These 10 songs about murder are not all hip-hop songs, contrary to what many touch-and-go music fans might think. Murder, it appears, is a fascinating topic for all genre musicians as seen here by the inclusion of everything from rap to country to rock and even to new wave.
- “Murder Was the Case” – Snoop Dogg. No better way to kick off the list of songs about murder than a song with murder in the title. Snoop laments the real-life murder charges against him in the death of Phillip Woldermarian, a member of a rival gang allegedly shot by Snoop’s bodyguard. Both were later acquitted.
- “I Don’t Like Mondays” – The Boomtown Rats. Brenda Ann Spencer makes for one of the most famous homicidal gunmen in U.S. history. Setting up shop from the comfy confines of her home, Spencer shot eleven people (killing two) in Cleveland Elementary School across the street from her San Diego home. When asked why she did it, she replied with the title to The Boomtown Rats hit single.
- “Running Gun Blues” – David Bowie. David Bowie has always been a bit eccentric, but he never crossed the line to straight up sociopath (not that anyone knows of, anyhow). Yet “Running Gun Blues” is a song about murder that can’t seem to keep track of its high body count. Mass murder as the subject of a pop song? Only you, Bowie.
- “The Wedding List” – Kate Bush. Speaking of songs about murder, Kate Bush released the upbeat “Wedding List” from her 1980 album "Never For Ever." Inspired by Francois Truffaut’s film "The Bride Wore Black," a movie about the death of a groom and his new bride’s attempts at revenge.
- “What’s He Building?” – Tom Waits. While killing is not overtly detailed, this song about murder strongly hints at it. Told from the perspective of the man living next door, he catches peeks and glimpses into his strange neighbor’s house as he constructs his oddities: “Now what's that sound from under the door?/ He's pounding nails into a hardwood floor/ And I swear to god I heard someone moaning low….”
- “Goodbye Earl” – Dixie Chicks. A song about murder and an anthem for abused women everywhere. The Chicks hit musical gold with this 1999 hit about one women’s ultimate revenge against her abusive ex-husband.
- “Psycho Killer” –Talking Heads. A fun, poppy song about murder from one of the 80’s best bands (the song itself was released in the 70’s). It constituted the band’s debut hit and solidified their place in the New Wave sound. Not bad for a song about slicing people up.
- “D.O.A.” – Foo Fighters. The lyrics of “D.O.A.” are debatable as to whether it’s a song about murder, a song about death in general, or the murder of a relationship. Regardless, a close inspection of the lyrics reveal a first-person narrator who seems to have acted upon the others in the song with some maleficent force: “Oh you know I did it, it's over and I feel fine/ Nothing you could say is gonna’ change my mind/ Waited and I waited the longest night/ Nothing like the taste of sweet decline.”
- “Smooth Criminal” – Michael Jackson. More about an assault than an out-and-out murder, MJ leaves little doubt that the aforementioned criminal wouldn’t hesitate to take Annie’s life if needed. Indeed, it appears that death was his intention all along as she is left beaten and bloody while not even MJ is sure if she’s still alive.
- “Folsom Prison Blues” – Johnny Cash. Arguably the Man in Black’s most popular song, it’s also a song about death, and perhaps the most popular song about death of all time. Cash—who never killed a man in his life—nonetheless found his niche writing about the most heinous criminal activity punishable by law. What’s worse is that, in Cash’s own words, he performed this malfeasance on the unsuspecting victim “just to watch him die.”
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