Hooray, it’s finally getting cold! I think we all know what this means — time to break out our bleakest music and curl up in a fetal position until May!
5. “Meat is Murder” — The Smiths
Come on, you know you did it — you sat your little fourteen-year-old self in a corner and read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” front to back, wondering how anyone outside of Holden Caulfield could have captured such pathos. Then you pined away for that certain thin-wristed girl with all the cool indie shirts and secretly wondered if your cool aunt had ever “bad touched” you as a child. Or maybe we’re projecting. The point is, as our dear protagonist Charlie well knew, young Morrissey was the king of non-Grunge adolescent angst. And despite a rather unforgivable final track (I mean, come on: “And the turkey you festively slice / Is murder?”), it somehow manages to make sexual frustration and corporal punishment seem grand.
Sample lyric: “There’s a club if you’d like to go, you could meet somebody who really loves you. So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home and you cry and you want to die.”
4. “Nebraska” — Bruce Springsteen
There was a time when The Boss wrote songs about wisecracking kids trying to entertain themselves. Then he discovered that he’d rather write about serial killers, doomed small-time crooks, crooked cops, disabled veterans, homeless people and broken dreams.
Sample lyric: “Maybe you got a kid, maybe you got a pretty wife. The only thing that I got’s been botherin’ me my whole life.”
3. “Liquid Swords” — GZA/Genius
This is very strange for a hip-hop album. Usually, even the hardest, grimmest gangsters sprinkle club tracks or jokey skits on their albums. But not the GZA. “36 Chamber” offers some unflinching portraits of urban decay, but it’s also funny as hell. GZA has no use for humor. All he has is the best flow in hip-hop, and a will of iron.
Sample lyric: “It was the night before New Year’s, and all through the fucking projects, not a handgun was silent, not even a tec.”
2. “I See a Darkness”— Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Before he began stalking little kids on “Wonder Showzen,: Will Oldham recorded an album that did justice to the skull on its cover. How sad is it? Just think of the song titles: “Black,” “Knockturne,” “Another Day Full of Dread” and Death to Everyone.” You get the idea.
1. Closer — Joy Division
It’s difficult to write about Joy Division’s posthumously released magnum opus. It’s essentially a 45-minute suicide note. It’s so soul crushing, we can’t even joke about Ian Curtis’s dancing. It also might be the best album ever.
Sample Lyric: “We knocked on the door of Hell’s darker chamber, pushed to the limit we dragged ourselves in.”