Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. I love the lore, crisp air, flavors and the close proximity to my birthday. It’s a day centered solely around fun. The only issue I ever have is the lack of creativity in Halloween playlists. Sure, I could listen to all the kitschy songs year-round, but where is the musical diversity?
If you’re anything like me and need some new essentials, you are in luck. As an absolute fanatic, I seek out music that makes me feel like it’s Halloween every day. Here are some of my tried and true favorite tunes to bump during the spooky part of autumn.
“Season of the Witch” by Donovan
First, we’ve got a pretty standard Halloween tune. Despite that, it is my favorite and thus has to make the list. The lyrics almost explicitly scream “Halloween!” Donovan’s voice adds a good spooky grit, but if you are in the mood for something more mysterious and modern, Lana Del Rey has an absolutely gorgeous cover of it too.
“Into the Unknown” by The Blasting Company
This song comes from the soundtrack to Cartoon Network’s short and sweet Halloween show, “Over the Garden Wall.” With an echo-y piano and lyrics describing a misty, moonlight forest, it’s the perfect song for anyone into celebrating Halloween in a cottage in the woods. The show itself is a quick but amazing watch, and as people are social distancing this Halloween, this is a great way to spend the night if scary movies aren’t your thing.
“Pet Sematary” by The Ramones
If you are a fan of classic Halloween spooks, then this song is for you. The Ramones took inspiration from Stephen King’s book “Pet Sematary” for this ’80’s hit. The lyrics discuss coming back from the dead, as this is the focus of the original story, and utilize creepy imagery to really set the mood. If your Halloween plans include binging old horror movies, this one’s for you.
“Disorder” by Joy Division
Joy Division may not be singing about “spooky season,” but “Disorder” has just the right energy for Halloween that it’s very worth noting. I had been in search of a song that sounded like “The Monster Mash” but would be appropriate to listen to in April, and I found it in this song. Something about it strikes the “creepy mad-science castle” chord in me. Fans of the 1975 song will also find familiarity in the guitars: “Give Yourself a Try” borrows the riff from “Disorder.”
“Rapture” by Blondie
Let’s say your Halloween vibe leans more toward, say, murderous, rock n’ roll aliens, then “Rapture” is the song for you. The song begins with spacey bells and vocals, however hang tight for a campy horror story. With synths, saxophones and a funky percussion section, it is sure to get you moving and grooving. If this Halloween is going to be spent roller-skating, driving around following the blue moon, or having a solo dance party, make sure you’re blasting this one.
“The Great Pumpkin Waltz” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
Another Halloween staple for me is “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” The jazz waltz will always have the most special place in my heart. It encompasses the truly magical parts of Halloween as a kid, when the simplest ghost stories were scary and sorting candy before bedtime was your life’s mission. This one gives me such a wave of autumnal nostalgia and is amazing to put on while baking Pillsbury pumpkin cookies.
“You’re Dead” by Norma Tanega
If you’ve seen the TV adaption of “What We Do In The Shadows,” then you’ll likely recognize this song from the 1960s. Tanega is a criminally underrated musician; this song will be stuck in your head for weeks. While it’s not exactly the creepiest song, it has the perfect beat to walk on crunchy leaves to, and the repetition of “you’re dead,” makes it have a foreboding undertone.
All the songs listed here are available for streaming on all main-stream streaming companies like Apple Music, Spotify and many more. Students can purchase both Apple Music and Spotify for $4.99 a month.