Whether or not you are a fan of love songs, there’s no denying their popularity. Over the last half-century, love songs account for 60-65% of new popular music. Most of us have reasons for hating a particular love song and vice versa. Regardless of personal connection with any specific piece, most agree that sometimes a love song goes wrong and becomes creepy.
In some cases, it’s only years later that we realize precisely how cringe-worthy the lyrics of a song are. We are left wondering, what was going on in the mind of this lyricist or that songwriter? Whether they were misunderstood or genuinely sick, we may never know. Their work, however, will live on as we present to you the ten creepiest love songs of all time.
10 “Every Breath You Take”—The Police, 1983
The Police were one of the most famous rock bands of the 1980s. Led by front-man Sting, they produced five albums over nine years, winning countless awards. From their Synchronicity album, written by Sting, “Every Breath You Take” was far and away the most popular song of 1983. Topping the U.S. Top 100 for eight weeks, Rolling Stone’s Critics and Readers Poll voted it the 1983 Song of the Year. Some people even used it as their wedding song.
However, the song is creepy if you really pay attention to the lyrics. It is plainly about a stalker who will not be deterred from his prey at any cost. With lyrics like, “Every step you take, I’ll be watching you. Every single day and every word you say,” it’s a little disconcerting that it was so popular. The story it tells is about an obsessive stalker. Sting wrote it after separating from his first wife, Frances Tomelty, which makes it more disturbing.
9 “He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)”–The Crystals, 1962
The Crystals are considered one of the defining acts of the girl-group era in the first half of the 1960s. The group created many chart-toppers, including “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me,” featuring three successive female lead singers. The public considered the lyrics a metaphor when “He Hit Me” was first released. However, in the 21st century, it’s easy to see how this message can perpetuate excuses for domestic abuse.
Carole King and Geoffery Goffin wrote the song after their babysitter Eva revealed a relationship with an abusive boyfriend who had been beating her. When they asked her why she tolerated the abuse, she said it symbolized how much he loved her. This unhealthy and false narrative of “he only hit me because he loves me” or whatever else victims of domestic violence use to justify their situation is not something to be glorified. Catchy tune aside, the public misperceived this very creepy song.
8 “You’re Sixteen, You’re Beautiful, & You’re Mine”–Ringo Starr, 1973
After The Beatles officially broke up in 1970, the last album that John, Paul, George, and Ringo all worked on was Ringo’s self-titled album in 1973. Among the tracks on that album was a rendition of “You’re Sixteen.” The song was written in 1960 by Robert and Richard Sherman and was initially sung by rockabilly star Johnny Burnette. It hit number eight on the U.S. charts, and Ringo’s version hit number one.
The lyrics tell a disturbing tale of pedophilia, and with that topic being so relevant in the news today, it takes on a real problem. Keep in mind the song explicitly calls out a girl who is sixteen years old. The Shermans were both grown men when they wrote the song, and Burnette was 26 when he had a hit with it. While Ringo didn’t write the song, the music video he made at 33 with him fooling around with a much younger Carrie Fisher translates the song’s message perfectly. It was indeed creepy.
7 “Father Figure”–George Michael, 1987
Once again, a likely inappropriate age gap takes center stage, this time with the one-time Wham! member, the late great George Michael. The song starts like a typical late-1980s pop-love song but quickly goes awry. Lyrics like “put your tiny hand in mine” don’t mix well with “bold and naked by your side.” Michael was well known and highly regarded for his work, and his lyrics especially were some of the most popular of the 1980s.
Nonetheless, this is just another example of predatorial sexual practices being glorified through song. Michael came out as a member of the LGBTQ community after the song was released, but the music video portrayed heterosexual imagery. The singer/songwriter costarred in the footage with model Tania Coleridge. Gender aside, the significant age difference between the two potential lovers in the song’s story reflects a disturbing look into modern society.
6 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”–Frank Loesser, 1944
Every year during the holidays, this classic tale of date rape invades airwaves all over the country. The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser initially to sing with his then-wife, Lynn Garland, for a party at their home in New York City. For reasons unknown, no one seemed to be bothered by the male singer persistently pressuring the female singer to spend the night with him. The song has stood the test of time and has been recorded by countless performers, including Dean Martin, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Idina Menzel. And every year, people argue over the meaning of the lyrics; are they offensive, or are they misunderstood?
In 2018, Loesser’s daughter Susan defended the song saying that the music must be considered in the context of the time it was written. She claims that the line “What’s in this drink?” would not refer to any sort of date rape drug in the 1940s and merely to the alcohol content. While many feel the song sends the wrong message, the fact is that the duet performed initially by Loesser and his wife was a schtick intended as entertainment, not social commentary.
5 “Love the Way You Lie”–Rhianna & Eminem, 2010
This collaboration between rap legend Eminem and Barbadian pop star Rhianna has become one of the most popular hit singles of the century. There’s no pretense in this piece, no underlying message to misinterpret; this song is about a very abusive relationship. While “Love the Way You Lie” is, in fact, an epic love song, the two lovers are holding on to a relationship that brings nothing but pain. The line “If she ever tries to f**king leave again, I’m a tie her to the bed and set this house on fire” may be the most brutally honest lyric depicting domestic violence and its insidiousness in music history.
The song was based on the “abusive” relationship producer Alexa da Kid had with the music industry. However, the lyrics depict a physical relationship between a man and a woman and are incredibly hard-hitting, considering Rihanna’s publicly abusive relationship with Chris Brown. The music video featured the two singers, Megan Fox, and Dominic Monaghan. The two actors played the lovers in the song; it was real hard-hitting (no pun intended) social commentary, and it was disturbing.
4 “Hello”–Lionel Richie, 1983
Lionel Richies was about as popular as pop stars got in the early 1980s. One of his biggest hits, “Hello,” is a creepy enough love song with lyrics like “I’ve been alone with you inside my head.” Add in the music video, and this song takes creepy to a new level. The video tells the story of a teacher that falls for his blind student and follows her around the school grounds. The video has him skulking around hallways singing “I love you” to a blind woman he has essentially not spoken to.
This song isn’t just about a stalker; this character is a mix of Romeo and Cyrano. He’s madly in love with a younger girl he barely knows, but he’s just creeping around pronouncing his love from the dark. What makes it even worse is that this poor girl is blind and particularly vulnerable, being stalked by a teacher. While Richie has defended the video’s story saying that it demonstrates the character’s ability to overcome her handicap, the creepy stalker angle of the footage still leaves a bad taste in the public’s mouth.
3 “Run for Your Life”–The Beatles, 1965
Without a doubt, the most well-known and successful rock band of all time is The Beatles. Many of their song and album titles are household names. Abbey Road, Yellow Submarine, and many others are known to every generation alive. The definitive rock band had dozens of hits over just eight years, but they also had some lesser-known songs. Each of their twelve albums had a few tracks that never got any traction. One of those is “Run for Your Life” from the Rubber Soul album.
This singer is straight-up homicidal! The lyrics include, “Well, I’d rather see you dead, little girl. Than to be with another man.” A far cry from the band’s typical “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It’s no wonder this track is one of the group’s least-known songs. Credited to both Lennon and McCartney, the song was mainly just written by Lennon. Most likely, it was inspired by Lennon’s recent divorce; the songwriter thought better of it in his later years.
2 “Living Room”–Teagan & Sara, 2002
This bluegrass number has a happy beat and is sung in a chipper tone. Don’t let that fool you, though; this song is about neighbor stalking. The singer tells a friend they can’t come out tonight because they’re staying in to watch their depressed neighbor through the window. The singer spends her time fantasizing about being on top of their neighbor all day long and mentions that she won’t be done early because the neighbor doesn’t shower until 9 pm, revealing that she knows her prey’s schedule.
The singer is then delighted when the friend suggests that they watch together using her binoculars. This song appears in every creepy lyric list on the internet, for a good reason.
1 “Used to Love Her”–Guns N’ Roses, 1988
This GNR Lies track doesn’t waste time getting to the point. The song opens: “Okay, it’s like, it’s bitchin’, fussin’, cussin’—I used to love her, but I had to kill her.” Guns N’ Roses was perhaps the biggest rock band of the late 1980s, Lies was their second studio album, but it had only eight tracks. Most of those pieces have become less popular with mainstream listeners more than three decades later. With that said, this lesser-known GNR song is a murder confession. Why did the singer kill his wife? “She bitched so much; it drove him nuts!”
As far as we know, Axl Rose wrote this song as a kind of joke and homage to a dog of his that he had recently been forced to put to sleep. However, the song has been involved in two real-life murder cases, one in 2002 and another in 2012. Justin Barber, a Florida man (no kidding), downloaded the song just before killing his wife. Thomas Michael Wilhelm allegedly sang the tune just before he shot 45-year-old Christine Murray (a former girlfriend) in 2012. Authorities say 11 minutes before the shooting, Wilhelm sent a text message to a friend saying that he was listening to “Used to Love Her.”.