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Sanity Slippage Song

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"See what's going on inside my mind."
Disturbed, "Perfect Insanity"

Some songs are about being in love. Some songs are about angst. Some songs are about being insane. They may be incoherent, psychedelic messes or intricate folk songs, but they're about going insane. Common themes are what drove the singer crazy and what it feels like in the depths of madness.

The music may rise and fall erratically or use other tricks to indicate the singer's fractured mental state, but just as often the tune sounds perfectly normal.

Note that if the singer is mentally ill but the song is about something else, it doesn't count.

A Sub-Trope of Sanity Slippage.

Compare BSoD Song and Disney Acid Sequence. If the slippage results from being driven mad by envy or sorrow, this could overlap with Revenge Ballad. If it illustrates a Villainous Breakdown, then it doubles as a Villain Song. Might be paired with a Deranged Dance.


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  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, "Komm, Süßer Tod" note  manages to perfectly show the final nails being hammered into Shinji's breakdown. As well as Asuka's, Misato's, and everyone else on Earth. Any song where the lyrics are: " with sadness in my heart, it seems the best thing I can do is end it all and leave forever. What's done is done it feels so bad, what once was happy now is sad. I'll never love again, my world is ending." Counts merely from the lyrics, and that's before the triple whammy of Lyrical Dissonance, Soundtrack Dissonance and Mood Dissonance.
  • A lot of the character songs from Higurashi: When They Cry deal with this, as to be expected given the nature of the series, but Satoshi Hojo's song YellowsicKING in particular stands out in this regard.
  • The Umineko: When They Cry ending theme, "La Divina Tragedia" is something like this, maybe mixed with an Obsession Song as well.
  • "Duvet" from Serial Experiments Lain is this, especially the last verse.
  • "Velveteen" from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex seems to be this, though the fact that the lyrics switch languages several times make it hard to be certain.
  • The lyrics to "The World" from .hack//SIGN might qualify given the nature of the series. They start out in 3rd person talking about loneliness and insanity, and end in a 1st person reluctant acceptance.
    You are here alone again | In your sweet insanity
    All too calm you hide yourself from reality
    Do you call it solitude? | Do you call it liberty?
    When all the world turns away | Leaves you lonely
    I am here alone again | In my sweet serenity
    Hoping you will ever find me in any place
    I will call it solitude | When all my songs fade in vane
    Fly away | On my own | To eternity

    Fan Works 
  • "The Moon Rises", from Princess Luna's perspective in days of yore. It starts out as a calm nocturne, then her envy and resentment come more to the fore until the last verse is a Motive Rant, as she turns into Nightmare Moon.
    So say goodnight to this,
    The final setting of the sun,
    Tomorrow dawns in darkness;
    The nighttime has begun!
  • There are some fan remakes of Monika's song "My Reality" from Doki Doki Literature Club! which is itself a borderline example since it alludes to her existential suffering and going Yandere from the point of view of other characters undergoing sanity slippage.
    • "Sayori's Reality" by Emirichu is about deepening depression, being a Steford Smiler, anguished love, and suicidal thoughts.
    • "Yuri's Reality" also by Emirichu: A disturbingly sexy but very creepy — even more so when you've played the story — song about Yuri's obsession with the Player Character, and with blood and cutting, when she starts totally losing it later in the game. Ends with her going Laughing Mad and, well, that's again even more disturbing if you know what happens in the game at that point.

    Films — Animation 
  • "Hellfire" in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which is when even Frollo realizes he's crossing a line. He realizes he's lusting for Esmeralda, and he plays the Never My Fault card and says he's willing to burn down Paris to find Esmeralda. The fact he tries to embrace a ghost of her doesn't help.
  • The Lorax (2012):
    • "How Bad Can I Be?" in begins with The Once-ler innocently asking how growing his business is a bad thing... and ends with him shouting the lyric with a deranged grin as a challenge as he obliterates the forest.
    • There's also the Cut Song titled "The Once-ler's Traveling Madness," which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Another cut song, "Biggering" has the Once-ler pondering his simple beginnings and escalates to him responding to the Lorax's final words of warning with a reprise of the lyrics from "How Bad Can I Be", fully acknowledging that he's killing the environment and doesn't care in a frenzied act of spite to try and distance himself.
  • "Paris is a Lonely Town" from Gay Purr-ee, as Mewsette contemplates suicide.
  • The "Que sera, Que sera" sequence from Mary and Max.
  • Spinel's introduction in Steven Universe: The Movie is a mixture of this and Villain Song. The electric swing is an especially nice touch and really lends it that cartoonish feel, considering many early cartoons employed jazz music in their scores.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anna and the Apocalypse: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" sung by the villain Mr. Savage, he goes crazy prancing around the kitchen. At one point, the song seemingly ends, only for him to abruptly sing again.
  • "Let The Monster Rise," "Legal Assassin," "Night Surgeon," and "Thankless Job" from Repo! The Genetic Opera. (So almost everything Nathan Wallace or Repo Man sings.)
  • The famous "Memo From Turner" from Performance is, in context, a Sanity Slippage Song from an Imagine Spot in which Turner finds his persona and identity blurring with Chas's.
  • Bryan Ferry's "Help Me", the song that is playing at the bar in The Fly (1986), was originally commissioned to underscore the film's end credits but contrasted too much with Howard Shore's lush orchestral score to be an effective playout. The lyrics, reflecting the tragic dissolution of the protagonist's body and mind to Body Horror, have the singer pleading for his lover to hopefully lead him back to himself via The Power of Love. For bonus points, Ferry's body language in the music video produced for it suggests he's trapped and writhing in a straitjacket.
    I'm a victim of the night
    Sold my soul, is it ever gonna pay?
    I beg you now, save me from myself
    Time is closing in
    There's no one I can turn to
    There's a power in love
    There's a danger in love
    But I need love to help me find a way.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show;
    • "Rose Tint My World" is the characters admitting that Frank has broken them and they're now just living for sexual pleasure.
    • "I'm Going Home", Richard O'Brien says in the commentary that Frank hallucinates the audience that fades in.

    Live-Action TV 
  • With the lead being in the midst of a perpetual nervous breakdown, and a running theme among all the characters being unhealthy coping mechanisms (and unlearning them), it's no shock that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has many songs that fit this trope. A particularly notable one is "After Everything I've Done For You (That You Didn't Ask For)", an homage to another famous Sanity Slippage Song, "Rose's Turn".
    Rebecca: Seriously, Patrick, was I sick the day in school they taught you how to be a normal person? It just feels like there's something fundamental I'm missing out on. Like, is there an instruction manual? You get what I'm saying, Patrick? It just - it just feels like everyone is in this cabal of normal people, and they're all laughing at me, like I'm the jester in my own Truman Show. Patrick, tell me what the secret is. Just tell me what the secret is. Is there a manual? Do you have the manual? I know you have the manual, Patrick. I KNOW IT'S IN YOUR TRUCK, PATRICK!
  • Kurt singing "Rose's Turn" on Glee also counts
  • In one episode of The Muppet Show a monster (with windmill legs) invites us into his mind, where he is running and running, singing "Windmills of Your Mind"... Ten times faster than it should ever be sung...
    Monster: And on the outside... I'm very calm... (Beat) AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Bombshell, the central Show Within a Show of Smash, features a song-and-dance called "Let's Be Bad" that shows a drug-addled Marilyn Monroe barely making it through a movie's musical number and not knowing whether the crew's effusive praise is real or not.
  • An episode of Today's Special has a sketch featuring three people singing "I Am Slowly Going Crazy," mentioned below.

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    Puppet Shows 

  • "The Ballad of Sara Berry" from 35MM: A Musical Exhibition is about the titular character trying to become the prom queen, growing more and more obsessed with it until she ends up killing all the other candidates to win by default.
  • In classical music this is a stock convention of Bel Canto opera — the heroine is so overcome with grief at the tragic circumstances that she finds herself in that she goes temporarily or permanently insane, and has a "mad scene." Basically just an excuse for the composer to write amazing vocal pyrotechnics. One of the most famous and possibly the Trope Codifier for opera is the mad scene from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Outside of bel canto, probably the most notable one (and definitely the most famous male mad scene in opera) is the titular character's final aria in Peter Grimes.
  • "Lot's Wife" in Caroline, Or Change, in which a broken Caroline screams at God, losing (then regaining) her sanity as she comes to terms with the fact that she'll never escape her circumstances. Also qualifies as The Eleven O'Clock Number and, to a lesser extent, a Grief Song.
  • "The Destruction" in both versions of Carrie the Musical, which depicts the title character's mental breakdown after being humiliated at the prom.
  • The Devil, a rock-meets-classical take on the Faust legend, has "Mad Gretchen", where Gretchen is overwhelmed by what is happening to John, and, well...
  • Though best remembered for being one of musical theatre's most amazing pieces, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," from Dreamgirls, is one of these. Effie, who's singing it, has just been kicked out of the Dreams and abandoned by Curtis, the group's manager and her former lover (and the father of her unborn child). As he starts to leave, she begins to sing the song to him. Though it starts out openly defiant, Effie gradually loses her confidence—and mind—as she has a total mental breakdown from the grief and strain; a (frequently-cut) verse has her outright throwing herself at Curtis and begging him not to go. By the time she gets to the bridge of the song, Curtis isn't even on the stage any more, but Effie is still singing—and even screaming—as if he was in front of her as she goes into denial and rage. This is most apparent when the song is placed in the context of the show; most cover versions play it up as stronger and more confident by removing the heavily painful overtones.
  • "A Man Could Go Quite Mad" and "Both Sides of the Coin" from Drood.
  • Frankenstein (2014) has "The Grand Beginning of the History of the Creation of Life", in which the execution of Victor's dear friend Henri (who died in Victor's place) pushes him to enact the plans he's been preparing for ages, to create life — namely, to resurrect Henri. Some Deathly Dies Irae and a lot more, as the song shifts from melody to melody, reflecting Victor's grief.
  • Bruce has "Edges of the World" in Fun Home just before he kills himself.
  • "Eternity" from Fly by Night is about Harold and Crabble going a little bit mad, working in an endless, tedious sandwich shop.
  • Hamilton:
    • A downplayed version: Alexander briefly freaks out during "The World Was Wide Enough" (to be fair, dying will do that to you), repeating "rise up, rise up" over and over, but gets it back together for his final lines.
    • It's played straight in the same song for Aaron Burr, who becomes more and more irrational with each line, until he eventually breaks down and shoots Hamilton in a rage.
      I had only one thought before the slaughter:
      This man will not make an orphan of my daughter!
  • JD in Heathers has "Meant To Be Yours". We know before this that he's not entirely sane, but there was always a little bit of hope holding out, in songs like "Seventeen". This song, with its violent outbursts, terrifying lyrics, and crazy time signature changes makes sure it's painfully obvious just how far gone JD is.
  • "Down With Love" from Hooray For What! is sometimes this. Barbra Streisand and Audra McDonald have both done it this way, and it's awesome.
  • Frollo's song in the stage show for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Unlike the Disney version where he declares that he will have Esmeralda for himself or kill her so that no one else will, the stage Frollo goes into how deep his obsession runs. He knows as a man of God that it's forbidden for him to form a relationship with a woman. However, he feels something for Esmeralda that he never felt before and it's driving him insane. Like the title suggests ("Tu Vas Me Detruire"/"Your Love Will Kill Me"), he's worried that his feelings towards Esmeralda will be the death of him.
  • "The World Has Gone Insane" from Jekyll & Hyde.
  • Judas' final song in Jesus Christ Superstar.
  • In "Aiutami" from The Light in the Piazza, Fabrizio has a meltdown over what he thinks is the end of him and Clara. His father, brother, and sister-in-law get sucked into the madness, encouraged by his mother.
    So, give me suspicion
    That's good
    Give me tears
    So, give me passion
    That's right
    Passion, passion
  • "The Madness of King Scar" from the stage version of The Lion King. If you thought Scar was a Large Ham in the movie...
  • In The Medium by Gian-Carlo Menotti, Baba has a long lugubrious soliloquy late in the second act, wondering what is causing her to be so afraid. She tries to laugh it off, but it doesn't help her out of her despair.
  • Les Misérables features Inspector Javert's stunning closer:
    And must I now begin to doubt,
    Who never doubted all these years?
    My heart is stone and still it trembles
    The world I have known is lost in shadow.
  • "Can't Keep Out The Night" from Moby-Dick! The Musical. Also known as Ahab's sleep-deprived rock-solo freakout.
  • “All You Wanna Do” from ‘’Six!The Musical’’. Katherine Howard’s solo is at first a brag about her promiscuous past but realised that men only want her for sex and she screams her lines at the end.
  • "The Private and Intimate Life of the House" from Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, functions as one for Prince Bolkonsky as we see him have a meltdown when confronted with the effects of aging and mortality while searching for his glasses (which were on his head the whole time). A more subdued one for Princess Mary as well, who is suffering severely from being her father's punching bag and the social isolation that comes with having to be her father's primary caregiver.
    • In "Sonya & Natasha", Natasha has lost any semblance of rational thought, blinded so much by her infatuation with Anatole and excitement over their supposed elopement that she willingly risks becoming a fallen woman and shuts out Sonya, her "closest friend" according to the opening number.
    • In "Letters", Pierre rants about how Napoleon is The Antichrist and he knows he is destined to kill the French general and save his country.
      • Arguably "The Duel" could count as well, where Pierre gets so furious at Dolokhov's obvious sexual relations with his wife that he challenges the man to a duel he knows he won't win (Dolokhov's identifier in the opening number is even that he's a "crazy good shot").
  • Arguably half the songs in Next to Normal, although for a few of them this only becomes apparent later on.
  • "Tu vas me détruire" note  in the French musical Notre-Dame de Paris.
  • "Calm" from Ordinary Days shows how the stress of grad school life in New York is driving Deb insane. Written as a patter song, the frenetic pace highlights the constant anxiety Deb is experiencing.
  • "Running the Whole Machine"note  from Portal 2: The (Unauthorized) Musical is the song Wheatley sings after taking control of Aperture. He's already Drunk with Power from the start of the song, but when he reveals he wants to keep Chell inside to perform tests for him, he goes off the deep end fast. And when GLaDOS insults him one final time at the end of the song, his last shred of sanity disappears as well.
    GLaDOS You're a moron!
    Wheatley: OH REALLY?!
    Choir: A moron, a moron, a moron you say?
    Wheatley We'll see if that's true. / 'Cause who's getting punched through the floor? / It isn't me...
    Choir: So it must be YOU!
  • While it’s not a completely straight example (he’s still sane by the end), “Betrayed” from The Producers definitely has shades of this due to it effectively being a Villian Protagonist Breakdown for Max.
  • Ragtime: "Coalhouse's Soliloquy" is this for the title character. "Coalhouse Demands" shows exactly how far his sanity has slipped.
    Say goodbye to music.
    Say goodbye to light.
    Anything I care for,
    Take it from my sight.
    Let me see no future
    Let me hear no sound
    Only darkness and pain
    The anger and pain
    The blood and the pain
    They buried my heart in the ground....
    In the ground...
    When they buried you in the ground.
    • Notably, the above verse is musically identical to Sarah's earlier Sanity Slippage Song, "Your Daddy's Son," which she sings to her and Coalhouse's child (though Coalhouse doesn't know the baby exists, as he abandoned her before he was born). As she remembers the pain and anguish that ultimately led her to try to kill the baby by interring it alive ("When I buried you in the ground"), she has a complete breakdown that leads to a My God, What Have I Done? moment.
  • "Ez a kez utoler" ("This Is The Hand That Will Strike") from the Hungarian version of Romeo et Juliette: De La Haine a l'Amour . While its French counterpart, "C'est le jour", appeared in Act II and served mainly to exposit on Tybalt's obsession with Juliet, the Hungarian version puts it midway through Act I, right after Tybalt has had a major epileptic fit, and the song becomes the frightening yet pity-inducing rant of a clearly unwell man. The way the actor on the DVD performance drops into just screaming is seriously terrifying.
  • Moritz in Spring Awakening starts to sound rather crazy in "Don't Do Sadness" as he is driven to suicide, and accuses the world around him to be a cold, uncaring one. It seems like a combination of this and a normal BSoD Song.
    Awful sweet to be a little butterfly
    Just wingin' over things, and nothin' deep inside.
    Nothing going, going wild in you, you know.
    You're slowing by the riverside, or floatin' high and blue!
  • Stephen Sondheim really seems to like these:
    • "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy.
    • "Getting Married Today" from Company.
    • The entire "Loveland" sequence from Follies.
    • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: The title character's awesome Villain Song "Epiphany" is about him completely losing it after his first attempt at revenge goes wrong, and declaring a vendetta upon the entire human race.
    • Franklin Shepard Inc from Merrily We Roll Along.
    • "Boom Crunch", the Witch's erratic showstopper that was cut from Into the Woods, fits this trope to a T. Its replacement, "Last Midnight", is tamer. In either version, the Witch lectures the protagonists and then goes crazy and curses herself to disappear.
  • "Mr. Andrews' Vision" from Titanic: The Musical, where the ship's builder, Mr. Andrews, suffers a nervous breakdown as he realizes that the compromises he made in his design to accommodate the first class are the reason the 'Titanic' is doomed. As the ship sinks, he frantically redesigns his blueprints until he breaks off, visualizing the final moments of those who are left aboard the ship. As the song ends, he is crushed to death by a piece of heavy furniture.
  • The extremely aptly named "The Breakdown" from We Are the Tigers is about as textbook with this trope as it gets. It also overlaps heavily with a textbook Villain Song, given that this is the song that reveals who killed Chess and Farrah.
  • "No Good Deed" from Wicked is a song about Elphaba rocketing through the 7 stages of grief before her sanity shatters like glass around 3/4 of the way through, ending with her succumbing to the title and guise of "Wicked Witch of the West".

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • "Off to the Henhouse" from Episode Three of Of Weasels And Chickens. In this song, Prima, a psychotic weasel, sings about the wonders of killing chickens.
    We’re off to the henhouse, Marcus! That’s where we’ll get our food.
    It’s a long process, fun, regardless – and the killing feels so good!
    Screams filling all my senses, chickens helpless, defenseless,
    Why, it really sends a thrill when innocent blood I spill!

    Web Comics 
  • Homestuck: There are three Flashes concerning Sanity Slippage: "[S] John: Mental Breakdown" accompanied by Hardlyquin, "[S] Karkat: Mental Breakdown" with Frustracean, and finally "[S] MSPA Reader: Mental Breakdown" accompanied by Hello Zepp from [[Film:Saw the Saw movies]]. The first two are fairly comedic, while the last... isn't.

    Web Original 
  • "Slipping"(!) from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. "My Eyes" conveys an increasingly depressed, cynical mindset, but "Slipping" is flat-out out mad. Also possible are "Brand New Day" and "Everything You Ever", But in theory the entire musical can be considered a downward spiral.
    • Also in Commentary! The Musical, Dr. Horrible's musical commentary, "All About the Art" and to an even greater extent, "Neil's Song" are perfect examples of this trope.
      "What was his name?
      What should I say?
      The choices are endless...
      And here I am, at last alone, and friendless...
      No I'm not friendless.
      I've got some friends!
      They'll be here when this ends...
      If this ends...
  • The Nostalgia Chick plays the Barber Of Seville overture whenever she's driven to madness by Fridge Logic.
  • Linkara resorts to "Combine Harvesters" by The Wurzels during his freak-outs.
  • The Nostalgia Critic has either the chorus of "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger or the "William Tell Storm" by Gioachino Rossini play whenever he loses his mind.
  • Twisted Translations, naturally plays this for laughs with "Google Translate Sings Try Everything", which turns "Try Everything" into one of these for Gazelle.

    Western Animation 
  • John Weldon's 1996 short film "Scant Sanity" is essentially a multi-part, animated Sanity Slippage Song.
  • Played with in the Futurama episode "The Sting" in that Leela does not sing, but she's imagining the others singing (and participating in a Disney Acid Sequence).
    Leela: I'm cracking up. In my dreams I'm happy because Fry is alive. But when I'm awake, my mind plays tricks on me.
    Hermes: Oh, take it easy, Leela.
    Amy: In every life we have some trouble.
    Bender: But when you worry, you make it double.
    Amy: And (suddenly starts singing) don't worry, be happy!
    (The song goes on until it concludes and the scene returns to normal.)
    Leela: Uh, were you just singing?
    Bender: No, I was telling you not to worry. I'm not allowed to sing. Court order.
  • The Ice King gets one in the episode "I Remember You" of Adventure Time, with bonus Tear Jerker points as it's addressed to and sung by Marceline, who is reading the notes that her old friend Simon scribbled down trying to explain why he was slipping away just when she, a little girl, needed him most. Yikes.
  • The Ghost and Molly McGee: In "Ready, Set, Snow!", Molly goes outside to have fun on a snow day even though her family and friends would rather stay inside and cozy up by the fire. While outside, Molly sings an upbeat song about having fun in the snow despite the bitter cold, slowly but surely going insane as she tries to stay positive and convince herself she's in the right.
    This is awesome, I feel no pain,
    I think there might be icicles inside my brain
    But I'll contain my composure while dying of exposure
    'Cause there's no way I'm missing even one little second of a snow day

  • According to one of her routines, Maria Bamford, on advice from her therapist, has come up with an "anxiety song" that she sings to reassure herself and fight off all her various neuroses.
    If I keep the kitchen floor clean, no one will die
    As long as I clench my fists at odd intervals, then the darkness within me won't force me to do anything inappropriately viiii-lent or sexual at dinner parties...
    As long as I keep humming the tune, I won't "turn gay"
    It can't getcha if you're singin' a song! Yeah!


Combine Harvester

Linkara snaps from the stupidity of the comic's plot.

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