"Sounds like someone broke Satan's heart": seven hit singles that sound like doom classics when slowed down to 33rpm

Vintage Devil Songs
(Image credit: Vintage Devil Songs, Red Devil Records)

Over the past couple of years, the concept of 'accelerated music', specifically 'sped up' songs on Tik-Tok, has fascinated cultural commentators, with countless articles being devoted to the trend... and another raft of articles pivoting around the disapproval directed towards aid trend by some easily-irked Generation X music fans. 

Once upon a time, Gen X were making their own fun by slowing down vinyl singles for their own amusement, specifically playing singles designed to be played at 45rpm at a more stately 33rpm. The reduced speed can bring out previously unheard nuances in the music, but if we're honest, the fact that everything sounds sludgier and doomier is enough for those of us who find joy in the bleakest music.

Here are seven iconic singles that hit differently when the revolutions are reduced...

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Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear The Reaper

One of the most gloomy romantic songs of all time, occult rockers Blue Öyster Cult's best-known and highest-charting single Don't Fear The Reaper is guitarist/vocalist Buck Dharma meditation on the possibility of love transcending death. How does it sound at 33rpm, with Dharma's vocals even-more mournful and that iconic cowbell dampened in the mix? It sounds like Ghost, basically, uncannily so. 

The Osmonds - Crazy Horses

Given that The Osmonds have a reputation as the most squeaky clean of all 1970s pop acts, the very fact that the riff-heavy Crazy Horses exists at all is a mind-fuck. That it has received the seal of approval from the Prince of Darkness himself - Ozzy Osbourne telling Donny Osmond that the band's 1972 single is one of his favourite rock and roll songs - is even more twisted. But as good as the single is when played at the correct speed, it takes on an even filthier edge, when slowed down, which is kinda appropriate given that it's a song about the pollution of the environment. At 33rpm, it essentially sounds like Clutch, and we love, love, love that. 

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game

"Sounds like someone broke Satan's heart" runs the first comment beneath this doomed-down take on Chris Isaak's wonderfully tender love song, made famous by its inclusion in David Lynch's dark masterpiece Wild At Heart. Ville Valo's HIM were helped into the spotlight by their excellent metallized take on Wicked Game on their 2000 album Razorblade Romance, but this 33rpm version might be the definitive reworking of the song.

Stevie Wonder - Superstition

Stevie Wonder's 1972 single is an undisputed masterpiece, a fiercely funky dancefloor filler also recorded by Jeff Beck for his 1973 Beck, Bogert & Appice album. It might be heresy to suggest that at 33rpm this stone cold classic is dirtier, funkier and well... better than the original, but we're saying exactly that.

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Fortunate Son

Predating Black Sabbath's War Pigs, with which it shares its theme of disgust at the ruling classes using the working classes as cannon fodder in military campaigns, Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 single is a definitive Americana/roots rock anthem. Slowed down to 33rpm however, it shares sonic territory with Sabbath, and actually sounds like it could come straight off Metallica's Garage Inc,. album. 

The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army

And speaking of Sabbath... Jack White's seven-note guitar riff on The White Stripe's Seven Nation Army is arguably the definitive riff of this century, sung across the world everywhere from football terraces to political rallies, but slowed down it's Sabbath if they'd recorded Vol. 4 on ketamine instead of cocaine. Nightmarish, but yet more-ish, we're saying. The song, not ketamine, obviously.

Dolly Parton - Jolene

Now, strictly speaking, it might be a stretch to call this 'slowcore' take on Dolly Parton's iconic 1973 single begging a love rival to back the fuck off pretty please "doomy", but honestly, has any song ever sounded better at the wrong speed? It's intense, desperate and utterly compelling at 33rpm, and while the song has previously been covered by doom lords Sisters of Mercy, this version is untouchable.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.