After listening to a song, one of the last things you would feel inclined to do is listen to that same song in reverse… right? For most people, this idea would seem like a strange thing to do. However, when songs have odd and distorted vocals or puzzling lyrics one just can’t seem to make out, you start to wonder if there’s a hidden message fixed into the recording somewhere. This technique is referred to as backmasking; a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. The legendary rock group The Beatles are responsible for popularizing this sneaky recording technique with their 1966 album Revolver. Since then, many bands have used backmasking to cloak some pretty creepy messages in their music.
In this list, we will be going over 10 of the creepiest hidden messages found in popular songs. Some of the bands on this list have admitted to deliberately putting in the messages, but some artists claim to have had no hand in the matter, making the backwards message all the more disturbing. Find out what eerie messages have been hiding in some popular songs.
10 Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
9 ELO – Fire On High
Whether you play this song forwards or backwards, the beginning has a very eerie vibe to it, almost like something you would here playing while walking through a haunted house. But after about a minute and a half, the song brakes off into a beautifully composed rock instrumental piece.
8 Judas Priest – Better by You, Better than Me
This British heavy metal band wound up in court after being accused of using subliminal messaging on their 1978 album Stained Class, which supposedly led to the suicide of Raymond Belknap and the attempted suicide of James Vance. The two young men shot themselves in the head after a night of drinking and listening to Judas Priest.
7 Pink Floyd – Empty Spaces
Legendary rock group Pink Floyd hid a rather puzzling yet clever message on their highly successful album The Wall. In the middle section of the song "Empty Spaces", a muddle of voices can be heard in the background; what is said remains unclear until played in reverse: “Hello, Luka… Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont – Roger! Carolyne's on the phone! – Okay.”
6 Slayer – Hell Awaits
It should come as no surprise that the legendary thrash metal band Slayer wound up on this list. The word “controversy” has revolved around them for years, with claims that their harsh lyrics and violent imagery has influenced devil worship and even murder. While they have been labelled as Satanists and Neo-Nazis, the band finds these accusations rather comical.
5 Cradle of Filth – Dinner at Deviant's Palace
This use of backmasking is clearly deliberate and quite obvious when listened to. English metal band Cradle of Filth is known for their lyrical references to Satanism, however it seems all this devil worship stuff is more for impact and shock value than anything else.
4 Eagles – Hotel California
One of, if not the most popular Eagles song “Hotel California” is said to have a satanic message hidden amongst its adept arrangements. Although the band denies having anything to do with it, the backwards message is quite clear. When the line “In the middle of the night, just to hear them say” is played back in reverse it becomes, “Satan he hears this. He had me believe in him.”
3 Sound Garden – 665
This song was written to be a parody of all those speculated satanic messages hidden in rock music. The name of the song even jokes at being one digit away from 666, the sign of the devil. When listened to, it becomes pretty apparent that you’re meant to listen to this song in reverse, as it already sounds like a song being played backwards.
2 The Beatles – Revolution 9 & I’m So Tired
The Beatles are notorious for backmasking and are considered the ones who popularized the recording technique. Many of their songs are said to have hidden messages, but the most famous examples would have to be from "Revolution 9" and "I’m So Tired".
"Revolution 9" is a very creepy sounding song whether it’s played forward or in reverse; it sounds like something you would hear in an old horror movie. When played backwards, many creepy messages can be heard, but the most memorable and clearest message is that of a man repeating the phrase “Turn me on, dead man” which is repeated multiple times throughout the song.
1 Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
Led Zeppelin’s rock n’ roll masterpiece "Stairway to Heaven" has one of the most talked about hidden messages in the history of rock music. But what’s most impressive here is that the section of the song labelled as being a “satanic message” sounds completely normal when played forward. Usually the parts of the song that hold the “secret message” sound strange or out of place, but in this case it flows right along with the rest of the song.
The message is said to be in the verse where Robert Plant sings “If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now. It's just a spring clean for the May queen. Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run; there's still time to change the road you're on. And it makes me wonder.” Now, this isn't just a couple of words and it would be very difficult to implement a satanic message here, not to mention Plant's vocals sound as great as always. However, when played backwards, this chilling message can be heard: "Here's to my sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan. He will give those with him 666. There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan.”
The band denies any claims and finds it rather ridiculous that anybody would spend time doing something of this nature.
Sources: rollingstone.com, vh1.com
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