The fact that Christmas songs are played to death on the radio once there is even a smell of November has always driven me crazy. However, when you think about the fact that you seldom hear any Halloween songs on the radio, it somehow gets even more annoying. What do people have against Halloween? Well I’ve taken matters into my own hands and created this list of songs for all your Halloween needs. Before I jump into it though, there’s a few other songs that deserve honourable mentions that didn’t make the cut – Pet Semetary by The Ramones, Ouija Board, Ouija Board by Morrissey and Bela Lugosi’s Dead by CHVRCHES.
- This Is Halloween – Panic! At The Disco
A song for boys and girls of every age… Obviously I couldn’t make a list of anything Halloween related without alluding to Tim Burton in some way. The Nightmare Before Christmas is truly iconic at this stage. The argument prevails (in my house, anyway) over whether this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, but to me this song epitomises Halloween. Once it reaches the first of October, and I hear this song, I am immediately in Halloween mode. I couldn’t talk about this song without mentioning the original version by the characters in the movie, and I’m a sucker for the Marilyn Manson cover too.
- (Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult
Not only is this one of my favourite songs of all time, but it also never fails to get me in the mood for Halloween. You might not be able to tell from the title, but this is actually a love song – a love song with a strange fixation on death. It has quickly made its way into an array of spooky movies and tv shows, including Halloween (1978), Zombieland (2009), Gone Girl (2014) and multiple episodes of Supernatural (2006-present). To top all that off, this song has one of the most distinctive and recognisable guitar riffs of the 70s (in my opinion anyway). It’s a win-win situation, a great guitar riff and spooky overtones.
- I Put A Spell on You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
This is a classic. Of course the version I’ve mentioned here is the original, released in 1956 by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. However, many artists have had their take on it since, most notably Nina Simone and Marilyn Manson. Personally I prefer the original version. Hawkins himself said that with this song he transcended the idea of being a “normal blues singer” and he realised that he “could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death.” I don’t know about you but I think that’s a very fitting idea for this song as a Halloween anthem. To top that all off of course, this song is also featured in Disney’s Hocus Pocus. Need I say more?
- Ghoster – Wolf Alice
When I think of Halloween songs, Wolf Alice wouldn’t be the first band that come to mind, but this song has managed to change my way of thinking. Don’t get me wrong, some of their other songs do have an ominous vibe about them but this one especially so. Ellie’s vocals and lyrics, paired with the strong link to their 90s sound, makes for the perfect mix of eerie and brash sounds in this tune.
- Halloween – Misfits
This was the first song I listened to this month to get me into the Halloween spirit. I only discovered it last year but it has quickly become one of my favourite songs ever, especially around this time of year. Misfits are known for their gothic aesthetic, and as the precursors of the horror punk genre, this song is just one of many in their arsenal of creepy tunes. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely worth a listen.
- Halloween – Sonic Youth
Same name, different song. I may be a little biased here, because Sonic Youth are one of my favourite bands (and I actually extended this list so I could fit this in), but hear me out: Sonic Youth were one of the best rock bands of the 80s and 90s, and lead singer Kim Gordon is seen as somewhat of a punk revolutionary, so it is not surprising that they produced a song as eerie and as weird as this. In fact, the album that this song features on, Bad Moon Rising, is jam packed with eerie tracks. Kim’s vocals sound somewhat distressed or disturbed, which only adds to the spook-factor. The cherry on the cake for me with this song is the eerie outro.