The ongoing debate of what really is the best holiday of the year will never really end – it all depends on personality. The same person who hates pumpkins (show yourself, I’d like to bake for you and convince you otherwise) and shuts their lights off on Oct. 31st could swoon at the sight of red and green twinkle lights. Someone who waits year round for Cadbury cream eggs could also look forward to trekking to the thrift store for the perfect pair of fluorescent leggings to transform them into Olivia Newton John circa “Physical”. Either way, Halloween – which of course has folklore rooted much deeper in stories of spirits and ghouls – can really be a fun time of year, if you loosen up, sacrifice a little bit of your dignity and embrace the costume and candy-filled festivities.
It doesn’t have to mean scaring the living daylights out of yourself with the goriest movies on the market or a haunted house fit to induce heart attacks; it can be as simple as a costume party, some festive treats, and gaining three happy pounds over the course of a night filled with Popeye sticks and candy apples. Why not, right?
So, in order to outfit the spooky social gathering you might have been voluntold to hold, without spending the night cowering because of the soundtrack you picked (an aggressive mix of blood-curdling shrieks and Jaws orchestra music), get your hands on these haunting hits and let the tricks and treats begin. Popular, underground and classic alike, I promise these 13 songs, alongside your decorative gathering and decked out friends – will still set the perfect dark mood for the scene of the (partying) crime.
1. Every You Every Me – Placebo: A little dark alt-rock from the late 90s never hurt anyone. Lyrics like “your body’s rent” and “serve my head up on a plate” in this hurried Generation Y favourite should do the trick.
2. Mad World – Gary Jules: As one of the spookiest covers of all time, this quiet cover of a Tears for Fears original will inevitably send tingles down your spine with its melancholy wording and tinkering piano. Listen and love this Donnie Darko classic here.
3. Into Dust – Mazzy Star: This is without a doubt one of my favourite songs ever written, and because of my decade-long love for it, I can vouch for its versatility. Some call it haunting, I call it beautiful. Potato, potahto – either way, Hope Sandoval’s famous hollow croons and the linger of the plucking guitar will perfectly wind your party down.
4. Dirge – Death in Vegas: I love Death in Vegas, I really do – but this song is equal parts awesome, catchy and straight-up frightening. The childlike chant weaving through the sexy overlapping guitar loops is enough to get my little knees shaking, which is why it’s best played in a crowded party setting. Warning: it only gets bigger and louder as the seconds tick by… Listen here.
5. Conquest – White Stripes: Unlike Mazzy Star, this song will wind the soiree back up again! This growling fight song is creepy in its smacking drum beat and fuzzy, waltzing guitar that hardly hold a candle to Jack White’s shaky screams.
6.The End OR Riders on the Storm – The Doors: Either of these songs is perfect for the occasion; both orchestrated by Jim Morrison’s classically moody wails and rolling, psychedelic instruments. Listen here and below.
7. Crush – Garbage: Anyone remember Garbage? Anyone remember Romeo and Juliet? Anyone remember this track? Well, here it is – in all of its creepy, peculiar glory. I love it though; the freaky lyrics, ghostly moaning and a weighty beat will spike your arm hairs on end.
8. The Lighthouse – Interpol: The beautiful closing track from Our Love to Admire is another one of those songs that could be considered anything from haunting to gorgeous to sad; either way, the jangly guitars and Paul Banks’ lonely bellows will give you shivers. Listen here.
9. Playground Love – Air: One of my favourite electronic duo’s model tunes from Sofia Coppola’s 1999 flick The Virgin Suicides – the xylophone, lazy vocals and muffled beat are all silently eerie. Not for you? Check out the stripped down version from French indie rock band Phoenix.
10. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division: Alright, we’ve got another upbeat one in the (haunted) house! Fun and bouncy, yes – but, that this fantastic band’s famous keyboard riff and the late Ian Curtis’ post-punk grumble can still be pretty spooky when played behind your wildly dressed party guests. Listen here.
11. No One Knows – Queens of the Stone Age: This song is many things – sweltering, immortal and even a little hair-rising. The gloomy stomp of the drum and heavy guitar, as well as Josh Homme’s wobbly harmonies, turn this song from chill to chilling if played in the right place.
12. Song to the Siren – This Mortal Coil: Beautiful? Yes. Ethereal? Yes. Cree-py? Yes. Listen here.
13. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane: Ok, I left this for last. Because it meant several minutes spent listening to other songs, and not this one. This is THE MOST frightening song of all time. I have always had a problem with it. I have friends who know how much it creeps me out, and will attack me with it when I least expect it. Grace Slick’s low, sinister drawl singing about hallucinations and fantasies over swirling guitars and a marching drum roll? Um, no thanks. When I listen, I don’t hear classic rock (although I recognize it’s there) – I hear goblins, nightmares and have visions of the hookah-smoking caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. When it comes to my weekend party playlist, I’ll pass – but feel free to toss it in with YOUR mix. (Watch this video. Her eyes peer into your soul, no?)
What spooky songs are a must on your halloween playlist? Leave a comment and let us know!