Talking Heads Psycho Killer
A staple on any great Halloween playlist, this cutting from Talking Heads’ seminal debut retains its sick, twisted charm even today. The acclaimed New York art-rockers were always capable of creating atmospheric, spikey pop songs at their best, and there’s something about the way David Byrne sings “Psycho killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?” that still raises the hairs on the back of your neck.
Los Campesinos! Cemetery Gaits
Cult-favourites Los Campesinos! have always been in the business of hook-laden indie pop, but their latest LP No Blues brought the six-piece to a darker place. Cemetery Gaits highlights this evolution perfectly, with Gareth David singing “You’ll know us by the way we crawl, you’ll know us by our cemetery gaits”. Creepy stuff.
Ice Cube Dr. Frankenstein
An atmospheric hip-hop classic from Ice Cube’s fifth studio album, Dr. Frankenstein, sees the LA-based rapper compare his own influence with Mary Shelley’s famous monster. Complete with haunted house noise effects and Ice Cube’s typically political lyrical themes, this one’s perfect for hip-hop fans looking to make the perfect Halloween mixtape.
Jamie T Zombie
The big pop moment from Jamie T’s recent comeback album Carry On the Grudge, Zombie sees the Wimbledon-based singer describe himself as a “sad post-teen, caught up in the love machine”. It’d all be very romantic if it wasn’t for the “walking like a zombie” lyrical hook and ghoulish video that sees the singer’s backing band tear each other limb from limb. Anthemic and melodic, it’ll make your Halloween party really swing.
Arctic Monkeys Perhaps Vampire Is a Bit Strong But…
One of the highlights of Arctic Monkey’s Mercury-winning debut, Perhaps Vampire Is A Bit Strong But… compares those that initially doubted the band would have success with bloodsucking villains (or heroes if Twilight is anything to go by). A riff-heavy rock song that bursts into life on drummer Matt Helders’ cry of ‘All you people are vampires!’, this one’s perfect if you’re going for an indie disco vibe.
The Specials Ghost Town
Another song practically nailed on to most Halloween mixtapes, ska legends The Specials’ signature track Ghost Town has become closely associated with October 31st since it topped the charts in 1981. A reggae-influenced commentary on unemployment and urban decay, Ghost Town’s creepy synths and spine-tingling chanting make it perfect for the occasion.
Michael Jackson Thriller
You simply can’t leave this one out. The title-track from the best-selling album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller is as synonymous with Halloween as pumpkins and trick or treating. It’s almost already guaranteed that someone will come dressed as Jacko from the music video, and if you get enough vodka down them there’s a chance they’ll make an attempt at doing the dance. For that alone, you surely have to give this a spin.
The Prodigy Voodoo People
Brutal and chaotic, dance music doesn’t get much more intense that The Prodigy’s Voodoo People. Released as the third single from Liam Howlett and co’s breakthrough album Music for the Jilted Generation, the song features a sample from Nirvana’s Very Ape. Retaining some of that song’s grunge energy but re-inventing it as a dance track, Voodoo People is appropriately creepy and yet totally brilliant. Stick on the pendulum remix for some extra oomph.
Cage the Elephant Spiderhead
The opener from Cage the Elephant’s latest and greatest album Melophobia, Spiderhead presents the hard-partying Kentucky band at their absolute best. An arachnophobic anthem, Matthew Shultz screams “Spiders in my head, spiders in my head” over blaring guitars in a brilliant sing-a-long chorus.
The White Stripes Little Ghost
Jack White’s lyrical themes can often be a little bit out there, and Little Ghost is no exception to this – it features a line which asks if the ghost mentioned in the song’s title can “scare up some love”. Weird lyrics aside, it’s one of Jack and Meg’s best tracks and serves as the highlight of the otherwise disappointing album Get Behind Me Satan.
The Rolling Stones Paint It Black
Whilst many would go for Sympathy of the Devil as their Halloween pick from the Stones’ vast discography, Paint It Black feels like a much better fit. The guitar riff that runs through the song is strangely creepy, and Jagger’s lyrics about wanting to paint everything black evokes a kind of gothic spirit.
Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters
I tried to resist picking this, but I’m not sure Halloween would be quite the same without it. Written for the 1984 release of cult-classic movie Ghostbusters, Ray Parker Jr.’s pop smash topped the charts in America and was even nominated for an Academy Award. Silly as it may be, sometimes you have to hold your hand up to pop genius and Ghostbusters is as close to the perfect pop song as you can get.
Misfits Dig Up Her Bones
Paint yourself as the crimson skull and grow that Deathlock long, the Misfits exist for Halloween. Their fusion of horror and punk is perfect for keeping things scary without having to put on any Gorgoroth.While post-Danzig is usually best avoided, this Michale Graves classic will be ringing in your ears through to November for sure.