Feature Image by Virginia McCarthy and Cap Blackard
Cover Girl is a monthly music column in which Associate Editor Nina Corcoran compares cover songs to their original version. To celebrate Friday the 13th, this month’s column highlights 13 cover songs that give us the spooks, either from their lyrics or their musical arrangements.
As the world keeps turning and so does everything with it, the descriptors we use to better understand what surrounds us shift. What does it mean to be scared? What makes something scary? Well, if you look at the last few years, quite a lot. We’ve transitioned from horror films about vampires and zombies to ones about a children’s pop-up book and vaginal teeth. Songs about death frighten just as much as songs about fear of loss. What scares us no longer stems from direct, obvious imagery but rather the potential for it to arise, to appear before us, or to be taken away.
Music changes in a similar fashion. Serial killer stories make just as good of lyrical fodder as a desire to perform said acts, even if never followed through. Creeping ’80s synths set the mood as much as deadpan pop punk can. When a musician has their eyes set on a mood, they see to it, creating tracks that wrap themselves up in a mist and leave much to the imagination — especially when writing dark material.
To honor Friday the 13th, take a stroll through some of the scariest cover songs in music history. Artists know how to write bone-chilling lyrics or set the mood with eerie instrumentals. Other musicians know how to take those two facets, wrap them in ways they see fit, and offer up a rendition that turns an already eerie song into one that’s far more unsettling than anyone could have predicted. After all, what’s scarier than being surprised?