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Another Top 10 Hauntingly Beautiful Songs

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Aaron Cameron Here’s part of our Top 10 Hauntingly Beautiful Songs! These songs are ethereal, moody and evoke that feeling of nostalgia we all long for. We’ve included songs such as Hide and Seek from Imogen Heap, Uninvited by Alanis Morissette, Running Up That Hill by Placebo, Everybody Hurts by R.E.M, Wicked Game by Chris Isaak, Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) by Enya and My Immortal by Evanescence.
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Top 10 Hauntingly Beautiful Songs


For this list, we're taking another crack at the most hauntingly beautiful songs ever recorded. If your particular favorite didn't make the list, why not check out our original list of the Top 10 Hauntingly Beautiful Songs.

#10: "Hide and Seek" (2005)
Imogen Heap

Tapping into feelings of loss, hurt, change, and frustration, “Hide And Seek” is in a category all to itself. Is it a space-age a cappella? A digital choir? With Imogen's breathy lead vocal processed through a vocoder, her voice sounds human, yet inhuman, which only enhances the song’s emotional core of separation and distance. Free of instrumentation, the only accompaniment is Heap's own voice, filtered through an electronic harmonizer. The results are eerie but comforting, and further build on the feelings of alienation and detachment, but also lift the song and provides a brief moment of hope.

#9: "Uninvited" (1998)
Alanis Morissette

From the opening piano notes alone, the mood to this dark masterpiece is established. Building in intensity throughout, “Uninvited” shifts from sparse and haunting, to massive and frightening. Lyrically, the song teases and shuts down seemingly unwanted attention, and Alanis plays through this dangerous game the way only she can. Released as part of the “City of Angels” soundtrack, this song won two Grammys, including Best Rock Song. The track was Alanis’ first single in years, and in retrospect was the first step towards her becoming the mature, complex artist we know today.

#8: "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (1984)
The Smiths

Misery and Morrissey go together like no other, but add in the subtle, stellar guitar work of Johnny Marr and it becomes a beautiful sadness. This song has Morrissey as a man longing for a break from despair, and a change of luck – not the type of song you'd expect to be written on a Friday. Clocking in at an all too brief 1:53, the band's label actually asked for more song, but Morrissey's only regret was relegating the track to a b-side, a status which he described as “sinful”. Still, the band would commit the same sin a year later, when the breathtaking cry of loneliness “Asleep” was also released as a b-side.

#7: "Running Up That Hill" (2003)
Placebo

In the hands of songwriter Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill” was cold, but with a lively spark and a contained cheeriness. As covered by Placebo nearly 20 years later, the song is downright chilling. Building upon the original by adding reverb-soaked piano and Brian Molko's emotionally detached vocals, the cover takes the spiritual element of the song to John Milton levels, replacing the awe of the supernatural with fear of the demonic. Although the track was only recorded for a bonus disc of cover material, it was widely received, and has featured in shows as varied as CSI to Queer as Folk, and The Vampire Diaries.

#6: "Nights in White Satin" (1967)
The Moody Blues

Having just joined the year prior, and committed to recording an album more orchestral, guitarist Justin Hayward presented the band with “Nights in White Satin.” Written when he was just 19, and inspired by a romantic gift of satin sheets, the song is guided along by Hayward's sweeping, majestic vocals, and Ray Thomas' mournful additions on flute. All of this, however, is layered on to a swirling, lifting orchestral-bed which, ironically, isn't an orchestra at all. It is, instead, a Mellotron played by keyboardist Mike Pinder – although the London Festival Orchestra is featured on the extended, spoken word portion of the song.

#5: "Fade into You" (1994)
Mazzy Star

Included on the band's second album, So Tonight That I Might See, “Fade Into You” is a strange, beautiful little song that refuses to disappear. What exactly is it that makes it so hypnotic? Is it the warm acoustic guitar? The booming bass? The George Harrison-like slide guitar, or Hope Sandoval's innocent but knowing vocals? Whatever it is, it works. Rich in atmosphere, dripping with an indefinable moodiness, the song grips you and drags you along on its sweet, melancholic journey. Where you'll end up is anyone's guess, but you're bound to be in a better place than where you started.

#4: "Everybody Hurts" (1993)
R.E.M.

Written largely by R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry, “Everybody Hurts” began as a humble country and western song before being shaped by the rest of the band into the Otis Redding-flavored ballad it became. Ironically, Berry doesn't play on most the track – having been replaced by a $20 Univox drum machine – but his absence on the song is a large part of the mystical, disoriented beauty of the track. The rest comes down to strings arranged by John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, electric piano, and a reassuring guitar arpeggio – and of course, Michael Stipe’s clear, raw vocals delivering simple, direct lyrics.

#3: "Wicked Game" (1990)
Chris Isaak

Two notes is all you need to set the seductively sinister atmosphere of this moody little beauty. Long before Chris Isaak's softly soaring vocals, it's James Calvin Wilsey's roomy, echo of a Fender Stratocaster that frightens and excites your ear. But then, the ear hears what it wants... Rather than a straight-ahead love song, “Wicked Game” is actually about resisting and then surrendering to a dangerous and oncoming heartache. Chris Isaak actually wrote the song in real time when a girl made a late night call to invite herself over, completing the song just before she arrived, and ultimately giving her stiff competition for his attention.

#2: "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)" (1988)
Enya

Originally just known as “Orinoco Flow”, this piece was a true labor of love for Enya and co-writer Roma Ryan. Enjoying the flexibility of her “no deadlines” record deal, the song – the last to be recorded for the album – was often shelved for weeks at a time and perfected slowly. Notably, an early version had the hook line “sail away” after every line, and didn't have its whimsical, fantasy-evoking bridge section. Recorded without a click track, and with the use of her beloved Roland D-50 synth, the mysterious piece finally emerged as a new age wall of sound, and one that continues to endure.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Crying” (1961)
Roy Orbison

“Teardrop” (1998)
Massive Attack

“Between the Bars” (1997)
Elliott Smith

#1: "My Immortal" (2003)
Evanescence

This piano-driven ballad featured on the band's debut album, but it actually dates back to their demo album three years prior. The track would again be recorded for the Mystary EP before again, and most famously, appearing on Fallen. But it doesn't end there, because the album track was a sweetened mix of the demo version, while the single version – which briefly features the full band alongside Amy Lee's ethereal vocals, was yet another recording. Regardless of which version you listen to, however, the haunting beauty of “My Immortal” is sure to stir your soul.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite hauntingly beautiful song? For more great Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.

#1: "My Immortal" (2003)
Evanescence

This piano-driven ballad featured on the band's debut album, but it actually dates back to their demo album three years prior. The track would again be recorded for the Mystary EP before again, and most famously, appearing on Fallen. But it doesn't end there, because the album track was a sweetened mix of the demo version, while the single version – which briefly features the full band alongside Amy Lee's ethereal vocals, was yet another recording. Regardless of which version you listen to, however, the haunting beauty of “My Immortal” is sure to stir your soul.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite hauntingly beautiful song? For more great Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to MsMojo.

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