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Halloween Playlist

Katy Krassner

October 28, 2021

BOO! It’s almost time for the best “scary holiday” there is! Putting together a Halloween playlist is a must since it has become a HUGE event with lots of celebrations. We thought we’d give you a head start – you can either cop this whole playlist or spew out some of the facts below at whatever ghostly gathering you end up at!   

GHOSTBUSTERS, Ray Parker Jr.

I ain’t afraid o’ no ghost

It’s sort of impossible not to think of “Ghostbusters” – the song or the movie – when you’re talking about Halloween. The track is a jam, and was a massive hit, but it wasn’t so easy for Parker Jr to write the lyrics, because the film’s director insisted that the title of the film be in the song. Which, when singing it now, maybe seems like it was easy, but according to Ray, it was a toughie.   

MONSTER MASH, Bobby “Boris” Pickett

My monster from his slab, began to rise

If there was ever a novelty song for Halloween, this is it. The song charted twice – once upon its original release in 1962 and then again in 1973. It was banned by the BBC for being too morbid. Bobby Pickett – he of the Boris Karloff impression – once said the song took an hour to write. 

TIME WARP, Little Nell

He had a pickup truck, and the devil’s eyes

From the 1975 movie, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” doing the “Time Warp” kind of got you in the mood, didn’t it? At midnight showings of the film, this song got the whole audience up and dancing. It’s just a step to the left! 

THRILLER, Michael Jackson

And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike

You can’t have a Halloween playlist and NOT have “Thriller,” like, ever. Here’s something you probably didn’t know – according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest number of people doing the “Thriller” zombie dance was organized in Mexico City, Mexico in 2009, with 13,597 participants.

DEAD MAN’S PARTY, Oingo Boingo

Walkin’ with a dead man over my shoulder”

Danny Elfman, singer and lyricist of Oingo Boingo, knows a few things about ominous, having composed music for the movies “Batman,“ “Edward Scissorhands” and “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Word is, the “Dead Man’s Party” is a funeral. Creepy!

SOMEBODY’S WATCHING ME, Rockwell

Cause I might open my eyes and find someone standing there

This was singer Rockwell’s biggest (and only real) hit, reaching number 2 in the US and number 6 in the UK. Brothers Jermaine and Michael Jackson provided backing vocals, having known Kennedy Gordy (Rockwell’s real name) since he was a child. The haunted house-themed video helped the song become a Halloween staple.

FREAKS COME OUT AT NIGHT, Whodini

…might not know they’re a freak unless you see them at night

The freaks on this song aren’t freaks in the traditional sense – the song alludes to sex freaks (people who enjoy having it). The track mixed hip-hop and disco, and became very popular in the clubs. In 2018, Walmart used it in a commercial that showed a Haunted House Halloween party, and the song got a new life.

SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS), David Bowie

“She had a horror of rooms”

A bon-a-fide hit for Mr. Jones, the song focused on a woman driven to madness by her male partner. David himself once commented in an interview that the narrator of the song was a “criminal with a conscience who talks about how he corrupted a fine young mind.” A little Jack the Ripper-esque, if you ask me.

PET SEMATARY, The Ramones

The smell of death is all around

Author Stephen King tapped The Ramones to write the closing song for the film adaptation of his book, Pet Sematary. It didn’t hurt that the movie director, Mary Lambert, was very friendly with Dee Dee Ramone, and asked him directly to write the track. Dee Dee ran out, bought the book, and wrote the song the next day.

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, Spooky

Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams”

The track was originally written as an instrumental by Mike Sharpe and Harry Middlebrooks Jr. and released in 1967. James Cobb and Buddy Buie added lyrics, and the song was recorded by rock band Classic IV and then re-re-recorded by Springfield a year later, changing the female pronoun to male.

HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF, Duran Duran

I’m on the hunt I’m after you

Somehow, after many years of not being a Halloween song, “Hungry like the Wolf” started popping up on many (many) Halloween playlists. When keyboardist Nick Rhodes was asked if he thought that was odd, he said “Anything with the lyric “I’m on the hunt, I’m after you” is fair game.” Word. 

BELA LUGOSI’S DEAD, Bauhaus

“The bats have left the bell tower”

The original version of this song is a 9-minute dissertation on the death of a vampire. The band performed this track in the opening sequence of the 1983 movie The Hunger, starring David Bowie. The song is often credited with launching the start of the goth subculture.

TUBULAR BELLS, Mike Oldfield

Want everyone at your Halloween party to stop talking? Just throw this one on. At 25 minutes long, the beginning of this instrumental is best known as the opening theme to The Exorcist. Oldfield was 19 years old (and broke!) when the song was released. It later won a Grammy for Best Instrumental composition. In 1992, Oldfield released “Tubular Bells II,” then “Tubular Bells III” in 1998. In 2003, he released a newer version of the album, recording it with modern equipment.

Isn’t Halloween music fun?! Wouldn’t it be great to write a Halloween song that a music supervisor hears and puts in a movie/television show/commercial/videogame?? If you’re a member of the Play MPE posse, you may want to start working now on your 2022 Halloween entry for people to hear. You never know what kind of interest you might scare up (geddit?) with a dark instrumental or a pop song about ghosts and goblins. Write a song about tricks and next year, you may be reaping the treats!

 

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