Every Halloween evening needs an appropriately spooky soundtrack...
Halloween’s here, and while you’re prepping the fake fangs and the capes for tonight – as well as stocking up on booze for your Halloween party – you might have forgotten to queue up a spooky playlist.
Fear not – we here at Euronews Culture have got you covered. Here are the tunes that no Halloween playlist should be without – whether you’re hosting dinner party, getting ready for a movie marathon (it goes Halloween, Halloween II and Halloween H20, just in case you were wondering), a massive bash with friends, or just feel like indulging in some hauntingly good songs.
Mark Snow – 'Materia Primoris (The X Files Theme)'
How best to kick start the playlist? With one of the creepiest TV theme songs out there, that's how. Even those who've never seen the hit ‘90s TV show will get goosebumps. And pity. They’ll get pity and evicted from the party because they’ve squandered the opportunity to bask in the terrifying glory of Mulder and Scully’s paranormal investigations.
Dusty Springfield – 'Spooky'
We get more mellow with Dusty and her dulcet tones... It may all be about love, but it sets a nice, smooth pace to ease yourself (and your guests) into the spooky spirit.
The Specials – 'Ghost Town'
This absolute tune is technically about unemployment and urban decay, but there’s something to be said about this 1981 single’s creepy credentials. It was released at the peak of the UK’s recession riots, and there’s nothing quite as scary as a economic decline. Especially when its to the sounds of synths and childlike 'la la la's...
Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers – 'Monster Mash'
Now we kick things off in earnest with one of the staples of any Halloween playlist – 1962's ‘Monster Mash’. Forget all those who will doubtlessly put a Rocky Horror song like 'Time Warp' on their playlists – this is the one you can’t do without. It was a graveyard smash.
Billie Eilish – 'Bury A Friend'
From 1962 to 2019, we continue with this single off of Eilish’s debut album, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’. It’s dark pop at its best, and segways nicely into some more catchy tunes before things really get bone-chilling...
Rihanna – 'Disturbia'
Rihanna’s 2008 hit single is a banger, with some eerie atmospherics, screaming, and lyrics about “it” creeping up inside you, consuming you... We’re betting she’s referencing Pazuzu, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 'Heads Will Roll' (A-Trak Remix)
How on earth Karen O and her motley crew managed to make a dance song about decapitation, we’ll never know. What we do know is that it’s an absolute tune and very danceable. If you want to enjoy this ode to the guillotine to its fullest, choose the A-Trak remix, which almost tops the original recording. Altogether now: “Off-off-off-off-off with your head / Dance ‘til you’re dead...”
Screaming Jay Hawkins – 'I Put A Spell On You'
Pity the fool who doesn’t appreciate a good bit of Jay. His song has been covered countless times, but Hawkins delivers the definitive version.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - ‘Red Right Hand’
One of Cave’s most creepy cuts. This sinister slow-burner about bloody vengeance was inspired by John Milton’s "Paradise Lost" and the title refers to the vengeful hand of God. It’s been used in countless films and TV shows, most notably the Scream movies, The X Files and, of course, Peaky Blinders. A must-have for your spooky set.
David Bowie – 'The Heart’s Filthy Lesson'
Yes, 'Scary Monsters (And The Super Creeps)' could also be appropriate, but this industrial rock effort from the much missed musical chameleon is genuinely creepy. It’s heavily influenced by the music of Nine Inch Nails, and featured on the soundtrack for David Fincher’s Se7en. The video is also worth checking out - grimy and sinister stuff. What more do you need? Speaking of Nine Inch Nails...
Nine Inch Nails – 'The Becoming'
There are human screams on this one where the backup vocals should be... Sounds about right.
Mike Oldfield – 'Tubular Bells Part 1'
Unavoidable, should you truly wish the power of Christ to compel you. We now come to the cinematic section of the playlist, kicked off in style by the de facto theme song of the greatest horror film ever made. When listening to the song divorced from The Exorcist (which is hard enough to do), it’s a beautiful song that doesn’t necessarily invoke dread or the rotating head of a possessed child. However, thanks to the late William Friedkin, it is forever enshrined as one of the most chilling orchestral pieces out there.
John Carpenter – 'Halloween Theme'
From one classic to the other... The original soundtrack to the gold standard of the slasher film is still the best, but the epic orchestral retooling for the godawful 2021 Halloween Kills is spectacular. And features plenty of cellos. Which are great.
Luniz ft. Michael Marshall - 'I Got 5 On It'
We’re keeping it cinematic with this track from Jordan Peele’s Us ... This remix of Luniz’s hit song from 1995 is truly blood curdling, with cellos (them again) a-go-go, discordant strings, and some very ominous crescendos. It’s become a scary playlist must-have since the film’s release in 2019.
Ray Parker Jr. - 'Ghostbusters'
After that last one, things need to be lightened up a bit. Only a bit mind you, and for not very long... This 1984 classic will get the party started again now that they’ve been quaking in their boots. Did you know that Huey Lewis reportedly sued Parker Jr. over the song’s similarity to his ‘I Want a New Drug’? It’s debatable – and probably out of spite for how good 'Ghostbusters' remains to this day.
Talking Heads - ‘Psycho Killer’
We’re heading into the classics section of the playlist, with an early Talking Heads classic. The aptly titled ‘Psycho Killer’ shines due to its out-of-rhythm feel, as if it was directly beamed from the mind of a murderer with a penchant for the melodic (and an affinity for the French language).
The Cramps - ‘Goo Goo Muck’
This 1981 single from The Cramps originally gave off some surfer vibes but ‘Goo Goo Muck’ ended up as a Halloween classic. It has enjoyed something of a resurgence as the backtrack to Jenna Ortega’s iconic dance as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s series Wednesday, and no Halloween playlist would be complete without it.
Alice Cooper – 'Feed My Frankenstein'
We could have had ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ from the shock-rock pioneer, but this horror-rock masterpiece is something to treasure. ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ was also featured in Wayne’s World, and the creepily seductive lyrics about running greasy fingers up greasy spines is just what the (undead) doctor ordered.
Blue Öyster Cult - ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’
This rock classic from 1976 has been a staple of horror culture ever since it was released and featured in films like Halloween and Scream. It’s a surprisingly deep track all about the inevitability of death, as well as wondering if Romeo and Juliet are actually spending eternity together. And there’s a damn cowbell in it – as satirized by SNL in that infamous Christopher Walken / Will Ferrell skit. Every song needs a cowbell.
The Ramones - ‘Pet Sematary’
Keep the classics coming, with punk pioneers The Ramones and their ode to Stephen King’s resurrecting graveyard.
Mica Levi – 'Lipstick to Void'
Throw everyone off with a deliciously eerie cut from Jonathan Glazer’s Under The Skin soundtrack, composed by the great Mica Levi – who also provided the oppressive musical backdrop for Glazer’s most recent film, The Zone of Interest. It’s the stuff of nightmares and so damn beautiful, feeling like it just arrived from another dimension where Lovecraftian monsters reign supreme. It’ll kill the party mood, but your guests will just have to get with the programme.
The Smashing Pumpkins – 'We Only Come Out At Night'
We finish off with the Pumpkins' underplayed ode to vampirism. It’s a chilled track off of their 1995 opus 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' and the ideal way to cap off your playlist. And if you’ve won your guests over by now, they’ll be only to happy to join you in chanting a few lines... Altogether now: “We only come out at night / The days are much too bright / We only come out at night...”
How did we do and what did we miss? Let us know.
Happy Halloween, and don't fear the reaper...