We already know you’re having a party for Halloween. We also know you’ve covered your home in spider webs, candles, blacklight-reactant posters and ghouley, ghosty things from Rite Aid.
Yeah, your party is going to be rocking. However, before you do anything else brilliant, we’re here to make extra sure you’re prepared to give your guests the creep fest they’re looking for – and we don’t mean inviting slimy rick and his creepy handshake trick. You need to be outfitted with a proper Halloween soundtrack to go with that plastic cauldron punch bowl.
Don’t just go for the wishy-washy, universally consented “Halloween” spook music your parents brainwashed you with. “Monster Mash” is about as spooky as the smell in your elementary school cafeteria. Take our advice – add these truly spooky songs to your set list and set the vibe for a real scare. Tonight, no one leaves a virgin.
Hurt (Johnny Cash) – This one was creepy enough when Trent Reznor wrote it, but coming from the man in black as he speaks from the twilight of his tattered life, it sends the chills up the spine much more effectively. No one sounds as sincere as this man can, so when he says “Hurt,” we feel it.
Dead Souls (Joy Division) – Ian Curtis’ problems alone, including his chronic epilepsy, shattered marriage and unrelenting depression, topped by his eventual hanging suicide, makes virtually any Joy Division song worth a Halloween playlist or two. From the first line, sung in Curtis’s haunted, tortured voice, “Dead Souls” captures his ghosts rather well. Unleashing them into your party is definitely a good idea.
Lullaby (The Cure) – A more mild selection, this one is no less rife with torment as Robert Smith describes the sensation of being eaten alive by a giant spider. There’s every chance it’s only a spider in his mind he’s talking about, but the imagery is there, and we’re freaked out by it.
Climbing Up the Walls (Radiohead) – As is the common theme with OK Computer, this selection touches on feelings of paranoia, isolation and anxiety, demonstrated quite admirably by haunting background noises and distraught violin screeching. The number is capped off by a hair-raising (and very rare) scream from Thom Yorke, as he is swallowed by the flying mouse-eared toothy creatures.
Suffer Little Children (The Smiths) – Don’t let Johnny Marr’s soothing, relaxed guitar picking and Morrissey’s warm voice fool you into letting your guard down. This is a tale of mass child murder, complete with real, actual names and calmly delivered promises of revenge from beyond the grave. Morrissey may be sad, old-fashioned, and a lot of other things, but the man can certainly pull off spooky.
Tear (The Smashing Pumpkins) – Billy Corgan’s story of lost love isn’t bittersweet, melancholy, or charming. It’s dismal and dark, washed with spooky, dramatic orchestration and propped up by drums that sound like far-away cannons. It’s about an auto crash, and whether it’s real or metaphorical doesn’t matter. His voice will tear into your partygoers the way tragedy has torn into him.
Run For Your Life (The Beatles) – Can you imagine the Beatles killing somebody? Maybe the thought won’t be so far off base after you hear them threaten a “little girl” in this exceedingly territorial number. We’ve always thought of John Lennon as a peace-loving man, but something about the way he sings “Catch you with another man, that’s the en-dah!” conveys a note of finality that makes you second-guess everything. Then there’s that babies-and-steaks poster…
Take You On a Cruise (Interpol) – Paul Banks’ lyrics have never made that much sense, but words aren’t needed to convey the creepy, stalker vibe Interpol carries with them. The band’s oily guitar sounds, dark melodies and whimsical rhythm section cast visions of reptiles and underwater creatures, and the depression carries through the speakers like carbon monoxide through a cigarette. Add lines like “I see that you’ve come to resist me” and “Would you like to be my missus and in future with child,” and we’re sufficiently creeped out.
Milk It (Nirvana) – Doll steak. Test meat. Enough said.