My Favorite Halloween Songs

Yes, I like plenty of the "greatest hits" of Halloween even more than many of the songs covered below, but these are some of the quirky tracks that I always put on my playlist and expect to for quite some time to come.


Pop/Rock

Gene Vincent - Race with the Devil (1956).  This is only one of dozens of rockabilly songs with a Halloween theme.  There are plenty more novelty songs from this era that might better suit a Halloween playlist, but thanks to the guitar playing of Cliff Gallup and Gene's breathless singing throughout, this is by far the best of the lot, musically speaking.

Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt Kickers - Monster Mash (1962).  This is almost the "Jingle Bells" of Halloween.  It's probably the most ubiquitous song on a survey of any dozen compilation discs, but what I like about it is the fact that it's all about character: The song is sung in character and features the classic Universal Monsters.  It's the closest thing to a song in a costume.

Scooby Dooby Doo Where Are You? Theme (1969).  It's funny that a show that invariably (unless you count later episodes) debunks the supernatural is the best song about Halloween.  Then again, most rational people view Halloween as a holiday that celebrates how we've overcome superstition through science.  Granted, the lyrics don't fully touch on all that (it's a kids' show, after all), but it's an anthem for rationality over fear... all wrapped up in a catchy melody.

Rocky Horror - Science Fiction Double Feature (1975).  It's like the Cliffs Notes for sci-fi and horror movies through cinema's golden years as well as a beautiful song.  In fact, Patricia Quinn only took the role of Magenta because she got to sing this in the original stage production of the show.

The Cramps - I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1980).  This was one of the songs that kicked off psychobilly, and it totally rocked.  Great fun with lyrics showing singer Lux's awesome sense of humor with great guitar playing to boot.

Duran Duran - Hungry Like the Wolf (1982).  It's the most oblique song about a werewolf, but I love it.  If you grew up in the '80s, odds are you do too.

Butch Patrick - Whatever Happened To Eddie? (1964/1983).  The former child actor who played Eddie Munster does a song about Eddie Munster to the theme song from The Munsters.  It's too silly not to love.

Tim Curry - Anything Can Happen On Halloween (1986).  Possibly the worst song on this list by any measure, and that's why I can't stop listening to it.  It's from the cheese film The Worst Witch with the worst special effects ever.  It's sad that Tim Curry is more embarrassed about Rocky Horror than this.

Lita Ford - Kiss Me Deadly (1990).  She probably destroyed the ozone layer with the spray it took to craft her image, but at least we got metal-turned-pop songs like this one out of the era.

Nightmare Before Christmas - This is Halloween (1993).  This is our new "Monster Mash."  Like that song before it, this one gets at various elements of Halloween.  It's the rare song that successfully defines what Halloween is about.

Britney Spears - Toxic (2004).  This was never conceived as a Halloween song, but I (over-)extend the meaning to fall under the "poison/murder" category with other songs like "Kiss Me Deadly" (whatever that means).  I do this one as a metal song at my favorite karaoke bar.

DJ Bobo - Vampires Are Alive (2007).  Possibly the cheesiest song on this list, the one with the most obvious lyrics, and yet I love it!  Even if you hate it, you have to at least admit that it's well-produced and has a polished sound.  The disparity between that and the English-second-language lyrics make it that much more appalling/appealing.


Electronic/Dance

Lady Gaga - Monster.  Silly, over-the-top lyrics again, but I love me some Gaga.  This was off her Fame Monster cd, which I absolutely loved (and not just because it had "Monster" in the title).

Groove Coverage - Poison.  This genre-jumping cover of the Alice Cooper song is just awesome.  Not that the original was really all that metal, but this takes the original and goes in a completely different direction.

Pink vs. Ray Parker Jr. - Get The Party Started vs. Ghostbusters (DMC Mash-Up).  I love mash-ups in general, and this is all the more interesting because it blends two party songs to make for the best Halloween party playlist.

Siobhan Lynch - Stayin' Alive.  Another quirky cover.  It's a stretch to call this a Halloween song, but this is so weird that it's Dr. Demento territory, and that's almost Halloween by association.

Depeche Mode - Waiting for the Night (Sonic Integration mix).  The original was wonderfully creepy like a fog rolling through a dream, but then this remix adds more of a beat to it.

Phantom of the Opera (Baltimora techno dance mix).  The title track from the musical is instantly recognizable, but this moves it from campy showtune to something modern and accessible (albeit still campy in its own way).

Antoine Dodson - Bed Intruder Full Song (2010).  Not really a Halloween song, but it deserves a spot on everyone's playlist.  I know this is a novelty song that expired after its 15 minutes of YouTube fame were up, but it will have nostalgia to prop it back up in a few years.

Comateens - The Munsters Theme.  This theme song has been covered numerous times, but this version found the best sound and brought the best sensibilities to the piece since the original.

Suzanne Vega - Blood Makes Noise.  A largely forgotten single, it can be viewed as a weird, round-about retelling of Poe's "Tell-tale Heart."


Metal

Marilyn Manson - I Put a Spell on You.  This is one of my favorite covers of all time.  They take this song in completely new directions and make it crazier than Screamin' Jay Hawkins did to it the first time around.  Quite a feat!

Misfits - Halloween.  It's the theme song for the season that captures the dark side of the holiday.  Lyrics like the one about "Candy apples and razor blades" just sums it up.  And then you don't get tired of singing the chorus, even though it's just the one wonderful word over and over.

White Zombie - I'm Your Boogie Man.  Here's another cover song (this time by KC & The Sunshine Band), but what I like is how the tone changes the meaning to something completely different.

Ministry - Every Day Is Halloween.  It sure sounds like it could be my theme song, but the lyrics tell a different story, one about someone goth (which totally is not me).  Still, I like it because it's a blend of synthpop edging toward what would later be called industrial.  That's a great blend for this kind of song.

Twisted Sister - Burn In Hell.  They were my favorite band in sixth grade, not least of which because they and this song made an appearance in Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  I did this song once at karaoke, and it was awesome.

Alice Cooper - Poison.  His earlier hits are far more famous, but I love this early '90s track.  Great guitar parts, slow build toward a catchy chorus.  This is what metal should be.

Metallica - Of Wolf and Man.  Another supernatural-themed song by Metallica?  Yes, but how many werewolf songs do you hear with this kind of intensity?  This is to werewolf songs what the transformation scene in "The Howling" did for werewolf movies.

Nine Inch Nails & David Bowie - Scary Monsters.  The original song has the appropriate amount of dissonance to make the track work, but the production made it all sound a bit thin.  Having Trent's band backing the original artist was a very welcome update to this song.

Sisters of Mercy - Lucretia My Reflection.  They hate (HATE!) being called goth rockers, but they can't run from the effect this track (and bassist Patricia Morrison's look) had on their fans.  Most awesome bassline ever.

   

Copyright 2011 the Ale[x]orcist.
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