Every great Halloween needs a great soundtrack, one that is equal parts holiday-appropriate and thoroughly enjoyable on its own. While there have been countless songs created for the season, many them are, quite frankly, terrible. And not in a so bad it’s good kind of way. Don’t worry, there are plenty of those types of songs on this list.
So why bother sifting through countless playlists for Halloween weeding out the worst “spooky” tracks known to man? I’ve put together a fun and festive soundtrack for Halloween right here!
Whether you are looking to have a quiet night in passing out treats to kids or go out and have some fun out in the night in the spirit of the season, these songs are perfect for making the most of Halloween night, or really any other that you want to have a tinge of scariness.
Let’s get this one out of the way. “Thriller” is an obvious choice for any Halloween soundtrack, so there may be no surprise here, but it’s still great. Yes, great in all its dated and weird glory, but the terms “dated” and “weird” can probably be applied to much of this list. Still, Jackson’s vocals and the immediately catchy beat make this a timeless entry. Plus, it’s got Vincent Price doing a spooky rap, which reaches new levels of strangeness by mixing old horror films and ghetto slang. This thing has it all!
If there is any song more linked to Halloween than thriller, it’s “Monster Mash.” It’s the epitome of the term “novelty song” from its theme – classic monsters dancing, naturally – to the Bela Lugosi-style singing. Is it real art? No. Is it perfect for Halloween? Obviously. And that chorus just keeps going and going and going. No wonder it gets stuck in any listener’s head. But that’s why it’s an absolute must on any Halloween playlist.
Creepy and crazy in all the right way, “Red Right Hand” is perfect for the holiday, but then again so could most of Nick Cave’s dark and murderous songs. The song centers around a mysterious man on the outskirts of some western town, with a darkened face and an obviously evil red right hand. What does it mean? What does he want? It’s clear that he’s pure evil, but the meaning and metaphor are obscured. Combined with clanging bells and Cave’s sinister vocals, it’s clear that menace lurks everywhere in this song.
“Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves.” Easily the funniest and most out there Halloween song of them all, “Werewolf Bar Mitvah” is absolutely insane. But it’s insane on purpose. While the 15 second clip in an episode of 30 Rock is great on its own, the full length version has the added benefit of going more and more overboard. Detailing a bar mitzah where everyone turns into werewolves, the song gets stranger as it continues, with Glover (who wrote for 30 Rock at the time) tried to put an end to it.
While everybody loves the “Ghostbusters Theme,” it’s not nearly as good as most people think it is. In fact, it’s pretty cheesy. But the catchy synth and it’s unbreakable link to the classic film are enough to push into the territory of legitimately enjoyable. Put it all together, and it’s a song so catchy that it’s practically criminal. Actually, it’s literally criminal. Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker, Jr. over copying his tune for “I Want a New Drug.” They settled out of court. Still good, though!
This song is all kinds of horrible. Everything but a young Michael Jackson’s chorus, which is the only thing people remember about this ‘80s tune, is absolutely dreadful. But maybe that’s why it’s so great? While the chorus may be great, Rockwell’s singing sounds like a paranoid Ed Wynn describing the feeling of being spied on everywhere. And that synthesizer is pretty putrid, too. But that chorus is just so good! Rockwell, unsurprisingly, has no other hits. So play on repeat to support him!
Speaking of terrible songs, here’s another! Seriously, what is going on in this song? I thought these people were professional musicians? They’re barely in tune on their own and even less when in harmony with one another! The lyrics are inane. “Ghostly things are gonna happen?” How much more vague can you be? But stick around for the second half, when they all do terrible impressions of creatures of the night. This is definitely so bad it’s good.
Ok, now we’re back to the good stuff. While most of Ozzy and Black Sabbath’s catalogue could feel right at home on a Halloween night, “Mr. Crowley” is perhaps the most appropriate of them all. Focused on the real life occultist Aleister Crowely, Ozzy conjures images of evil and wicked deeds mixed with all sorts of insanity. Ozzy’s vocals and Randy Rhoads’ guitar make this a great tune for the wickedly inclined all year round.
Getting into more modern horror rock, it’s only appropriate for a song from CKY to make the list. After all, the band is outspoken about their love of horror films and how the genre has inspired much of their catalogue. In particular, “Escape from Hellview” is like an entire slasher movie stuffed into one three-minute song. Dead friends, cannibals, and a spooky town in the middle of nowhere makes this a vivid horror rock entry to the list.
While it lacks some of the more overt Halloween sounds featured on many of the songs included here, Zevon’s ode to all things werewolf is still fitting for the ghoulish holiday. For some reason, Zevon sees werewolves everywhere, from a Chinese restaurant to hanging out with the Queen of England. But the best and most memorable part is Zevon’s howling, which somehow perfectly accompanies the janky piano playing throughout the entire track.
Yes, it’s great at all times of the year, but there’s something extra special about BOC’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” at Halloween time. Being a salute to suicide, the track is horrifying in a unique way, but it’s still all kinds of fun.
The Door’s original tune is creepy enough, but Echo and The Bunnymen up the spookiness for the version included in the soundtrack for The Lost Boys.
Closing the soundtrack out in powerful fashion, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” is equal parts alluring and terrifying. While the song was originally meant to be a refined love song, Hawkins and his band got incredibly drunk in the studio and created this roaring rendition. In fact, Hawkins had to go back and listen to the recording in order to remember how he did it. This fantastically scary ode was born and Hawkins’ career exploded. Just as terrifying as it is awe-inspiring.
Have your own personal favorite Halloween songs? Let me know in the comments section below!