Listen to the full playlist on Youtube here.
Christmas aside, there isn’t a holiday out there that’s as playlist friendly as Hallowe’en. New Year is too close to Christmas, everyone’s a little too drunk to DJ on St. Patrick’s Day, and I guess Easter-inspired songs about eggs just don’t cut it. Nope, Hallowe’en stands decapitated head and shoulders above all other festive fun-times. And yet, despite the monstrous amounts of creepy songs out there, we find ourselves listening to ‘Thriller’ for the five hundredth time. Anyone can write a campy terror tune (check out 30 Rock’s Tracey Morgan’s effort) and ‘Monster Mash’ and ‘Ghostbusters’ are fun in a kind of ironic way, but it’s a sad point that they have become pillars of the petrifying party.
We all put a bucket of blood, sweat and tears into our fancy dress outfits (quite literally in some cases), so isn’t it time we put the same into our party playlist? Yes, yes it is. Here are my ten favourite alternative choices, featuring ghosts, zombies, and Ryan Gosling:
There’s something disconcerting about just how cheerful Erickson is about the whole affair, even more so that he won’t divulge anything more than just gleefully repeating that he “walked with a zombie last night”. Throw in the fact that this is the same Roky Erickson who was the frontman of pioneering psychedelic band The Thirteenth Floor Elevators – who quit the band after being diagnosed with mental illness, had received electroconvulsive therapy and once claimed that he had been possessed by a Martian – and it gives the whole song a much more unhinged tone.
Jim Carroll was a poet and a writer as much as he was a rock roll singer. He also knew a lot of people who died young. This unrelenting punk rock hit is in reality a sad tribute to them all, but its peppy chorus of “those are people who died, died!” makes it perfect Hallowe’en fare. Want more punk rock? Try The Cramps’ ‘Human Fly’.
You have to dig a little deeper to find Hallowe’en ready songs nowadays – gone are the days of Screaming Lord Sutch sadly – but there’s plenty of grim stuff out there still. Like ‘Run to Your Grave’, a song that, even after the title, encourages you to “tear, burn, soil the flesh” and “sleep in your tomb” and warns that “they’re coming for your brain, but they’ll leave with your head”. Lovely stuff.
Ok, ok, ok – I know that that old black magic is actually love, but it still counts. And Prima’s yelps of “flame, flame of desire” truly make him sound like a man possessed.
Again, the ghost here is actually Taylor’s lost love, and the most likely case is that she’s simply moved on. But let’s stretch it a bit and think that she’s in fact passed on, and the lyrics become much more haunted: “I just keep hearing your footsteps on the stairs, When I know there's no-one there” and “Sittin' in my easy chair I feel your fingers running through my hair”. Also, what is this Youtuber looking for...?? For another belting blast of R&B with a tenuous link to Hallowe’en, check out the phenomenal horns of KC and the Sunshine Band’s “I’m Your Boogie Man”.
Tom Waits is without peer as a songwriter of the unnerving. This one’s so good Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (he of 'I Put a Spell On You' fame) covered it.
Two in one right there in the titles! Add fuzzy, distant vocals, lyrics of Ouija boards and a mysterious person who will “Knock knock on the door three times” and it’s enough to really give you the heebie-jeebies.
Rockwell’s ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’ is undoubtedly a great paranoid song, but it too has been done to death (which you would think is a good thing around this time of year). Instead, try on Kid Cudi’s ‘No One Believes Me’, which is effectively an update: the gist is the same, the slow guitars are unsettling, the video’s a hoot, and it’s as fresh as newly slaughtered carcass. Hip hop has a rich history of cartoon violence, peaking with the Horrorcore movement of the 90’s. Although the music of Insane Clown Posse and Kung Fu Vampire couldn’t ever qualify as party songs, Gravediggaz’s ‘Constant Elevation’ is worth a listen.
There are scarier film soundtracks, but play the chilling ‘Suspiria’ by Goblin at a party and you’re bound to clear the room within seconds. ‘Red Right Hand’, which was used in the Scream franchise, mixes theatricality and suspense with a rock vibe, all pinned together by Cave’s ominous croon.
Ryan Gosling’s band! It’s true! The entire self-titled album really is brilliant, but for sheer drama – a children’s choir singing “My body’s a Zombie for You” is wrong on so many levels – this one couldn’t be ignored.What will you be playing at your Hallowe’en party?