31 Days of spooky, day 14: 'The Killing Moon' by Echo & the Bunnymen

Atmospheric and beautiful...and its singer and songwriter has strong feelings about it

Echo & The Bunnymen In Dublin
Echo & The Bunnymen In Dublin / Steve Rapport/GettyImages

"The Killing Moon" is a song by the British post-punk and alternative rock band Echo & the Bunnymen. It was released in January 1984 as a single and later included on their album Ocean Rain (surely a great album despite sounding like a brand of shampoo), which came out in May 1984. The song was written by the band's frontman Ian McCulloch, and it remains one of their most iconic and enduring tracks from the 1980s. Despite having that 1980s sound, it still sounds almost timeless rather than dated.

"The Killing Moon" meaning, lyrics, and style

The song's lyrics are often interpreted as introspective and contemplative, exploring themes of fate, love, and existentialism. The "killing moon" represents a force that governs one's destiny, and the lyrics contemplate the inevitability of certain events ("fate up against your will").

"The Killing Moon" is known for its haunting and atmospheric sound, combining elements of post-punk and new wave with a tasty tinge of goth-pop. The song features a distinctive arpeggiated guitar riff, a prominent bassline, cello, and an atmospheric keyboard, contributing to its unique sonic landscape. In fact, who doesn't like that intro, at least? Liars, that's who!

Cultural impact, acclaim, self-praise, and overall legacy

The song received critical acclaim upon its release and is often regarded as one of Echo & the Bunnymen's best and most successful tracks. It has been praised for its evocative lyrics, musical composition, and Ian McCulloch's emotive vocal delivery.

"The Killing Moon" has been featured in various films (such as Donnie Darko), television shows, and commercials over the years, enhancing its cultural significance (here's a commercial that's actually kind of funny, featuring the song, a fancy car, and a vampire party gone wrong). The song has also been covered by several artists and continues to be a favorite among fans of 1980s alternative music. The song's legacy is notable, and it has been referenced and honored by many contemporary musicians and bands.

Ian McCulloch is probably the song's biggest fan, saying: "I've always said that 'The Killing Moon' is the greatest song ever written...I’m sure Paul Simon would be entitled [to] say the same about 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' but for me 'The Killing Moon' is more than just a song. It's a psalm, almost hymnal. It's about everything, from birth to death to eternity and God - whatever that is - and the eternal battle between fate and the human will. It contains the answer to the meaning of life. It's my 'To be or not to be...,'"

Such a boast practically invites disagreement but "The Killing Moon" remains a standout track in Echo & the Bunnymen's discography and a classic in the alternative music genre. Seriously, though: It's usually a bad idea to say your song (or anything else) is the greatest. That's sort of up to other people to determine.

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