Staff Top 10
Top Ten Creepiest Depeche Mode Songs

like Joy Division before them, Depeche Mode possess a stunning command of their presence, no matter what their desired affect. More often than not, they are relaying dark and sexual tales of decadence and dread amongst other notably taboo subjects, but, you know, in a totally good way.

I should note from the outset that when I call a Depeche Mode track “creepy” or “disturbing,” it is in no way a dis. If you’ve ever had a girlfriend or boyfriend that happens to think that Dave Gahan is sexy, you know that strange sensuality can be as alluring as it is off-putting. Adversely, any one of the songs contained within the following list would be found on a compilation of my favorite Depeche Mode tracks as well.

10. "I Want You Now" [Music for the Masses]
We’ve waited for too long / Enough is enough / …I want you now

When your rhythmic device is the sound of panting and fucking, chances are you are trying too hard. The thing is, that’s sort of the point. A song of uncommon abundance, “I Want You Now” revels in its own debauchery. That fact that it overdoes it so spectacularly suits the mood of gross sexual gluttony to a T.

09. "In Your Room (Album Version)" [Songs of Faith and Devotion]
Your favorite innocence / Your favorite prize / Your favorite smile / Your favorite slave

It’s not that Butch Vig reworking this for release as a single didn’t work—precisely the opposite. It was getting rid of that eerily desolate tread hugging each syllable that was the problem. Initially though, you had a painful romantic tragedy full of pure Gahan sexuality—always worthy of an eyebrow scrunch no matter what your mood.

08. "Strangelove" [Music for the Masses]
I give in to sin / Because I like to practice what I preach

When those cylinders start spinning, subtle trademark piano interlude in the distance, you know what you’re into. The compelling factor is not necessarily what’s being said, but how he is saying it. That driven-as-fuck beat structure, that gothic graphic novel aesthetic, when the group collectively and solidly inquires, “Will you return it?” There is an undeniably odd dynamic between intention and mood, and one that leaves a peculiar, lasting aftertaste.

07. "The Sweetest Perfection" [Violator]
The sweetest perfection / Of body and mind / The sweetest injection / Of any kind

During one of my two trips to a strip club ever, I watched a stripper perform to this song. That twangy bass line acts as the leash; it gets layered upon but never actually dissipates. Static drum march, sparse guitar wails…then the beat steadies itself and hips move before a pseudo masturbatory bridge is reached. It worked perfectly because you weren’t sure whether to be aroused or simply weep at the maudlin disposition—which is how I normally feel at strip clubs.

06. "Blue Dress" [Violator]
Put it on / I can feel so much / Put it on / I don’t need to touch

The fact that this is one of the loveliest Depeche Mode tracks ever recorded makes it that much more creepy. It can’t possibly be this pure! More than that, though, the usual synthesized atmosphere lends itself to a reflective sorrow that evokes unusual feelings of loss and regret. A particularly immobile song, it clearly doesn’t matter who’s wearing the blue dress. Nonetheless, you get the feeling Dave is looking back and become curious as to just what the hell he’s staring at.

05. "A Question of Time" [Black Celebration]
Well, now you’re only fifteen / But you look good

Try being in junior high and putting this in the tape deck while your mom is taking you to school. “Um…it’s about…preventing the loss of innocence?”

04. "Behind the Wheel" [Music for the Masses]
Sweet little girl / I prefer / You behind the wheel / And me the passenger

“Behind the Wheel” does such a magnificent job of setting its mood before slightly changing its pace to catch up with Dave’s dubious crooning, and then going off on its own. And, of course, we get more unsubtle insights into Mr. Gahan’s sexual proclivities—a track that likes to push familiar buttons, and push them slowly.

03. "Dressed in Black" [Black Celebration]
As a picture of herself / She’s a picture of the world / A reflection of you / A reflection of me

The dreamlike quality employed here is incredibly disturbing. Sure, it’s not as if an Ode to a Dominatrix is something completely unexpected by Depeche Mode, but the make-up of the arrangement quite purposely intends on presenting an indescribable innocence that actually makes you ponder the subject matter. Tricky bastards.

02. "Little 15" [Music for the Masses]
She wants to see with your eyes / She wants to smile with your smile / She wants a nice surprise / Every once and while

Oy vey. That juiced up accordion hybrid that both starts and finishes the song is just about the most normal thing here. That’s because Gahan is waxing intellectual about the real, yet overlooked dilemmas of a fifteen year old girl. Upon reflection, the track is almost as pure as it thinks it is, but isn’t at all sparing with its own semblance of off-color morality.

01. "Blasphemous Rumors" [Some Great Reward]
Thank the Lord / For small mercies

Suicide and religious uncertainty aside, this isn’t creepy in the true sense of the word. So, perhaps, it comes off as an odd choice—but if you look close enough the “ick” factor is there. It’s not simply the intense irony of the lyrical hook. Or even that they place it in front of such a bouncy, almost joyous synth-pop accompaniment; it’s those chilling pitch changes from verse to chorus to bridge. It’s one of the group’s most damaged and quietly vicious songs.

By: Daniel Rivera
Published on: 2006-04-28
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