Ahhh, late October. Collages of dead leaves line the streets, the pumpkin spice craze is rampant, and Halloween is right around the corner. The annual holiday when you can indulge your inner child and parade around in a costume, enjoy candy, and become intrigued by the supernatural. Cinema, like Stranger Things, is conducive towards the outlandish Halloween spirit through their spooky plots and paranormal villains, but it is their soundtrack that truly optimize the Halloween season. Properly haunting music is an essential element of Halloween, and here are a few songs choices for you to play when you’re pregaming for this years’ trick-or-treating adventure.
Originally released in 1962, Monster Mash, has been a Halloween staple ever since. Recorded by Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers, Monster Mash exudes many quintessential elements of a classic Halloween jingle. The potions bubbling and boiling combined with the rattling chains in the background paints a vividly eerie landscape to start the song. Yet, once Bobby Pickett’s Boris Karloff impression chimes in, the groovy, 1960’s era dance music vexes the listener into swaying from side to side. With lyrics featuring iconic Halloween characters such as, the Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein, this song is a must play song at every Halloween function.
Blue Öyster Cult’s 1976 hit, (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, from their album “Agents of Fortune”, is a song that is haunting and creepy in all the right ways. This song engages the listener through its provocative lyrics exploring the concept that death is not “the end” and that one should not be scared of death and what comes after. The chorus pairs light-hearted but curious harmonies with repetitive, melodic guitar lines, which creates a beautiful harmonic. Since the song’s release, it has been famously satirized by Saturday Night Live with their “More Cowbell” skit and has appeared in many horror movies. Flicks such as the storied Halloween franchise, Ripper, and Zombieland have featured this timeless classic.
Arguably Talking Heads’ greatest hit, Psycho Killer, is another essential Halloween tune. From their 1977 debut album, “Talking Heads 77”, this hit encompasses many elements of an exemplary Halloween song. Its marching-style, repetitive beat drop creates an uneasy tension, and the haunting singing and chanting of front man David Byrne casually captures the audience through his forceful chorus juxtaposed to the seemingly nonchalant “fa-fa-fa’s” that recur throughout the piece. This classic tune’s creepiness is accentuated by David Byrne’s likeness to Alfred Hitchcock’s famous character Norman Bates, from his timeless piece, Psycho.
From Ray Parker, Jr.’s 1978 classic, Ghostbusters, stands out as a universal hit. Made famous as the theme song for the 1984, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd led ensemble comedy of the same name, Ghostbuster is a song that should be played annually on Halloween. Disco and funk vibes merge to produce a creepy, supernatural vibe. The opening, synth reminiscent guitar lines provides a smooth entrance into the paranormal, eerie chorus and accompanying beat.
The last song on this list is arguably the most famous, with many a middle school spirit contest featuring this song, Michael Jackson’s 1982 hit, Thriller, from the album “Thriller”. Known just as well for its immaculately choreographed music video, this hit is a disco-style tune that features wolf-howls, heavy synth, and Michael Jackson’s perfect vocals. The music video tells the story of young love, and how the dead become reanimated and haunt them with their strangely funky dance moves.