20 Ominous Songs And Music Pieces

In the stillness of a calm night, the highs and lows of ominous music create a unique sound. This set of 20 tracks is not your usual playlist—it’s a trip into the deeper side of music.

If you enjoy tunes that are a bit eerie, a bit odd, but deeply moving, this list offers a refreshing and down-to-earth musical experience. Composed by an array of unique artists across time, these songs are more than chilling aural experiences—they’re profound commentaries on life, fear, and the unknown.

1. “Forbidden Fruit” by John Zorn

John Zorn - Forbidden Fruit (Variations for Voice, String Quartet and Turntables)John Zorn – Forbidden Fruit (Variations for Voice, String Quartet and Turntables)

In 1987, American composer and saxophonist John Zorn crafted a brilliant and somewhat eccentric album, Spillane. “Forbidden Fruit,” one of its tracks, stands out with its mix of vocals, turntables, and a string quartet.

With the entire album inspired by the writings of mystery author Mickey Spillane, each song encapsulates a sense of suspense and enigma that makes for an enthralling listen.

2. “Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns

Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse MacabreCamille Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre

Few pieces of music encapsulate the spooky spirit of Halloween like “Danse Macabre,” or “Dance of Death,” by Camille Saint-Saëns. First composed in 1872, this timeless piece has echoed through the ages, reminding us of the inevitable dance with death that no one can avoid. It’s become so iconic that it was even used as the theme for the 1997 BBC show, Jonathon Creek.

3. “Frankie Teardrop” by Suicide 

Suicide, "Frankie Teardrop"Suicide, “Frankie Teardrop”

“Frankie Teardrop” by Suicide is a deep dive into the abyss of nihilism. It spotlights the relentless grind of industrial life, leading up to a shocking climax where Frankie takes his life and that of his family. The song serves as a stark reminder of the importance of seeking meaning and purpose beyond the daily grind.

4. “Dark Entries” by Bauhaus 

Bauhaus - Dark EntriesBauhaus – Dark Entries

Bauhaus’ “Dark Entries” tells the story of Dorian Gray, the eternally youthful protagonist of Oscar Wilde’s famous novel. Lead singer Peter Murphy once mentioned that ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ was his favorite book, and it’s clear that the themes of narcissism and decadence in the novel found their way into this dark and provocative song.

5. “Toccata & Fugue in D Minor” by J. S. Bach 

Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D MinorBach – Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

J. S. Bach’s “Toccata & Fugue in D Minor” is a piece that’s become synonymous with a chilling sense of foreboding, thanks in no small part to its frequent use in popular culture. Composed sometime around 1704, it’s a masterpiece that showcases Bach’s knack for creating majestic soundscapes with dramatic authority and compelling rhythms.

6. “East Hastings” by Godspeed You Black Emperor

Godspeed You Black Emperor - East HastingsGodspeed You Black Emperor – East Hastings

Named after a less-than-glamorous stretch of Vancouver, “East Hastings” by Godspeed You Black Emperor offers a grim commentary on the importance of faith. Through their chilling lyrics, the band paints a vivid picture of a world devoid of happiness and joy without faith, offering an unsettling yet captivating listen.

7. “Organ Donor” by Jeremy Messersmith

Jeremy Messersmith - Organ DonorJeremy Messersmith – Organ Donor

In “Organ Donor,” Jeremy Messersmith spins a somber tale of struggle and uncertainty. Despite the melancholic subject matter, the song manages to create a beautifully melodic and catchy tune. Messersmith’s reflective lyrics about life, loss, and the passage of time make this a standout track that’s sure to leave listeners pondering.

8. “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” by The Beatles 

Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! (Remastered 2009)Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! (Remastered 2009)

“Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” by The Beatles, primarily written by John Lennon, was inspired by a Victorian circus poster he bought. The song’s lyrics, including the name Mr. Kite, are borrowed from this poster. While themed around a carnival, the song’s eerie vibe stems from the use of an organ, minor chords, and Lennon’s distinct vocals.

9. “Totentanz” by Liszt 

Franz Liszt - Totentanz (1849)Franz Liszt – Totentanz (1849)

“Totentanz,” composed by Franz Liszt, is a masterpiece that innovatively utilizes the Gregorian plainchant melody, Dies Irae. Known for its suspenseful nature, this piece has found its way into various movies and TV shows, cementing its reputation as a go-to track for cinematic tension.

10. “What’s He Building?” by Tom Waits 

Tom Waits - What's He BuildingTom Waits – What’s He Building

Tom Waits’ “What’s He Building?” serves as a chilling commentary on society’s intrusive tendencies. Through the lens of curious neighbors who suspect a man of nefarious deeds, the song cleverly unfolds its narrative. The twist? There’s nothing being built at all. The song is a testament to Waits’ knack for storytelling and his ability to play with our perceptions. 

11. “The Water Goblin” by Dvořák

Dvořák - The Water GoblinDvořák – The Water Goblin

“The Water Goblin” by Antonín Dvořák was written as a symphonic poem in 1896. Dvořák was greatly influenced by poems that were published by Karel Jaromír Erben under the title Kytice’. This symphonic piece is both ominous and dark, while also being enchanting to the listener.

12. “Ghost” by Maurice Jarre 


“Ghost” is an original score written by Maurice Jarre and was produced for the major motion picture of the same name. The movie was released in 1990 and starred Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Jarre, the French composer, actually received an Oscar nomination for his work on this particular score. This score is hauntingly beautiful and bewitching, making it a perfect fit for the ghostly love story.

13. “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana 

Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box (Official Music Video)Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box (Official Music Video)

Kurt Cobain once said that he wrote “Heart-Shaped Box” for Nirvana inspired by a television report of children suffering from cancer. However, many fans believe it was really about his shaky relationship with Courtney Love, as the song seemingly points out an unstable romance. Regardless of the meaning you draw from the song, it’s clear that it has very dark undertones that force listeners to think.

14. “Shadows Alive” by Daniel Davies 

Daniel Davies - Shadows Alive - Events Score (Official Audio)Daniel Davies – Shadows Alive – Events Score (Official Audio)

“Shadows Alive” by Daniel Davies is the premier track from his first-ever solo album. His work is largely influenced by his time studying under John Carpenter, a filmmaker famous for both Halloween and The Thing. This astonishingly ominous track is otherworldly in its delivery and the song is incredibly enticing for any listener. This electronic track is also reminiscent of the score to Halloween or The Exorcist, but very unique in its way.

15. “Kim” by Eminem 

Eminem "Kim" (Music Video) 2021Eminem “Kim” (Music Video) 2021

“Kim” is Eminem’s chilling account of his turbulent relationship with his ex-wife, Kimberly. The song, written while the artist was high on ecstasy, graphically describes a confrontation that ends in a sinister twist. Carrying the weight of morbidity, this song highlights the very real toxicity of abusive relationships, especially when children are involved.

16. “The Becoming” by Nine Inch Nails 

The BecomingThe Becoming

From the album “The Downward Spiral,” Nine Inch Nails’ “The Becoming” is a chilling glimpse into despair and self-destruction. The song’s machine-like rhythm serves as a metaphor for drug addiction and psychosis, marking a disturbing turn in the album’s narrative.

17. “Don Giovanni” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 

Mozart: Overture - 'Don Giovanni'Mozart: Overture – ‘Don Giovanni’

“Don Giovanni,” Mozart’s captivating opera, is a two-act melodrama about the notorious womanizer, Don Juan. With its uncanny fusion of comedy and the supernatural, it’s considered one of the greatest operas and a testament to Mozart’s genius.

18. “Der Erlkönig” by Schubert 

Franz Schubert: ErlkönigFranz Schubert: Erlkönig

Schubert’s “Der Erlkönig,” composed at 18, sets Goethe’s eerie poem to music, with a solo singer narrating four distinct roles. The chilling pursuit of the boy by the supernatural Erlking makes this piece one of Schubert’s most memorable. 

19. “Climbing Up The Walls” by Radiohead 

Climbing Up the WallsClimbing Up the Walls

In “Climbing Up The Walls,” Radiohead explores the terror of paranoia and stress. Inspired by Thom Yorke’s experiences in a mental hospital, the song’s creation during a violent hailstorm adds a layer of dark authenticity.

20. “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath 

BLACK SABBATH - "Black Sabbath" (Official Video)BLACK SABBATH – “Black Sabbath” (Official Video)

According to the band, the song Black Sabbath is about a terrifying experience that Geezer Butler had. The track recounts a chilling encounter band member Geezer Butler had with a sinister figure in his occult-themed apartment. The figure’s sudden appearance and disappearance, along with a mysteriously missing book on the occult, inspired the song’s haunting opening lyrics.

Final Thoughts

In essence, the realm of ominous music is as vast as it is thrilling, traversing centuries, genres, and themes. From Mozart’s timeless operas to the raw introspections of contemporary artists like Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead, each track weaves its unique tale of darkness and suspense. These songs serve as both a mirror and a lens, reflecting our inner fears while also offering glimpses into the unexplored depths of human experience.