Here are ten of my all-time favorite Halloween songs. I tried to list the songs that a lot of people don’t usually think of listening to during the Halloween season, but will definitely be heard, if you watch scary shows and movies.
One song that won’t be seen on this list is Michael Jackson’s Thriller, because that is sort of the official song of Halloween, and it’s a given that it would be everyone’s favorite at every party. No, this list is for the not quite so well known songs, or songs that aren’t frequently thought of as being for Halloween. Some of these songs are actually pretty scary, so probably aren’t suitable for parties, as it would immediately kill the mood, but there is at least one party style song on this list.
Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett
This is the classic Halloween novelty song, released in 1962. The first time I heard this song, I was just a kid, and naturally, I was immediately charmed by it, and this song has never lost the ability to make me sing along and smile.
This Is Halloween – The Nightmare Before Xmas – Danny Elfman
This was yet another charming little song that, when I first heard it, immediately made me laugh, and sing along. Every year, I never miss an opportunity to loudly sing this in my car. The visuals are actually scary, managing to capture all of those little childhood terrors that pop up in the middle of the night, except for the vampires, though.
They’re brothers, according to the game based on the film, and I thought they were some of the cutest, little, tiny-head, vampire-bat people I’ve ever seen in a movie, and I would love to have one of those as a doll!
*Sigh* I’ll probably have to make it myself.
The Exorcist – Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
Now, I have told y’all the story of how my mother would not allow me to watch this movie, saying it was too much for me, but when I reached a certain age, (I think maybe 13 or 14), she allowed me to watch the adult supervised, edited for television, version. (My mom loved Horror movies, and I often watched them with her, but she didn’t just let me watch whatever I wanted willy-nilly. She was often present, and we almost always watched the edited for TV versions of some of the scariest ones.)
Well, anyway, even watching it with adult supervision was a mistake, because a couple of weeks after I saw it, the city experienced an earthquake. This happened after my bedtime, so the timing on this was simply incredible!!! I’m not gonna go into details, but you can imagine what happened after that, for yourselves. (Like the little girl in the movie, I crawled into Mom’s bed whenever I had a nightmare.)
All ofthis to say, I didnt think this was an actual song. I thought, like most of the music I heard in movies, that it was made up for the film. Imagine my surprise several years later, when I came across the Mike Oldfield album in the library, called Tubular Bells! I only stumbled across it because I was heavily into Electronic music, and listening to some of the early stuff, and the album was just in that section. Even without the film’s visuals, the music is deeply creepy, and guaranteed to kill any kind of partying mood.
Halloween – Main Title Theme – John Carpenter
You can play this at a party, and it probably wouldn’t even kill the mood, because Michael Myer’s theme song slaps! This is the iconic theme from the 1978 version of Halloween, which was also written by the film’s director, John Carpenter. I didn’t see this movie until I was nearly an adult, and I was not particularly impressed at the time, but I’ve since grown to like it a lot. Some things you can’t truly appreciate until you reach a certain level of maturity, perhaps.
Danse Macabre – Camille Saint-Saens
Its amazing to me the kinds of influences a teacher can have on a child. My greatest memories of this song come from my elementary school music teacher, Ms. Blaylock. I loved this teacher so much, and even though she passed many years ago, I love her still, and hope to meet her in any afterlife that exists.
I learned to read music from her, and when she formed an all girl band of tambourine players, I joined that, I learned to play the piano from her, and she even introduced me to The Bee Gees, but one of the most interesting things she taught me was that even devout Christian women like her could find scary things (including Halloween) fun.
Ms. Blaylock would play this song in class every year, and I always looked forward to the quiet times we spent in class just listening to the kinds of music that a bunch of inner city kids would otherwise have never been exposed to, outside of Looney Tunes. She had wide ranging tastes, and I credit her with having adopted at least some of that, as my own musical tastes are all over the place.
No One Believes Me – Kid Cudi – Fright Night 2017
I absolutely love this video. I would rather watch an entire series based on the premise of this song and video, than the mediocre movie it was made for. There’s this quiet suburban neighborhood being slowly taken over by vampires, and this guy is anguished about what he is, the things he’s done, and what’s happening to the world he used to live in, as he walks the streets at night. Movies about Black vampires are pretty rare, and I would love to see a film with vampires and people of color, in a suburban setting, and not done as a comedy.
This is very much a song for Halloween, but is also one of those party-killers I mentioned. Its hard to dance to this level of angst and depression.
In the Hall of the Mountain King – Grieg (Peer Gynt Suite No.1) (From the movie Needful Things)
I first heard this song in a Stephen King film called Needful Things. Here, the Town Selectman, named Buster, who has a beef with one of the officers in the Sheriff’s department, comes home to find derogatory notes placed all over his house, by Nettie, who was put up to it by the devil, disguised as an antiques store owner.
This is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite scenes in a Stephen King film, and makes the entire movie worth watching, even if you don’t like King’s films. Its fun, suspenseful, and there’s a great payoff, later in the film.
Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
I heard this song as a teenager, and from what I remember, it took some time for people to figure out that it was Michael Jackson singing the background vocals, and then everyone’s next question was, why? Who is Rockwell that he can get one of the most famous men in America, who was nearly at the height of his career, to do the background vocals ( since Michael Jackson almost never featured on other people’s songs). It turns out that Rockwell was related to Michael by marriage, because his sister, also the daughter of Motown’s Berry Gordy, was married to Michael’s brother Jermaine.
The video for the song is mostly funny, but the lyrics themselves are pretty creepy, and are a precursor to some of Michael’s later paranoid themes about being so incredibly famous.
Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
The first time I heard this song I was a teenager. My first question was, wtf?!!! There’s a song about werewolves? I couldn’t believe that someone would write a song like this. This is one of my favorite, year round, Halloween ditties. I love the beat, and the lyrics, how even though its about werewolves, its not at all scary, because the visuals are deeply funny to me, and just the whole aesthetic is enough to immediately put me in great mood for the rest of the day.
I Got Five On It – Luniz
This song is not at all scary as far as the lyrics. Its your typical gangsta rap drama about drugs and moneymaking from the 90s. However, I have never liked this song because the beat always creeped me the hell out. This song gained its official Halloween status, thanks to Jordan Peele heavily featuring it in his last directorial role, US, and now, well I kinda like it. It suit the movie so well ,and it was really nice to know I wasn’t the only person who heard it, and thought it would sound great in a Horror movie.
Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
A song about death ought to be considered a Halloween song.
Welcome to My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
The first time I’d ever even heard of Alice Cooper, I was a very little kid, and he featured this song in an episode of The Muppets, and I distinctly remember thinking, that’s not a real singer. I thought he was a made up character for the show. It took several years for me to figure out that he was an actual Rock performer, with a career and everything, and this scary, monstery, stuff was his schtick!
Bela Lugosi’s Dead – Bauhaus
I heard this song in the 1980s vampire movie, The Hunger, which I wasn’t supposed to be watching, I don’t think, and my thoughts at the time was, “Hey! I know who Bela Lugosi is!”, and “They got songs about vampires, now?!!!” I don’t want to say that I found the song charming…because I didn’t. Personally, I found the song terrifying, and to this day, I’m not entirely sure why.
Note: Tomorrow is Friday Oct. 22nd, which means that Dune will finally be released on HBOMax. I’ll have more to discuss next week, and the week after that I hope to have seen the movies, Antlers and Last Night in Soho.