My Darling” propelled that image. It’s a to-the-point rocker about, well, someone’s darling being put in an “oblong box.” It’s sinister, it’s creepy, and yeah, maybe a little bit fun.
16. The Beatles – “Run for Your Life”
Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am
You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl
With lyrics like “Run for Your Life,” it’s hard to believe that it took as long as the White Album’s release for Charlie Manson to really get hip on the Beatles.
17. Coheed and Cambria – “Wake Up”
I’ll do anything for you, kill anyone for you
So leave yourself intact, ‘cause I will be coming back
In a phrase to cut these lips: I love you
Love must be expressed a little differently in Coheed and Cambria’s sci-fi-adventure world. While the band’s had some other fairly creepy tracks (see: Al the Killer), “Wake Up” takes the cake, making the act of killing sound as plain and sweet as buying your lover a dozen roses.
Dirty Old Creeps
18. Weezer – “Across the Sea”
They don’t make stationery like this where I’m from – so fragile, so refined
So I sniff and I lick your envelope and fall to little pieces every time
I wonder what clothes you wear to school
I wonder how you decorate your room
I wonder how you touch yourself
and curse myself for being across the sea
“Across the Sea” is one of Weezer’s best songs on the cult-classic Pinkerton, but it only takes a half-attentive ear in the song’s second verse before you’re rewinding the track to make sure Rivers Cuomo really just said that. The love interest lives in Japan and is a barely legal 18 years old. But that doesn’t stop the narrator from fantasizing about her touching herself, along with some borderline-nutso stuff like smelling and licking the letters she sends him.
19. Bruce Springsteen – “I’m On Fire”
Hey little girl, is your daddy home?
Did he go away and leave you all alone?
I got a bad desire, I’m on fire
Tell me now baby is he good to you
Can he do to you the things that I do
I can take you higher I’m on fire
You see, your honor, he was using a “metaphor,” where the “little girl” isn’t really little at all, her “daddy” was her boyfriend, and “I’m on Fire” still means what you thought it meant.
20. Ringo Starr – “You’re Sixteen”
You come on like a dream, peaches and cream,? Lips like strawberry wine.?You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine. (mine, all mine)
You’re all ribbons and curls, ooh, what a girl,? Eyes that sparkle and shine.?You’re sixteen, you’re beautiful and you’re mine.? (mine, all mine, mine, mine)
Ringo didn’t write the song “You’re Sixteen,”—that was the Sherman Brothers—but the guy was 34 years old when he recorded the track. With the vivid description of the 16-year-old, the song plays out like an unofficial soundtrack to Lolita.
21. George Michael – “Father Figure”
Sometimes love can be mistaken for a crime
That’s all I wanted just to see my baby’s blue eyes shine. This time I think that my lover understands me if we have faith in each other, then we can be strong
I will be your father figure. Put your tiny hand in mine
I will be your preacher teacher — anything you have in mind
I will be your father figure. I have had enough of crime.
I will be the one who loves you till the end of time
Around this point in George Michael’s “Father Figure,” you start to realize that the guy probably isn’t talking about coaching little league baseball or showing someone how to play chess. Michael’s history with the law doesn’t really help, and he gives himself away when he sings “Sometimes love can be mistaken for a crime.”
22. Nine Inch Nails – “Closer”
I wanna fuck you like an animal
I wanna feel you from the inside
I wanna fuck you like an animal
My whole existence is flawed
You get me closer to God
In defense of Trent Reznor, finding love can be a difficult and confusing thing. And although he’s not saying the most charming words, at least the guy is being direct. The Billboard-placing single gave birth to one of the least-romantic and most-appalling lines to hit the radio waves probably ever when he used “Closer” to turn love makin’ into an escape from a depressing existence.
23. Say Anything – “Alive With The Glory of Love”
When I watch you, wanna do you, right where you’re standing
Right on the foyer, on this dark day, right in plain view
While the song’s theme is actually sort of charming—it’s talking about a relationship that struggling to exist during the Holocaust—you wouldn’t think it after hearing the first few lines. They’re immediate and frank, not exactly the romantic sentiment you might hope for in the face of death.
24. Prince – “Gett Off”
How can I put this in a way so as not to offend or unnerve
There’s a rumor goin’ all round that you ain’t been gettin’ served
They say that you ain’t you know what
In baby who knows how long
It’s hard for me to say what’s right
When all I wanna do is wrong
Translation: I heard that your partner’s love-making skills aren’t so great, and you haven’t been pleased in “who knows how long.” This is a difficult proposition for me to make, but would it be cool if I came over and had sex with you?
25. Billy Idol – “Dancing With Myself”
On the floor of Tokyo or down in London town to go
With the record selection and the mirror’s reflection
I’m dancing with myself
When there’s no-one else in sight in the crowded lonely night
Well I wait so long for my love vibration and I’m dancing with myself
Whether it was intended this way or not, Billy Idol crafted a love song to his right-hand man… er, himself. “Dancing With Myself” is the catchy five-minute tribute to the one-man tango that goes from sounding triumphant and bold at the first listen (oh, he has the courage to dance by himself? What a brave guy…) to kind of gross after an examination of the liner notes.