These Are the 10 Scariest Songs According to Pandora
While we're sure you'll hear plenty of "Monster Mash" this Halloween season, but how about something significantly more unnerving for your playlists? Pandora has conducted their own research to determine the 10 Scariest Songs of All-Time, with Nine Inch Nails' "The Becoming" topping the list and Maynard James Keenan showing up twice in the Top 10.
For those ready to fill out their Halloween playlists, the songs that made the Pandora 10 Scariest Songs of All-Time can be viewed in the gallery at the bottom of this page.
Speaking with Revolver, Staff Scientist Erik Schmidt revealed, "Sure, it's subjective — what is scary for one person might not be for another — but we're using a few things to identify songs on the list. One is Pandora's Music Genome Project that leverages human-based analysis across 450 characteristics, such as instrumentation, genre and tempo. However, the biggest part of predicting what the mood of the song is actually through looking at how listeners interact with it."
He added, "We use more than 200 dimensions — or representations of a song we call embeddings — which allows our machine learning system to detect patterns that are informative of human emotions. But the reality is mood is a tricky signal to find in a piece of music. There are cultural aspects that come through when we have representations of how people listen to music. This is why we use machine learning and Pandora's expert curators to weigh in alongside data scientists to explore listener habits."
Schmidt says they examined individual moods like "anguished," "distraught," "eerie," "harsh," "menacing," "tense," "anxious" and "volatile," then scoring each of the moods and compiling the data to determine their 10 Scariest list.
Speaking about the choice of Nine Inch Nails' "The Becoming" as the top pick, Schmidt explained, "Some of the top moods we identified include paranoid, bleak, gloomy, angry, ominous, confrontational and nihilistic. These characteristics are a result of the band's use of non-linear instrument timbres and effects, which humans are programed to find distressing.
Director of Music Analysis Steve Hogan added, "These facets contrast with the hushed and screaming vocals, which creates a suspenseful and unsettling mood. Melodically, this song makes use of an exotic-sounding scale, which features a major third but a flat second scale degree giving the song a dissonant quality."
Meanwhile, fans will note that two of Maynard James Keenan's bands, Tool and A Perfect Circle, are represented. Hogan says, "I think there are some carefully chosen studio reverb effects employed to accentuate the creepiness of his voice. He also has a talent for switching between a softer, more vulnerable vocal tone, to a more explosive, aggressive delivery that makes him sound like an unstable, slightly demented character!"
Check out the full list below, along with explanations on why each track made the cut.
Pandora's 10 Scariest Songs of All-Time
31 Scariest Metal Album Covers of All-Time