We recently asked NME.com readers to tell us which songs give them goosebumps and we got some pretty spectacular replies. We’ve gathered the 50 most chilling tunes suggested by you and created an ultimate Spotify playlist for them, starting with Radiohead’s ‘How To Disappear Completely’.
Arcade Fire – ‘Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)’. The song, written during a week-long power outage caused by an ice storm, features chilling lines like “the power’s out in the heart of man“, of which Win Butler said: “People turn into wolves also, but I think that’s happening already. It just kind of raises the stakes, I think. But it does kind of shake up the regular routines.”
Patti Smith Group – ‘Pissing In A River’. “My bowels are empty, excreting your soul/What more can I give you? Baby I don’t know” – massive. Plus, author Nick Hornby’s cited this track as as one of the top songs to have soundtracked his life…
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ‘Straight To You’. Don’t we all dream of having Nick Cave repeatedly sing “But I’ll come a-running/Straight to you” to us?
Suede – ‘Still Life’. What’s one of the few things that that can make Suede even better? Throw in a 72-piece orchestra. Then again, the acoustic version is pretty magical, too.
Arctic Monkeys – ‘505’. The closing track on ‘Favourite Worst Nightmare’ was, as NME wrote, “the tear-jerker finale that has you floating from the theatre as the credits roll”.
Jimi Hendrix – ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’. This was the last song Hendrix ever played live – September 6, 1970, 12 days before his death – and what a way to leave his legacy. This list could easily be compiled purely of Hendrix records, but few things compare to ‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)’ – especially this Woodstock version.
The Smashing Pumpkins – ‘Mayonaise’. While this is arguably one of the Pumpkins’ best songs to date, there are few things more chilling than its acoustic intro. If that’s not enough, though, brace yourselves for the fully acoustic version.
R.E.M. – ‘Fall On Me’. Whether this song is about acid rain or oppression (it’s been said to be about both), there’s no denying the repeated string of “Don’t fall on me”s is a bit chill-inducing.
Muse – ‘Citizen Erased’. Before they went Queen-dubstep, Muse released one of their finest early opera-rock gems. “Wash me away/Clean your body of me/Erase all the memories/They’ll only bring us pain” are definitely goosebump-giving lyrics.
Interpol – ‘Leif Erikson’. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ came out, and we’ll soon be treated to a re-issue of the album, featuring stacks of ‘forgotten material’. That being said, this track was definitely the gem of the record.
The Animals – ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’. It’s sometimes easy to forget that this wasn’t an original composition from The Animals, but their cover of this traditional folk song has been recognised as one of the most important songs in rock and roll’s history – it’s even been featured as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s ‘500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll’.
TV On The Radio – ‘Staring At The Sun’. “‘Staring At The Sun’ is sublime enough to even be enjoyed by people who don’t collect coloured vinyl,” NME wrote upon this single’s 2004 release.
Spiritualized – ‘I Think I’m In Love’.In 1997, this track’s album ‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’ was voted album of the year by NME, even outranking Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’.
Sonic Youth – ‘Expressway To Yr Skull’. If you take a look at the vinyl for ‘Evol’, this track’s listed next to an infinity symbol for its length – and frankly, we could listen to this one forever.
Massive Attack – ‘Angel’. “This album is great to have sex to lol”, reads the top YouTube comment for this song. Says it all right there, really…
Sufjan Stevens – ‘All Delighted People’. “ It’s a song with horns, a choir of female backing vocals and, as NME said in its review, “11 minutes of painfully celestial balladeering self-indulgence” with “jittering flutes”.
Fleetwood Mac – ‘Albatross’. Their 1969 instrumental track has been said to have inspired the likes of The Beatles to Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
The National – ‘Slow Show’. Lyrics so good they used them twice. Recycling lyrics from debut album track ’29 Years’, frontman Matt Berninger has said: “I thought it would be interesting to reuse a lyric from an earlier song to see how it could evolve in a new context. It also was just what ‘Slow Show’ needed. It’s about wanting to just go home to the one you love and stay there.”
The Velvet Underground & Nico – ‘Heroin’. If there were ever a song that managed to beautifully romanticise taking a hard drug, then this is it. “Lou Reed at his most cliff-edge doomed and romantic,” NME once wrote of this track.
Edward Elgar – ‘Nimrod’. Often played at funerals and memorial services, you can’t help but get chills when listening to this beautiful instrumental composition.
LCD Soundsystem – ‘All My Friends’. NME described this song as a “tale of aching disco-angst, a confessional Kraut rocker about the ephemeral nature of friendship and fame”.
Supergrass – ‘Run’. The ethereal closer from their 2002 album ‘Life On Other Planets’ has often drawn comparisons to Pink Floyd.
Radiohead – ‘Creep’. It’s for angsty poetic songs like this one that NME.com named Thom Yorke one of the greatest lyricists of all time.
Marvin Gaye – ‘What’s Happening Brother’. Written for his brother who was returning from fighting in Vietnam, this song centres around an ex soldier who returns home to a world that he can no longer connect to.
Radiohead – ‘Climbing Up The Walls’. What’s more chilling than a song lyrically inspired by patients in a mental hospital? “Ether way you turn/I’ll be there/Open up your skull/I’ll be there/Climbing up the walls“…
The Horrors – ‘Sea Within A Sea’. Nearly eight minutes in length, this “mesmeric comeback single”, as NME once called it, featured the “smooth, pulsing dream-rock of Can and Neu!”.
Joy Division – ‘New Dawn Fades’. This list would surely be incomplete without some Joy Division. You can listen to all of these songs in a Spotify playlist by clicking here.
Jefferson Airplane – ‘White Rabbit’. Grace Slick’s vocals paired with the LSD-induced imagery of Alice and her Wonderland make for a bone-tingling hit that deserves its spot in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s ‘500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll’.
Nero – ‘Innocence’. If you’re after a bit of dubstep-infused goosebumps, then give this tune from Nero’s debut album ‘Welcome Reality’ a spin.
Alt-J – ‘Tessellate’. This track from the Mercury Music Prize favourites has, as NME wrote, a “piano lollop… as pleasingly creepy as all their other stuff, helped by the superbly delivered line, “And all your friends come… (breathes in deeply and heavily through nose) …sniffing”.
Paul Simon – ‘Graceland’. Paul Simon recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his album ‘Graceland’ (and he has “no regrets” over the controversy that surrounded the recording of his album in South Africa), and it’s still as touching as it was in 1986.
Friendly Fires – ‘True Love’. While this wasn’t necessarily the ultimate standout number from ‘Pala’, this James Murphy-esque track gives you the chills every time you hear Ed howl “All I want is to feel true love“.
Grace Jones – ‘Slave To The Rhythm’. That groove. That funk. Those vocals. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of Miss Grace Jones’s finest works to date.
Explosions In The Sky – ‘The Only Moment We Were Alone’. Fancy 10 minutes of goosebump-inducing instrumentals? You can listen to this track, along with the rest of these in a Spotify playlist, by clicking here.
Fleetwood Mac – ‘The Chain’. NME wrote: “The key to ‘The Chain’ lies in its simplicity. While other tracks on the album might be more sonically lush, ‘The Chain’ pares things back, leaving the bass riff to carry through the melody to its final, crashing end.”
Editors – ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’. This song “rages and ravages quite brilliantly,” NME said. “Its pump-hammer beats and Christmas choir finale really do dredge serenity and salvation from lines like “Say goodbye to everyone you’ve ever known/You are never going to see them ever again”.
Cat Power – ‘Wild Is The Wind’. It’s tough to tackle a song that Bowie’s already mastered, but Cat Power’s dreamy vocals give a whole new life to the Johnny Mathis track.
Brandi Carlile – ‘The Story’. You may recall hearing this song in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy back in 2007 – and you know they onlu pick the biggest tear-jerker tunes out there for that show.
The Cranberries – ‘Daffodil Lament’. While ‘Zombie’ was the standout tune from their 1994 album ‘No Need To Argue’, there’s no denying that your heart breaks a little when you hear Dolores sing “I have decided to leave you forever“.
Prince – ‘Purple Rain’. NME recently included this track in its ’50 Greatest Guitar Solos’ list, calling the song his “defining anthem… The solo took him to a whole other audience, it was part Hendrix freakout and part country-rock jam. He wouldn’t be known as just ‘a pop star’ ever again.”
The Who – ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. We can’t think of a more applicable track from The Who to be featured in this list. Not only has it been referred to as an “antiwar anthem” that was played during the Concert for New York City following the World Trace Center attacks, but it was also the final song the band ever recorded with Keith Moon (for their ’79 film).
The Rolling Stones – ‘Gimme Shelter’. “Released at the butt end of the 60s,” NME wrote, “Jagger and Richards captured the changing moods of the time, as race riots, Charles Manson and Vietnam had soured the hippie dream. A stabbing at their infamous Altamont gig added an extra dimension of bitter twang as the soulful crisis of the track signaled the end of an innocent era.”
The Antlers – ‘No Windows’. This track’s a “stop-you-in-your-tracks effort from the outset that calls to mind everything from the Buckleys to Soulsavers,” NME wrote.
Kate Bush – ‘The Saxophone Song’. One saxophone + one Kate Bush and you have a winning goosebump-giving song.
Deadmau5 – ‘Strobe’. One for all the mau5 fans out there. Don’t forget that you can listen to all of these songs in a Spotify playlist by clicking here.
Radiohead – ‘Let Down’. “The best bit arrives at 3:37, when Thom just loses it amid the band’s gloriously uplifting crescendo,” NME said of this track. “‘You know where you are,” he coos over and over in his best choirboy voice. He sounds unstoppable.”
Pink Floyd – ‘Time’. A goosebumps moment on an album full of goosebump moments, but it’s David Gilmour’s guitar solo at the halfway mark that really makes the hairs stand on end.
Elbow – ‘The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver’. A momentous, orchestra-back song that builds and builds until Guy Garvey’s final “Send up a prayer in my name” lyric.
Foals – ‘Spanish Sahara’. The Ultimate Goosebump moment chosen by NME users comes in the song we named the best of 2010. If Yannis Philippakis’ tale of desolation and trauma doesn’t do the trick, then the glorious bridge surely will. You can listen to the 50 songs that give you goosebumps on Spotify, here.