Over the years The X-Files has given millions of viewers nightmares and made us all look twice at dolls, porta-potties, and air vents. The show's creepy atmosphere was enhanced by the amazing work of composer Mark Snow, however there were a select number of times when the show diverged from Snow's compositions and used outside music, frequently juxtaposing happy chart friendly hits with deeply disturbing scenes. Read after the jump for our Top 10 songs you'll never be able to hear again in quite the same way after they appeared on the show.
10. Moby - My Weakness ("Closure")
Admittedly this song falls more into the ballpark of "tragic" rather than "creepy", however its haunting atmosphere stays with you long after the credits have rolled. Who among us can hear the song today without immediately thinking of the image of children playing forever in eternal starlight? "Closure" certainly has its fans and its haters (I'm firmly in the former camp) but love it or hate it, it's hard to imagine a more perfect piece of music for this scene.
"Mulder, where did you go?"
"End of the road."
9. Cher - Gypsies Tramps & Thieves ("The Post-Modern Prometheus")
Everyone remembers the Cher song from the end of this episode, but perhaps fewer could name her other hits which appeared throughout. Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves is used as the soundtrack for Mulder & Scully's discovery of the tented house on the outskirts of town, its lyrics about the members of a travelling show fitting perfectly with the circus tent visage on screen and it's plinking intro adding to the uneasy feeling the building inspires.
"I told you there ain't no monster."
8. The Platters - Twilight Time ("Kill Switch")
It's easy to argue that "Kill Switch" is an episode which has not aged well. The episode was the show's first foray into cyberpunk and was co-written by William Gibson and Tom Maddox. The song Twilight Time actually appears several times throughout the show and is mentioned by the characters - rare for music on a show's soundtrack. The song appears on a CD which also houses the "kill switch" that will destroy a sentient AI; in the episode's finale Scully uses the CD to rescue Mulder meaning the song plays in the background while she drags him from the trailer. It's actually quite romantic, in a near-death-by-missile kind of way.
"You don't listen, do you? ... Get out of here, now!"
7. Bing Crosby - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas ("How The Ghosts Stole Christmas")
This song manages to retain some of its pre-appearance charm because it plays over several cute scenes as well as a creepy one. We first hear it during the cold open when it is playing on the radio in Mulder's car, and it reappears during the episode's final seconds while we watch Mulder and Scully ripping into their presents. But it's the scene where we hear it echoing through the hallway in which Mulder and Scully lie bleeding out on the floor that really sticks in the head. 'Tis the season for murder-suicide pacts.
"Come on. It's a trick. It's all in your head."
6. Bobby Darin - Beyond the Sea ("Beyond The Sea")
Beyond the Sea was the first piece of non-scored music we heard on the show, and it even had its episode named after it. We hear the song itself just once when it's piped out of tinny speakers at Captain William Scully's funeral, but it's when Luther Lee Boggs quietly sings the opening line to Scully that it takes on a chilling vibe. Her parents' wedding song will never be the same again. Incidentally this leads us to an interesting revelation. Maggie tells Scully that the song was playing when Ahab's ship "returned from the Cuban blockade" when he walked off and immediately propsed to her. The Cuban Blockade occurred in October 1962, Scully was born in February 1964 and has two elder siblings which tells us that Bill, and possibly Melissa too, was born out of wedlock. Or that the writers just didn't do their research...
"This song was playing when his ship returned from the Cuban Blockade. He marched right off up to me... and he proposed."
5. The Partridge Family - Doesn't Somebody Want to Feel Wanted ("Never Again")
The Partridge Family are the epitome of squeaky clean American entertainment and the string of hit singles they released in the 1970s continued this image. This song plays over Ed's descent into madness and subsequent murder of his neighbour. As the camera pans down into the basement where Ed drags her body, David Cassidy's spoken word bridge is heard as the door shuts on the murder scene giving it an ominous feeling you will experience every time you listen to the record by itself.
"Attaboy, lover. From now on, I'm your right-hand gal. You and me. As long as I'm with you, no one will ever hurt you, Never Again."
4. Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Red Right Hand ("Ascension")
Red Right Hand was one of the earliest outside tracks to feature on the show. It plays on a car radio driven by Agent Scully's kidnapper Duane Barry as he drives her, locked in his trunk, to Skyland Mountain where she will later be abducted. The song itself is creepy to begin with but watching Barry's head nodding along and Scully's terrified face through a crack as she hears it playing really adds to the sense of foreboding regarding Scully's imminent future.
"Sir? Can you turn off your radio?"
"I would, officer, but I got to keep going."
3. Jo Ann Greer - The Hokey Pokey ("Chinga")
The X-Files and Doctor Who have many things in common, one of those is the ability to make normal, everyday objects into the source of new, unconsidered terrors. Angel statues, heating vents, shadows, bees... The Hokey Pokey is the musical entry into that list. How many of us joined in with that dance at parties as children, only now to be reminded of talking dolls and giant fish hooks every time we hear it as adults?
"I'm not afraid of you."
2. John Hiatt - Don't Look Any Further ("Orison")
Just its association with Donnie Pfaster is enough to get this song near top billing on this list, one which it arguably shouldn't appear on at all. The John Hiatt version of this song heard throughout the episode was recorded just for the show and to this day has no commercial release; although a substantially cleaned up version of what does exist is available on YouTube. This leads us to an interesting chronological issue when Scully tells Mulder that she hasn't heard the song since high school. She may have been referring to the original version of song recorded by Dennis Edwards, however the Edwards version wasn't released until 1984 meaning that Scully was 20 years old when it came out. She hardly seems the type to have been held back two years so how could she have heard it in high school?
"I haven't heard that song since high school. That's the second time I've heard it in the last hour."
1. Unknown - Wonderful, Wonderful ("Home")
Another imposter makes the list! Although many people believe the song here is sung by Johnny Mathis, the version heard in the episode is a cover version sung by an unknown performer. Mathis refused to allow his original to be used after reading the screenplay but the cover is astonishingly accurate. The juxtaposition of this pop classic against such a horrifying scene - the deaths of Sheriff Andy Taylor and his wife are particularly violent even for The X-Files - is what makes the song retain such an uncomfortable shadow long after you've finished watching.
"Hide. Under the bed."
"I'm going for the gun."