To be clear, this article does not condone murder. Using the word ‘murder’ in any state, be it past, present, or future tense on your Facebook status will create no amount of issues somewhere down the line so it’s best to never use it. Ever. Or do it, double ever. There is a little-used caveat for artists because they can pretend to do it consequence-free as poetic license. It’s in the Artist’s Charter (near the back).
At one time singers use to be story-tellers, using words to say things that didn’t involve the repetitive use of the word ‘baby’ as song filler. Great songs told stories of love, redemption, war, and with an occasional thought-provoking commentary on religion and civilization even if it was a 17 minute song that sounded like gibberish. Very few songs were created about the darker things of life.
Those that were uplifting had staying power. For instance, during all my limited 2 hours of research I could find no uplifting songs about the Spanish Inquisition but everyone knew the words to ‘Happy Birthday to You’, the copyright of which is currently owned by Warner music group bringing in an estimated $2 Million USD yearly in royalties, which means just saying that out loud I now owe them some money. So, to make what most all artists crave (royalties) the more radio-friendly the better. Yet, what if you want to express the darker side of your artistic license?
In today’s world, there are still relatively few songs about murder that make it onto the radio, being such a hot potato of a subject. When it does happen, there’s something about noticing your partner/moody best friend/Mom humming along to a song on the radio about killing a man that makes you really look at them in a new and different (albeit worrisome) light.
Yes, there are quite a few murder-themed songs out there by bands with heavy guitars wailing metal angst in any number of it’s sub-genres. And yes, they could use more publicity and quite a few songwriters are in need of extensive therapy (looking at you, Eminem) but that’s what the comments section down below is for. This is primarily a list for those artists that have spent hours and hours singing about killing someone and thinking ‘man, this could be on the top of the charts one day.’
The simple rules of this list is that the songs must be in the 1st person (so excluding songs like Pumped Up Kicks, I Don’t Like Mondays, and Stan) and should still be heard on the radio today.
This article was first posted on February 22, 2013