As Halloween prepares to rear its ghoulish, sugar-coated head once more, it’s important to remember what’s really special about this most terrifying of holidays – nope, not the candy, or the costumes, or even the fact it’s the day after my Mum’s birthday. No, the most important thing about this and basically every holiday is of course the novelty songs associated with it. From Thriller to Psycho Killer, here at The Modern Ape we’ve cooked up a cauldron of 50 of the best Halloween songs (that’s over 3 hours of spooky scary music) just for you. Whilst a few of the selections may be tawdry Halloween rubbish (we hope you’ll forgive our inclusion of “The Monster Hop”), it’s not all novelty and kitsch – we’ve also tried to throw in some songs that are genuinely creepy, or that encompass the general spirit of Halloween without actually making any mention of trick-or-treating or brain eating. So here you have it – a selection of five highlights of the playlist, with the Spotify playlist itself embedded at the bottom of the article. Enjoy!
Monster Mash – Misfits
Bassist Jerry Only’s first lead vocal spot for The Misfits came in the form of this 1997 version of the classic Halloween novelty song. We think he did a bang up job and frankly it’s the perfect song for this band – campy, laden with references to horror films and with production quality so bad it’s actually scary. Seriously, even in the late nineties The Misfits couldn’t seem to get their production chops up to scratch. Thankfully, a new version was recorded for the 2003 compilation album Project 1950. And no, this isn’t the only Misfits song that’ll appear on this list.
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.
Oh, don’t act so surprised – no Halloween playlist would be complete without this ’80s classic from the equally classic eponymous film. Not only is this a Hallowe’en essential, it’s actually a really great song, just admit it. It’ll save us all a lot of time. From the second this ghoulish intro creeps up and kicks into the gloriously ’80s synth riff, you know you’re in for a wicked time.
I Put a Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
With all due respect to Mr. Hawkins, I actually wanted to use The Kills’ version of this song – the transatlantic duo give it an eerie, otherworldly feel and a kind of cool that seems to come so naturally to them both. Unfortunately, though, their version isn’t to be found on Spotify. However, the original is more than appropriate for your Halloween shindig – Hawkins’ almost ghoulish vocals and sporadic maniacal laughter, howling and shrieking provide a spookily groovy track that’s guaranteed to get even the most cynical in the mood for spook related hijinks! (Oh yeah plus Bette Midler sings it in Hocus Pocus… that’s scary on a whole different level.)
Dead Souls – Joy Division
Wandering off from the theme of novelty songs for now, this song may not be affiliated with Halloween in any way, but the creepy title coupled with the endearingly haunting vocals of Ian Curtis make this an ideal choice for any spookfest – not to mention the fact it’s just a really good song. Curtis’ repeated howl of “They keep calling me” in the arresting chorus asks more questions than it answers and imbues this track with a palpable sense of dread – maybe leave this one until the kids have gone to bed.
Don’t Fear the Reaper – HIM
This Blue Oyster Cult classic is a Halloween staple, and although the original is more than worthy of any Halloween playlist, I find this version by Finnish rockers HIM lighter on the parenthesis but that bit more haunting – probably owing to a variety of factors, not least the brooding, tobacco drenched vocals of Bam Margera’s best mate Ville Valo.