Ten Dark Songs: Best Atmospheric Songs

Updated on February 8, 2018
camlo profile image

Having spent years in the hospitality industry organizing social and business events, Camlo is well-versed in finding music to suit the mood

Source

Gothic rock is much darker, but these songs are probably dark enough if you prefer mainstream. You'll find a lot of trip hop in this selection, but also rock, reggae and sophisti-pop.

Music always evokes emotion, no matter what the genre, but these ten songs are particularly poignant.

They speak from the heart about things most of us can relate to at some point or other, like loneliness, separation, rejection, unrequited love, and discrimination. Although somber, songs like these are both comforting and therapeutic; they reflect how we feel when going through difficult times, and reassure that we're not the first to have suffered.

But they're also great to just listen to and enjoy.

"Broken Love Song" — Pete Doherty

This one is from Pete Doherty's 2009 debut solo album "Grace/Wastelands."

Inspired by a spell in prison, "Broken Love Song" is about coping with the loneliness and monotony of life behind bars.

"Wild Is the Wind" — David Bowie

Originally recorded in 1957 by Johnny Mathis, David Bowie covered "Wild Is the Wind" in 1976 and again in 1981.

The lyrics are romantic, but a haunting melody gives the song a strange, jarring edge that Bowie's chilling vocal intensifies.

"The Captain of Her Heart" — Double

A hit for the Swiss group Double, "The Captain of Her Heart" was released in 1985 and reached number eight in the UK Charts, and number 16 in the US.

It's about a girl who spends the night waiting for her lover to return from sea, but her hopes of ever seeing him again steadily erode as dawn approaches.

Cool, undulating instrumentals, sullen vocals and a swaying rhythm reflect the girl's emotions, which alternate between anticipation and disappointment.

"Seven Seconds" — Neneh Cherry and Youssou N'Dour

This one was a European hit in 1994.

Sung in English, French and Senegalese, "Seven Seconds" describes how people judge one another based on what they see and the folly of this; if people weren't conscious of skin color, as a newborn baby isn't, many of the world's problems wouldn't exist.

And when a child is born into this world
It has no concept
Of the tone of the skin it's living in

"Unfinished Sympathy" — Massive Attack

Massive Attack's "Unfinished Sympathy" is a 1991 hit about unrequited love.

The object of desire is compared to a book opened but not yet read; there's a yearning to know more, and although never properly acquainted, the pain of rejection is still acute,

Shara Nelson's vocals express perfectly the frustration and despair of falling in love only to be snubbed.

"Unfinished Sympathy" was covered by Tina Turner on her 1996 "Wildest Dreams" album.

"Small Town" — Morcheeba

"Small Town" is about dealing with small town attitudes after hitting hard times.

The backing track imposes a closed in, oppressive, downcast spirit, while the lyrics describe the misery of the predicament, as well as offering advice—there's nothing left to lose, so flee and explore new horizons:

Make a break
From this sad old school
Across the lake
Lies a place that's cool

From the album "Who Can You Trust?" which was released in 1996.

"Some Unholy War" — Amy Winehouse

From the 2006 album "Back to Black."

Amy Winehouse based the majority, if not all, of her self-penned songs on her own experiences. "Some Unholy War" is thought to be about her then future husband Blake Fielding-Civil.

It describes how she would fight both with him and for him if he were in battle—the "unholy war" may have been the couple's battle with addiction.

"Sea of Love" — Tom Waits

Originally a hit for Phil Phillips in 1959, Tom Waits' cover was recorded for the 1989 movie "Sea of Love," starring Al Pacino.

When "Sea of Love" is played in a never-ending loop (as it is in the movie), it becomes obvious it has no distinct beginning or end. This and its undulating melody gives Phil Phillips' original recording an eerie, haunting quality.

The Tom Waits' version, however, takes things a step further. A murky backing track and sinister vocals turn "eerie" and "haunting" into dark and menacing.

"I've Seen that Face Before"— Grace Jones

"I've Seen that Face Before" is from Grace Jones' 1981 album "Nightclubbing."

It describes the thoughts of a woman being stalked, who, in spite of sensing danger, seems intrigued rather than afraid. Some of the lyrics are spoken in French, which enhances the song's overall air of mystery—although a native French speaker might say otherwise.

The melody is taken from a composition called "Libertango" by Ástor Piazzolla, but uses a reggae arrangement instead of the original tango.

"Play Dead" — Björk

"Play Dead" was recorded for the 1993 movie "Young Americans," and was released as a bonus track on Björk's debut album titled "Debut."

The instrumental arrangement and vocals are moody and dramatic, with lyrics that tell of feigning immunity to emotional pain.

© 2009 Camlo De Ville

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      7 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Thanks, Irenebonjour!

    • Irenebonjour profile image

      Irenebonjour 

      7 years ago from MA, USA

      great hub!! check out mine too :)

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      8 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I find the list especially nice as I've, from perusing the titles and artists, never heard a one of them! (I like new music)

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi Epigramman!

      More great suggestions from you - yes, those artists would have fitted perfectly here. I just watched 'Gloomy Sunday' by Diamanda Galas on YouTube, and now wonder why I didn't put anything in by Billie Holiday ... then again, it could also be made into an endless list. Perhaps I ought to do a Part II.

      Thank you very much for yet another terrific comment - and all the compliments. You motivate me to do more.

      All the best, Camlo

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      8 years ago

      ..another great hub from you my maestro of song!!!

      ..nice to see Tom Waits on your list - of course - Nick Cave is pretty dark too - and so is Diamanda Galas - and your new buddy - epigramman!

      Another great dark song - DARK END OF THE STREET by Leroy Carr ........ you do great work - me is impressed by your knowledge, love and passion of music - and hubmaking!!!

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Thank you again, Themist! And I love receiving comments, so do it however much you like :-) And what a great compliment ('Best list ever!').

      I actually have another list under construction, but abandonded it months ago - you've inspired me to get it finished.

      Thanks again! All the best, Camlo

    • themist profile image

      themist 

      8 years ago from London

      Seven Seconds, unfinished sympathy, a song from station to station. Best list ever! Sorry for commenting on all your hubs, but I love love love em!

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Thank you the two of you - or which ever one of you is writing :-)

      Yes, in these Hubs, I like to bring both well known and less known or fogotten music together.

      Glad there are titles here you know and like, and I hope you like the others, too.

      Thank you very much for coming by and commenting! All the best, Camlo

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I don't know all these, but I do like the ones that I know. On that basis, I will have to listen to them all. Thanks for a hub that makes me find new music.

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi Jessica!

      I hope you do. There's bound to be something there you like.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

      All the best, Camlo

    • jessica_alias profile image

      jessica_alias 

      8 years ago

      I will try listening to some of these. Thanks for posting this piece.

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi Timothy!

      Thanks for dropping by, and for the comment.

      Yes, there was a time when I was quite addicted to Grace Jones. 'My Jamaican Guy' is one of my all time favourites, but didn't really fit into this Hub.

      Thanks again!

      All the best, Camlo

    • timothyjward profile image

      Timothy Ward 

      8 years ago from Gainesville, Florida

      Great hub! Introduced me to some new artist. Rekindled my love of Grace Jones

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Thank you! I'm glad you liked my choice. And my writing style -- great compliment. All the best, Camlo

    • russiangypsygirl profile image

      russiangypsygirl 

      8 years ago

      Great variety! I especially love that you put Morcheeba and Tom Waits in. I like your writing style~

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi Elena!

      'Seven Seconds' is one of those songs I played non-stop for about a year -- could never get enough of it.

      A friend of mine wanted me to learn 'Sea of Love' for Karaoke -- the Phil Phillips version. I'd never heard of it until then, but did sense an eerie undercurrent without having seen the movie.

      Thank you for commenting, reading, and listening. Glad you liked the songs!

      All the best, Camlo

    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 

      8 years ago from Madrid

      Hello, camlo! So here I have two that I know and like, 'Seven Seconds' and 'Sea of Love', which I actually first heard by Phil Phillips and later saw featured in that movie with Pacino and Hunt. Great songs, good choices :-)

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi ZZron! Thanks for dropping by!

      Yes -- I'm attracted to most songs for their music rather than lyrics. I suppose that's what makes these special -- for me. I actually feel a need to listen to the words.

      I'm not a religious person, but I'm a great fan of Al Green, and love his religious music.

      Music without lyrics -- Santana is probably my overall favourite.

      Thanks for reading, commenting, and listening!

      All the best, Camlo

    • zzron profile image

      zzron 

      8 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Nice hub camio, but for me, I like classic rock from the 60's 70's and 80's. I don't really care much about the lyrics in a song as long as they don't talk bad about God or Jesus. I mostly like music without words. I'm just an old christian guy who likes to ROCK. Good work brother.

    • camlo profile imageAUTHOR

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Well, you liked the others, and you know these, so you've obviously got very good taste, MBP42.

      Thank you for commenting!

      All the best, Camlo

    • MBP42 profile image

      MBP42 

      8 years ago from have received my official license as a Pastor, praise God

      Hi camlo, I actually know more of these than of the last artists you wrote about, what does that say for me? lol

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, spinditty.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://spinditty.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)