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Midsommar (dir. Ari Aster, 2019); Youtube comment on Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” music video

What We’re Listening To: Songs That Could Convince Us To Join a Cult

In the music world, devotion takes many forms. 




Devotion can look like many things in the music world: getting lyrics tattooed on your body, attending every tour a band plays, staying up until midnight the day of an album release. But every now and then, we experience a song akin to a revelation—a divine musical intervention, a moment that calls to us and demands deeper devotion. A song that makes you think, “Yes, charismatic stranger, I will follow you into the woods and live there for the rest of my life if only to attempt to live in the feeling of this song forever.” These are our favorites.


“Angie (i’ve been lost),” Fred Again..

“Asking for a Friend,” CHVRCHES

“God’s Country,” Ethel Cain

Ok ok ok, I know what you’re thinking—another playlist with another Ethel Cain song. But hear me out. Outside of her immense fame that’s growing by the hour, Ethel’s music cuts through to the listener’s soul immediately, this eight-minute song being a perfect example. There are very few opportunities for people to get settled into an eight-minute ballad, but through her haunting yet hopeful lyrics, her ethereal vocalizations, and the song’s gorgeous build (which hits at around six minutes and 30 seconds in), Ethel Cain makes you stay. “The road is longer than it is hard / with no one to guide you…” Ethel Cain can guide me any day.


“Grapevine,” Weyes Blood

Weyes Blood, aka Natalie Mering, has been my favorite artist for a few years now. When she released her latest single, “Grapevine,” I thought, “She can’t possibly be talking about the section of Interstate 5 running through California…” But she IS, because she gets me and she speaks to my soul. I spent seemingly endless hours of my childhood on this bland stretch of highway. Mering sings, “My car broke down in an old ghost town right around where they got James Dean.” We used to pull over at the James Dean Memorial in Cholame and get lunch at a diner that was one of about two buildings there. My dad told me about the lore around Dean’s cursed (and now missing) Porsche that he died in; I was obsessed and remain so. These memories and the space they occurred in underscore 99% of the art I produce, and it felt uncanny and like kismet to hear my favorite artist’s take on the same geography. I’d gladly follow her “back to the camp with the kerosene lamps in the woods.”


“Somewhere Only We Know,” Keane

This song always finds me every couple of years—a reminder that I am still myself and I am not alone. People turn to religion during periods of great tragedy and grief, and this song feels like the secret sauce for navigating that struggle. I’ve never been to a Keane show, but this song is so evocative, so grounding, that witnessing it with a group of people would certainly bring me closer to some kind of god. There’s a live performance of the song from 2005 in London where the mic gets turned to the crowd at around 2:50 and you can really feel that release.


“Concrete Over Water,” Jockstrap

Throughout its six-minute stretch, this song takes you on a journey from sparse, intimate melodies to glitchy, slightly unsettling, and big crescendos that are easy to get lost in. The rhythmic chant sounds at around the two-minute mark make it feel especially inviting and cult-y.