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Top 10 Most Depressing Rock Songs

by JT
fact checked by dickensgirl

Following on from the top 10 depressing scenes in movies, we have top 10 depressing rock songs. Light a few black candles, dim the lights, and weep!

10. New Order Leave Me Alone

New Order

New Order were an English rock group formed by members of Joy Division in the wake of their lead singer, Ian Curtis’ suicide. They were known for their minimalist aesthetic and melding of post-punk and dance.

Their 1983 album, Power Corruption and Lies truly established them as a new and original band, and helped them break free from the shadow of their predecessor. Despite the album’s electronic tinged tracks, it was the final song, the guitar led, sorrowful, Leave Me Alone that stood out the most.

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9. Suicide Frankie Teardrop


Influential synth duo, Suicide, caused a stir with the release of their self-titled 1977 album, with its stand out track, the 10 minute Frankie Teardrop.

Composed of a simple drum machine beat and Alan Vega’s lacerating vocals, Frankie Teardrop tells the disturbing story of one factory worker’s murder/suicide. Best listened to at high volume and with lights out, the song’s raw and unique style sends shivers down your spine, up until its shocking climax which leaves you in a catatonic state of pure disbelief. You wont feel well after this.

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8. Johnny Cash Hurt


Music icon Johnny Cash sadly passed away in 2003, but left a legacy of unforgettable music practically unrivalled by any other country music star.

His last hit was 2002’s Hurt, an unlikely cover of a song by industrial band Nine Inch Nails. The song’s poignant acoustic guitar and Cash’s fragile vocals have made the song arguably more popular than the original. Cash’s death shortly after it was released make the song even more tragic.

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7. The Beatles Eleanor Rigby


All the lonely people, where do the all come from? The Beatles never got sadder than this examination of those lonely people that the world forgets. The song is entirely a string quartet arrangement and definite stand out track on their Revolver album, and helped transform The Beatles from a simple pop act to something much more special.

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6. Metallica Fade to Black


Released on their Ride the Lightning album, this partly acoustic song was such a departure from the trademark thrash metal that fans originally deemed it a ‘sell out,’ although it has become a fan favourite now.

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5. Dire Straits Brothers in Arms


Dire Straits’ war elegy appeared on their 1985 album of the same name. There are three version of the song, a long, medium and short version. The shorter version has been included here.

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4. Jeff Buckley Hallelujah


Another cover that has outlasted the original, Jeff Buckley took Leonard Cohen’s biblical hymn and made it his own song about the futility and pain of love, stripping away Cohen’s synth and bass to replace it with a single high pitched guitar.

Buckley only produced one studio album in his time, accidentally drowning in a tributary of Mississippi River in 1997.

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3. Elliott Smith King’s Crossing


Starting with a slow amalgam of seemingly random noise, Elliott Smith’s mournful tale of self-destructive drug addiction constantly changes harmonies and beats to reflect the characters constantly changing thought patterns. The wall of noise technique overwhelms the listener with feelings of distortion, and after it’s all over, Smith has one last epilogue to haunt you.

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2. Radiohead How To Disappear Completely


The feeling of not wanting to be there, of being in a situation so painful that you wish you could tell yourself ‘I’m not here’ and be whisked away. Yorke’s meandering, dreamlike voice works wonders on this song, as the crescendo builds and builds to its emotional climax.

In a 2006 BBC interview, Yorke said that this was “the most beautiful thing we have ever done.”

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1. The Smiths How Soon is Now?


The Smiths were an 80s rock band from Manchester, England whose jangly guitar riffs and depressing lyrics, courtesy of singer Morrissey, made them one of the most notorious band of the era.

Their undoubted masterpiece is this six and a half minute caterwaul of pure sadness. As Johnny Marr’s trademark guitar riffs are replaced with a chilling reverb effect, as Morrissey sings about those of us who long for love but don’t know how to find it. Perhaps it’s most despairing moment comes around the half way point, ‘There’s a club if you want to go/You could meet somebody who really loves you/So you go and you stand on your own/You leave on your own/You go home and you cry and you want to die.’

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Contributor: JT

fact checked by dickensgirl