If you’re reading this, chances are you’re attending a Halloween party, throwing a party, or having trick-or-treaters ring your bell this weekend. Any of these occurrences are generally better with good music in the background. These are the 9 songs we at CT‘ have deemed essential for any Halloween playlist (in no particular order).
1. “They’re Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haaaa!” – Napoleon XIV
Mike Mierendorf: Up until Halloween of 2011, I had never heard this song before. The song was released in 1966 and is a novelty song in every sense of the word. But don’t let that stop you; it’s so bizarre that it is amazing and will be a staple on my Halloween playlist here on out.
2. “This Is Halloween” – Citizens of Halloween (Danny Elfman)
Mike: While it isn’t my favorite song from A Nightmare Before Christmas, it is the quintessential Halloween song from the movie. It really sets the tone for the movie and is easily sing-along worthy.
Erin Abbamondi: A departure from more obscure titles, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas has become embedded in our Halloween traditions, and rightfully so. The film not only engages the viewer with stunning stop motion visuals and an original cast of characters, but also a memorable soundtrack courtesy of longtime Burton collaborator, Danny Elfman. “This is Halloween” seems an obvious choice for Halloween parties given its array of Halloween visuals performed by the residents of Halloween Town ranging from creatures under the bed, a corpse chorus, and a harlequin demon.
3. “Thriller“- Michael Jackson
Mike: How could this not be on my list, let alone EVERYONE’S list? I don’t even have to say anything about “Thriller.”
4. “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” – Tracy Jordan (30 Rock)
Mike: “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, spooky, scary. Boys becoming men, men becoming WOLVES.”
5. “Boris The Spider” – The Who:
Mike: I’m just grateful that The Who have a song that works on Halloween playlists. This is one of The Who’s goofiest songs, but it’s also catchy as hell.
6. “Superstition” – The Kills
Erin: From their debut album, Keep on Your Mean Side, “Superstition” by indie Rock duo The Kills is an indispensable addition to any Halloween playlist. HBO’s supernatural drama, True Blood, utilized the song during the final scene of season four’s episode, “Burning Down the House.” Singer Alison Mosshart’s throaty vocals alongside Jamie Hince’s deliberate guitar riffs make “Superstition” a sexy and dark Halloween-themed tune.
7. “Big Ghost” – Chris Bathgate
Erin: While not necessarily a Halloween song, Chris Bathgate’s “Big Ghost” debuted on Halloween of last year, thus becoming inextricably bound with my own private concept of Halloween. The video, a literal interpretation of the song’s title, stars, well, a big ghost, along with an array of costumed characters. As the sheeted spectral struggles to find his place in the world, Bathgate sings: “My heart is pumping/What’s my location?/What was I thinking?/Cause I got a big ghost, static in my throat from coming up too short.”
“The video is very literal,” Bathgate states. “I’ll admit that in what they created and what the song’s about there’s a large disconnect. I definitely didn’t say, ‘Put a big ghost in it.’”
The song is from Bathgate’s forthcoming EP, Old Factory.
8. “King Tut” – Steve Martin
Erin: Steve Martin’s “King Tut” was first previewed during the April 22nd, 1978 episode of Saturday Night Live. The song, performed by Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), pays homage to the Egyptian pharaoh, Tutankhamun, and was written as a caricature of the traveling exhibit, Treasures of Tutankhamun. The exhibit toured the United States from 1976-1979, attracting approximately eight million visitors.
9. “Happy Phantom” – Tori Amos:
Erin: From Tori Amos’ debut album, Little Earthquakes:
“When the songs began showing up I wrote their names on separate envelopes and made a faery ring in the middle of the house. I’d sit in the middle of the ring to focus on a song’s direction. All of the songs seemed to work toward the completeness of the other. They decided we needed to hang out with death for a while.” – Tori Amos
Honorable Mentions: “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr; “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Oyster Cult; “Jack’s Lament” – Jack Skellington; “Psycho Killer” – The Talking Heads; “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell; “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon