So you're listening to a nice, pleasant song about bunnies and rainbows and running in the rain with your best girl by your side. Then the final note of the song falls and, instead of a nice soft, resolution, it's a heavily played Sting note in a minor Scare Chord. Then the music fades into a series of dissonant arpeggios with a creepy mechanical voice muttering some nonsensical gibberish that sounds like Satan reciting an Edgar Allan Poe story. It's surely not the ending you expected this particular song to have — and if you happen to be really unlucky, it'll burrow into your mind playing itself over and over like some self-regenerating Nightmare Fuel. Musicians most likely put these kinds of stingers at the ends of their songs to make them memorable, (although they'll more than likely just scare people from listening to the song again, or cause them to listen with a finger hovering over the "change track" button during the song's final stretch.)
Last Note Nightmare can be very comparable to a Jump Scare, especially of the Screamer Prank variety. The opposite of a Last Note Nightmare is Last Note Hilarity.
(Music geeks might be interested to note that there is an opposite technique, the "Picardy third," or "Tierce de Picardie" in which when a song that has been in minor the whole time goes into major on the very last chord.)
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Madonna's "Act of Contrition." While the whole song is pretty ominous, the last four seconds will make you jump out of your seat.
The end of "Hollywood" consists of a heavily synthesised, androgynous voice saying Push the button!/Don't push the button! which gradually slows down as the background music fades and becomes a contorted, almost demonic mess.
The singles "Dirty Diana" and the much more well-known "Smooth Criminal" begin with similar noises. The video for the former ends with the same noise, which acts as a very effective soundtrack to the video's Downer Ending.
"Stranger In Moscow", a slow, moody ballad, ends with a man whispering menacingly in Russian over the end. Chills right up the spine. Allegedly this is a KGB agent interrogating us, but why is he whispering? Why???
It is an interrogation. the liner notes for Michael's album Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix give a translation: "Why have you come from the West? Confess! To steal the great achievements of the people, the accomplishments of the workers..."
The Carpenters' version of "Superstar" has a morose and unsettling resolution.
The last part of Lara Fabian's "Une Ave Maria" is particularly creepy. While it could be argued that the sound fits considering the theme is Lara teaching young children about violence in history, it still doesn't change the fact that the last part of the song is incredibly creepy. In fact, watching the video only adds to the dread the song makes you feel.
Inverted with the extended mix of Simple Minds song "Jungleland". It starts out with heavy breathing, with starts getting louder, and louder, AND LOUDER! The rest of the song is just awesome though.
Played straight with "Murder Story," the last song on their first album. The sudden ending is quite jarring, and makes listening to their second album even creepier.
"Somehow" by Drake Bell is ostensibly about a battered wife who eventually decides she's had enough, weighs her husband down and throws him into the lake, and is now pondering how to cover it all up. This is creepy enough, but the slow, dark, acoustic guitar-y song ends with a snippet off cheerful piano music, which suggested that the woman snapped entirely and is now in a state of cheerful, giggling insanity.
The end of "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees is pretty unnerving. At the end, the cheerful harmonies blur into a fuzzy, echoing, almost unrecognizable cacophony. Scary indeed, if you've never heard it before.
"Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat and Tears is a fairly mellow jazz-rock fusion song, often used as an example of the genre. However, after the lyrics end comes a Last Note Nightmare that spans a quarter of the song. The music continues repetitively, but is interrupted - twice - by some frankly demented carnival music. On the third interruption, the carnival music mixes with the "normal" music and slowly overwhelms it before grinding to a halt (at which point the band members can be heard chuckling and admitting that "That wasn't too good.") Can also lead to Fridge Brilliance if one only then realizes that the 'spinning wheel' is a merry-go-round. Duh.
Dave "Not The One From Eurythmics" Stewart and Barbara Gaskin have two notable examples.
"Busy Doing Nothing" is a quirky, happy song, but immediately after the final lyric, when the song sound like it should end, it suddenly segues into a minor chord and a sound resembling a ticking clock, with a children's choir softly repeating the final line.
More noticeably, "Trash Planet" is a chaotic but upbeat song, with a bit of social commentary about pollution, but at the end the key abruptly changes, a high-pitched whistle occurs, and then the piece gradually collapses into a random cluster of noise and the sounds of people coughing/vomiting. After about half a minute of this, there is suddenly an explosion, and then in the silence a childlike voice says "Bye-bye!"
The radio edit of "Head Over Heels" by Tears For Fears differs from the album version in that it does not fade into the next song, "Broken (Live)". This makes Roland Orzabal's final wail of "TIIIIIIIME FLIIIIIIIIIIIES!!!", which already had little to do with the rest of the song, much more unsettling and out of nowhere.
The Kelly Clarkson song "Yeah." At about the 2:25 mark, the song briefly halts. The chorus is then played a half-key lower for the remaining thirty seconds. It's creepy, because it's just so out of the ordinary (thus also making this a Mind Screw).
Inverted and played straight with "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright, which opens and closes the relatively calm song with an ominous synth drone.
An unexpectedly tense chord, accompanied by vocal harmonies, ends the otherwise gorgeously sunshiny Power Ballad "Cherish" by The Association.
The Beatles were fond of this trope. "Strawberry Fields Forever" has a particularly disturbing last final seconds with quivering flutes and a slowed-down voice reciting "cranberry sauce".
Upon hearing it on take 7 of the song (from volume 2 of Anthology), John says "I'm very bored" twice.
The best (or worst?) example would have to be from their White Album song "Long Long Long." It really doesn't help that the song itself is played at a lethargic pace that makes it seem as though it's slightly disconnected from the real world in the first place...
There is also the laughter at the end of "Within You Without You." George Harrison insisted on its being there because he thought it would be a light touch after the heavy song. It isn't.
George Harrison in particular seemed to like this a lot. ("One more time...")
The final chord of "A Day in the Life" fades out so long you can almost (?) hear the air conditioner.
And then, seconds after the last vibrations of the chord have faded, there's the sudden discordant loop of distorted, randomly-spliced-together studio chatter. In the original British LP pressings, this was placed in the record's "run-out" groove so that listeners with manual turntables would hear it indefinitely until they lifted the needle. (If you're a dog, you'll experience your Last Note Nightmare a few seconds before this, as Lennon added a 15 kHz tone, inaudible to most humans, specifically to annoy you.)
Actually, 15kHz is audible to nearly all children and most teens and younger 20-somethings. Humans with good hearing are born with the ability to hear up to 20kHz; they only begin to lose that upper range starting at age 8. The reason people who should know better (from having heard the album as a kid/teen) buy into this is because the note just sounds like high-pitched static, so it's easy to mistake for a simple pause in the recording.
It helps to know that this loop, played backwards, sounds remarkably like, "I'll fuck you like Superman! I'll fuck you like Superman! etc." Paul McCartney said in his autobiography Many Years from Now that he never knew this (they certainly didn't plan it) until someone played it backwards for him and he yelled, "Gaaaawwwwd!"
Later, Paul-Is-Dead mongers heard this as "Will Paul be back as Superman? Will Paul be back as Superman?..."
Retro novelty act Big Daddy, whose schtick was to redo popular hits (mostly 80s and 90s, but also the entire SPLHC album) in 1950s rockabilly and doo-wop arrangements, performs this in the style of Buddy Holly. At the end of the track the air conditioner hum is replaced by the steadily increasing sound of a small airplane engine, the jarring chord is replaced by the inevitable crash, and the jabber of voices is replaced by a recording of a radio newsman reading the announcement of the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper.
The end of "I Am the Walrus," complete with buried King Lear. This one helped fuel the "Paul Is Dead" rumors...
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a dark and heavy song in itself, but its ominous ending with the bass chords and static is still a Last Note Nightmare, even compared to that — especially since it cuts off in the middle of that last note.
Said last note appears at the beginning of "Her Majesty", which starts nearly 20 seconds after "The End" and was unlisted on the original vinyl. This means that the first note of "Her Majesty" is a reverse example as well as being a Brick Joke.
"Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite" (which was already rather eerie to begin with) suddenly cut into "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" on the LOVE album. The whole "song" became a Last Note Nightmare.
AND it has the creepy organ from "Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite", AAAAND snippets of the vocals from "Helter Skelter". And creepy laughing, which seems to be a theme in love. PLUS after the infamous cutoff, there are weird swirly wind sounds. Then it cuts to "Help!" and scares the piss out of you.
The Beatles: Rock Band actually visualizes the nightmare by blacking out your TV just as the song ends.
A version of "Penny Lane" on the Anthology 2 album has a Strawberry Fields-like ending, which begins with a short trumpet fanfare, and segues into a strange guitar and piano coda, accompanied by someone breathing heavily into the mic. It's subverted at the end, with Paul cheerfully proclaiming "What a suitable ending, I think!".
And of course this is inverted with "A Hard Day's Night," which is the first song on the entire album and kicks off with an in-your-face, dissonant Dm7add11 chord on the guitar.
At the same time as a piano chord courtesy of George Martin.
"It's All Too Much" also starts with a loud, dissonant guitar chord, which is quite unwelcome if you aren't expecting it. Right before that, John is cut off while yelling something like "To your mother." It's pretty creepy.
He was saying "To Jorma," a tip of the hat to a member of Jefferson Airplane.
The Beatles used a Picardy third in "And I Love Her," which uses a D-MAJOR chord at the end of the song, which is in C# minor and D minor.
Most of the above examples were intentional. The ending of "Good Night" probably isn't. Once you've been lulled half to sleep by the song's dreamy structure, Ringo's stage-whispered "Goodnight everybody, everybody everywhere" will make you jump ten feet, especially if you're using headphones.
There was an ABC radio program called Ringo's Yellow Submarine, which featured Ringo playing various Beatles songs and commenting on them. At the end of "Good Night", he added a whispered, "Hope everybody had a good time on Ringo's Yellow Submarine this trip!", which likely had the effect of making listeners who were already used to hearing the song jump ten feet. (Can be heard in this video around 49:30.)
The Rolling Stones' "She's A Rainbow" has a good driving beat, Mick sings the praises of a girl who dresses up in colors, underlined with a cheerfully inane 'la la la' chorus, he alternates verses with a sprightly Baroque piano playing the tune...then it ends with strings in a shrill chittering discord with a low-end chord of doom under it bursting through everything else!
"Cool, Calm, and Collected" on their "Between the Buttons" album has a jolly, jaunty music-hall vibe to it - then after the last verse, the beat starts quickening, slowly at first, getting more and more reckless as the piano gets more and more frantic, until it all collapses into a big reverberating noise.
"Nutted by Reality" by Nick Lowe starts off as a tongue-in-cheek song about "castrating Castro," parodying the sound of the Jackson 5. It then shifts tone a minute later and takes up the rest of the duration as a tongue-in-cheek song set to stream-of-consciousness lyrics about "living in a different world but [being] nutted by reality," parodying the sound of Paul McCartney & Wings. A twangy, country-style guitar solo follows, but instead of leading into an upwards key change and a reiteration of the song's chorus (as years of formulaic pop songwriting have taught us to expect), simply trails off into nothingness.
"Jeremy" by Pearl Jam takes a twist after the final chorus, with a series of slow, agonizing(and depressing) vocal phrases, made even scarier by the "spoke in, spoke in" background vocals, ending with an abrupt scream, after which the song winds down with a tired "uh huh" vocal section, finally fading to melancholy acoustic guitar. This is supposed to symbolize Jeremy's descent to insanity and death.
With Release, around the six-minute mark, the song segues into a reprise of the album's cacophonic intro.
The CD release of Patti Smith's Horses ends with a cover of "My Generation." It's loud, all right, but it appears to stop... only to end on a note a good twenty decibels louder than anything else on the album.
"Disturbance" by The Move switches from being a a fairly energetic pop-rock to a mix of ominous guitar and therimen playing, creepy background chanting, and the singer snarling, grunting, and screaming unintelligibly. It doesn't help that the song seems to be about the singer questioning his own sanity at various points in his life.
"I Ain't Got No Heart To Give Away", from Frank Zappa and the Mothers' Freak Out! is a Subversion. It cuts suddenly to a scream and a weird jumble of instruments, only to return with a triumphant horn blast.
For most of its length, Alice Cooper's "Wind Up Toy" is remarkably perky and upbeat for a song following up on the earlier album Welcome To My Nightmare and about the attempts of the deranged Steven to understand his incarceration in a mental institution and the turn his life has taken through a distorted, childish lens... then comes the ending, where everything cuts out except the broken music box, while a strange, distorted, childish voice goes into a deranged rant, followed by a distant, quiet female voice calling out "Steven!"
"They come here every night...I see them, don't you see them? Hm, that's odd, isn't it? You seem tired...winding down...YOU HAVE TO GO NOW IT'S BEDTIME"
Alice Cooper's "School's Out" uses a gimmick very similar to the one in "War Pigs." Where the end of the song fades out sounding exactly like an 8-track tape being chewed up. Imagine how scary that must have sounded to a fella who just bought the new 'Coop album back in the 70's.
The album Killer ends with a mock execution, with it's final seconds sounding like an electric chair being activated.
Would you believe "Wonderwall" by Oasis? After the vocals are done, the song segues into a beautiful lush strings-and-piano piece and ends with a few acoustic guitar chords with birds chirping in the background. But between these two pleasant interludes, the piano fades, leaving the violin and bass viol to hold one last note. And then even the bass stops, leaving a single violin note which gets less and less melodic until it finally climaxes with a hideous, almost voice-like "BLLLLLEEEEEAAAAAGGHHHH" sound. If you're not expecting it, it's a real Penultimate Note Nightmare.
The nightmarish strings at the end of Supertramp's "If Everyone Was Listening", from Crime Of The Century.
The track "The Bed" from album Berlin is a dream-like song with a final moment of pure nightmare.
What about "The Kids", also from Berlin, another quiet song that in this case ends with the voices of children hollering for their mother, sounding for all the world like they have just been told she is not coming home ... ever.
Oh that's because they were. Bob Ezrin brought his own kids into the studio, told them their mother had been killed in an accident and rolled tape
The Who's "Tommy's Holiday Camp" is a fun, commercial-like jingle welcoming visitors to the cult of the Pinball Wizard himself, sung cheerfully by his sexual predator uncle, Ernie. At the end of the song, Ernie decides he'll exclaim "Welcome!", but, deviating from the happy tone of the rest of the song, does so in a scratchy and ominous voice.
Also from The Who is "I've Had Enough", which gets bonus points for being the last note heard on the first disc of Quadrophenia''; out of nowhere comes a loud, distraught "LOOOOOOOOOOVE", which fades into cacophonous dockside noise.
"Baba O'Riley" can be this too. The fiddle track, already playing at a pretty frantic pace, becomes an almost panicked, discordant mess in the song's final moments. Unnerving if you've never heard it before (or are only familiar with it via CSI: NY and haven't heard it all the way to the end).
Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel had a 1976 minor hit with "(I Believe) Love's A Prima Donna". The single release's B-side was a pleasant (if slightly queasy) instrumental titled "Sidetrack 1". This track eventually fades down, you think, "well, what a nice if bland little tune"...and THEN, you're suddenly hit with a discordant, teeth-grating, violin/synthesiser sting that sounds like an evil extra-terrestrial has taken control of your stereo. Nasty.
"A Season In Hell (Fire Suite)" by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, off the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack. It's a pretty generic Springsteen-ish tune in a minor key until after the last chorus. Then the guitar line ascends...and ascends...and ascends...and then CRASHES with a deafening low chord accompanied by chimes and bells that sound like glass shattering.
Not quite as blatant as many, but the Tom Waits song "Johnsburg, Illinois" from the Swordfishtrombones album. The first minute of the short song is a tender piano piece about a sweetheart, but towards the end of the song there is a missed note, and then a couple; the tune eventually grows into a series of dissonances that make for a somewhat creepy ending.
"Fire on High" by ELO is a FIRST note nightmare. It begins with a Scare Chord, segues into a backmask (intended to parody accusations of Satanic backmasking) that, when played forward, says "The music is reversible, but time is not...turn back, turn back, turn back!" and then builds into Psycho strings...before mellowing into a catchy, toe-tapping jam.
Bonus points if you listen to the backmask part knowing what's being said when, and realize the Scare Chord is played right when the voice says "time is not."
"Don't Bring Me Down" has a rather haunting echo effect on the final note.
"Epilogue", the last song from the Time album, just suddenly stops after a rapid crescendo.
The Rentals have one in the entire last minute of one of their newest songs, "Damaris".
The Cherry Poppin' Daddies' album Ferociously Stoned features "The Lifeboat Mutiny", which is mostly mellow, if cynical - but near the end, the song starts breaking down, and a woman's voice starts repeating "please turn off the lights" in the background. It's terrifying.
Inverted by the Posies with Coming Right Along, where the tune of the song is a little unnerving, but ends with a major chord... However it's still a sort of Downer Ending because it seems so out of place in the context of the song
"Susan" by The Buckinghams. Basically an "I love you, and you don't care" song. It's nice to listen to... Up until about 1:30 when suddenly, you feel like you've been kicked out of the 60's and dropped into Hell... Then pulled back out again, greeted by the cheerful chants of "Love love love love..."
This actually touched off a "Louie, Louie"-esque moral panic that got it banned from radio play, until a cut version without the psychedelic interlude was released.
While The Doors' epic "Not To Touch The Earth" is already fairly creepy on its own with a low, driving bass and some unsettling imagery ("Dead president's corpse in the driver's car"), the end features the low hum of an organ as Jim Morrison utters, "I am the lizard king. I can do anything." The immediate stinger is a quick bang on the organ.
From A Day At The Races, there's "You Take My Breath Away". A nice and slow, sweet and sad song for most part... it starts getting downright spooky at around 4:42 with a quiet reverb loop that steadily grows louder.
The same album brings us "White Man" which ends with a nice, acoustic outro, followed by a LOUD drum beat after a pause.
"I Think I Lost My Headache" probably fits the bill. It starts with a slow, kinda creepy riff, gets a little bit more upbeat in the verse and chorus and right at the end, goes back to the creepy riff. And then, the creepy riff is repeated by wind instruments while the song fades. For 3min. And one of them, the high-pitched one, slowly starts to go offbeat, improvising (or to put it more correctly, sounding like a goddamn screech). A Last Note Nightmare that goes on and on and on and on.
"Make It Wit Chu" is a pretty mellow, upbeat song that ends with a series of strange and sinister keyboard notes, which are the main riff from "Era Vulgaris."
Motorpsycho's "The One Who Went Away" ends with muffled laughter and a deep voice which says; "and listen, we are here to help you". The way it's said makes it sound more like a threat than anything else.
The album version of Lordi's "Blood Red Sandman" ends with the sound of a knife being sharpened.
"Are You Experienced?" by Jimi Hendrix can easily classify as psychedelic horror by itself. But eventually the shiver-inducing backmasked guitar, bass, and drums fade into silence with Jimi's meandering solo on top...and then a sharp, blaring guitar chord surges at you and fades out just as suddenly. And it really doesn't help that said chord never sounds the same twice, even though it's the same recording.
Also, "Wild Thing" on Jimi Plays Monterey. The song ends with Hendrix setting his guitar on fire and smashing it to pieces - cue howl of feedback as the bits o' Strat burn merrily. Eventually it fades out and goes quiet for a few seconds... and then just when you start relaxing there's a last, impossibly loud shriek as (presumably) someone unplugs what's left of the guitar.
"Mystic Rhythms" by Rush. A final deep, long, eerie synthesizer note can be heard right at the very end of the song. Chilling.
Subverted by Lucifer by The Alan Parsons Project, which begins with a nightmarish sounding string ditty, followed by rapid morse code. Then the song fades I to a typical APP instrumental.
"Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues ends with a series of ominous string and brass chords, followed by a loud gong. The album version also includes keyboardist Mike Pinder reading a short, somewhat eerie poem by drummer Graeme Edge near the end of the song.
Makes sense in context, although the context is often lost these days. The song and poem was originally the final track on the Days of Future Passed album, and the ending serves as a coda to the entire album. Since only a couple of songs from the album receive any significant airplay now, most people don't know about this.
"White Hammer" by Van Der Graaf Generator is a somewhat cheery-sounding song about The Power of Love, until the last two minutes where it suddenly turns into a nightmarish fight between a saxophone and a church organ. The fact that the song is really about the Spanish Inquisition may explain this.
Don't forget "Man-Erg"! Probably the example of a Vd GG song that exemplifies this trope more than any other - starts with a calm, soothing simple piano & organ progression, that suddenly descends into honking cacophonous Saxophone blasts, with Hammil shrieking "HOW CAN I BE FREE? HOW CAN I GET HELP? AM I REALLY ME, OR AM I SOMEONE ELSE??". It soon abruptly changes back to the simple piano, not before long doing pretty much the same thing again. "Lemmings" from the same album (Pawn Hearts) is similar, to a lesser degree. And "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers"?, well...
From the same album, the track "After The Flood", after veering from pastoral reflection to skronky jazz-rock, climaxes with Peter Hammill screaming 'Total Annihilatiiiiiiioooooooooon!' through a Dalek voice filter. Beyond nightmarish.
The last minute and a half of Pink Floyd's "Bike" is made up entirely of discordant mechanical sounds and cartoonish laughter.
"Jugband Blues" finishes with a cacophony of a brass band each playing random notes and background distortions, but then at the very end, it fades out into Syd Barrett softly singing the last few lines in a ghostly voice. Even creepier considering that this essentially marked the tragic end of his unraveling involvement with Pink Floyd. The live version adds visuals that take it straight into horror territory.
Pink Floyd tends to really like this trope. There's the creepy bridge toward the end of the jolly folksy "The Gnome" ("look at the sky, look at the river, isn't it gooooooood?") and then the maniacal screaming at the end of the somewhat calm "Careful With That Axe, Eugene."
The old Cog song "Just Visiting" spools up into increasingly discordant machine noise at the end, culminating in a sound like the Hypnotoad squared. Thirty-odd seconds of silence later, the drummer screams FUCK! as if from the end of a long corridor. And then continues incoherently screaming curses of the "Fucking fuck! Who the fuck? What the fuck? Where the fuck?!" variety, sending the whole thing into possibly-intentional Narmsville. Good song though.
Inverted in Todd Rundgren's "Saving Grace", in a similar manner to the Gorillaz example: It's an optimistic slightly jazzy soft-rock song that incongruously starts off with a low bass note and a short burst of slowed down unintelligible Black Speech.
The Mars Volta's song "Asilos Magdalena" begins with a loud, high pitched guitar and keyboard combo, then segues into a quiet, mournful acoustic ballad. Then in the song's final two minutes, the last verse is sung over and over again while the vocals become increasingly and disturbingly distorted until they're nearly incomprehensible. The general creepiness of the lyrics themselves don't help much, either.
There are a number of Mars Volta songs which could fall into this category, especially the first three tracks off of Frances the Mute: "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus," "The Widow," and "L'Via L'Viaquez." All of these tracks degenerate into creepy distortions at their end, degeneration which involves unnecessary slow-downs of the otherwise pleasant rhythms of the songs while throwing in a few distorted and incomprehensible voices (sometimes speaking in Spanish) for good measure. But the worst is at the end of "L'Via L'Viaquez" when there's nothing left but an electronic distortion where the strong rhythms once were and the demonically-distorted voice of the singer over top, repeating the chorus of the song. Granted, it's not like the Mars Volta normally sings about anything bright and happy or even that understandable.
TMV just loves this trope. "Goliath", "Illyena", "Ouroboros", and "Wax Simulacra" all end with noisy freakouts. (Though the last one is a bit more mild, it's just an unexpected sax solo)
"Tourniquet Man" is the biggest example of this with the already eerie and ominous song turning into complete and utter insanity as the voice becomes more electronically distorted, the drums begin playing in an off beat sounding rhythm and the saxophone section just freestyles as if nothing is going on. The effect makes an already creepy song balls out terrifying.
"The Talking Drum" (or its pale copy "Dangerous Curves") by King Crimson — each builds up tension for about seven minutes and releases it in a startling, dissonant blast.
Most of King Crimson's work qualifies for this trope- they were well known for it. "Lark's Tongues In Aspic (Part 1)", "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Lament", "Starless", etc. King Crimson improvs (live or recorded) pretty much always did this.
Peter Gabriel's "Moribund the Burgermeister" tells the story of a mysterious and disastrous plague taking a medieval city by storm. The song is pretty creepy to begin with, but the last few seconds have Gabriel repeating "I WILL FIND OUT" in a deep, echoing voice over a very strange, minimal melody. As the song begins to fade out, he begins to address his mother, telling her "when I say I will, I will!" and "You'll be sorry. I'll make sure of it!" When you consider that plague can be interpreted to transform its victims into zombies...
Speaking of Peter Gabriel, listen to "Sledgehammer" sometime. Normally its a jazzy tune, but the last 15 seconds are some sort of drum bit that sounds like industrial machinery. And there is an abrupt last note.
"I Don't Remember" has a bit of a tense feel to it, but isn't particularly scary... Then it doesn't end so much as it falls apart into a pile of dissonant feedback.
The Fall of Troy's song "Chapter V: The Walls Bled Lust" consists of Epic Rocking for approximately the first five minutes. Then the instruments start playing without any rhythm at all, then the music completely cuts out except for some guitar feedback, then you get a ridiculously exaggerated breakdown where every third note is so high it literally brings pain to your ears.
"Radio" by the Dutch group Supersister is a classic bait-and-switch. The first half is a disarmingly cute and upbeat piano/celeste pop tune with soft, low-key vocals. Then it shifts gears suddenly and transforms into a frantic circus music section comprised of discordant fuzz-organ chords and wordless baritone choral singing over which flute player Sacha van Geest narrates a surrealistic tale.
"Abandoner" by Steven Wilson. A mellow (if not exactly cheerful) ballad ending in a series of dissonant chords.
"Get All You Deserve" ends similarly. In the album booklet, Wilson is credited with "vocals, piano, electric guitars, mellotron, glockenspiel, bass, totalfuckingnoise."
The progressive rock band Pain of Salvation has used this effect at least three times-twice on their second album, One Hour by the Concrete Lake, and once on their first album, Entropia. In the last song of One Hour, "Inside Out," the song fades to an apparent end... but the song continues for a few minutes more, with various ambient noises. Then Daniel Gildenlow starts to sing about the various "machines" all around the world, accompanied by a slow-building, but frightening crescendo of chaotic instrument noise that slowly gets louder and louder before petering off. Two more minutes of silence, then a quick burst of chaotic noise, the sound of something deactivating, and an abrupt end. In Entropia, the song "Winning a War" ends with quiet sounds of various city interactions, followed abruptly by a loud, volume-boosted "YO!" The note can be considered another example of First Note Nightmare, considering it segues into the next song, "People Passing By."
The last song on Entropia has a bit of a Last Note Nightmare as well... in an otherwise upbeat song that encourages the listener to practice non-violence, act on their conscience, and overall be a good person, finishing with the line "if death is but a dream, then don't let me... fall asleep..." is pretty jarring, especially considering the fact that Daniel whispers the last two words in an almost fearful tone.
There's also two occurrences at the end of Be-one where the last man on Earth shoots himself, at the end of an otherwise upbeat and hopeful song, and another occurrence similar to the one listed above where, after a good amount of silence, there's a sudden burst of sound right at the end of the last song. However, this is offset by a fairly cutesy recording of a little girl saying "There's room for all of god's creatures... right next to the mashed potatoes," while a bunch of people, possibly the band members, laugh hysterically like the terrible human beings they are.
Another song with no "nice" parts is Elvis Costello and the Attractions' "Night Rally", from their 1978 album This Year's Model. Between its lyrical subject (the then-contemporary rise of the neo-fascist National Front in English politics) and tense arrangement, the song is ominous throughout — but at the end, Costello starts chanting the title over and over and some sort of weird, high-pitched warbling sound is added the mix. And then the song cuts off suddenly, just like The Beatles' aforementioned "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". For added nightmarishness, "Night Rally" was the last track on the original vinyl album's British pressing.
Kaleidoscope's "(Further Reflections) In The Room Of Percussion" is a fairly whimsical, lighthearted number like the rest of the band's psychedelic catalog... until it abruptly ends in the middle of what would normally be a verse. The effect of leaving the melody hanging and unfinished is rather disorienting, and the lyrics it ends with only make things worse: "My God, the spiders are everywhere".
Gentle Giant's Concept AlbumThe Power And The Glory ends with a song called "Valedictory", a Dark Reprise of the opening "Proclamation". Unlike its lighter counterpart, the song suddenly ends in the middle of a word with the sound of its tape rewinding.
The ending of "Entangled" by Genesis (a song documenting a mentally ill person in a nightmarish asylum) may count, with the unwinding, haunting wobbly synth melody over full-blast Mellotron choir chords.
Vanilla Fudge's cover of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra's "Some Velvet Morning" has a doozy. The song's refrain is performed very quietly, with no percussion and very gentle vocals, rather like a hymn. In the final go-round, however, everything is abruptly interrupted by a LOUD blast of atonal noise from the band. Anyone who doesn't realize the end is coming up receives a mild heart attack when it does.
Chicago's "Fancy Colours" is a bouncy psychedelic jam with plenty of jazzy, cheery flute. The final thirty seconds (which feel like forever) consist of the same earsplitting brass note being repeated over and over and over.
LCD Soundsystem had fairly mellow and groove based album opener "Get Innocuous!", which out of nowhere ends on some very dissonant and horror movie sounding strings.
The Art of Dying's Die Trying has about 15 seconds of what sounds like a malfunctioning machine after the actual song ends.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Road Trippin'" is a very light and mellow song... until the very end, when the strings become louder and lower, giving the song (and album) a surprisingly ominous closing.
"Whiskey Trail" by Los Lobos ends with a sustained major chord, followed by a short drum fill that gets abruptly cut off by a crash sound effect and a shriek. Since the song is an Ode To Sobriety (of the "Deconstructed Ode to Intoxication" variety), it's possible the sound effects are supposed to represent the narrator having a drunk driving accident.
Metal / Alt-Metal
Iron Maiden's epic "Phantom of the Opera" comes to what seems to be a normal end...then after about 10 seconds of silence, the singer comes in shouting the final lyric of the song one more time. Startling, to say the least.
The last second of Slipknot's "Disasterpiece". The song ends with the sound of a telephone receiver being hooked up...which implies that Corey Taylor had spent the last five minutes screaming the lyrics down the phone line. It's either oddly hilarious, rather creepy, or the crowning moment of Narm.
Happens again in "Before I Forget". Within the last 18 seconds of the full-length song, Morse Code can be heard in the left channel, along with creepy ambience music on the background and Corey muttering 'You're wasting it' in reverse.
Metallica's "To Live Is to Die" is a quasi-example; though the song itself has no dissonant ending, the last minute of the song had to be excised to fit CD limitations at the time, so the fade-out has been removed as well. What this translates into, if you're listening to the whole album, is you'll be listening to the pleasant, lilting outro of "To Live Is to Die" when all of a sudden the very loud intro to "Dyer's Eve" will pop up with no warning whatsoever.
Worse still, the ending of "The Call of Ktulu"- the soft but haunting acoustic/clean lick plays again, and fades out, only for some power chords to ram it in, with some hard drumming.
"The Memory Remains" has a creepy old-lady voice singing wordlessly over the music, which cuts out at the end as the old lady sings "ladadada-dada, ladada-dadada over and over while everything else is completely silent...*shudder*
Worse still, as that sequence ends, you hear another voice say "Say yes, at least say hello" over it. TWICE.
Stealing Axion has a quasi-example similar to Metallica's "To Live is to Die"; the last few minutes of the 9-minute long "Moments, Pt. 1" is a repeated noise with a drone-like quality to it, but at the very end of the song it immediately breaks into the chaotic intro to "Moments, Pt. 2".
Subverted-though no less scary-in "Stupify" by Disturbed. It's a heavy song all throughout, but the last chorus is good horror if you don't expect it to happen.
"Look in my face / Stare into my soul / I begin to stupify...
Enough follows a standard progression (opening verse, chorus, second verse, chorus, bridge etc.) and appears to fade out with the tune it'd been following: fast drum beat and bass/guitar riff ending in a power chord. Until at the last second after fully quieting down, the band threw the power chord in at full volume, then an abrupt end. Even when expected this one isn't easy to go unnerved to.
Subverted by Blaze Bayley's tune "Waiting For My Life Begin", which begins with an alarm clock and then segues into a metal tune.
The last chords of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs". It was probably originally intended to trick listeners into thinking their record player had suddenly jumped from 33 rpm to 45 rpm of its own accord somehow. The original 'basement tape' version, though, has the opposite- it slows down.
Also, "Children of the Grave" ends with a quivering note that fades in and out that lasts for a good forty-five seconds and is accompanied by an echoing whisper. White Zombie's cover version is even more nightmarish, when this part comes in.
"Am I Going Insane (Radio)", which is otherwise one of their poppier songs, has multi-tracked psychotic laughter slowly fade in as the song fades out - and then demonic growls can be heard in the distance.
A little earlier, you have the segment "Waiting for 22", which is a serene guitar sequence, with a soft backing, only to end with a stinging synth chord with a slight drum beat, fading into the spoken part "My empty room", which in turn, has the word "friend" echoed a few times, with that hospital PA sound clip from the start of the album brought back. Queensryche occasionally uses this trope, often on this album.
The transition from "Breaking the Silence" to "I Don't Believe In Love" features whispered, "We know you did it? Why'd you do it?" overlapping with Nickie screaming, "No! No! NOOOOOOOOO!"
The end of "Anybody Listening?" off of the album Empire is the sound of rain, and you can hear in the background the sounds of some people arguing (and water flowing- likely to be recorded on a boat, or with water running from a nearby tap). Then, BAM! A door slams, and the song, and album, end.
X Japan's "Jade". It's a loud song to begin with, but the chorus is quite uplifting and melodious, and at the end it sounds like it's going to fade out gently. And then the guitars come crashing back in and Toshi goes from Melismatic Vocals into a giant screeching high note. Yikes.
Played straight with the intro to "Over Now." A scratchy record plays the Taps song. For the final note, Jerry Cantrell creepily says, "Good Night," and the song becomes louder with the bass accentuated for its final note.
Also played straight with "Head Creeps", where the song ends with the instrumental band sounding almost like they're dying.
The final stinger line of "Would?" ("IF! I! WOULD! COULD! YOU!!") can be a bit jarring for first-time listeners, since it seems to come out of nowhere melodically and doesn't resolve. Since it's a open question, the non-resolution is at least justified.
It's also the final track on Dirt, so depending on your taste, it could be a Last Note Nightmare for the whole album.
"Disgustipated" on Undertow has an extended version of this. After about 10 minutes of Maynard preaching pure absurd, but meaningful nonsense, a industrial rhythm played by machinery and shotguns accompanied by a cryptic chant, and nothing but chirping crickets, a recorded message that may or may not be about a serial killer plays, cutting off just before the end. Said message was alleged to have been left on the band's answering machine by someone called 'Bill the Landlord'. Let the speculation commence.
"Faaip de Oiad" ('Voice of God', in Enochian) is the 'last note' of Lateralus, consisting of mad, inspired drumming and airplane-like drones overlaid by a sample of a caller to Coast To Coast AM. He's panicked, and describes things, hints and rumors, he's discovered while working at an Air Force base near Groom Lake, Nevada (Area 51). If you do your homework, you might find out that it's (most likely) a hoax, but before you do, or if you doubt the hoax story, the fear in the man's voice is genuinely terrifying.
"Lost Keys (Blame Hoffmann)" is an odd song, but not hideous. Then, on the way out, it takes a turn for the... suggestive.
The track "Intermission" from ∆nima is a sort of peppy organ instrumental—which immediately transforms into the heavy, distorted guitar riff of the next track, "Jimmy".
System of a Down's "Temper," which goes from a laidback funky groove in the verses to a grindcore chorus. And more notably, their song Mind which starts off in a very creepy fashion with quiet instruments and subdued vocals before the music fades out and a few seconds later Serj screams "GO AWAY! GO AWAY! GO AWAY!" and the music goes into what is easily the heaviest part of the album. Later in the song, the song returns to the quiet section that began the song. This section fades out.
"Lonely Day"'s last note is horrifyingly depressing, as it segues into "Soldier Side".
"Question!" may also count, if only on a small scale. Just when you think it's over... LA,LA LA, LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!
Toxicity opens with a first note nightmare. The first track "Prison Song" opens with a very, VERY quick low C power chord, which is so quick you doubt you actually heard it. Similarly enough, after the last track, Aerials, ends, a few seconds pass before a hidden track fades in, but unlike most albums, there's only 10 seconds of silence, thus givingyou no time to prepare. Following the ten seconds, a duduk solo fades in before some tribal percussion and chanting fade in as well. The song is a rendition of "Der Voghormia", a traditional Armenian song.
"Eleven Regrets" by Manic Drive is a beautiful, if sad, song. But toward the end, there is a sudden refrain of slightly dissonant voices singing a haunting tune wordlessly in the background, that seems to get louder and more chaotic as it continues. It doesn't last very long, but it will give you nightmares.
The last nineteen minutes or so of Fantomas's untitled album-length song from Delžrium CÚrdia is the looped sound of a needle being lifted off a vinyl record - save the last four seconds, in which someone suddenly yells out "1-2-3-4" while hitting together drumsticks and the sound of a record being scratched plays. Not exactly a Last Note Nightmare in its own right, but certainly very surprising.
Worse, though, is the section at about 54 minutes through. Some ambiance and sounds of machinery plays before everything turns to chaos and someone breathes frantically over the top. Considering the album is supposed to be a soundtrack to a non-existent horror film about surgery without anaesthetic, this is particularly horrifying.
Strapping Young Lad's "Home Nucleonics" ends with razor-sharp low-quality recording of random people screaming. Not to mention the whole track "Info Dump".
"Dead Winter Days" by Agalloch ends in totally uncalled for piano chords.
On David Bowie's epic Diamond Dogs album, both at the end of the very disco "1984" and the stuck syllable at the end of the album's funky closer "Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family"
On the Mr Bungle track "Slowly Growing Deaf", the entire song is switching between a calmer, ambient-backed section and a more metal section, descending into chaos on at least one occasion, until finally, the song switches to the calmer section, with Mike Patton crooning softly, until the guitars kick in for a few discordant seconds, with Patton screaming like a madman, before calming down once again. After THAT'S done, however, one final discordant chord is played before the song ends.
This is also done on "Dead Goon", a rather disturbing song on its own, on the song's first ending, so to speak (The album, Mr. Bungle, has various samples at the end of each track), when a wave of discordant synths build up rather quickly, lasting on the whole about 20 seconds, as Mike Patton starts gurgling on top of them in possibly the most disturbing fashion ever recorded on a music album.
This is also done on "My Ass Is On Fire" on multiple occasions, the first of which is a metal guitar riff interrupted by Patton whispering "Boo". Another riff later, this is repeated, but with the "Boo" more emphasized. This gives way to the entire song to descend into absolute noise and chaos for a couple of minutes, before suddenly being interrupted by silence and a soundclip of someone saying "Excuse me, I am lost. Please help me.", which is sure to be the first-time listener's response as well.
Though not outright scary, the Fakeout Fadeout of "Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz" is a trifle startling: The song fades out, then after a few seconds of silence, the music suddenly comes back in much louder, with Mike Patton doing some rather suggestive grunting over it.
The last few measures of The Ark's "Father of a Son", represented in the video by a guy in a polar bear suit tumbling onto the stage and destroying it.
Sentenced's "No One There" ends with about half a minute of ambiance with bird calls.. and then the volume is turned way up with the birds doing their best impression of The Birds.
Type O Negative's "Haunted" , which is already rather dark, as are most of their songs, abruptly cuts off in midriff at the end. The version featured in Descent II: The Vertigo Series has a middle note nightmare; an orchestral interlude accompanied by orgasmic moans, although it fades out at the end instead of abruptly ending.
On the subject of first note nightmares, grindcore band Pig Destroyer has a lovely little song called "Towering Flesh" from "Terrifyer". The whole song is heavy, but the instantaneous, ear-splitting scream in the first second will seriously scare the shit out of you if you accidentally have the volume up full. In fact the same song has a last note nightmare about halfway through. Things become calmer as the singer is now singing in an echoed, relatively clean tone. "Her lips are wet with venom. Her posture serpentine. She touched my arm and flowers grow, they're poisonous and OBSCEEEEEEEEEEENE."
Not to mention the album's intro. First track is about a minute of quiet echoing footsteps ending in a sudden inhumane scream, which abruptly opens the next track. Pig Destroyer's music is mostly like this; there are many examples, among which the end of Hyperviolet from (which bleeds away into a wailing siren-like drone) from "Prowler In The Yard," but their creepiest closing ever has to be the end of Piss Angel, where a computer-generated voice recites a disturbing story about two girls and an extremely distorted woman voice starts to sing (but not on tune with the already creepy music; it also sounds like she's crying while singing), also from "Prowler In The Yard."
The Machete Twins from Phantom Limb begins with around 3 and a half minutes of the grindcore you've been listening to for the last half hour. The song itself is 10 and a half minutes; 7 minutes is ambient noises such as Achy Breaky Heart playing in the background, crickets chirping and so on. After the song ends a hidden track in the CD starts up. It's grindcore again; it's intense and it's likely to make you jump if you weren't expecting it.
Korn's "10 or a 2-Way"; the ending with the creepy voices and bagpipe riff is surreal and oddly frightening.
"VITRIOL" by Eths. A few seconds after the song fades out, a woman starts screaming.
Happens again in "Samantha". And "Bulemiarexia" ends with the sound of someone being violently sick. Eths like this trope.
Indeed. The ending of "Priape" has a woman screaming in an utterly terrified voice, and repeated thumping in the background. Given the lyrics and name of the song...
"Haunted" by Evanescence is a mild version. Throughout the whole song, a beep like that of a heart monitor is used as a recurring theme, and isn't an unexpected thing to hear in the song once you get used to the pattern. It's still rather jarring on the first listen when the final note of the song is just one of those beeps on dead silence.
"Event Horizon" by Stratovarius combines this with Talky Bookendsó alarms go off as an automated voice warns about approaching a black hole, and in the end, the last seconds before entering the event horizon itself are counted.
Opeth's "Burden" ends with a mellow acoustic guitar outro, during which, the guitar slowly untunes and then you hear a looped laughter which transforms into some mechanical knocking, which finishes the song. "Black Rose Immortal" also shows a very good example by ending with a whisper "At night I always dream of you..." after which there is a EEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH growl and scary echoing riffs which then dissolve.
Dream Theater, being Progressive Metal, does this a lot. The Octavarium album has tons of these. An example is the end of "Panic Attack", in which the last note repeats many times, gradually decreasing in volume, while a collection of unnerving synth noises and some kind of strange growling play in the background. Then there's "Misunderstood". The last 3 minutes of the song could qualify as this.
The iTunes version cuts the sing off at the last piano note, as does the live version.
At the end of "Finally Free," the last track on the story album Scenes from a Memory, Nicholas, the main character, arrives at his house, satisfied with the apparent end to the mystery of his past life. He plays some triumphant music when his hypnotherapist, the reincarnation of his past murderer, barges in and murders him... the song ends to the sound of the record player's static. The live rendition of the song-at least, the "Scenes from NY 2000" version-cuts this section out and, instead, plays a reprise of an earlier song's epic opening bridge, only to end it with a pair of nice, long Scare Chords. Similarly, "In the Presence of Enemies Part 2" ends with a long sequence of Scare Chords. (It's also fun to listen to the latter song live, because the lead singer repeatedly yells "come on" as the sequence starts, lightly lessening its impact.)
Also notable is that the static that ends "Finally Free" is the very same static that begins "The Glass Prison", the first track on the following album, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. So, if you lined those songs up, the creepy chimes in the opening of "The Glass Prison" would complete the effect.
"Pull Me Under", much like "I Want You" above, just seems to cut off at the last note (Not in the middle of a note, but you get the gist of it). note But actually, it does have an ending. The song is played in 4/4 time, and bars 3 and 4 in the final bar are emphasized, followed by abrupt silence. The band would use the same technique in a later song, "Raw Dog".
Nevermore's "This Godless Endeavor" is actually more of a "Last verse nightmare", but Dane sings most of the song in his general mid-range - until the very last line, when he unexpectedly belts a blood-curling "THE SKY...HAS OPENED!" shriek in a hateful, shrill voice. Given the tense mood of the entire song, it's just the thing to send shivers down your spine.
Devin Townsend, famous for being the frontman of extreme metal group Strapping Young Lad, released more albums as a solo artist that, for the most part, contrasted the sound of his band. His first album Ocean Machine ends with a calm and tranquil acoustic song  that sounds much like the ocean itself. At the end, it fades out, and then after about 10 seconds of silence, Devin comes back with a BLOODCURDLING, distorted scream, sure to punish anyone who falls asleep with headphones on.
Inverted by the Melvins' "The Fool, the Meddling Idiot": An oppressively dark grunge song that near the end turns into upbeat electronic pop.
"At The Base Of The Giant's Throat" by Battle Of Mice. The whole song is quite aggressive, but the last three minutes is a horrific 911 call that will scar you for life and have you crying like a baby in the fetal position. Try listening from 7.00 onwards
While Anthrax's Sound of White Noise is hardly a comforting album to listen to, the last song "This Is Not An Exit" fades out a little earlier than anticipated, then silence, then suddenly- what sounds like an advisory on an AM radio broadcast (a voice says "they're dangerous, they're unpredictable, and they make a lot of noise") plays, only to be interrupted by- of course- the white noise sound effect at the beginning of the album, which ends abruptly.
Fates Warning did an 'album' called "A Pleasant Shade of Gray", which was essentially one song split in twelve parts. Not surprisingly, the nature of this music would have put more than a few listeners to sleep, so there is a sufficiently long gap before the last song ends, followed by a very loud ringing bell- maybe a wake up call?
The very end of "Colony of Birchmen" by Mastodon. As if the whole song wasn't inexplicably unsettling, the final chords are cut off and replaced with crude, distant-sounding indigenous music that appears to be growing closer and closer before getting cut off itself. How close an eye do you pay to the trees in your backyard?
Apocalyptica's "Kaamos" ends so abruptly that many people were concerned that their disc was damaged.
Fisheye, from their self titled album, ends with both a case of this and Ending Fatigue. When you think the song is over, a few more measures of thrashy and cacophonic cello and drum noise ensue.
Subverted with the groove metal band Prong's song "Controller" - already a forceful, pounding song, it suddenly stops and you hear a screaming electric guitar run through their effects, and it does feel a little disturbing- only for the band to do the chorus once more.
The Pantera song "No Good (Attack The Radical)", which ends with a rather punishing riff repeated for a good 30 seconds, at least, with some extra percussion randomly tossed in during this outro.
While we're on the topic of Pantera, the ending for "This Love" is in the same boat as the ending for Metallica's "To Live Is To Die" if you listen to it on the Vulgar Display Of Power album. The song's mellow/light outro is abruptly replaced with the insanely brutal intro for "Rise."
"Suicide Note Pt. I" is a soft, morose acoustic rock song. You might think: "Part 2 won't be so bad, amirite?". WRONG!!! "Suicide Note Pt. II" is an entire song based on this trope, and is by far Pantera's hardest song to date, scoring a hard 10 on the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness.
Both inverted and played straight with the Helloween song "The Dark Ride." The song's intro has a Merry-Go-Round tune that slowly fades into some random/creepy noises and a creepy voice telling everybody to "sign on the dotted line." The remaining song, however, is actually a pretty upbeat and energetic tune... until the very end, where the song fades out in the midst of a creepy-sounding chant.
Dir En Grey makes songs that tend to have this in many cases.
The original version of "Kiri to Mayu" has a scream at the end, along with some blast beats.
Five Finger Death Punch's "The Bleeding". The song is pretty somber but by the end, Ivan Moody lets out a last "It's over now..." while the music abruptly stops and his voice eerily echoes away. Always gives the chills.
"Room No. 99", the final track from Soilwork's second album The Chainheart Machine, starts to gradually fade away at around four minutes with a repeated calm riff and people talking in the background. After a long silence, a hidden track starts, and it can definitely scare you silly if you weren't expecting it.
The last track of UNDEAD CORPORATION's debut album, "サニーミルクの紅霧異変", sounds like a calm piano outro, but after a long silence, a brief screech is heard, followed by the most intense few minutes of their musical career, scoring a 10 or an 11 on the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness.
Faith No More's "Helpless" has sort of an ominous mood to it, but is one of their gentler songs and probably could be placed right in the middle of the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness. Near the end of the song, Mike Patton starts a self-backing vocal chant of "Help!" in time with the music... As the rest of the song fades out, said backing vocal keeps going on at full volume, and the song very abruptly ends with more cry of "HELP!".
Punk / Alternative / Indie
"Pink Flag" by the late-70s punk/post-punk group Wire actually has two Last Note Nightmares. After about three minutes of a song that's already a bit morose, the band erupts into a painful minute-long cacophony highlighted by repeated screams of "How many?" Then, just when you think it's over, there's one more stinger.
Wire were big fans of this trope early on. The first song on the album Pink Flag (of which the above istitle track), "Reuters", ends with a lengthy coda involving the whole band chanting "RAPE!"
"Indirect Enquiries" on 154 takes this to the border of Narm. "You've been defaced..."
See also Dome and Colin Newman.
Siouxsie and the Banshees made a cover of "This Wheel's on Fire" (the song most famously used as the opening theme to Absolutely Fabulous). It ends with what sounds like an assault on the musical instruments used.
Playground Twist is already a pretty scary song, but this is Siouxsie and the Banshees for cryin' out loud!. However, the song ends with the sound of children in a playground as the rest of the song fades out. The B-side of the single is called "Pulled to Bits", which is easily one of the most wrong things ever recorded has this looped throughout the whole. Friggin. Song.
"L.A. Blues", the closing number from The Stooges' 1970 classic Fun House, consists of screeching guitar and saxophone and Iggy Pop screaming unintelligibly like a madman. Ironically, the most eerie part is in the last couple of seconds with Iggy mumbling over a brief feedback loop.
Calibretto's "American Psycho" is a pretty energetic horror-punk song. Then the last organ note holds and turns into an ominous drone, and then one of Patrick Bateman's confessions is played over it. It then segues into the ominous bell that begins the next song. The result is far creepier than it has any right to be.
"Death Sex" by The Distillers does this, ending with manic laughter and even more distortion than normal, of course this is pretty much par for course.
Most of They Might Be Giants' song, "S-E-X-X-Y" is played out like a 70's-era funkadelic groove song — until the ending stinger, which features creepily arpeggioing classical violins that totally kill the mood, likely in tribute to "Glass Onion" by The Beatles.
There's also "Fibber Island", a gentle folk-rock song from one of their kids albums, which after a false ending, jumps into an outro with some jarringly dissonant flutes, possibly as a nod to "Strawberry Fields".
And then there's "Employee of the Month", an upbeat song about making crumbs at (what else?) a crumb factory. In and out, fun nonsense, the end. But one instrument keeps going on in a haunting, almost droning whistle.
The most striking one I've heard from them is "Hide Away, Folk Family," whose genuinely beautiful instrumentation closes with a noise that can only be described as Courage the Cowardly Dog going into catatonic shock.
The version off Severe Tire Damage is even worse! Creepy organ playing, and eerie trumpet. *Shudder*
"See The Constellation" from Apollo 18 fades out to reveal a creepy, out-of-place, Middle Eastern-sounding song playing in the background, which also fades away after a few seconds. (This mystery song is actually "Side Two," a Dial-A-Song exclusive.)
Mae's "We're So Far Away" is a slow song played on piano and keyboards, then the final note is accompanied by a loud electric guitar chord that quickly turns into a howling wall of feedback. On the album, this segues into the hard-rocking next song. (Anyone with prior exposure to Mae would have been wondering where the guitars were up until this point.)
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1" by The Flaming Lips. It's an incredibly happy song about, yes, a girl named Yoshimi fighting a pink robotic menace, until the guitar is drowned out by what could be a demonic growling pink robot. With that said, the vocals of Pt. 2 consist entirely of a woman screaming.
"Love Yer Brain" is a quiet piano ballad, but it ends with someone trying to smash the piano, followed by a constantly repeating loop of The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" ("turn off your mind, relax- turn off you mind relax..."). This could almost be considered an Overly Long Gag because of how long it goes on, and because band members can faintly be heard chatting and laughing about it afterwards. However, the fact that it goes on for so long could also make it more disturbing, especially considering the main message of the song is "every man needs something to keep him from going insane". So they are unloading all their negative emotions on the piano.
Their latest album, The Terror, contains many examples of this, perhaps most notably in the track "You Lust" which, after ten minutes of a constantly repeating guitar riff and a skeletal, looping, mechanical beat, suddenly transforms into a Boards of Canada-style upbeat electronica coda. While this might not sound like a Last Note Nightmare, it's profoundly disturbing in the context of the song, especially when the strange and entirely unintelligible vocals fade in. Steven Drozd says that, to him, it sounds like "...something bad's about to happen."
Our Lady Peace's album Spiritual Machines is a Concept Album that draws ideas from a similarly-named book, complete with tracks that are actually excerpts from the book read by the author. The final track includes the final song, followed by a few minutes of silence, and then a bizarre transhumanist dialog between the author and the fictional "Molly," a once-human who explains that she no longer has a physical form, and, when asked if she is a machine, says that it doesn't have the meaning it once did, and she doesn't properly know anymore. It's actually extremely interesting, but when you're listening at night, alone, in a dimly-lit house, it becomes pure horror.
Radiohead's "Karma Police". As the rather mellow melody of the song fades out at the end, some very dissonant feedback fades in... which is in turn followed by a nice closing piano chord. Then again, it is Radiohead; this sort of thing is to be expected.
And then it fades right into "Fitter Happier", a spooky monotone over a series of bizarre sound effects that are just darned spooky.
And of course "Paranoid Android" features two transitions from slow and sad to heavy and chaotic. One of those is situated near the middle, the other at the very end.
On Kid A, 'In Limbo' ends with a horrifying, electronically-modified wail of Thom Yorke screaming 'come back' as it fades into nothingness, alongside jittery feedback.
'Morning Bell' also deserves a mention with Jonny Greenwood's shrieking, coin-generated guitar outro. You know what, all of Kid A probably invokes this at some point, barring Treefingers, maybe.
"15 Step", the intro track from In Rainbows, keeps a consistent 5/4 rhythm and consistent key until the very end of the song, which fades out on a distorted off-key chord. In the Animated Music Video, it's made even scarier with a completely Off Model gun zooming in toward the viewer.
'Codex' starts with a First Note Nightmare, with just the beginning of...something being shouted, which immediately cuts off to a fairly slow and mournful tune.
Climbing up the Walls is scary enough already. And then at the end most of the instruments fade out, leaving 16 violins playing notes separated by quarters. It can leave you thinking "Wait, how long were they there?!"
"How To Disappear Completely" also has one of these. It's a gently melodic song for a while, with a violin backing that builds up during the piece, and then partway through the last chorus it collapses into random slides while the singer continues into the chaos.. which then in turn shuts down again and is replaced with a strong, pure chord for the final repeat.
"Marching Bands of Manhattan" by Death Cab for Cutie is a milder example, which at the end interrupts the repeated chorus with a single note on the piano.
The Pillows' "Sweet Baggy Days" ends with the same thing that starts the CD the song was featured on, "Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!": a loud jarring sound that sounds like somebody randomly hitting piano keys. It's a pretty mellow closing song up to that point.
U2's "The Wanderer" (closing off the Zooropa album) fades out, stays silent for 30 seconds, then an alarm sound suddenly bursts out (an alarm DJ a hears when there is 30 seconds of dead air on the radio). Completely terrifying.
Word of God states that this is a metaphor, telling the listener to "Wake up" as our world, our way of life is slowly coming to an end
The Eels' "My Beloved Monster". A great, mellow, happy song a lot of people associate with the first Shrek movie. The song starts with what sounds like random notes on a banjo (tuning, maybe?), which is strange, but not too scary. The ending, though, cuts out and plays three distorted, electronic notes that are downright terrifying, and probably would be even more so if it weren't such an upbeat song. Basically: don't use it as a relaxing song before you go to sleep. I tried. It doesn't work.
"The Day After the Revolution", the final song of Pulp's album This is Hardcore, finishes with approximately ten minutes' worth of swirling ambient noise. And then Jarvis Cocker says "bye-bye" and makes you jump out of your skin.
The Shins' early song "One By One All Day" is mostly calm...until the end, where there's a very loud, jarring chord to end the song.
More of a first note nightmare, but 'Admit It!!!' by Say Anything starts off with them shouting, well, "ADMIT IT!!!!!" which is enough the startle you right after a slow song like 'I Want to Know Your Plans.'
Jeff Buckley's song "I Know We Could Be So Happy Baby (If We Wanted To Be)" has an incredibly dissonant power chord at the end of the chorus. The song's ambiguous subject matter makes it that much worse.
The song "Luca" by Brand New is a slow, beautiful song that goes along with a steady, calming acoustic and great vocals on the track that eventually devolve into whispering of the lyrics, that get softer...and softer...and softer...accompanied by the guitar that gets softer...and softer...and softer...to the point of prompting one to turn up the volume to hear the song, until it EXPLODES IN YOUR EAR, with the singer SCREAMING AS LOUD AS HE POSSIBLY CAN. The rest of the song continues in the tempo, but nothing could recover the song from the sheer shock it deals you.
They did a less-extreme version on their first album with "Soco Amaretto Lime." It's a rather peaceful acoustic ballad to teenage love that cuts off rather abruptly halfway through a line as if someone pulled the needle off the phonograph. Not entirely scary, but incredibly unexpected and will make you jump.
It's not last note, but "Welcome To Bangkok" is rather, surprising. It starts of with the "space cadet, pull out" lines being repeated rather softly, then the light acoustic guitar, and works it's way into full band. Then it suddenly just becomes a mess of drums and guitar. You'll jump the first time, and any subsequent time you aren't paying enough attention
The noises at the end of "The Archers Bows Have Broken". It sounds like a horrible wail.
The song "Vices" from the album "Daisy" is a perfect example. It starts out with an old hymnal sung by a soft female voice. The vocals trail off and seconds later you're hit with wailing guitars and screaming lyrics for the remainder of the track. (The album closes with the rest of that hymn).
A few seconds after pop-punk band Goldfinger's cover of the Cold War anthem "99 Red Balloons" seems to fade out at the end (at about 3:28 to be exact), a man with a deep, eerie voice can be heard saying "Goodnight children, everywhere."
"...A Psychopath" by Lisa Germano is an inversion. It's an incredibly creepy song about a Stalker with a Crush from the stalkee's point of view, with a real 911 call playing in the background. Until the last 30 seconds or so, with a cheerful-sounding instrumental that wouldn't sound out of place at a circus.
Someone commenting on the video above noted that, at the 2:10 mark, it sounds like the woman says "Bundy," making the song that much creepier...
Muse's "Take A Bow" is already a dark, chaotic song, but the last chord is more than enough to scare the living crap out of me. Guitar wailing, Matt Bellamy wailing, synths wailing, waaagh.
Same could be said of the last minutes of "Space Dementia" and (much, much more so) "Megalomania" on one of their earlier albums. "Megalomania"... The circus-style keyboard line could not possibly be any more sinister, and just when you think "Space" is over, it kicks back in with this monstrous, threatening coda. Still, "Megalomania" is the best closing song on any of their albums, by far. Even the first chorus transition is tremendously startling.
Their early B Side "Host" starts off with some creepy ringing chords and a generally eerie feel, and moves into mid tempo minor chord ballad feel. After its bridge, the tone of the song suddenly shifts into speed metal at around 45 seconds from the end. This is guaranteed to shock people hearing it for the first time, though it is an extremely satisfying solo.
Manic Street Preachers' "This Is Yesterday" has this. It's a relatively laid back song for the band at that point in their career (though plenty of Lyrical Dissonance is going on) until the last crunchy chord, which is followed by a guitar playing a variation on the main rhythm with descending chords... until it gets more distorted and turns WAY minor. Subtle, but it effectively underscores the bleak lyrics.
My Morning Jacket's album Evil Urges closes with the melancholy, muted synth beat of "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Pt. 2" followed by a 5 second track of screaming and someone saying "Okay, cool."
Ween's "Don't Laugh, I Love You" is a cute, light song until, after a little of what at first appears to be the setup for the fadeout, becomes over a minute of a sound very much like an audiotape audibly rewinding, overlaid with nonsense syllables. Not scary as much as irritating.
The Weezer song "Undone - The Sweater Song" eventually ends on an extremely unsettling clash of noises reminiscent of someone mashing the keys on the far left and right sides of a piano.
Subverted in Lemon Demon's "Mold en Mono". The happy, bouncy song starts to fade into sinister static and backmasking at the four-minute mark, then slides into portentous violins and creepy moaning...then all of the nightmarish sounds go silent, and a squeaky voice says, "Can we have, like, 'dun dun dun dun dun dah', like an ending part? So, just like...'dun dun dun dun dun dah'?" The requested cheerful guitar riff is provided, and the voice chirps, "Great!" Considering Lemon Demon has written a song called "Nightmare Fuel", it's almost certainly an intentional subversion of the trope. And, yes, subversion or no, it's not fun to listen to late at night.
Lemon Demon likes to use these to varying degrees in his music, ranging from the slightly startling (the ending to I Know Your Name, which ends on a sound clip of a fire burning, leading into the next track) to moderately creepy (the ending to Subtle Oddities, which might be considered narm when you find out what it actually is) to just downright frightening (inverted with the beginning to Flamingo Legs, which samples the aforementioned Don't Laugh, I Love You from Ween)
The untitled ninth track of Sonic Youth's "Washing Machine" (sometimes called "Becuz Coda" since it picks up exactly where opening track "Becuz" fades out): After 2 minutes and 20 seconds of lulling instrumental jamming, it seems to come to a close... then after a few seconds of silence, a loud chord jumps out at you. Not a hugely ominous one, mind you, but just unexpected enough to potentially make you jump out of your seat a bit.
Also, "Mildred Pierce" from Goo, for that matter. The song starts off as a steady, repetitive instrumental jam...which makes it that much more shocking when the WHOLE SONG breaks down into noise. Not to mention the distorted screaming.
The song "Dream" by Forest for the Trees is a fairly upbeat blend of psychedelic sitar-strumming and Irish folk melody that segues out at the end into a series of idyllic sounds reminiscent of a sunny morning in the suburbs: birds chirping, grass rustling, the rhythmic "sput-sput-sput" of a lawn sprinkler...and then the harsh BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP of an electronic alarm clock.
Phish's "Maze" has an inversion of this: after a very fast, aggressive jam section, the song suddenly quiets down, seeming like it's going to come to a soft, eerie end with the protagonist lost in the "maze" forever. Making it a bit jarring when the last measure of the song is a happy polka riff.
A First Note Nightmare, which is most effective when you hear the radio version first: The album version of Blue October's "Hate Me" begins with a rambling phone message from the narrator's mother. Without that bit the song sounds like a girlfriend breakup, unhappy but standard fare; when you realize it's his mom, well, that's just heartbreaking.
"Hate Me" has a Last Note Nightmare as well, with a distorted recording of children chanting and of lead singer Justin Furstenfeld's mother (from the intro) saying "Hey Justin!"
"Razorblade" by the same band ends with about twenty seconds of increasingly-desperate yelling over demonic distorted screaming and heavy breathing, which then cuts off rather abruptly. It's not particularly jarring in context, though, because the song is made of nightmares.
The transition between "Falls Apart" and "Forever" on Hurt's Vol. 1 album. "Falls Apart" is a pretty standard rock song, but at the very end the song ends suddenly, and is instantly replaced by static, which leads into the next song.
Played more straight with the B-Side "Alcohol", a gentle, slightly eerie folk song that ends with about a minute of tribal drumming and harsh feedback. And while "Fume" is a bit noisy and queasy-sounding to begin with, it's sudden mock-death-metal coda is pretty jarring.
Modest Mouse's song "Parting of the Sensory" ends with what sounds like someone trying to spit something up.
"Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel" by Barenaked Ladies ends with a strange opera-esque high note. But somehow it seems appropriate as it seems to coincide with the final result of the title...
Another Wire alumnus, Colin Newman, has his fair share of perverse transitions and endings, the most sinister being the bizarre middle-eight to "Image" and gradual breakdown of "The Classic Remains", both on A-Z.
Thrice's "Digital Sea" is overall a calm, if a bit melancholy, tune however in the last few seconds the song takes a turn into unsettling territory as the line "here my voice goes to ones and zeros" fades into a murmur... then a distorted murmur... then sounding as if someone is underground and calling out in a guttural voice as they are fading away. All accompanied by radio static. Yeah, just a little haunting.
"A Favor House Atlantic," by Coheed and Cambria. This otherwise upbeat song ends with the intro for another of their songs, "The Crowing," reversed. It's quite creepy.
Also on the same album, the ending of "Backend of Forever" ends with a creepy piano melody.
At the end of Coheed and Cambria's "Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)", the sound of rain and a vaguely creepy piano are punctuated by sobbing and an absolutely terrifying scream.
Electric Six's "It Ain't Punk Rock" is a playful new wave/surf rock song that ends in about 2 minutes of feedback and distant, rumbling drums. Which is fairly long for a last note nightmare to go on for, especially considering that the whole track is 4 minutes long.
Double-subverted in Spacehog's "In The Meantime". The song begins to grind to a halt in a spiraling flurry of ominous, spacey synth and guitar feedback...which fades away to reveal a pleasant, quiet piano interlude. The final chord of this interlude, however, is played against a thundering piano chord in reverse — it gets progressively louder and then cuts off abruptly.
The last song on Silversun Pickups' album Carnavas is "Common Reactor", which is a kind of light-hearted Ear Worm until you hit the outro, where all calm is suddenly sucked out and replaced by a good minute and a half of discordant whirring and sputtering.
How about "Rubber Ring" by The Smiths, it's a cool, upbeat tune with an awesome bassline and nice relaxed vocals, but comes to an abrupt end, leaving us with a woman repeating "You are sleeping, you do not want to believe" If you read the origin of those words, it's not happy.
That's because "Rubber Ring" leads into "Asleep" on the original "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side" 12", on every other release the songs were divided in two.
The unearthly wailing and echoing bodhran drum that end The Cranberries' "Dreams".
Anyone ever listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' album One Hot Minute when you're really listening to the music? The title track comes in towards the end of the album, and is arguably one of the most hardcore songs that the Chilis have ever written. But after the already very dissonant end, you can hear someone yelling in pain. It's presumed to be their bassist, Flea. But still after a really heavy song like that, it's a little more than unsettling.
"Wraith Pinned To The Mist (and other games)" by Of Montreal features a stinger note that sounds like muffled audio recorded from a construction site. (The song itself is pretty weird though, so it doesn't sound all that out of place.)
A much better example is "Id Engager," an otherwise uncomplicated dance song about a one-night stand — it cuts out mid-measure, all the instruments come in at once and all settle on a single legato note, except for a fiddle that loops two ominous notes. Both then rise in volume until the song (the last on the album) abruptly ends.
The song "Slide" by the Dresden Dolls is mostly just a very quiet piano piece with a couple drum flourishes, then just before the end is an UNHOLY SCREAM. Granted, the entire song is full of creepy double entendres and it feels like it's building up to a bad ending, but nothing prepares you for "THE ORANGE MAN'S GOT YOOOOOOOOOOU."
In the official songbook, Amanda has scribbled "saddest note in the world" with an arrow pointing to the final note.
Similarly, "The Lonesome Organist Rapes Page Turner" is obviously not a happy song, but it is fast paced and intense. The natural ending of the song is followed by crashing drums and a scream, after which there's a little "dun dun dun" on the keyboard.
Panic! at the Disco's song "When The Day Met The Night" is a lovely, happy song about the moon falling in love with the sun. However, the last few seconds are devoted to the barely audible sound of a girl screaming, "Let me out! Get back! Let me out!" as the music fades away. Being in part a tribute to the Beatles, this is hardly surprising.
On Panic! At the Disco's earlier album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, there is the track "Intermission". It begins with some techno music, which abruptly cuts into static, and a voice akin to a radio announcer telling that due to uncontrolled circumstances, the dance music would have to be replaced with a piano song. Pretty normal, as the piano keeps playing. Toward the end, however, the music begins to break down, and become rather loud and very discordant, and quite a bit unsettling.
Also more Fridge Brilliance, all the songs before "Intermission" are fairly standard electropop songs heavy on the pop, if occasionally with some literary flavor. Everything after "Intermission" has a swinging cabaret feel.
Spoon's "The Underdog" ends, right in the middle of a big brass fanfare, with what sounds like a piano being slammed shut.
"Brighter Day", the last tune on the Jellyfish album Spilt Milk, has a tuneful, circus-like atmosphere reminiscent of an oompah band, until it breaks down into a Parisian-sounding, carousel-like melody on flutes, followed by accordions and strings, followed by a raucous, dissonant, nightmarish jumble of ringing telephones, crashing drums and cymbals, orchestral cacophony, and sound effects. It leads to an ominous high drone of arco strings (similar to that which begins the album) and outdoor noises, like birds twittering, cars passing by and dogs barking. It seems like you can verrrrry faintly hear near-inaudible female whispering, too. Sounds like waking up from a dream, which is appropriate as the first song is a lullabye.
Starflyer 59's "First Heart Attack", the final track on the album Old, is an indie rock song with a space-prog guitar solo in the bridge; then the final chorus is followed by 15 seconds of a drum simulating a heartbeat, while an audio clip of a doctor operating plays over it. "How's the blood pressure?" "Not good... falling." (If you listen closely, you can hear one of the musicians say "Stop," just as the track ends.)
The Protomen's "The Fall" is incredibly optimistic and inspiring, but in the last few moments everything plunges downwards. Literally.
Made even more stinging once you realize that the fading main guitar sounds like a typical hospital heart machine flat-lining. Of course, as mentioned above, the story going with the song's liner notes proves that this is because Joe accidentally blew himself off the top of the radio tower after he placed the explosives at the end of his heroic climb.
"I Was Meant For The Stage" by The Decemberists begins pleasantly enough, with an upbeat tune, and sweet, if a little depressing, lyrics... and then at about 5:37, the tune starts becoming more and more dissonant, and it gets worse and worse and worse until you're left wondering why the hell you decided to listen to this song at 1 in them morning.
Possibly worse is the transition between "The Crane Wife Part 3" and "The Island" from the CD The Crane Wife. The final chords of "Crane Wife", a catchy balladic major song, are held and replayed until the first strains of "The Island" come in, a deep bass minor chord; there's no real break between the songs, so although "The Island" is technically its own song, it still qualifies.
"Who Could Win A Rabbit?" by Animal Collective fits. While the entirety of the song is a bizarre romp into the art of making things sound simultaneously horrific and badass awesome, the song itself cuts abruptly to about 20 seconds worth of looped inhuman gurgling and honking sounds. The music video only serves to extrapolate the nightmare; mostly a trippy take on the Tortoise and the Hare story, when the LNN kicks in, the video suddenly cuts to grotesque imagery of the tortoise eating the hare.
It doesn't hurt the horror at all that the song itself is currently being used extensively in the Everyman HYBRID ARG series...
Spoon's tense, funky "Mystery Zone" cuts off abruptly, after 5 hypnotic minutes of bass, in the middle of a line.
"Complainte d'un Matelot Mourant" (Laments of a Dying Sailor) by the Avett Brothers has one towards the end of the song. The whole song is creepy as it has a very melancholy instrumental line with vocal accompaniment played over the creak of a ship in the ocean at night, but the vocals start turning into horrified screams and you start hearing the violent rattling of a door as if someone is trying to break in to a room. Considering the album this song is on is called "Mignonette" which is named after an English yacht that sank off of the Cape of Good Hope, this can become horrifying because the song is about the surviving people killing one of their men and eating him. Try listening to it driving at 3 in the morning by yourself as I did.
Arguably, The Real Tuesday Weld's song "Return I Will To Old Brazil," as seen here. It's a relaxing, soothing song for most of its duration and quite catchy. Then, right before it ends, you hear crabs scuttling around and a woman's voice screaming out.
"Lighthouse" by The Hush Sound is a sad, slow melodic piece with slightly creepy yet not outright scary lyrics. Then you reach the end and it says "The door locked from the outside / Three ghosts in a lighthouse" — and it abruptly ends. Pretty much, it suggests that the narrator and the person they're with are also ghosts along with the one ghost they've been talking about.
Kate Nash's "Skeleton Song" has a verse right before the end of a fairly poppy song where she dreams of smashing her skeleton in with a hammer, complete with screeching violins as her speech gets more guttural.
Mazzy Star's "Into Dust" is a haunting, five-and-a-half-minute Drone of Dread in itself, but it ends with a discordant string riff that doesn't resolve — truly unsettling.
Bis' already creepy song "Two Million" has a fake-out-ending. But then, a slow beat starts and a new song-within-a-song starts with no resemblance to the song that preceded it. The effect makes you feel like waking up from a dream, but then realizing the dream is real.
The Zutons' Oh Stacey (Look What You've Done) has this. It's a fairly cheerful-sounding song, albeit one about a willful girl who drives her father into an early grave and blows her inheritance on drink. And then it suddenly slows down at the end and ends in a minor key, with Dave Mc Cabe singing 'Oh Stacey, look...what you've done', followed by a drawn-out, distorted chord.
The outro of Ultravox's "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes".
At the end of "Are Friends Electric 2.0" by Information Society (on their Don't Be Afraid album), there's a weird mechanical whirring noise, accompanied by backmasked robotic speech, which to some, seems to be the voice of the malfunctioning "friend".
Klaus Nomi does this twice in a row on his first album. The otherwise calm Nomi Chant becomes a Scare Chord in it's last second, and his rendition of the aria "Mon coeur c'ouvre a ta voix" from Samson and Delilah ends with what can only be described as him getting back in his space ship and taking off. It makes sense in his live shows.
Finch's "Ender" tapers off in to this kind of thing.
"Concentrical" by Sonny Moore inexplicably ends with some strange squealing and crackling noises.
Another early song, Bulls Have Horns fades out with a series of beeps, only to then fade back in with a high-pitched scream and the lead singer repeating the chorus once more, which then cuts to the whole band laughing. It's not that scary per se, but... unexpected.
From their album Illuminaudio, there's "Love is a Cat from Hell", which ends with Brandon Bolmer repeating the second part of the chorus in a really creepy falsetto.
"Labyrinth" by Enter Shikari, probably the most upbeat sounding song on their first album, is even more synth-laden than is standard for Shikari. It fades out from the cheery synth lines into deeper, more subdued ones. VERY unsettling.
The blood-curling scream that interrupts the fade-out coda of The Cure's "Subway Song".
The weird ending to "when i was bed" from Christian Death.
Inverted by Godspeed You! Black Emperor's "The Dead Flag Blues" which is a very dark, depressing, and grim sounding song but ends with the final two minutes being upbeat and positive sounding. Probably the happiest piece of music that Godspeed You! Black Emperor has written.
Mk II by Madness. Throughout the song is a wonderful piano tune, at one point breaking into more of a rock song. But at the end of the song, after the vocals end, the piano starts up again, but this time is slower and ends with two notes out of place from the rest of the song. After that, we hear the distant sound of birds singing as it fades out.
Reel Big Fish do this on the final track to their 2005 album, "We're Not Happy 'Til You're Not Happy". After an upbeat, but angry, short track called "Your Guts (I Hate 'Em)", the track ends with what sounds like a tape deck closing, then six minutes of silence. Suddenly, you hear backwards whispering, disjointed guitar and bass, loud, drums, then a snippet of an unfinished song, followed by frontman Aaron Barrett whispering "You're gonna die", then screaming and a guitar that sounds like it's being played by the Devil.
Steel Train's B Side "Shapeshifter". Starts with a couple dissonant notes, continues into a fairly conventional song with a slightly creepy tinge to it, and ends with an instrumental section that sounds completely crazy for the last 13 seconds.
Matchbox 20 has a bit of one with "You Won't Be Mine," on their Mad Season album. You get to the end of the song and the guitar fades out into silence - but wait, the track is still running! So you keep listening, dead silence. Then, two minutes later, a full string section cuts in, in what turns out to be a partial orchestral reprise of the song. Maybe not a nightmare, though the tone of the song is somewhat gloomy, but it will certainly make you jump if you're not ready for it.
There's another one at the end of "The Burn," on the same album. After the last guitar segment of the chorus peters out, about five seconds later there's some random drum banging and disjointed guitar music with dialogue between the band members in the background. Not a nightmare, but definitely unexpected if you're not aware of it beforehand.
"Lo" from O'Brother has this, but it is made even worse in the music video because it has the video's cast finding a monster fetus. Extra high pitched noises are also added to the LNN in the video.
The song "Ashes of American Flags" by the band Wilco starts off fairly quietly, but after the vocal ends, the last minute or so gets increasingly terrifying and full of ominous echoing electronic noise, before shifting to a couple of wavering piano chords and then cutting off abruptly.
"Girls With English Accents" by Fergus & Geronimo is an indie-pop song with some playful British Invasion affectations. The song seems to end normally, then you hear 20 seconds of ominous backwards guitar drones and quiet, unintelligible speech, which abruptly cuts off into the next song.
Electronic / Industrial
The track "the Eve of the War" in Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds is a pretty upbeat (and very bombastic) song about the martian invaders coming, that ends with a sound that could be a martian beacon or radar along with a pumping heart.
The 30-minute piece "Bayreuth Return" from Klaus Schulze's Timewind album speeds up slightly for the final few minutes, then finally, an explosion abruptly ends the piece.
Similarly, halfway through "Wahnfried 1883", the tune slowly morphs into a cacophony of eerie distorted organ drones, building up to a final climax with the wind and space sound effects.
"Encoder" by Pendulum fades out while the sound of Water splashing can be heard, and a man can be heard breathing heavily as if he just swam a long distance. Then a wham noise begins to fade , but before it does, the song abruptly cuts out. Bam, album over.
Similar to it is the upbeat song "I'm Talking 'Bout Me" by Admiral Twin. The chorus is building up at the end and after the second to last word, cuts off abruptly.
Portishead's Third: the ending track, "Threads." The whole song is already a nightmare, but if the end of the world doesn't sound like the blasts of noise at the end of the song, I'm going to be disappointed.
Inverted with a later track on the same album, "We Carry On". Weird oscillating, then the conga-ish beat starts.
The first movement of Kraftwerk's "Kometenmelodie" (from the Autobahn album) is an airy ambient piece, then while the last chord is still playing, it abruptly cuts to the second movement with a high-pitched screech, it doesn't help that the main melody of the second part is also mostly harsh high-pitched instruments.
The Black Bag Project's "Electric Swine" does this. The song itself is horrifiyng enough, and then you get to the last minute or so, where it disintegrates into hollow-sounding echoing harmonics and faint laughing, with unsettling chords playing... Needless to say, it really isn't something to listen to at night.
The 1981 album Claro que si by the band Yello featured a hypnotizing instrumental track "Take It All". At the end, while the song was slowly fading away, a strange noise was growing in the background, kind of a nonsensical robot rambling, really creepy as if a weird and unpredictable robot was closing on to the listener. This immediately segued into the next song, "The Evening's Young", with the robot voice still around. A few second into the song, the robot voice started coughing and shut up.
After the first movement of the long (28-minute) version of Orbital's "The Box", it delves into horror territory, with creaking noises, dissonant guitars and piano, ominous harpsichord, etc.
The Diversions remix of "Impact (The Earth is Burning)" starts out mostly the same as the original, but then halfway through, an ominous buzzing 303 riff takes over the melody, emphasizing the "the earth is burning" subtitle.
Daft Punk's "Prime Time Of Your Life" has also one of these. Expect it goes on for half of the whole song, and there's even another regular Last Note Nightmare at the end within the extended Last Note Nightmare. Also, watching the official music video with it only makes it even more of a nightmare because it has a girl skinning herself and accidentally killing herself because she wanted to be like the pink skeletons she was seeing, but it was all her illusion because she thought she was fat even though she wasn't.
Not the first time they've done this, either. Their track "Short Circuit" has an extended Last Note Nightmare too.
And less than some of the other examples here, but the last note of the light & happy "One More Time" is For Whom the Bell Tolls.
The iTunes version of the song cuts off the bell—it makes it sound like a nanosecond of a guy screaming. That makes it even scarier.
John Heartson's "The Silicon Invasion" is an upbeat techno-pop song about how computers are running our world. The vocals get more robotic with every verse, and by the last verse they are completely Machine Monotone:
Billions of names erased from the file
Purging is complete
Only a few organics remain
The so called elite
Illogical species, faulty programming
Consume more than required
Fatal exception, self destructive behavior
It's why they expired
Dark Ambient artist Ezra Yates's song "The Black-Eyed Children" has a creepy atmosphere throughout, including the sound of children singing "Ring Around the Roses" a few times and then a horrifying industrial noise hits you, continuing on for about a minute. Then it fades, and then suddenly comes the sound of freakish laughter descending in pitch, repeating to silence.
While the whole song is rather disturbing, the lyrics being a message left on an answering machine by a man who knows his plane is going down, I think 30k Feet by Assemblage 23 qualifies. The last line runs something like "Just one more thing to tell you now before I have to go. I-*SCRIIIICH!*"
On the US edition of BT's ESCM, the ambient outtro of "Remember" abruptly jumps to the very loud Scare Chord intro of "Love Peace & Grease (BT's Puma Fila Mix)".
The end of "Twisted Little Star" by Bertine Zetlitz is a mass of random distortion that grows progressively louder as the song draws to a close, ending in one big distorted mess.
All of Nox Arcana's albums end on these if you leave them on after the last track goes quiet. Winter's Knight's example was intended to be uplifting, but may very well be unsettling to some people.
Vladislav Delay's album-length piece "Anima" starts with a conversation: "Danny, are you awake yet?" "No, are you"? before slipping into 60 minutes of ambiance and random, sometimes scary synthesizer noises, which finally ends with a splash and the words "I may never go to sleep again, I might stay awake forever". Try listening to it in the dark.
Patrick Wolf's "Wolf Song" is a folk song performed with traditional acoustic instruments. The last chord, however (together with a wolf-like howl), is digitally mutilated to be a glitchy stutter. Someone who doesn't know Mr. Wolf's other work might think there's a playback error.
Kind of a reversal into First Note Nightmare: Rammstein's "Reise, Reise" is a creepy song in and of itself, moreso if you speak German, but the first thirty seconds or so consist of a clip from the blackbox of Japan Airlines 123 immediately before it crashed.
Then there's the song right after "Reise, Reise", called "Mein Teil", which starts loudly and suddenly after "Reise, Reise" ends, being a last-note AND first-note nightmare at the same time.
Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" is a quiet, melancholy song that morphs into a strangely uplifting ballad...then looks like it's going to taper off quietly. Instead, the last line is accompanied by a crashing, detuned guitar. It fades out for over a minute, followed by an ominous wind/static sound (on the album version).
Similarly at the end of "Closer", the song seems to build up to a climax, then peters out with a muted and distorted guitar hook that then fades.
The last couple notes are played much clearer, however, which adds to the atmosphere.
The Fragile taken as a whole. Granted, it's not the happiest album, but it's energetic and has tones of working towards something great. Then comes "Ripe".
The after the fade out of the relatively mellow And One track "Sometimes", suddenly a very loud noise that sounds like a UFO crashing or something explodes out of your speakers. It can definitely make you jump.
Depeche Mode has employed this trope a couple of times.
"Somebody" ends with what sounds like the intro to a horror movie theme.
Several seconds after the fade-out of "Enjoy the Silence", the track comes back to life with a nightmarish melody complete with a distorted voice that says, "Crucify."
The song "London Town," the final song from William Control's first album, Hate Culture, features a supposedly real recorded 911 call that starts playing a few minutes after it ends. The authenticity has been debated, but real or not, it's damn scary.
The eerie whispering at the end of The Birthday Massacre's "Play Dead" is an example of this.
"Untrust Us" by Crystal Castles is a rather soft song, which ends with the abrupt wailing of a guitar.
The Abney Park CD Lost Horizons ends with a "ghost track". Leave the album going after the last song ends, and you might notice the distant sound of seagulls and waves, but quite possibly you won't. You WILL notice the sudden, loud and profoundly unnerving sound that follows, something like metal scraping and shuddering. Creepy.
Similarly, KMFDM's Nihil ends with a minute of silence followed by a minute or two of similar grinding noises.
"The Unrestrained Use of Excessive Force", the closer of What Do You Know Deutschland, concludes with a minute-long drone chord followed by a loud metallic crash. Its impact is reduced on the remaster, thanks to the Loudness War.
Doctor Steel, "Build The Robots", which ends with the vocals fading out and a note uncannily like a sped-up version of the THX Deep Note sound.
"Diabolical" by Mindless Self Indulgence is an entire song that's sole purpose was to invoke this trope. Seriously. The intro consists of a somewhat unsettling, off-key electronic violin which loops throughout the track. It seems fine until the very end, in which the volume gets pumped up and becomes SO loud that it can literally BREAK your speakers. In fact, the purpose of the song was to do that, as said by the band and in the lyrics, that say "I got the diabolical sound comin' through your speakers", as well as in the album commentary available on the DVD for "Tighter", the re-release of their first album; the band mentioned that they set the overall volume for this track a bit lower than the rest of the tracks present just to trick people into turning up their volume. Needless to say, if it's your first time listening to it, you WILL get the crap scared out of you.
The version on the re-release of the first album is even worse; instead of the ending gradually getting louder with note, it bursts in volume with only the last note. What a Jump Scare.
"Ecos" by Mexican EBM band Hocico ends with a series of noises that sound like malfunctioning synthesizers-as if the band's equipment suddenly stopped working.
"Spindrift" by Covenant ends with an unsettling harpsichord dirge.
"I Walk Slow" starts out as a minimalist ballad, then suddenly turns into Sunn O)))-style dronenoise for a minute, before changing back.
The original mix of "Sun" by Slusnik Luna ends with the lone, fading sound of what seems to be heavily digitized breathing. With the rest of the song having been driven by a percussion beat throughout, it's quite jarring and unnerving.
The Avalanches' "Two Hearts In 3/4 Time" is a calm and lovely song supported by sampled "la-la-la" vocals. However, at the end, this discordant, creepy and dissonant army beat with high-pitched blips fade in just before segueing into "Avalanche Rock". Bonus points for being sampled from a song called "Ghost Story".
The album version of Fatboy Slim's Weapon Of Choice ends with a section of one of the sampled record scratching sounds being played forward and backward over and over in one ear, and some weird, distorted radio static in the other.
"Cubik" by 808 State ends with the song abruptly being spun backwards at different speeds: first, incredibly fast, then incredibly slow and distorted-sounding, and finally, moderate speed that gradually becomes fast again. This all has the effect of sounding very creepy, especially to those who aren't expecting it after the great EDM track they were listening to up to that point.
The last track on Skinny Puppy's Remission EP, titled "Brap", is a short but dissonant experimental piece that uses repeated Stock Scream samples. "Sleeping Beast" from the same EP has a somewhat unsettling guitar lick during its fade-out. "Choralone" from Rabies ends with 15 seconds of silence followed by a thunderclap.
Inverted in Differnet's "Mycobacterium Tuberculosis", which starts with a distorted electronic screech... then they dial down the distortion and reveal it as a gently plucked semiacoustic guitar.
Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto's album "Insen" is a mix of classic piano ang glitch music. It's quite creepy as a whole, but one of his track, Berlin, is a particularly melancholy melody that ends up in a pretty abrupt and pitched wave or sound-alike telephone static.
"Five Nights At Freddy's" by The Living Tombstone, as should be expected for a song about the game of the same name, uses the robots' scream at the end as a sample (the scream is also used at other points in the song, but the music drowns it out and reduces its scariness). People familiar with the game can see this one coming, as the video shows the lyrics over a screenshot of the game, but looking at the bottom left corner reveals that the power is counting down. Guess what happens in the game when it reaches zero.
The last five notes of Romeo Miller's "Romeoland". If anyone could find the video...
"Word Of Mouth" by John Reuben ends with about 15 seconds of the narrator asking, in a whiny voice, if the listener will please like him.
SHAKKAZOMBIE's "Recover The Sky Of Day" is a case of First Note Nightmare. Before the actual song, is about one second of what appears to be the members of the band screaming. Thank god they left that out of the Cowboy Bebop recap episode.
"Stepfather Factory" by El-P is a song which is highly unsettling and depressing in itself all about domestic abuse. It only gets worse when all you hear at the end is silence and a robotic, Creepy Monotone voice repeating over and over, "Why are you making me hurt you? I love you. Why are you making me hurt you? I love you."
"M1 A1" by Gorillaz is a strange reverse example. The song starts out with a brief clip of a heartbeat, followed by weird, dissonant tones and a creepy-sounding, crescendoing baseline while an echoing voice repeatedly (and increasingly desperately) shouts "Hello? Is anyone there?", sampled from Day of the Dead, but after the first minute and a half or so, the song transitions into something more conventional and upbeat in sound.
More recently, "On Melancholy Hill" uses this straight. It starts calm and melancholic, but the last note is a gong that has nothing to do with the song.
Slenderman: The Album is already full of pretty creepy instrumental hip-hop, but two tracks, "Fighting Back" and "The Library is Flooded", stand out the most. The former is a much more upbeat, triumphant rock-style song than the rest of the album, but near the end, switches to a minor key and then finally slows down into distorted, low-pitched noise before an equally-distorted voice mumles something about "dark forces". In the latter, the song seems to end about halfway through before returning with distorted, frantic drums and threatening bursts of static and distortion.
Imogen Heap ends and begins "Leave Me To Love" with some heavy screeching.
The chorus of Jeru the Damaja's "Ain't the Devil Happy" contains a sample of a man laughing evilly. The song ends with the sample being played, then the record it comes from being spun backward while gradually slowing down, creating a very unnerving effect.
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's "Nightmare on My Street" (aboutFreddy Krueger). The song is obviously meant to invoke fear in the listener the whole time, but the only real unsettling part is at the end; Will Smith calls Jeff in order to warn him about Freddy. Jeff brushes him off, annoyed, telling him it's too early in the morning to call him, but then Freddy appears in his room, and he screams for life while Smith yells "Jeff! Jeeeeeff!" as the song fades out.
Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" ends with a long instrumental section concluding with a haunting chorus, a dissonant horn, and some drumming. At least one station actually cuts it short.
"Russian Roulette" by Rihanna ends with the sound of a loud gunshot, leaving listeners wondering who won...or lost. The video also leaves this to interpretation.
Steely Dan's "Josie" has an oddly menacing fade-out.
Bill Withers' "Better Off Dead," a mournful but relatively smooth R&B song, has not so much a Last Note Nightmare as a sound effect nightmare: the final iteration of the chorus — "she's better off without me/and I'm better off dead now that she's gone" — is interrupted after the titular phrase... by a gunshot. One of the great shock endings in pop music.
James Brown's "The Payback" ends with a long and ominous string glissando. There's not even a transition into it; the song just seems to stop before it happens.
Anouk's "Good God" starts and ends with an eerie twinkling tune. It's creepier when the song fades out at the end.
Pick up any jazz CD, and you're likely to find at least one track that ends with a long solo riff over sustained chord that's way more dissonant than the rest of the song.
Weather Report's "Cucumber Slumber" ends with, fittingly enough, the very last note of the saxophone solo being given a creepy echo.
Serge Gainsbourg's "Les Sambassadeurs" is a loud, wild song, which ends with what sounds like a large crowd of people screaming in panic, while gunshots resonate over them.
J-Pop / J-Rock
The last minute or so of ''Kono Daremo Inai Heya De" by Gackt is something resembling a spectral chorus singing "Hey, Jude"; he fade-out is a harsh violin crescendo.
"Longing" plays with this. The verses are distorted and end on nightmarish notes, and the bridge changes melodies entirely, giving way to Ominous Pipe Organ, more distorted screams from Gackt, a woman screaming in terror...and then it goes right back to normal.
Sort of a weird example in Ali Project's lesser-known song, "Akai Suiren no Gogo", for the first 2 1/2 minutes, is a soft, relaxing yet sort of odd melody. Then, towards the end, there are four rather startling fortissimos (if that's the proper term) before going back to normal, except for a chilling, deep "I love you" in English near the end. It should be noted that this is only true for the earlier Gensou Teien + 1 version, not the Moonlight intoxication version.
A perfect example is track 4 of Haruka Shimotsuki's Koboreru Suna no ARIA: Third Movement ~Homecoming~, which does it not only at the end, but also at the beginning, and in two very jarring ways. The first time, the song is playing what it seems to be a bridal waltz to then abruptly change into something akin to a war persecution song; and near the end, in which the song is playing a magnificent and bright orchestral arrangement of the album's main theme, it suddenly drops in tone and becomes a nightmarish repetition of "FEL LEASRY WEL", which translates to "I warn you" in the album's own languagge.
Shonen Knife's "Bye Bye" (the original closer of the Yama no Attchan album) is an almost ridiculously lackadaisical song with lyrics like, "Marmalade on a glorious day, a lame clown on a tray..." and cutesy instrumentation including sleigh-bells and Big Ben chimes. The mention of a, "Toy pistol alone in a foolish way," and some tinny, metallic clanks are the only indication something more sinister may be afoot. As the instrumental break seems to be resolving itself, suddenly BOOM! A realistic gunshot sound-effect much louder than anything else on the album puts a stop to the fun, and all instruments stop except the guitar which meanders to a fade accompanied by three solitary descending church-bell notes.
Alice Human Sacrifice ends on a very creepy chord.
Black/White ward ends with the loud beeping sound of a heart monitor
Knowledge of the Late Madness ends with the crank organ music heard in of Dark Woods Circus.
Dark Woods Circus itself ends with the sound of an ominous cymbal, and horse hooves.
The scream at the very end of Guilty Verse can be pretty startling.
Karakuri Burst finishes with either a high-pitched scream or a burst of static (it's difficult to tell which).
Country / Folk
Miranda Lambert's "Gunpowder and Lead" tells the story of an abused wife waiting in ambush with a shotgun for her husband, who is freshly out on bail. The song seems to trail off normally, only to be punctuated by a shotgun blast, followed by the metallic ring of an ejected shell hitting the ground. Somehow the merry little "ting!" of the shell just makes it worse.
The Pete Seeger anti-nuclear song "Odds on Favorite" is creepy to start with, talking about how God designed a universe with built-in obsolescence, then gets more cheerful—for a while.
Thank God this great combustion day Is several billion years away So as philosophers all say Why fuss, why fume, why worry? A jillion moons will wane and wax Sit down, make out your income tax Enjoy your life, be calm, relax For God is in no hurry.
Reassuring, right? Then it ends:
But oh, my friends, I have a hunch, Mankind might beat God to the punch.
And it abruptly ends.
"Universal Soldier" by Buffy Sainte-Marie has a fairly pleasant melody most of the way through, although the antiwar message is obvious, but it's driven home when the last line ("This is not the way we put an end to war") drops into a minor key.
Loreena McKennitt's "Never-Ending Road" (from the album An Ancient Muse) is a quiet, pretty love-song - but its last few notes are underlined and followed by a few bars of a different, eerie melody.
Jay Malinowski's Animal ends with a piano chord that fades out, then back in, gets louder and louder until it abruptly cuts out.
Made worse by the fact that on some prints of the album, Animal is the last track.
Simon & Garfunkel's "Richard Cory" features this with a stinger just before the final chorus, sure to startle.
He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch And they were grateful for his patronage, and they thanked him very much So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read: Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head.
The lyric then continues with
And I wish that I could be, yes I wish that I could be, Oh I wish that I could be Richard Cory. Of course, this was adapted from the poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson, which ended basically with the spoiled line.
Their Bookends album has a First Note Nightmare at the start of "Save The Life of My Child", the second track of the album; made more jarring by the fact that the prelude was so gentle and puts the listener in a relaxed state of mind...and then WHAM.
Harry Chapin's "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" ends with the tempo of the song getting faster and faster, and then ends with Chapin doing an elongated scream, before the song just...stops right in its tracks.
Love's "The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This": It's a mellow psychedelic folk song where every verse is followed by a horn fanfare, and the final few repetitions of said fanfare are edited in a jumpy manner to imitate a skipping record.
The music of Sufjan Stevens sometimes falls under this trope. "The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out to Get Us!", for example, is a soft, sentimental song, but the last twenty seconds slip into an unsettling white-noise grind that grows louder, then abruptly stops.
Not to mention the song "Seven Swans" which has a slow, almost calming cadence thanks to its use of only a few banjo chords throughout most of its length, along with some pretty, but slightly odd, imagery with the lyrics. But, then the last minute or so of the song comes, and we get a crescendo involving a chorus of female voices (eliciting images of a angelic choir), but singing supremely creepy lines such as "He will take you; if you run / He will chase you, / 'cause He is the Lord." And at this point, you realize that the imagery earlier in the song isn't so pretty, is actually reminiscent of the Book of Revelation, and pretty creepy indeed.
'Dumb I Sound', which is a slow, sad song about unrequited love, ends with a full minute of the instrumental slowly deteriorating into something that barely resembles music at all, and caps off with a lion's roar for no apparent reason.
"Merry Minuet" by the Kingston Trio is cheerful enough, for a song about nuclear annihilation, and has a catchy melody... but when they get to the last line "What nature doesn't do to us / Will be done by our fellow man", they sing and play the last word on an ear-rending dissonant chord.
The last three bars of Mozart's "A Musical Joke" are in a polytonal jumble of five different keys.
Haydn's Surprise Symphony has a nice peaceful melody, but is then rudely interrupted by loud, accented notes. Haydn did it to wake up slumbering members of the audience. He was known as a prankster, and this is one of the many jokes in his pieces.
Haydn's Farewell Symphony, while not a nightmare ending, is pretty disconcerting. The last movement ends with the musicians, one or a few at a time, quietly leaving the stage, with the final part played by just two violins. This was Haydn's hint to his patrons, the Esterhazy family, that his orchestra's stay at their summer palace had gone on for too long and that they would really like to get back to their families.
Tom Turpin's "A Ragtime Nightmare" is actually a very cheerful upbeat ragtime work despite the name, best known for its use in the Good N' Plenty commercials of the 60s. But the last chord sounds like a bunch of random keys hit at once, but you can tell it wasn't because it's pure dissonance. A sharp contrast to the pleasant tune known for its use in candy commercials.
Maurice Ravel's Bolero can come across as this. The last time the melody comes in, it is stronger, with much of the orchestra playing the theme, or counter melodies that seem wild. In some recordings, this section comes across as significantly louder. Some of the stated counter melodies also change the chords to dissonant ones. The song is major until then.
Edvard Grieg seems to scare many with the final chord of "In the Hall of the Mountain King."
J.S. Bach's "Great" Fugue in G minor (BWV 542) is quite soft and quiet for its first half. In the second half, the piece shifts toward being slightly more upbeat and louder, but still not too loud. Then at the very end, the piece shifts toward being loud and angry for a few seconds, contrasting with the light and soft qualities of the rest of the piece.
It turns out quite a few of Bach's organ fugues end this way. Apparently, Bach loves using the Picardy third.
Perhaps Bach's most jarring example comes from the deceptively peaceful Adagio in C Major (BWV 564). Not only is the Adagio not actually positive-sounding, as its name would suggest, it has a short but incredibly aggressive ending portion that can only be described as Ominous Pipe Organ taken Up to Eleven. And, of course, the last chord is a Picardy Third. Listen here.
Gustav Holst' The Planets has Uranus: The Magician be mostly whimsical and bouncy bouncy, until the end, where the 4th to last note is a dissonant crash, followed by a softer echo, and an unsettling resolution. it's a near polar opposite fom the previous movement, Saturn: The Bringer of Old Age.
Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 6 isn't called "Tragic" for nothing, and the coda to the final movement is downbeat, quiet and gloomy, and slows down to less than a crawl. The final A minor chord, however, is a crashing fortissimo for the full orchestra, including an extra-loud version of the symphony's recurring timpani theme, that takes two bars to fade out.
The Residents' song "Elvis and His Boss" caps off with a slide guitar solo, backed up with saxophone and synthesizers, which then change pitch and distort uncontrollably, verging on static.
The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band number "Slush" is a variant on this. Another gentle instrumental, it is interrupted about halfway through by a manic laugh. This laugh then repeats at precise intervals for the rest of the tune to the fade-out, and beyond...and beyond...and BEYOND. Genuinely un-nerving.
They also had "11 Mustachioed Daughters", rather unnerving all the way through, but ending with some...extremely creepy dialogue accompanied by instrumentals, creepy because it's just so strange and leaves you the impression something's really seriously wrong with the talkers. "Worship for Satan! (giggle) Glad that's over with..." "I don't remember too good, but I think John Wayne is here." "Oh yeah?" "I don't remember too good, but I think John Wayne is here." "Oh no." "I don't remember too good, but I think John Wayne is here..." "Oh my..."
Parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic, with his single "You Don't Love Me Anymore". After the song ends, there are 10 minutes of silence followed by 6 seconds of backwards drumming, guitar feedback, and Al screaming at the top of his lungs, after which, the song ends. According to Al, this "most annoying 6 seconds of audio ever recorded" was meant to scare the listener if he or she forgets to turn the CD player off. (This snippet is called "Bite Me".) This was a parody of "Endless, Nameless" by Nirvana, which came on about 10 minutes of silence and was, essentially, 6 minutes of cacophony.
The song "Christmas at Ground Zero" ends with an air raid siren.
"Kingdom in the Sky" by Da Vinci's Notebook ends with the guys' harmonies breaking down terribly on the final "sky" lyric, some late, some early, some just too high for their normal singing range... the lead tenor sing-says quickly at the end "We'll redo that ending."
While it's got a little bit of a creepy undercurrent throughout, Mr. Bungle's "Pink Cigarette" is an uncharacteristically pretty, doo-wop influenced ballad... then, as it seems to be winding up to a climax, the beep of a heart monitor creeps into the mix, and the song gets abruptly cut off by said heart monitor flat-lining. Of course, the lyrics seem to be a husband's suicide note to his cheating wife, so...
Mr. Bungle's music being nightmarish as is, After School Special is an only somewhat eerie song about a kid talking about his abusive parents. The track ends with a horrifying metallic rustling sound and a distorted mutant child-like voice giggling repeatedly saying "Stop tickling me" and then "Why are you touching me?"
Actually, pretty much all of the first album qualifies as this. The first song, "Quote Unquote", is about a cocaine addict who has no arms, no legs, and lives mostly in his own doped-up fantasies. "Slowly Growing Deaf" lives up to its name. "Dead Goon" is about a boy dying while doing... *ahem*... something. "My Ass Is On Fire", though in a somewhat bizarre fashion, seems to be about a man murdering his wife after finding out that she's cheating on him. It goes From Bad to Worse.
William Shatner yelling "Mister Tambourine MAAAAAAAAAAAN" at the end of his cover of that song.
Talking about Pony fan music, Tarby's 20 minute epic "Something Broke: The Continuing Tale of Pinkie Pie and Ponycide" inspired by the torture/slasher fanfic "Cupcakes" could possibly be considered this as well. The song is divided into many parts, and it ranges from happy upbeat Yes/Rush like jams to more Nine Inch Nails-esque heavy parts over the course of it's running time, but it doesn't get startling until the very end. After what appears to be the final heavy part and when the song appears to be calming down back into the early and more easy listening prog jams, suddenly out of nowhere the singer starts shouting "Help me chase away my fears!" in a loud distorted voice, accompanied by guitar based scarechords and heavy drum bashing. This part again is abruptly cut off and goes into a psychedelic de-tuned riff before the song ends. Chances are this could startle a unknowing listener, even with the overall dark lyrics.
The last track of Christian Rock musician Michael W. Smith's album Go West Young Man is simply titled "1999." It has a single stanza of lyrics, some choral sounds, then segues into a guitar riff that abruptly cuts to silence, ending with an ominous deep whisper of "To be continued." (There's no "1999 Part 2," in case you're wondering...)
The Mutton Birds have pulled this off on at least one occasion in Queen's English, with a crescendo of babble over a fairly rapidly repeated single note, which abruptly cuts off. Then (on Nature, at least) it goes off into There's a Limit.
Some live performances of Blinding by Florence and the Machine featured a blood-curdling shriek before what would be the last iteration of the chorus in the album version, leading instead into a staccato of high-pitched strings and heavy drumming with some faint wailing in the background. Here's a good quality recording of it.
A PSA focusing on Electric Blanket safety starts off with a romantic jazzy theme as an old couple enjoys their night together and later get into bed. The music then suddenly becomes very screechy right at the end, the accompanying image and tagline makes it even more terrifying.
Early commercials for Verizon's Android offerings started with Mo Zella's upbeat, "It's Magic" to parody iPhone commercials, switching midway to a much darker theme, to establish Droid as more serious operating system.
.hack//Legend plays background music normally and then as the Corrupted Mook is about to be summoned from the Chaos Gate, the music begins to slip.
In Soul Eater, the soundtrack 'So Scandalous' has a creepy piano playing in between the techno/hip pop/jazz number.
"Reborn," the first ending song from Baki the Grappler, is a mellow guitar song with lyrics about love and happiness, while images of the various cast members who are clearly not thinking about love and happiness float by in the background—for example, Ando is gritting his teeth and swinging an axe. And then as a coup de grace, the song ends with a slightly eerie echo and an image of Yujiro looming over Baki.
"Amusement Park", from the Cowboy Bebop boxed set. The song is a creepy carnival theme that fades out into a rather loud eerie note.
There's a version of Pachelbel's Canon in D on disc 2 of the "Evangelion Symphony" album that is completely normal. Considering the popularity of the piece, your mind tunes it out as background music... until about five seconds before where it should end, there is a noise like a gunshot and all of the string instruments screech to a halt.
The track "Honeymoon with Anxiety" (Fuan to no Mitsugetsu) from the End of Evangelion soundtrack is a cool bit of music that ends with an unsettling... violin... thing.
Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has lots of character songs that start out happy, then turn... disturbing. The best example of Last Note Nightmare is Keiichi's song, Cool ni Nare! ~Keep On Our Love~, which is a Hot-Blooded appeal to Screw Destiny, the final line being Keiichi abruptly saying "Oops, I screwed up" (and, since this is Higurashi, presumably dying).
Actually, the line before that is "Yes, Hinamizawa", which is a reference to another character song that featured Keiichi (and Mr. Delicious). So, it was probably more of an "Ah crap, wrong lyrics" thing.
At the very end, you can hear Keiichi over the phone saying very quietly "Please, someone end this case", with the last word being cut off as soon as he says it. Then you hear a quiet scream. It's a goofy scream, but...
The anime gives us its own soundtrack and the track "Oyashiro Sama". It's already creepy on it's own, but its creepiness has a musical pattern... and then the final note is not what you musically expect, it goes lower instead of higher and the percussion vanishes as if it wasn't even there in the first place. Absolutely nightmarish and fits the anime incredibly well.
"Warera Gatchaman", the closing theme of Gatchaman II. The song itself is a rousing anthem about how awesome the Gatchaman team is and how they're going to defeat Galactor and save the day... but then, out of nowhere, the song ends with a sudden and nasty Scare Chord.
Russia's version of "Marukaite Chikyuu" appropriately has the character singing the chorus cute as anything until his "Kolkolkol" chant comes out of nowhere, and then just goes right back into being cute again before you have the chance to process the horror of what you just heard. It also didn't help this was the first time the fans actually heard the chant.
Then of course, there's the part where his voice dips to a deeper, not-so-much-cute-as-menacing tone as the end of the third repetition of the chorus.
Then there's the ending of his character song Winter, where there's chanting for the last roughly 40 seconds, and grows louder when the music itself ends. His Hatafutte Parade starts to be this trope too with some surreal echoing, but he stops and screams about Belarus at the last second, acting as Nightmare Retardant.
School Days: Kanashimi no Mukou e is hardly a happy song; it's moody, depressive, almost heartbreaking. But when it's almost over, a very ominous and slightly out-of-place drum music starts playing... and you suddenly get the feeling that something has gone very, very wrong.
This song is inspired by School Days. The song is entitled "Nice Boat." Watch till the ending and be spooked.
Every episode of Ghost Hunt ends with a last note nightmare. After the slow, eerie ending song, a sudden burst of maniacal piano starts playing, then a voiceover Mai warns us about the next episode.
Films — Animated
The song "The Theatre" from Coraline's soundtrack. Now, quite a few songs on the soundtrack are rather creepy, but this one stands out. It starts with vaguely cheerful tinkling, accompanied by a distant-sounding snippet of the earlier track "Sirens of the Sea", progresses to some low-key ambient noises, and then suddenly explodes into... some kind of discordant noise.
Here's the song. Just so you can hear first hand how creepy it is. (Probably best not to turn the volume up too loud.)
On the DVD of Disney's Fantasia, the background music that plays on the Title Menu is the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Seeing as the last piece of the film is Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria", having the DVD cut straight back to the Toccata is rather jarring.
Disney's Dinosaur: When the Pterodactyl drops the egg...
The song "A Girl Worth Fighting For" from Mulan is a rather optimistic ditty sung by the soldiers during their march across the Chinese countryside about how they're trying not to go to war. The song ends with said soldiers arriving at the mountain village they're supposed to protect from the Huns, only to find out that said village was already burned to the ground.
At the very end of Disney and Pixar's Wall-e, after we watch through the end credits of the film with cute animations of the passengers and crew of the Axiom landing back on earth and re-civilizing and replenishing the earth's environment, followed by more animations of Wall-e and Eve playing around the scrolling credits with M-O while all being accompanied by gentle, soft end credits music, following the obligatory Disney and Pixar end-film logos just before the film ends, from out of nowhere we are suddenly greeted by a jarring Buy n Large Vanity Plate accompanied by the company's BEEE-ENNN-EEELLLLL!!!!! chant that accompanies every Buy n Large advertisement featured within the film's setting. Where as it might not seem like much, the fact that such a company logo that represents a fictional Mega-cooperation within the film's own setting can just appear up alongside the logos of the actual companies that helped create the film's own setting -particularly after such soft-running credit music- is not only unexpected, but given the facts within this film that this Mega-cooperation essentially contributed to the mass-pollution and sub-sequent decline of the earth's livable environment -which sets up the film's premise about a lonely robot on earth still gathering up garbage while the humans in the Axiom starships are watched over by an extraordinarily relianton-board ship A.I.- this logo with it's upbeat chant becomes terrifying in its own right in that it indicates that Buy n Large is still in business and providing everything all the time. Whether this is true in-universe or in real life is not known.
A similar example happens in the 2012 remake of Frankenweenie. When the Disney logo settles down and you hear the soft notes of "When You Wish Upon a Star" play, suddenly the music changes (on where "star" would be heard) into a Scare Chord. Also, the logo's color is sucked out and fog forms around the castle.
Again from a Tim Burton film: The Geffen logo at the beginning of Beetlejuice features an upbeat but somewhat hollow chorus of "Day-O" that swings into a hauntingly creepy minor key halfway through, just in time to introduce Danny Elfman's main theme. Here, have a listen.
Similarly, Event Horizon has the typical opening Paramount fanfare, but then hits a sour note before lifting into space with an aggressive, dark string section.
The grand opening music of Star Wars ends in a dark ominous tone once the narrative text begins to fade.
The full theme continues the dark theme, and switches tempo and timbre several times before ending.
In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the final note of the upbeat "The Candy Man" is off-key. Tellingly, it's on that note that the audience first sees poor Charlie Bucket, who's apparently been on the outside of the shop looking in all along. Later, one of the many variations of "Pure Imagination" plays as the boat starts down the chocolate river, and when it enters the psychedelic tunnel, the music appropriately turns ominous.
A milder, but still significant example: At the end of West Side Story, there is a touching reprise of the song "Somewhere," but just as the scene is ending and the music is calming down, dissonant, deep chords start playing in the background...
The soundtrack to The Wicker Man is a great find as it includes all the Celtic folk songs featured in the movie, including the classic round "Sumer Is Icumen In," which is sung by the townsfolk at the film's climax. It takes a turn for the horror however when that track on the album ends with Sargent Howie screaming, "Oh, God! Oh, Jesus Christ!" in absolute terror as he sees the wicker man.
Two words: "Withnail's Theme." The melody itself is haunting and fitting for a Sad Clown but the flat note at the very end of the movie makes you wince every time.
"Nature Boy (reprise)" from the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack. The instruments are creepy enough as is, but the ending was edited to sound like the CD was scratched, for a very strange effect.
There's also the other version on that soundtrack, in which David Bowie is singing along very nicely until the last word, which is about a million decibels louder than the last song, accompanied by an intensely creepy swell of music.
"The Hunt Builds" from the soundtrack to Bram Stoker's Dracula. Not only does it end with 4 scare chords, sad music can simultaneously be heard playing as well.
After the credits of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry says "Mischief Managed... Nox." The map parchment folds and we see the film's title, and the seven iconic notes of the Potter theme. The screen fades to black, an after 20 seconds of silence, Peter Pettigrew's eerie theme can be heard. Sure to scare a few.
The Chamber of Secrets' Theme ends with no less than four Scare Chords, each when you think that the piece is ending.
The opening to Star Trek (while you watch the Vanity Plates) starts with a warm horn-and-strings combo (a slow variation on the main theme). Roughly 40 seconds in, you see the Bad Robot vanity plate (which is a bit creepy) while the music lets a little dissonance pop in. About 55 seconds in, the music just slams and cuts off—right as the movie begins.
"Furious Angels" by Rob Dougan (from The Matrix Reloaded) ends with unsettlingly loud and distorted violins. The fact that Rob sounds a lot like Tom Waites doesn't help.
The end credits piece from the Jurassic Park soundtrack. It starts out with the epic Island theme, then transitions into a soft, gentle version of the main theme. However, it ends on a rendition of the rather unsettling Raptor theme.
The theme from Poltergeist is a soft, pleasant tune with children singing...that ends with some very creepy high-pitched laughter. Not that surprising when you consider the source material.
"I See Dead People In Boats" from the soundtrack for Pirates of The Caribbean: At World's End. Instead of having the violins play the last note, it's done by an organ.
"528491" from the Inception soundtrack has a 'kick' at the end of the song, followed by the sound of a train.
The first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie has the hip hop song "T-U-R-T-L-E Power" which for the most part is a pretty steady-paced dance number... and then the last "Power" hits in the song and a very chilling, nails-on-the-chalkboard echo follows it (it's even louder in the end credit version compared to the one on the soundtrack).
"A Swan Song (For Nina)" from Black Swan is mainly a paraphrase of the swan lake ballet theme: it begins as a mourning piano piece, but around halfway through the music slows down considerably, the ballet theme barely recognizable, the tune and instruments becoming gradually darker and ominous, until the final note, that fades in an unexpected, truly unsettling high pitched wail-like sound. In the movie itself, although not in the soundtrack, the wail is coupled by a fluttering of wings.
"Vide Cor Meum" from Hannibal. A beautiful and calming classical opera piece. In the version for the soundtrack of the film, it all goes well until you reach the end. For those who wanna know, check it here.
"You Baby" by Neil Diamond from the remake of The Jazz Singer falls into this trope, especially if you're listening to the soundtrack instead of watching the film. An upbeat pop number ends with the sounds of glass and wood breaking, screams, and a siren — which makes sense in the film as the song ends with a barfight.
Invoked in the first book of The Ship Who, The Ship Who Sang. The protagonist, a sentient "brain ship," is captured and forced to sing by her captors. She sings the song fairly normally, then makes the last note of the song "pure sonic hell," knocking out many of her captors and even killing some of them in the process. Last Note Nightmare indeed...
Doctor Who had this in "The Pandorica Opens", when The Doctor is sealed in the pandorica, a beautiful score begins playing and swooping, then the camera zooms out and shows the universe exploding.. And the music suddenly stops... Mid-Note...
Just as the Master and the Time Lords disappear back into the Time War in The End of Time, and the Tenth Doctor thinks he's somehow managed to avoid his own prophesied demise, we hear four knocks, and the chords played by the strings appropriately fall apart and gliss down with tons of dissonance, mirroring the Doctor's own sinking realization.
Reversed with regards to the first note of the opening and closing theme music which, in the 1970s and early 80s, and again in the revival series of 2005-date, is an electronic "scream"-like sound.
Happens in LOST a few times, most notably at the end of the episode where Aaron is born.
LOST's soundtrack is full of these. They can be rather jarring when you're listening to an emotional piano piece, only for it to end with some creepy twinkling followed by a loud brass note.
In the Mash episode "Dear Uncle Abdul", Father Mulcahy tries to compose a rousing, patriotic, "Over There"-style war song; eventually he comes up with something that has one of these downbeat endings, musically and lyrically.
BBC's Sea Monsters ends with an epic credits theme on each episode... when suddenly the final credits pop up with a loud shocking theme.
The Bub-Bubs music video from the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! kind of has this more for the video than for the music itself, because the part dancing fetuses at the end can be very disturbing, especially since the music already ended at that part, so the only noise being made was from the dancing fetuses and the woman's man dancing in the open womb.
Reversed with the opening credits of CSI: Miami which features The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" and begins with a blood-curdling scream. Many a poor mook has been blown out of bed by a 3 am rerun after leaving the TV on and having that come on.
The opening credits for the US broadcasts of the UK series Danger Man (carrying the new title Secret Agent) feature Johnny River's rock and roll hit "Secret Agent Man". Those familiar with the song are likely caught off-guard when the opening credits of the series end with the song being suddenly cut off mid-note by a loud gunshot! (Note: the very first episode of Secret Agent does not do this, only subsequent episodes.)
A skit from The Benny Hill Show involves a golddigger marrying a member of the British royal family, maybe a king, for money. The sketch ends on a close-up of the now widowed and rich woman having married her real lover. The soundtrack playing The Wedding March ends on a Scare Chord as she realizes her husband is killing her the same way she killed her old husband.
The 60's western "Sugarfoot" had a very memorable (at least for me) version of this. After a rather uncharacteristic episode of dark ghostly doings, the final sting is the camera moving silently in on a guitar sitting upright against the wall. (The guitar had played a big part in the spooky episode just ended.) Anyway, the sting was about a full minute of silence, with the camera pulling in closer and closer to the guitar until only the strings and soundboard are visible. At that exact moment, one of the guitar strings breaks with a loud, discordant and really scary sound for a kid watching one of his favorite light-hearted westerns. The camera pulls back quickly and the normal light theme music ushers you out of the episode in the normal way.
The Vocaloid song "Alice Human Sacrifice" is a rather creepy parody of carnival music - which ends with the music getting slower and slower, and then just one note that is creepily off key. See what I mean?
And don't forget the Nico Nico Chorus version of "Daughter of Evil". At the song's end, a few bars start to play from the sequel song, "Servant of Evil", until they're brutally cut off by a terrifying, realistic guillotine sound. LiteralLast Note Nightmare, there.
DYE by AVTechNO! is at its loudest and busiest near the end, and then the song ends abruptly. It's not as bad in this upload because of the ending credits, but on the version that can be found on [DYE] -synthesis-, the sudden stop is the last thing you hear on the track.
Inverted with Kemu's Invisible. It starts six or so seconds of soft piano, which is promptly interrupted by some heavy guitar work that continues throughout the song.
The Puccini opera Madama Butterfly ends with a scary, unexpected major chord (in first inversion).
"Music of the Night," from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of The Phantom of the Opera. The Phantom has lulled Christine almost to sleep, the song's soft, everything's pleasant, then DUN! DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN loud discordant organ. Especially seizure-inducing if you're listening to the song at night in bed and do not expect the ending.
The song "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" on the Cabaret 1998 Broadway Cast Recording is already kind of creepy since it's intentionally made to sound low-quality and distorted. Then it stops and the MC harshly whispers the last two words. At least they give you a few seconds to brace yourself.
Also from Cabaret's 1998 cast, there is the beginnings of a lovely reprise of "Married" between the sweet old couple. Which is then promptly interrupted by a brick being "thrown" through a shop window. Well, there go all the good feelings.
The song "So Happy" from Into the Woods starts out nice and happy... until half way through when there's a crashing noise and the number takes a very dark, eerie turn. Then there's the blood-curdling scream that occurs after you've think the song has faded out. Something similar occurs with the bouncy, romantic "It Takes Two" abruptly switching to "Stay With Me" (which opens with a blood-curdling scream!) Stephen Sondheim loves this trope.
Also from Into the Woods, the witch's version of "Children Don't Listen" after Rapunzel's death is a flowing albeit sad song. The last note ends with the witch's voice breaking causing the song to go very sharp.
The song "Three-Five-Zero-Zero" from the musical Hair is a Last/First VERSE Nightmare, combined with Lyrical Dissonance. It begins with a melancholy and gory description of war-wounds, switches to an upbeat tune about "beginning to kill", then reprises the first verse.
The loud factory whistle that screams at seemingly random times in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Definitely something you don't want to be listening to with headphones. In the show, the whistle blows every time the title character kills someone - there's no such siren-like sound in songs without Sweeney Todd. Most of the victims have no lines, so the audio recording provides no warning for the shrieking whistle. That Sweeney is slitting throats casually while singing about other things adds to the nightmarish quality of the recordings.
Occurs at the end of Javert's final soliloquy in Les Misťrables, after he kills himself. The orchestra plays a soaring reprise of "Stars," his "I Want" Song from earlier in the play, which ends on a horribly dissonant note, revealing it to be not a reprise, but an Ironic Echo.
In Pokťmon Live!, Giovanni's reprise of "Everything Changes" ends on a creepy minor key. This is exacerbated onstage, where helicopter sounds are played over it as Delia and Professor Oak are captured.
The first version of "Everything Changes" ends on minor key violins as Team Rocket enters, interrupting Delia and Oak.
Shadow the Hedgehog has a minor case of this in the form of it's ending theme "Never Turn Back", which starts out as a slow, sad and somewhat pleasant piano cover of 'I Am...All Of Me'...and then the drums kick in with heavy guitar.
Cave Story's main theme manages to do this, even though it's used as looping level theme music in the Plantation area. It plays the very upbeat main melody twice in a row, to trick the listener into thinking the entire song's just a 44-second loop. As it starts to play for the third time, a dissonant counter-melody emerges—the song gets as dark as the retraux soundcard lets it, eventually grinding to a halt before restarting.
Magic School Bus: Ocean is guilty of this, of all games. The short theme for the diatom puzzle  is peaceful and relaxing; but the end note is very dark.
111.mp3, "Good Morning" from Ragnarok Online starts off as a peaceful and upbeat piano tune, then at 1:06 onwards starts to slip. It makes more sense when you consider the place where this song plays in-game...
Eversion's World X-8 theme is very creepy and filled with Psycho Strings, but there are no surprises and it's actally quite calm. Then the music slowly fades out... All of a sudden, there's this really loud, startling drum. It's hard to describe, but really creepy.
In the secret "Revenge" ending of Silent Hill 3, the "Silent Hill Song" ends with the singers being shot to death with a machine gun. It's actually kind of funny, because of how ludicrous and over-the-top that whole ending was.
Silent Hill 2: The end of the track Null Moon fades down to the chime chords, then the instrument shifts to an ominous tone in the last couple of phrases.
Much of the music in Endgame: Singularity sounds like this; it starts out one place and goes somewhere else entirely. This holds particularly true for the music that plays when you win, which starts out something like the twilight zone theme and somehow manages to get more chilling.
Spelunky has the moderately cheerful background music trick you into thinking it's just an endless loop like the title and boss music. Then, at the 2 minute mark, the music plays backwards for a second or two and then proceeds to play normally again, except that it's much lower, much slower, and bizarrely warped. You WILL jump five feet into the air the first time you hear it. With such an utterly bizarre warning music, it makes you wonder why they need an ultimate invincible enemy coming in at 2:30 to encourage you to hurry up.
The song from the End Credits of Resident Evil 4 springs to mind. As the song starts, it's a pleasant recap of how village life used to be when everything was pleasant...and then the Plagas showed up.
When you get a Time Paradox in Metal Gear Solid 3, the music goes on for a while until the whole screen reverses color and plays a loud noise followed by a gunshot when the letters become "TIME PARADOX".
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: The title demo sequence. It originally shows various scenes of Clock Town and its inhabitants, with a peaceful-sounding rendition of the Clock Town theme playing in the background. But at the last 30 seconds, the scene shifts toward the Skull Kid and the falling moon in the night sky, and at this point the Clock Town theme starts to blend into the ominous theme of the Skull Kid, before transforming into it completely. A definite change from the simplistic yet cheery demo of Ocarina of Time (the previous N64 Zelda title), reflecting this game's comparatively darker atmosphere.
Even worse is this remix of the Final Hours theme, which takes an already Nightmarish piece and, somehow, turns into Awesome Music. Despite that, it does revert back to its hellish origins during its last few moments, wherein the music (and the Clock Tower bell in the background) suddenly shifts into grainy, distorted feedback, then gradually grind to a halt, simulating the moons imminent impact with Termina.
Animal Crossing Wild World: One of the many songs you can play in your house is "K.K. Lullaby" which is basically what it sounds like - a calm music box tune. The version you hear sung in the coffee shop is normal, but then when you bring the CD home it's a case of Last Note Nightmare; the song goes for about 2 minutes before suddenly devolving into four screechy notes and then abruptly cuts of. Then starts looping the pretty music box tune again like nothing happened. This is probably the tape rewinding, but it still comes off as unexpected.
A certain note from the normally calm and quiet song that plays at 11 PM in the original (Wild World for the DS and City Folk for the Wii use a different soundtrack) has a similar effect, as well as the unexpected (during the first time hearing it) and bizarre sneezing sound effect in K.K. Cruisin'.
The track "Showdown at Hollow Bastion" from the Kingdom Hearts II OST. The abrupt transitions are heart-quickening (no pun intended) and can be slightly nightmarish: it begins with a mild little score, suddenly picks up tempo and sounds like montage music, and THEN suddenly becomes all-out battle music complete with a choir that has a similar effect to Ominous Latin Chanting. And the entire piece is under a minute long.
Then again, stop for a moment and consider the situation in which the song is used. Everything in the song, from start to finish, is Awesome Music(duh) and builds up - and perfectly synches to - the war sequence (go to the article for The War Sequence, the pic shows the exact instant in which said "Last Note Nightmare" occurs), making it full-fledged (as the caption for the image in The War Sequence says, "BRING IT!" note (it says "And you get to kick the asses of each and every last dang one of them." instead now.) Awesome Music.
Pac-Man World 2 features a boss fight called "Pinky's Revenge." The BGM starts out as a very upbeat piece meant to evoke happy feelings about the snowy surroundings ... but then a dissonant chord strikes, followed by a couple more ... then it gets back into the happy groove again. But at 0:53, it totally breaks down, with blaring Psycho Strings and sudden hard percussion as the whole thing turns absolutely horrifying. It gets a little Narm-y when it starts using Stock Sound Effect muted-trumpet hits later on, but overall it's quite effective.
Doom has an excellent example. At the end of the game, you're teleported back to Earth after fighting through the legions of Satan and the fires of Hell itself, treated to a scenery shot of a frolicking meadow before noticing that the demons got here first. The music reflects this.
Final Fantasy VI has the soundtrack version of Ghost Train theme. While the entire song is basically a funeral march, the song ends with a loud, piercing train whistle.
It also starts with that same whistle; the ending is the first few seconds of the song, slowly fading out.
Final Fantasy VIII's "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec," from the orchestral arrangement album of the same name, has a beautiful, dramatic rendition of this iconic piece... and ends, about a minute before the final note, with a horrific, ear-piercing wail with unintelligible (and honestly quite infernal-sounding) lyrics. Even people who know to expect it are jolted by its sudden intrusion.
The lyrics are actually an attempt at Latin, not done all that well. They're something about "lighting a torch in this darkest of hours."
IOSYS's (the fellows who brought you Marisa Stole The Precious Thing) "Blue Cirno" is an extremely jovial song that sounds like a mix of upbeat Latin music and happy Christmas music. That is, until it ends off with a Last Note Nightmare that makes people think their souls are being sucked out.
Speaking of Touhou, two particular remixes of "U.N. Owen Was Her?" included (1) gradually overlapping lines followed by a somewhat sudden cutoff of the voices, with the music slowing down to normal after the overlapping voices have been building to a more and more frenetic pace, and (2) putting in an increasingly less subtle creepy laugh. Then you remember that this is Flandre'stheme...Do you really want to lose your sanity!?
Listen to "U.N. Owen Was Her?" again. Doing it right now? Lah lah lah lah la-lalalalah~
"Marisa Stole The Precious Thing" also features a nasty bit near the end, where the song pauses for a moment so loud static can be played. It's all technopopping along and suddenly DRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
"Sleeping Terror", Yuuka's stage 5 boss theme in Lotus Land Story is this. Starts out creepy, then a pause and the real song starts. Are you not afraid yet?
"Bewildering Impending Spiriting Away ~ Border of Death" is not frightening, right? Now, get that stereo headphones or earplugs. Can you hear Her singing behind you? Guess who made this remix.
Her fame of "gap hag", appearing here and there doesn't help much.
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. The "bad" ending that you see if you don't get all of the crystal shards is a nice, happy, appropriately victorious song... which happens to end on the creepiest five notes you will ever hear in a Kirby game, synced up with the fairy queen's Psychotic Smirk.
This also applies for the music in the cutscenes where Dark Matter possesses Waddle Dee, Adeleine and Dedede. The first two end with a Scare Chord, the latter shifts to a darker tone when Dark Matter shows up.
Also from Kirby 64 comes the OST version of the 100-Yard Hop theme. It's a rendition of the classic Gourmet Race tune, and it plays exactly as you'd expect it to... until the final seconds, where it ends abruptly with a loud crashing noise.
Factory Inspection, the music for level 5-4. It's not very cheerful to begin with, but right when it's getting smoother, some long-held augmented chords (which are unsettling by themselves) strike in. And then the last one is cut off, the percussion (which sound like industrial machines) become more evident, and a cluster chordnote In Layman's terms: a hand banging on piano keys plays over them. Then the drums stop and the cluster chord plays two more times.
Inversion, aka First Note Nightmare: in Raycrisis, the song "Vit-Symty" has a rather ominous intro, before changing into the usual techno-jazz style, then at its end, it becomes an epic trance tune.
Played straight with another Raycrisis tune: two thirds of the way through "Son Dessein", the music starts to fade out, but then a screeching Scare Chord cuts in, followed by a darker piano tune with said scarechord repeating periodically. It gets scarier when it changes again to a weird tribal beat and ominous strings.
In Halo 3, the last movement of "Black Tower" starts with a series of ascending Ethereal Choir notes, but then the choir switches to a tear-jerking dirge-style tune, which is the music heard during Cmdr. Keyes's death cutscene.
"Halo Reborn" starts with an Ethereal Choir remake of "Under Cover of Night", then becomes a dark drum & bass piece, then finally a rendition of the Psycho Strings piece "Shadows", before concluding with a Scare Chord.
Similarly, "Roll Call" begins with a triumphant remake of the Halo title theme, followed by a medley of "Farthest Outpost" and "Under Cover of Night", but the last movement is a sad piano and strings tune, similar to the Easter Egg music "Siege of Madrigal". Apparently to underscore Master Chief's absence from the "roll call", and his presumed death.
Then last, but not least, there's "Legend", the Legendary bonus cutscene music, which starts off the a peaceful drifting music similar to the opening scene, transitioning into Psycho Strings before abruptly ending with this.
In Halo 2, the "Antediluvia" movement of the High Charity Suite starts off the same as "Wage" from Delta Halo Suite, but then is interrupted by a Scare Chord and dark ambient noises, as the Flood arrive on High Charity and infect the Prophet of Mercy. BTW, the title is Latin for "before the flood".
Tsukiko Amano's "ZERO no Chouritsu" from Fatal Frame 4 does this. It opens with a gorgeous piano solo, then it goes into awesome Amano rock. Then it makes out like it's going to end on a repeat of the piano solo...before playing a sudden crashing jumble of notes.
Victims of Science's "The Device Has Been Modified" is, like most things involving Portal, is both unnerving and hilarious all the way through. But after it fades out, wait a few seconds. Are you still there...?
This remixof a song fromDoom's soundtrack basically keeps the same tone as the original song, which is more quiet and mysterious than anything else, but at the end the song begins to rather literally break down and some unidentifiable but hellish noise plays in the background.
Most versions of "One Winged Angel" from Final Fantasy VII have the instrumental break segue right into "Veni, veni, venios" (the creepiest part of the song, but okay if you have buildup to it). This even goes for the Advent Children version THAT YOU HEAR IN THE MOVIE. However, a new release of the Advent Children version on iTunes kicks it up a notch. The instrumental segue fades into another instrumental, this time a reprise of the verse and chorus that is almost corny. Then it ends, or so you think. Then after a few seconds of dead silence, MI FILI VENI VENI...
In Scratches, when quitting the game before finishing it, you are taken to a rolling credits screen with a soft piano music, at the end of it there's a very unsettling Scare Chord.
The Donkey Kong Country series' Nightmare Fuel page cites the death-against-K-Rool music to have been cut (from a game with so much Nightmare Fuel, no less) because it was too scary. The Last Note Nightmare trope is the exact reason behind that.
The worst ending in Myst III: Exile starts with the return to Tomahna theme (just like two of the other endings), which is a soft wind-instrument piece. Bt then it's interrupted by a violent, percussion-heavy Scare Chord right when your character is hit and killed from behind by the Big Bad, who then goes onto likely kill Atrus and his family. In the official soundtrack, this piece is appropriately titled, You've Been Followed.
The final boss music for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The song looping comes with blaring klaxons.
In the mirror section of Amy's Twinkle Park stage, the music initially starts out as cute, quiet, and innocent... Then the music seems to take a darker turn, becoming much more tense, you can also hear a child laughing for a brief moment.
An inversion in the Egg Golem/King Boom Boo boss fight music: just before the main melody starts, a sudden hushed voice asks "who's there?" *guitars*
While not entirely a Last Note Nightmare, because the transition happens only a third of the way in, the Team Fortress 2 Engineer's theme More Gun qualifies. The song starts out as the pleasant guitar riff (Taken from the Wilco song "Someone Else's Song") that the Engineer plays throughout his Meet the Team video. At 0:54, however, the song quickly changes gears, with a sudden shift from major chords to minor ones, with a louder, deeper and more ominous guitar riff overshadowing the original and a low, foreboding trumpet playing backup.
"The Rowhouses" from Medal of Honor: Frontline starts with a continuation of the "Nijmegen Bridge" theme, adding a jaunty oboe motif to it a third of the way through, but then the ominous Panzer leitmotif starts to creep in, completely taking over in the last third.
Minecraft actually features one of these. In the record "11", all that can be heard is the sounds of what could be a man loading a gun, or simply shifting around in his chair. For the most part, it's a quiet song, devoid of any music and comprised absolutely of ambiance. Near the end, however, the music abruptly shifts to the man walking down a path, then breaking into a run. As the music builds, we hear some type of inhuman noise roar at the man before it abruptly cuts out, switching to a soft beeping noise before going completely silent.
In The Path, "forest theme" sounds perfectly soothing and calm in-game. But when you listen to it in the soundtrack, the last two minutes end with a rasping screeching echoey voice screaming repeatedly "and I will eat you!" for the rest of the track without any music playing. Also the in-game version of "the girl in red" ends with a disconcerting staticy scream overtake the whole song.
Fallout 3 begins with "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" playing on an old radio, which fades into the ominous main game theme as the camera zooms out to reveal the landscape of the Capital Wasteland.
Metroid: Other M makes this with a loud self-destruction siren interrupting a low, sad tone that interrupts Samus while she was hugging Adam's helmet.
Mass Effect 3 uses a variation for dramatic effect in the song "Leaving Earth" early in the game. It is a quietly sad piano piece as Shepard watches the evacuation of Earth. Suddenly, a Reaper fires its main cannon, making its trademark BWOOOOOOORRRRRNNNGH sound, which is quite shocking. It happens several more times over the course of the song.
Also played straight with the Scare Chord at the end of "An End Once and For All", when the Crucible's beam catches up to the Normandy. Inverted if Extended Cut is installed and you have sufficiently high EMS.
And yet it somehow becomes even worse when used for the "Jade: Wake Up" Flash update.
From Volume 5 of the music for Homestuck itself, Savior of the Waking World plays like a grand, orchestrated version of the theme for the Land of Wind and Shade. Even if not totally upbeat, it's at least somewhat hopeful sounding, especially with the title. And the song gets to its end, the melody becomes the same as the original song, except heavily distorted by static, and it fades into nothing as a deep gong sounds three times.
In an inversion of this trope, Hardchorale starts with the word "MEOOOOOOOOOOOOW" screamed at the top of the vocalist's lungs.
Technically could also be viewed as playing it straight - both Hardchorale and the previous song (Happy Cat Song) are remixes of the same song, both with cats meowing. So you're just listening to the happy (if slow) Happy Cat Song, it ends, and then... "MEOOOOOOOW!"
While not whiplash-tastic, Midnight Calliope from the Alterniabound soundtrack (also used in one of the flashes) may also qualify for this, as what starts out as a vaguely-spooky carnival tune descends into a low, menacing drone. And just as the track fades out... HONK.
Also on Alterniabound, the track "Killed by BR 8 K Spider!!!!!!!!" is an awesome-sounding tune that gives a healthy serving of Vriska's cocky badassery. However at around twenty seconds from the end the notes turn sharp, the guitar playing gets sloppy, the tempo slows, and it ends with one last, faltering note that echoes into silence.
A Picardy third is used in Calamity at the very end - then again, Calamity was an upbeat minor action song from the start...
Octoroon Rangoon starts out as an active orchestral piece, only for the last thirty seconds or so to move into a menacing piano refrain culminating in a heavily distorted "Make her a member of the Midnight Crew..." that sounds rather like it was remixed in hell.
Inverted with Umbral Ultimatum. The song is scary intense, but then the song ends with a light refrain, which is uplifting compared to the circumstances of the rest of the flash.
The very last "STILL ALIVE" gives the impression that he's right behind you.
Nico Nico Douga's first medley. Everything is fast, upbeat, and happy, but then a little bit of silence, and following that is a very off-key, very off-beat, 8-bit rendition of Sakura Sakura.
The ending of Something Broke (a fan-made rock opera based on Cupcakes). Tarby begins the song's last part singing in a fairly normal voice, but then you notice that the lyrics start to get a little disturbing.In the basement, not a sound/can be heard above the ground/so the ponies up above/can go on in peace and love/down below some tasty treats/being made for them to eat/granted at a friend's expense/they don't know it won't hurt them/so down in the dimly lit/down comes knife, another hit/draw it forth, eviscerate/soon they'll be on someone's plate. And before you can fully register this, he starts painfully screaming "HELP ME CHASE AWAY MY FEARS!! over a series of loud, abrasive scare chords before his voice abruptly cuts off mid-note. Doesn't help that this was a reprise of a much lighter part earlier in this.
Don't Hug Me I'm Scared. You can consider the whole second half of the music video to be a collection of scary moments put together to make up one big Last Note Nightmare. First, there is a sudden switch in the animation, and there's a continuous, soul crushing long chord. It switches back to "live action" but only to show the cast do art projects with human hearts, cut pies made with human organs, and painting the word "DEATH". All while playing horribly distorted music that will stick to your mind for days. After all that, you think everything goes back to normal, but the notepad with a face sings "Let's all agree to never be creative again!" right before the song surprisingly closes out on a regular Last Note Nightmare within an extended LNN. Even after the music video, it also shows credits play with ink coming out of a mouse hole while what sounds like Squidward's clarinet plays in the background.
This protest video against BP's greenwashing at the 2012 Olympics. The music starts out with peaceful piano, but when the BP cyclist shows his true colors and starts turning the environment into a Crapsack World, the music changes to a dark industrial tune accompanied by dissonant 8-bit-style jingles reminiscent of "game over" music.
Unsurprisingly, the song "Source Music of Doom" from the Invader Zim soundtrack has this. Not at the end, only about 30 seconds in, but definitely worth mentioning. Starts out with a strange tune about tacos before going into light flute-ish tune that seems very happy and cheerful before an out-of-place chord blares in your ears and kids sing "Bloaty's Pizza Hog!" over and over in your ears.
"Rock-A-Bye Baby" in the Crashcup segments of The Alvin Show, namely the ones where he invents the bed and the baby. Played at the end of the episode - normally the first time around, then as things go awry for good it repeats - but speeds up and slows down like a warped record.
The recorder song in South Park's "World Wide Recorder Concert (The Brown Noise)". Everyone in the WORLD will remember the last note of that song...
Only in the second season onwards. Originally, it was just a straightforward instrumental version of the theme song, which faded out (during the "I got my computer..." part) when it reached the logo (which then was the standard "static blue background" version).
It was actually the theme to it's short-lived companion show, Little Muppet Monsters, which was a live-action show with animated segments about three "kid" Muppets airing a TV station from the basement of the Muppet house. It wasn't successful for a variety of reasons, and only 3 episodes aired before it was yanked from the CBS schedule. For some reason, though, they kept the ending theme as the Muppet Babies ending theme until the show ended in 1991.
More specifically, it's the theme to "Muppets, Babies and Monsters", the short-lived hourlong pairing of "Muppet Babies" and "Little Muppet Monsters". The theme for that combined the two individual shows' themes into a medley (remixed slightly with castanets and the aforementioned trumpet solo).
Happens at the end of the closing sequence in The Flintstones, just after the "WIIIIIIIILLLLLLMAAAAAAAAAA", while Fred continues to pound the door.
Also, in the episode "Hot Lips Hannigan", Fred sings "Do Re Mi" to Wilma. He holds the final "Do" for a ridiculously long time, causing the Flintstones' glassware to shatter.
A "three note nightmare" happens in Jem. It occurs right after the end of the PSA'snote "Doing the right thing makes you a superstar", and before the "JEM!" at the end.
Some of the BGM from Ren and Stimpy can come across as this. Notable examples include "Maniac Pursuit" and "Terror".
For your consideration, Inspector Gadget. Wonderful cartoon, Ear Worm of a theme song, but that last low note always sounded ominous to me. Even more frightening with the end credits variation with Dr. Claw's booming voice saying, "I'll get you next time, Gadget, next time!"
The short version Season 1 theme for Young Justice was a triumphant and brash brass-led flourish. The Season 2 theme is the same until it suddenly switches to a somber dirge for the Title In of the "Invasion" subtitle.
The music that plays during the end credits of the Rugrats episode "Under Chuckie's Bed/Chuckie Is Rich" has one of these. It's a very elegant and mellow sounding piece but abruptly ends with a brutal symphonic crash.
Another one at the end of "Dust Bunnies/Educating Angelica". It is a very triumphant superhero-like theme that ends with some creepy dissonant notes.
Also the ending to "A Visit from Lipshitz/What the Big People Do", where the latter short ended with a long scare chord that echoed into the first few seconds of the usual credits theme.
A variation of this: During Season One of Doug, the closing credits music would abruptly change when Porkchop donned his headphones (usually to the central theme of the first of the episode's two sub-episodes). That could be pretty spooky sometimes (which is probably why this was dropped after S1).
Happens almost literally in the Looney Tunes short "Long-Haired Hare." Giovanni's final note during his performance (where he holds the same high note for a ridiculously long time, consequential disasters happen, and then he STILL has to hold it one last time) definitely ends in a nightmare for the poor singer!!!
In the original The Pink Panther show, the moment where any short ends and the screen goes black with the credits for "A Mirisch-Geoffrey-Depatie Freleng Production" while that creepy and loud music sounded. Check it near the end here.
At the end of his "Guitar Fever" review, Ashens puts a monstrous sound of 8-bit terror. It's actually code for a ZX Spectrum computer, so he didn't put it there to be mean.
Maybe this doesn't count as a last note, but look on YouTube for video people have taken of the US analog TV switchoff. It's just creepy, as most of them went from everything as normal, to static. As if all of civilization had just suddenly collapsed.
Used humorously in the theme song for Married... with Children. Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" plays until it's abruptly cut off by a loud bang
TheDVDversion, however, ends normally, followed by a less startling clang.
Music boxes, especially older ones that have been played many times, will often distort the sound as they wind down. No matter how cheerful the song, the final notes will often sound creepily off key.
The Blue ÷yster Cult use this with telling effect on the LP Secret Treaties, where eight progressively sinister and moody tracks (ranging from the Lovecraftian Astronomy and Sub Human, through the suspected paedophilia of Dominance and Submission and the teen-on-the-edge-of-going-Columbine Cagey Cretin) are linked with keyboard effects made to sound like a nursery room music box - together with distortion...
The "Blue Mountain" Paramount TV logo (which was first used in a later version of the "Closet Killer" logo)
"DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-DA, DA-DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA"note Although in some versions, a harp glissando plays, making less of a nightmare than usual.
Roald Dahl wrote several poetry collections based around subverting fairy tales with his trademark dark humour, including Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts. In the 1980s, they were released as audio books with musical introductions for each poem; most of the introductions were synthesiser renditions of nursery rhymes (eg "Boys and Girls Come Out to Play", "Humpty Dumpty") which, in keeping with the theme of the poems, ended by collapsing into dissonance or suddenly using a much louder or darker synthesiser track.
The Wallace & Gromit Thrill-O-Matic dark ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach ends with a surprise Jump Scare courtesy of a roaring Were Rabbit