In addition to enjoying candy, pumpkins and costumes, Halloween is also an occasion to listen to someghoulish tunes. While Halloween-specific songs are rare compared to the feel- good/bordering-on-saccharine Christmas standards, pop music has always been known for its sometimes ominous overtones–from the teenage death songs of the ’50s and ’60s, to today’s black metal scene. We’ve certainly come a long, long way since the campy 1962 novelty hit “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett, as music has explored the dark side of human nature beginning with Black Sabbath, the godfathers of heavy metal. (Pretty much any Black Sabbath track could be a Halloween song.)
For this year’s holiday, we created a playlist of Halloween-themed songs, whether they are implied or based on the titles alone. Of course, you can’t have a collection of Halloween songs without the usual suspects: Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller,” Warren Zevon‘s “Werewolves of London,” Blue Oyster Cult‘s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and Van Halen‘s “Runnin’ with the Devil.” But there are also other songs that convey a turbulent and melancholy sensibility, from David Bowie’s aggressive New Wave rocker “Scary Monsters” to the Sisters of Mercy‘ Goth rocker “This Corrosion.” There are even moments of lightheartedness involving the macabre, such as the jazz pop of the Manhattan Transfer‘s “Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone,” the Trammps‘ boogie-down classic “Disco Inferno,” and Spinal Tap‘s headbanging “Hell Hole.”
So sit back and rock out to some of theses hauntingly great tunes today–but make sure you come back alive when you’re done.