I love Halloween, but I don’t like to be scared, which is why horror movies are out and cute spooky things are in. I started decorating my house for autumn and Halloween and was thinking about what my Halloween playlist would sound like. I’m not into sound effects featuring creaky doors, screams, and eerie winds whooshing by, so I opted for a soundtrack that fits my mood, and would also work with a house full of guests. Some of the song are fun sing-a-longs, whereas others have a much heavier rock and roll vibe.
One of my favorite songs that was in heavy rotation growing up was the Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley. If you’re of a certain age, you also remember this fondly from Dr. Demento’s radio show! Luckily, and old clip from 1958 has surfaced on YouTube and I can share it here.
Next up is Black Sabbath’s Paranoid. I love this song and when I used to run long distances, this was at the end of my mix-tape (the 80’s ruled that way) and helped power me through to the end. It’s a great Halloween song as well, especially if you watch the video which is steeped in the Psychedelic theme of that time.
What’s better than Stevie Wonder singing Superstition on Halloween? A video of Stevie and his band performing the same song on Sesame Street!
Who you gonna call? A Halloween playlist wouldn’t be complete without Ray Parker, Jr.’s Ghostbusters! I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
Horror movie master and rock start Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl video is the perfect take on 1920’s silent horror movies. The song is the perfect addition to my Halloween playlist.
The Misfits Halloween is another great tune that embodies the season with lyrics “bonfires burning bright pumpkin faces in the night.” This video from Riot Fest in Denver is much more high tech than any Misfits performance I saw when I was younger.
The Cranberries Dolores O’Riordan put her angelic voice through the paces to growl out Zombie on the song of the same name. Originally written as a protest song in memory of two boys killed in an IRA bombing, the grungy, guttural sounds make it perfect for my Halloween playlist.
Darkness falls across the land, The midnight hour is close at hand.. What Halloween playlist would be complete without the addition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. This is one of the first albums I ever bought on my own (on vinyl!) and the addition of Vincent Price was perfect accompaniment, especially his spooky laugh at the end.
Rockwell’s Somebody’s Watching Me featured Michael Jackson on backing vocals and brings out the paranoia we all have at times. The video has haunted house-inspired imagery featuring floating heads, ravens, graveyards. The shower scenes references the Hitchcock suspense classic Psycho.
Lighten your playlist up with Bobby Pickett’s Monster Mash. This clip comes from the October 13, 1964, American Bandstand where Pickett does his best Frankenstein imitation. (It also proves that Dick Clarke never did age.)
The Talking Heads Psycho Killer makes me want to dance and sing.
Aaoooooo! Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London is fun and creepy at the same time. He studied modern classical music under Igor Stravinsky, which shows itself in all of his music. When I listen to this song, I like to imagine a werewolf walking through London’s Mayfair and a tailored suit from a shop on Savile Row.
Savatage is one of the 80’s bands I love. Friends, you probably love them as their modern day incarnation of Trans Siberian Orchestra. Hall of the Mountain king is Tolkien-esque which makes it perfect for Halloween.
“It’s just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. With your hand on your hips. You bring your knees in tight.” I’d be remiss to leave out Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Riff-Raff and Magenta would certainly approve.
Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones is a history lesson in horror. Enjoy a much younger Rolling Stones perform this live version.
A young Creedence Clearwater Revival sang about a Bad Moon Rising. With lyrics like”Don’t go around tonight, Well, it’s bound to take your life, There’s a bad moon on the rise” make it perfect for any Halloween playlist.
I’ll finish off this playlist with Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear the Reaper.” And yes, friends, Halloween playlists always need more cowbell. Always.
I hope this playlist brought some toe-tapping fun to your Halloween. If you want more spooky songs, check out my Spotify Halloween Party playlist.