With Halloween prep, everyone’s bustling about preparing costumes, stocking their Netflix queues with ‘80s slasher flicks, and gulping down fistfuls of candy corn. If you’re throwing a Halloween party, you’ll want to set the mood with a festive playlist. Sure, you can always tune into Pandora’s seasonal station, but there are some hidden gems out there. Like that one house when you were a kid that gave out King Size Hershey’s Bars. So check out my recommended Halloween playlist below:
11. “Ten Thirty One“
Billy Pollard, aka The Ghost in You, is a Philadelphia-based musician. His song “Ten Thirty One” is, as Pollard explains, is a love letter to the holiday as well as the John Carpenter film.
“Ten Thirty One” begins with the lyrics:
All the trees
On my favorite street
Shed off their green leaves.
And when I sleep,
Yeah, oh, all I seem to dream are graves
And ghosts and ‘trick or treat.’
Halloween, hello, hello.
Later, there’s even a throwback to “Halloween,” with the lines:
Searching for the keys.
Please wake up Tommy.
It’s a track ripe with loads of nostalgia, and truly oozes a Fall and Halloween vibe.
10. “The Monster Mash”
Originally recorded by Bobby Boris Pickett, there are approximately a bajillion iterations of this recognizable tune. Switch things up a bit and opt for a cover. The Misfits have a few awesome punk versions. Quite appropriately Smashing Pumpkins played the track live. Bruce Springsteen apparently began mashing at a Halloween gig in 2012. And of course you can’t go wrong with the Alvin and the Chipmunks tune.
Although this Blue Oyster Cult smash hit might fool you with the Reaper, the most frightening aspect of the song is the obnoxious use of cowbell. Some have been known to depart into the great beyond on account of too much cowbell. Don’t fear though, this is a sure way to get the party going.
Stevie Wonder’s jazzy song often slips under the Halloween radar. Our Autumnal holiday is synonymous with superstition. Black cats, pumpkins, witches, and other sinister figures abound in department store aisles and front yards. If that correlation isn’t enough, the funky bass line makes this a worthy inclusion. Just be warned, “Superstition” will be your earworm for roughly a month after.
The movie is a classic, largely due to the chemistry between Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd. However, the titular track of the same name is just as essential a component of Halloween as its film counterpart. Christmas might own the raidowaves due to mere numbers, but no Halloween is complete without the annual thudding of “Ghostbusters” through your speakers. Although Ray Parker Jr. is a bit of a one hit wonder, his one hit is pretty damn catchy.
6. “Werewolves of London”
Hollywood appears to have forgotten about werewolves. Now it seems vampires are the in-crowd. There hasn’t been a good werewolf film since “An American Werewolf in London“. That being said, Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” (no relation to the film), compensates for a lack of werewolves on screen. The upbeat piano riff, kooky lyrics involving Chinese eateries, and Zevon howling during the hook make this a Halloween playlist necessity. Just don’t get it confused with the bastardized Kid Rock abomination, “All Summer Long.”
5. “This is Halloween”
Although “The Nightmare Before Christmas” doesn’t sound obviously Halloween related, remember the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Or a movie for that matter. One look at Tim Burton’s cover and you’ll likely guess correctly that there may be some spooky elements. And how can you not play “This is Halloween” on…Halloween…?
For some reason this insanely catchy tune featuring the beloved Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff gets no play. Inspired by the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, the old school hip hop song even samples the main theme from the film series. Classic story-telling rap and the “Nightmare on Elm Street” sample make this a real Halloween banger. Seriously, it ranks up there with the Fresh Prince theme song.
3. “Do the Freddy”
I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you were not familiar with “Do the Freddie,” a Freddie and the Dreamers track. It came out when songs with associated dances were popular, and fails miserably in competing with “The Twist.” Freddy Krueger of “A Nightmare on Elm Street acclaim” has a cover version primarily consisting of 80s synth, an energetic female vocalist, and a cackling Freddy Krueger in the background. There are some specially-themed lyrics as well. Whether or not you enjoy the franchise you’ll undoubtedly be doing the Freddy before the music stops.
You can argue a case for almost any Misfits song in a Halloween playlist. Hell, you could basically play exclusively Misfits songs, a tactic I’ve considered before. But if you don’t want to bust out the boxed set, “Halloween” and “Halloween II” are necessary components of a successful holiday. And as I mentioned earlier, they do a damn good “Monster Mash.”
Just as no music collection is complete without the album “Thriller,” Halloween cannot transpire without hearing the titular track. There was a zany music video, a dance we all know at least a few moves from, and Vincent Price’s over-the-top narration and maniacal chortle. While Michael Jackson’s definitive version is much beloved, consider checking out the Easy Star All-Stars reggae interpretation. In fact, the whole Thrillah album by the All-Stars infuses a classic entry in the musical canon with a unique feel.
Honorable mentions: Theme songs. I left these off primarily because, considering the girth of horror and slasher flicks, I could have whipped up a list of movie tunes alone. Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street are notable in this last category. Indie horror flick “The Void” features an excellent soundtrack with a vinyl release to match. The Rosemary’s Baby LP is a solid, avant garde option and the Waxwork Records release is magnificent.
Feel like I missed something? Feel free to share below. Enjoy the playlist as well as Halloween!