Sometimes it seems like the only music choices for Halloween are “The Monster Mash” or those CDs that play an endless loop of slow footsteps, creaky doors, and wind blowing. Well, never fear (or fear a lot – that’s kind of the point of the season) – I have a list of 10 songs to play at your next Halloween party. While some are Halloween-themed, others are just spooky, creepy, or perfect for a Walking Dead-themed make-out session.
1. “Psycho Killer” by The Talking Heads
“Psycho Killer” was originally written as a ballad, but David Byrne and his bandmates added a weirdly cheerful beat, taking the song from strange to downright disturbing. The lyrics are meant to describe the thoughts of a serial killer. Byrne said:
Both the Joker and Hannibal Lecter were much more fascinating than the good guys. Everybody sort of roots for the bad guys in movies.
I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wire
We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they’re not polite
2. “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger
If you saw the late 90s film Disturbing Behavior, then you probably remember this song. And if you haven’t seen the movie, then you better run out and get it, because seriously what could be better than a young James Marsden and a super emo Katie Holmes? “Flagpole Sitta” is all about paranoia, insane asylums, and running for your life. Plus it’s got a great beat for dancing.
Everybody’s comin’ to get me
Just say you never met me
3. “Dracula” by Gorillaz
Here’s another song that pairs an uptempo, almost relaxing reggae beat with eerie lyrics. I could picture the Count cruising to this song, or funking out at a martini bar.
The percentage of us tow the line
The rest of us out of reach
Everybody party time
Some of us will never sleep again
4. “Friendly Ghost” by Harlem
I love the tempo of this song – it reminds me of early Beatles, but it actually was released in 2010 by Texas garage rock band Harlem. A great song for dancing, with some fun lyrics.
I live in a graveyard
I wanna go out but it’s too hot
Yeah, I’m just as see-through as Casper the Ghost
Oh, I hope you know I wanna get outta here
Help me get outta here
5. “People Are Strange” by The Doors
Here’s another upbeat song, but with a twist of creepy crawly in the accompaniment. The style of the music was inspired by European cabaret, and the lyrics are meant to convey feelings of alienation and being an outsider. Apparently guitarist Robby Krieger and Morrison wrote the song after hiking to the top of Laurel Canyon.
People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
Women seem wicked when you’re unwanted
Streets are uneven when you’re down
6. “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon
How do you like your Werewolves? Vicious and animalistic? Shirtless and teenaged? Or maybe strolling through the streets of Soho looking for a good restaurant? If the latter, than you’ll probably love this song by Zevon. The best part is the continuous bridge of “Ahhooooooo!”, a howl both sinister and inviting.
If you hear him howling around your kitchen door
Better not let him in
Little old lady got mutilated late last night
Werewolves of London again
Werewolves of London
7. “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab For Cutie
How about a sweet yet obsessive stalker anthem? “I Will Possess Your Heart” could be considered a simple plea from a very determined admirer, but somehow at this time of year I get the feeling that Death Cab wants to literally hold my heart in the palm of their hand.
You reject my advances and desperate pleas
I won’t let you let me down so easily
You gotta spend some time, Love
You gotta spend some time with me
And I know that you’ll find, love
I will possess your heart
8. “Big Bad Wolf” by Tech N9ne
I haven’t thrown in any hip-hop yet, but even tough-guy rappers aren’t immune from the pleasure of writing a Halloween holiday ditty. Here Tech N9ne writes some rhymes from the perspective of the Big Bad Wolf.
Like guerilla monsoon I’m a wolf so I howl at the mother#$&*ing moon
9. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
No Halloween compilation would be complete without a reference to the biggest bad of all, the inexorable Grim Reaper. But the menacing part of this song isn’t the embodiment of death, it’s the unnamed fellow encouraging his lover to join him in a suicide pact a la Romeo and Juliet.
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
We can be like they are
Come on baby… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby take my hand… Don’t fear the Reaper
We’ll be able to fly… Don’t fear the Reaper
Baby I’m your man
10. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.
Because obviously, of course. You can skip “The Monster Mash”, but you can’t skip this one.
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes,