Though you may associate Easter eggs in music with metal bands, the idea of songs with a hidden or subliminal message spans all genres. While the usual suspects, such as Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest, make the list, the most famous instances of adding messages into songs come from the Beatles - fans claim you can find hidden messages on several Fab Four songs.
A few of these secret messages supposedly caused people to commit suicide; others prompted conspiracy theories that remain popular today ("Paul is dead," anyone?); others still are just plain creepy. And then there's the usual "backwards-masking" calls to Satan, of course.
Hey, even Prince and The Eagles supposedly put hidden messages in their songs. You can check out of the Hotel California any time you like, but you can never leave - particularly if you listen to classic rock radio.
'Equation' By Aphex Twin
Aphex Twin, the brainchild of English electronic musician Richard D. James, likes to do dark, weird stuff. If you run the song "Equation" through a spectrogram (which turns sound waves into images), you can see James's face appear towards the end (fast-forward to around 5:30 to see it).
The song itself sounds creepy enough, like something out of a horror movie, with hisses and lots of dissonance, so the image only sends it over the edge.
One of the most notorious instances of a band supposedly hiding an Easter egg in its music centers on Judas Priest. The British heavy metal pioneers got sued in 1990 when two of their fans in Nevada claimed they made a suicide pact after listening to the album Stained Class.
One shot himself and died instantly; the other attempted to kill himself but failed. The survivor wrote a letter to his mother saying, "I believe that alcohol and heavy metal music, such as Judas Priest, led us or even mesmerized us into believing that the answer to life was death.”
The survivor's mother sued - and her legal team claimed if you play "Better By You, Better Than Me" backwards, you can hear the message "do it" repeatedly. Their lawsuit claimed the message put the young men in a trance and convinced them to commit suicide. The legal battle, which lasted six weeks, ended in the band's favor.
The strange court proceedings included lawyers asking for autographs and lead singer Rob Halford being asked to sing on the stand.
Ozzy Osbourne is no stranger to controversy or accusations of backmasking and subliminal messaging. In 1984, after a young man in California killed himself while listening to Osbourne's song "Suicide Solution" on the album Blizzard of Ozz, the family filed a lawsuit claiming the song's lyrics were to blame. Ozzy was later cleared of all charges. A second family filed a similar lawsuit in 1986, which also got dismissed.
As a response, the singer allegedly put an intentionally backmasked message in his song "Bloodbath in Paradise" from the 1988 album No Rest For The Wicked. The line says, “Your mother sells whelks in Hull!” and is widely thought to parody the famous line from The Exorcist: “Your mother sucks c*cks in hell!”
'Eunuch Provocateur' By Mars Volta
This may actually give you chills. While many Easter eggs or hidden messages in songs remain up for interpretation (i.e. people hearing what they want to hear), Mars Volta's "Eunuch Provocateur" is not one of those cases.
The audio is so clear it's actually frightening. At one point, you can very clearly hear "Has mommy or daddy ever had to spank you?." Later in the song, you can clearly hear "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." Creepy.