I used to (and still do in moderation) listen to music that I guess could be described as dark. I’m completely nocturnal. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
I’ve had a debatably unhealthy obsession with darkness for as long as I can remember.
Alternative rock was the first genre of music I fell in love with as a wee young lad evicted from the womb in the early 90’s.Every now and then, I get nostalgic for the music from my early years and all the sad songs and dynamic dirges added to my repertoire throughout my young lifespan.
If you’re like me and enjoy indulging the darkness every now and then (at least in music), you’ll definitely hold an appreciation for this collection of music from the 90’s all the way up until 2015. Enjoy!
1991: “Black” – Pearl Jam
Of course Pearl Jam makes the list. Starting the engines on our tour of the anthems of all that is dismal and morose is “Black” from the 1991 Pearl Jam album, “Ten.” A ballad of loss and memorium, “Black” became an instant favorite of mine. It would have been my first experience of love at first sight if I heard sound through my eyeballs.
Favorite line: “And now my bitter hand cradle broken glass of what was everything.”
1994: “Zombie” – The Cranberries
God, I still love this “anti-war” angst-ridden protest art composition. Communicating the horrors of the cycle of human beings epically fucking up and repeating their mistakes, “Zombie” – from the 1994 album “No Need to Argue” – by the Cranberries has always held a special place in my rebellious heart.
Favorite line: “But you see it’s not me, it’s not my family …. It’s the same old thing since 1916.”
1998: “What It’s Like” – Everlast
From the 1998 album “Whitey Ford Sings the Blues,” “What It’s Like” by Everlast is a warning against passing judgement. Themes of endings, beginnings, the plot twists of life, and social hierarchy are woven through this composition featuring a light swing groove that was nominated for a Grammy in 2000 for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Favorite line: “I’ve seen the good side of bad and the downside of up.”
2002: “Perfect” – Simple Plan
Ushering in the new millenium is “Perfect” by Simple Plan from the 2002 album “No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls” and featured on the 2004 Lindsay Lohan flick “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.” What this song lacks in lyrical complexity it makes up with a haunting chorus, striking harmonies, and teen angst.
2003: “Behind Blue Eyes” – Limp Bizkit; “I Miss You” – Blink 182
I’m sorry. I’m indecisive. 2003 must have been a great year for music. “Behind Blue Eyes” by Limp Bizkit, a cover of the 1971 track by The Who, appeared on the 2003 album “Results May Vary.” The lyrics dances around the whole “no one understands me” theme and explores the honesty of coming face to face with one’s darkest battle and it’s insignificance.
“I Miss You” appeared on Blink 182’s 2003 self-titled album. This is the kind of song I like to sit down with and play on repeat so i can harmonize and
chug sip a bottle glass of wine… or knock back some whiskey (It honestly depends on how the day goes). This early 2000’s love ballad featuring strong instrumental composition and cleverly layered vocals was nominated for a Teen Choice Award (of course). The track reminisces on the torture of separation and bonds not quite broken.
2005: “Far Away” – Nickelback
Oh the feels! The anthem of regret, I really do love you, and baby come back, “Far Away” was featured on Nickelback’s 2005 album “All the Right Reasons” alongside the hit song “Photograph.” “Far Away” scored a Songwriter of the Year nomination and the album itself was nominated for the Juno Award for Album of the Year. A lot of family fights and packing the car (again) memories follow this song around like a shadow.
2006: “Through Glass” – Stone Sour
From the album “Come What(ever) May,” “Through Glass” is a song about disillusionment and feeling trapped.
2007: “Broken” – Lifehouse
That empty, sort of hollow feeling you get that signals you coming to your wits end, having no drive left and yet knowing you have a reason hidden somewhere to muster the strength for another step: here it is. “Broken” appears on the 2007 Lifehouse album “Who We Are.” I distinctly remember some bad-ass art sprinkled throughout the CD booklet. This song is all about coming to end of yourself and realizing brokeness (wouldn’t have guessed that from the title). The arrangement also features some killer drums that really work to drive the song forward. And old favorite.
Favorite line: “The broken clock is a comfort, it helps me sleep tonight. Maybe in can stop tomorrow from stealing all my time.”
2009: “Anthem of the Angels” – Breaking Benjamin
If there is another album in all of rock as depressing as the 2009 album “Dear Agony” from the Pennsylvania-born alternative metal band, Breaking Benjamin, please tell me. Released in 2009, the album “Dear Agony” was dedicated to lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley’s grandfather, the second of four men to share the name Benjamin in the Burnley family. The song communicates obvious themes of death and letting go. Musically speaking, the song features a mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, a swelling chorus, and the crisp vocals characteristic of all Breaking Benjamin compositions.
2012: “Gods and Monsters” – Lana Del Rey
Breaking the mold a bit here. If this one gives you flashbacks of Jessica Lange, you’re on the right track. Featured in 2014 on American Horror Story: Freak Show, the song originally came into the world in 2012 on the Lana Del Rey album “Born to Die: The Paradise Edition.” Leaning less toward depression and more towards just being a fucked up hot mess, this song will definitely connect you to your dark side.
2014: “Skeletons” – Heartist
Released in 2014 as part of the album “Feeding Fiction,” “Skeletons” features a string orchestra sound supported by heavy drum-work all pulled together by a strong, gravelly male voice and a strong chorus. All about the past, the skeletons in the closet, and the drive to become a better person, “Skeletons” is a song for those trying to make a way for themselves while up against seemingly impossible odds.
Favorite line: “How can I forget the past if it still haunts me?”
2015: “Sound of Silence” – Disturbed
A thrillingly haunting cover of the 1964 Simon & Garfunkle song, “The Sound of Silence” surfaced in 2015 on the album “Immortalized.” Theatrical and building, this song features a satisfying blend of piano, acoustic guitar, synth, and percussion that all comes together to give the illusion of a full orchestra playing behind the classic rock vocals of lead singer David Draiman. Behind the musical genius that went into arranging this glorious version of a classic piece of music, the lyrics themselves carry a deep, multi-layered message.