10 Halloween Songs That Actually Rock
by Erick Von Erich
As part of the 3rd Annual #HalloweenHavok, it's time for Helpful Halloween Party Tips. Should you have more than one friend and plan to host what the normals call a "Halloween Party", you may be tasked with coming up with a playlist. Sure, you can always mix-in "Theme from the Exorcist", that 70's "Spooky Halloween Sounds" album, or for the creatively challenged-- Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash". Chances are, 95% of all Halloween parties you've been to have already used those. Thus, our crack DWS research team has spent in excess of 12 minutes to come up with the following Halloween-themed songs; most actually rock. As a bonus, these aren't too cheesy or Halloween-y, so you could probably listen to them, year-round. There's a buncha' 60's tunes that all kinda' sound like "Theme from the Munsters", but you'd feel weird listeing to them in June.
You can use this list to compliment those staple tunes, or use it as a primer to branch off and build your own playlist. I came up with a few guidelines. 1- Only one song per band. 2- It's something that could actually play as background music at a Halloween party. Sure, you can probably find some creepy evil stuff in the catalogs of Slayer, Venom, the Misfits, or any band from Gothenburg, but having those tracks played at a party would get old, quick. Chances are, somebody's trying to get laid at your party, and hearing Slayer's "Dead Skin Mask" probably won't put any normal person in the mood. Besides, they're just LOUD and it's tough to talk over them.
Blue Öyster Cult- "Joan Crawford"
BOC's always on countless Halloween track lists... for "Don't Fear the Reaper". While I will never discourage you from adding any form of BOC into your musical totebag, here's a song that's actually scary. It's about a ghost rising from the grave and scaring the living shit out of everybody in the New York area. One specific dead person-- Joan Crawford. If you've ever seen "Mommie Dearest", you know that broad was absolutely scary. "Mommie Dearest" has been called everything from a melodrama to a comedy about child abuse, but when I was a kid it scared the pants off of me. Vampires? Pussies. Zombies? No problem. But an unbalanced mom who'd pull me out of bed at 2am to chop down a tree, then strap me back into bed? Holy crap, that's pants-shitting scary!
BOC gets into that vibe, as the only thing scarier than a living Joan Crawford would be an undead Joan Crawford! Her spectre rises to terrorize NYC, turing some peoples eyes to "the color of frozen meat". The tune even starts off with a piano intro, which evokes a nice "Phantom of the Opera" or even "Theme from Halloween" vibe. The video's kinda' creepy, too.
AC/DC- "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)"
Just like BOC, AC/DC's name always comes up for "Highway to Hell". But look at the other tracks on that album and go with "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)". Like all AC/DC tunes, it's fairly simple, but the second-half chorus of "Blood on the rocks! Blood on the streets! Blood on the gutter! Every last drop!" makes it sound like a good horror-themed tune. As a bonus, old Bon Scott AC/DC tunes always make your place seem like a seedy bar, which can help to set the mood.
Steve Cropper -"In the Midnight Hour"
A instrumental version of Wilson Pickett's famous tune. Yes, it's not specifically scary or Halloween-y, but it's great background noise. The fact that it's an instrumental means it's open to interpretation what excactly will happen in the midnight (witching) hour. If your subject is about night time, it can qualify as a Halloween Party Tune. You don't need everything to specifically spell out: "monsters, death and ghosts". This tune also highlights Cropper's guitar playing very well and would lead someone to ask: "hey, who is this? The Ventures?" Then you, the host, can score countless Cool Points by saying it's Stax Records legend, Steve Cropper... who, oh by the way, was featured prominently in the Blues Brothers band. Very good possibility that someone at your party is dressed up as Jake or Elwood. Really, play this at any party to spark Blues Brothers conversation and the night's instantly better.
Gerard McMann- "Cry Little Sister"
Yeah, "that song from The Lost Boys". Listening to this, you can't help but think of the atmosphere of that flick, or of flying ethereally above the clouds with Jack Bauer, Bill S. Preston, esq. and their band of punky vampires. It's also 80's nostalgia, which sparks conversation, especially amongst the women-folk.
Anthrax- "Fight 'em 'til You Can't"
Okay, this sorta' breaks my second guideline. But kiss my grits, it's frickin' ANTHRAX. This kicks off with a pseudo-Emergency Alert Broadcast to inform us that "the bodies of the dead are rising from the grave and attacking the living"! Go a step further and this song is about "The Walking Dead", currently a very popular show and uber-popular across the Internets. Heck, Scott Ian even had a cameo appearance as a Walker on a webisode of the series. "In the end of everything, the dead will rise and sing. Fight 'em 'til you can't!" It's basically the theme song for fighting Walkers. While it's a very heavy song, it contains a noticeable melody, something that Anthrax always excels at. Just put it towards the end of your playlist, so it plays late in the evening. Check out the fan-made video, pulled from clips of your favorite zombie flicks:
The Swanks- "Ghost Train"
Yeah, it's one of those "60's tunes that sounds like Theme from the Munsters". I swear, there seemed to be a period of about 3-4 years where songs like this were churned out at a rate of 23 a week. So why am I including this one? Well, it's fairly obscure and will cater to those in the crowd who expect to hear this kind of thing at a Halloween Party. No harm in diving into this, because it's an instrumental and doesn't have things like creeking doors, ghosts howling or people screaming. Yet it still fits the mood. It's more like plain surf music than the "monster surf music" of the early 60's. On the Literal Halloween Music Scale, it probably checks in at about 4/10.
Planet Terror Main Theme
From Robert Rodriguez's half of 2007's "Grindhouse" movie. For my money, the funnest time I've had watching a movie in the past 10 years; screw the "Death Proof" half; but that's another story. This tune was obviously inspired by tunes like "Ghost Train", but has that modern flair and a foreboding build throughout. Once again, it's an instrumental that creates a mood that wouldn't be attainable with lyrics. It's also another conversation "match". Cuz' who wouldn't want to talk about Sayid from LOST collecting people's nuts?
The Eels- "Fresh Blood"
From Mr. E's "hombre lobo" persona, it's basically a love song, but one that gets dragged through a dark lust and possibly lycanthropy. E's animalistic howls in the chorus work very well and it's definitely spooky. "So tired of the same old old crud.. sweet baby, I need fresh blood. Whooooo!!" Pretty sure this track was used over the closing credits for an episode of "True Blood" a few years back, so there's that.
Barry de Vorzon- Theme from "The Warriors"
The 1980 movie that, lets' face it, was basically a big ol' costume party throughout NYC. Another instrumental that creates a theme. One of running through dark streets, avoiding human monsters of all types, and trying to survive. Ya' never know, but somebody just might be dressed up as a "Baseball Fury". If you're feeling spiffy, add Joe Walsh's "In the City" to your playlist, right after this. Extra Cool Points to you if you prevent some ding-dong at your party from referencing the "come out and play-ayyyyy" scene. Just tell 'em that if they put empty bottles on their fingers, the mutherfuckin' RIFF will be coming after their ass.
Queen- "Another One Bites the Dust"
A very well known favorite, but it fits the theme we're shooting for. The song itself has a more "inner turmoil" vibe, but if you dumb it down, it's about people dying. Remember the commercial from about 10 years ago, with a hearse driver rocking out to this? That's the kind of silliness you want to tap into for your party.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones- "Detroit Rock City"
Bonus ELEVENTH entry, as this might only be appealing to the "30 and over crowd". But it's my asbolute favorite KISS tune, a band that has had a long association with Halloween. It's my absolute favorite KISS cover tune, as well. One of the rare instances where the cover is just as kick-ass as the original. The saxophone solo in the middle really helps to give it more of a party flair. The song has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween and isn't scary at all (well, aside from a guy dying in a car wreck). It's being included more for the connection between KISS and Halloween, as the video demonstrates. Running around on Halloween night and egging people's houses?! Trust me, that was appealing to every teenager in the 70's or 80's. So only use this is your guests will get the connection.
Why'd You Write This?
Remember, the purpose of a socially acceptable party playlist is NOT for you to act cool and show off your music tastes. You need something that is accessible to your guests, not just you. Million ways you can go with this list. I'm not saying this is a "be all end all" or "MUST HAVE" deal. But I think these songs can help pull your Halloween playlist out of the mundane and ordinary. You don't want to go too over-the-top, as you don't want to blot out the "Party" part of "Halloween Party". There's only so many times you hear "Monster Mash", so mix it up a little and at least try splicing in some of these.
Got some other unfamilair tunes that YOU think would work for Halloween? Well, we've got a snazzy COMMENT box, below. So sound off, humanoids!
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