No disrespect to the great Michael Jackson song, not to mention video for, Thriller. It’s just, if I have to hear Thriller as an interstitial lead-in from a commercial break on a local news cast this week I’m gonna sprout fangs and claw down a tree while screaming “GET AWAY” before breaking into a fabulously choreographed zombie line dance.
Or something like that.
Good thing I made you a mix tape.
Well, a Spotify mix, which is as close as you can get these days.
You can play the songs below in your browser at the end of this post, or click here to launch your Spotify and be taken to it directly.
First some notes creepy collection of songs I promise doesn’t include Thriller (nor Monster Mash)…
This chart-topper in 1954 became forever linked with Michael Myers in 1981, never to return to the sweet, innocent Hit Parade origins. Everything about this song is spooky, especially the bit where the title character actually answers back YES?, which gives me the heebie-jeebies every single time.
Not sure which is scarier. This eerie take on the eerie Wonka tune or the fact that it was recorded for a Chipotle ad. Like Fiona, this cover alternates between hope and despair. If you like the track, check out the video that Chipotle commissioned to go with it here.
HALLOWEENHEAD – Ryan Adams
I know the song isn’t really about Halloween, nor about a guy with a head like a pumpkin, but how can you ignore a song that celebrates superstition and spooks like this? It’s a solid Ryan Adams tune, and it plays like an anthem for all hallows’ eve, even if it’s probably about dope addition in the big city.
GREAT PUMPKIN WALTZ – Vince Guaraldi Trio
Although the Christmas soundtrack holds a very special place in this Jew’s heart, I do love the main theme from the Halloween special. I wish the full soundtrack to the Great Pumpkin was still in print (only this track is commercially available as of this post). Nobody creeps me out with the Jazz Flute more than the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Well, except maybe Ron Burgundy.
INVISIBLE SCREAM – Pyyramids
Pyyramids is a band I discovered at this past Summer’s Afro-Punk fest, and their album has been on repeat since. Comprised of He Said, She Said vocalist Drea Smith and OK Go bassist Tim Nordwind, the band mixes heavy rock beats with dreamy dark lyrics. The combination is intoxicating. Smith’s wailing on this track is Stevie Nicks by way of demonic possession.
DRACULA – Gorillaz
British “virtual band” Gorillaz has always had a strong component of Horror in their music both thematically and literally, often sampling clips and music from the genre. DRACULA appears on the US version of the 2001 self-titled album as a bonus track. Not only does it contain clips from the Warner Bros. cartoon Transylvania 6-5000, but the groove is downright creepy, looping synth with high reverb saxophone greatness.
HAMMER HORROR – Kate Bush
Kate Bush released this homage to the great Hammer Horror movies on October 27, 1978 to indifferent audiences, barely making a dent on the UK singles chart. I think it’s one of her best tunes. Strangely enough though, this is a song about an actress involved in a production of Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was never made by the studio. Details.
BLOOD BANK – Bon Iver
Speaking of songs not really about monsters, but could be, Bon Iver’s Blood Bank is a toe tapping number about romance at a, yes, Blood Bank. I like to think it’s a vampire romance about two star-crossed lovers who meet when making a withdrawal.
SLEEPWALK – Santo & Johnny
I’ve always been a little freaked out by this track. The riff is hypnotic, sure, but the whole thing has a melancholy attitude that I picture monsters dancing to under the moonlight. Clearly this wasn’t lost on Stephen King, who uses the tune to good effect in his original screen story Sleepwalkers.
THE HEADLESS HORSEMEN – Kay Starr
Written for the Disney film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, this track was originally sung by crooner Bing Crosby, who puts a distinctively Christmas sounding spin on it by default. Kay Starr did a version (heard here) in 1948 that I think is much jazzier, and often makes its way to Halloween music compilations.
SUPERSTAR – Sonic Youth
Created for the If I Were a Carpenter tribute album, Sonic Youth reinvented the already sad tune by The Carpenters. This is the psychotic-stalker-on-lead-vocals version of the song, hands down. Interestingly, a keen observation on the song and the people it impacts showed up in the movie Juno years after its release.
THE WITCH – The Cult
The Cult recorded this fun little funk/rock track originally for the soundtrack to Cool World in 1992. While it’s sort of a reference to that film’s lead cartoon femme fatale, and her seduction of a mortal man (Cool World need a savior, boy maybe it could be you…), it’s still applicable to anything double, double full of trouble. I think it would be an awesome Vid to anything from this season’s American Horror Story.
Dragula – Rob Zombie
Horror exploiter Rob Zombie knows how to rock some fun monster related lyrics, and in this case Munster related lyrics. DRAG-U-LA was the car featured in the popular spooky sitcom, and this song is arguably Zombie’s most popular musical contribution. It’s loud, dumb, silly low-brow brilliant and goes up to 11, ending the mix on a bang.