As a Brit, the sheer excess of Halloween celebrations in the U.S. took me aback at first. Widespread trick of treating and yards decked out with enough decorations to make Santa jealous, are simply not seen around my native land as All Hallows Eve descends.
What is universal, however, is the appreciation of a frightfully good Halloween song or twelve. To pay tribute to this spooky celebration, here are my 12 most haunting Halloween tunes:
1. Gnarls Barkley — “The Boogie Monster”
Stalking in on a creepy bassline, this song introduces the double-whammy of a monster in your closet AND someone underneath your bed. Sleep with the light on tonight… and, perhaps, a hefty baseball bat.
2. Bobby Pickett — “Monster Mash”
Yeah, if this one hasn’t hit the stereo within thirty minutes of your arrival at a Halloween party, it’s time to leave.
3. Ozzy Osbourne — “Bark At the Moon”
The “Prince of Darkness” has a wide array of eerie ear worms to choose from. But “Bark at the Moon” is classic Ozzy and boasts one of the cheesiest 80′s spooky videos that you could ask for, so for me it makes the grade.
4. Warren Zevon — “Werewolves of London”
With a light-hearted tone and that addictive “aah woooo!” refrain, Zevon delivers a worthy addition to any fun Halloween playlist. Bonus points for referencing “that hairy handed gent, who ran amok in Kent.” Just sounds like pub kicking out time, to me.
5. The Horrors — “Jack the Ripper”
Punctuated with knife slash guitars and a manic energy, hearing this one in the wee hours of All Hallow’s Eve could just send your guests over the edge.
6. Rob Zombie — “Living Dead Girl”
Long time metal monster Rob… Mr. Zombie to you… has a proven track record of delivering schlock-horror gems. This one, alongside its silent film-aping video, delivers the gruesome goods.
7. The Doors — “Riders On the Storm”
Dark, moody, and perfectly suited to the drawing in of chilly autumn nights, this tops off the Halloween fit when Morrisson eerily croons “Killer on the road…” The highway just got lonelier.
8. Johnny Cash — “(Ghost) Riders In the Sky”
A perfect accompaniment to The Doors, the Man In Black recounting a tale of the undead descending upon the Wild West. Simultaneously amusing and bone-chilling.
9. Ray Parker Jr. — “Theme from Ghostbusters”
Is there something weird in your neighborhood? Yes, a Halloween event without this classic spook-busting anthem. Who ya gonna call?
10. Talking Heads — “Psycho Killer”
Here’s your chance to sneakily slip some avant-garde New York art-rock into your party, without arousing too much suspicion. What do you mean you weren’t looking to do that? Wash your mouth out and spin this jam!
11. Van Halen — “Runnin’ With the Devil”
Add some big hair to your party mix with Eddie and boys ode to walking on the wild side. In truth, though, the only things scary about this lot were the spandex and bouffants.
12. Michael Jackson — “Thriller”
Were you worried it wouldn’t be here? Of course you weren’t! Any Halloween playlist excluding MJ’s classic would have some serious explaining to do.
Are you heading to a Halloween shindig? Let us know what songs spook out your party!
What bone-chilling tunes couldn’t you live without?
Featured image courtesy of jon_a_ross licensed via Creative Commons.
Steve Birkett is a passionate new media advocate who walks his talk with Esvee Group, a Brooklyn-based marketing agency. With a diverse background in business operations and marketing, coupled with the creative instincts of a true digital native, he is dedicated to bringing out the best in organizations online through a streamlined web presence.
Steve is an avid writer and maintains blogs at Above The Static (web presence development) and Heavier – Than – Air (music). You can connect with him on Twitter, Linkedin, dingy music venues the length and breadth of Brooklyn.
Sorry I got around to this late, Steve - but I enjoyed several of these songs, obviously! Hard to argue with Thriller, but man I got tired of how much Michael Jackson was over-played when I was growing up. We only had one "pop" station near where I lived, and it seems like Billy Jean played about 3 times each hour. I preferred Prince back in the day (Little Red Corvette and When Doves Cry).
@dbvickery Some classics, Brian, glad you enjoyed them. I was fortunate (?) enough to be a decade after Jacko's peak, so I got the benefit of the hits without them becoming played out. Thanks for the extra recommendations and for reading!
If you are really serious about a scary song you must hear Pink Floyd's "Careful With That Axe Eugene" The blood curdling scream scares me every time!!! Best version is from Ummagumma. Fun list, wish I would have seen this on Halloween!