Halloween doesn’t have nearly the amount of music it deserves.
I had a realization the other day that Halloween really got the short end of the stick when it comes to music. I think it’s safe to say that Halloween is easily the #3 Holiday here in the US right behind Christmas and 4th of July in terms of a) people who give a crap that its coming, b) celebrations held and c) decorations put out. Don’t get me wrong, the other holidays are great. Personally, Halloween should be #2, but it is really tough to get around how much Red, White and Blue gets scattered all over right when June rolls around and Halloween doesn’t feature thousands (millions?) of people literally launching explosives into the sky to celebrate. And thus, Independence Day probably earns that #2 spot.
“What about Thanksgiving,” you might be asking. Oh, you mean pre-Christmas? The truth about Thanksgiving is that for quite some time (much longer than the twitter armies think) it has really just been this launching point for the “Holiday Season,” that wintery zone of various Holidays that actually mean something beyond “people with buckles on their shoes ate turkey and we don’t talk about the rest of the colonization stuff.” It’s the starting gun for a season of caring and sharing; a season of love and peace. Granted, that season for most people is more selfish and Capitalism-hungry than any other month of the year, but that’s not the season’s fault. Anyway, I LOVE Thanksgiving, don’t get me wrong, but as a Holiday it’s always felt more like a turning point than a big day to eagerly anticipate. People don’t go to football games specifically for the initial kick-off and then say “oh man, that was the best one yet.” Just saying. Don’t @ me, Thanksgiving people (or do, I need more interaction for my Google metrics).
So here sits Halloween nested ever-so-gently in the 3rd spot literally IMMEDIATELY behind 4th of July (and if Fireworks ever become a Halloween tradition, then it is just gonna sky-rocket on ahead) and it has like hardly a few hours worth of music dedicated to it. I can get on any sort of music streaming platform, be it your spotify or you Google play or your Amazon Music or your Pandora if this is 7 years ago, and fine stations and playlists with 10+ HOURS of music for Christmas from ONE generation. 4th of July literally has access to every patriotic song ever written. Considering America’s history of extremely passionate nationalism (to a fault at times, I’ll admit), that leaves the musical selection somewhere between a boat-load and
a Fuckton 2,000 Fuckpounds (take THAT metric system). Hell even St. Patrick’s Day, also known as National Suddenly Everyone Has Irish Heritage Day, has access to like any and all Irish music by any Irish person ever. Yet, when we pull up Halloween stations and playlists, it boils down to a handful of staples, a smidge of more recently drafted in songs, and not much else.
Where is all the horror music? Where are the songs about zombies and spirits and bumps in the night? Surely there can be plenty of holiday music grabbed up without having to default to every score from a horror movie ever. What, just because Bing Crosby didn’t slap on his Ghost-patterned tux and croon about candy corn, suddenly we can’t have extensive libraries of music for our creepy holiday? It’s just not fair!
Don’t get me wrong, the staples are good stuff. Love or hate it, the Monster Mash absolutely slaps and every other song Bobby “Boris” Pickett rocketed out in his short stint of “hey what monsters just wanted to have dances named after them” focused parody tunes is an absolute Halloween delight. From there you have Thriller, Werewolves of London, Purple People Eater, Spooky Scary Skeletons, Ghostbusters, I Put a Spell on You (the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version unless you’re crazy), Season of the Witch, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, and probably a handful of others I am forgetting to mention. Just about everything from Nightmare Before Christmas pops up, though more often than not just This is Halloween, both original and Marilyn Manson, both of which are acceptable (unlike the amount of commas in this sentence but I’m in a rant and have no time for grammar). Time Warp from Rocky Horror also makes a significant amount of appearances and fits nicely in its weirdness. Recent additions include Heathens (Twenty One Pilots), Heads Will Roll (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Monster (Lady Gaga), and oddly enough Dead Man’s Party, presumably because the world has finally caught up to the absolute GENIOUS that is Danny Elfman. Then there are others that pop up from time to time, depending on who you talk to. Things like Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult or Nightmare on My Street by
Agent J James West Muhammed Ali The Genie The Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff. Otherwise, there seems to be a plethora of songs that people consider to be Halloween adjacent, but not just HALLOWEEN SONGS.
So, I was sitting and thinking just how much horror music could be out there. You see, every October I bust out Dead Man’s Bones and listen to that shit until it becomes a part of my soul through audio osmosis. For those not aware, Dead Man’s Bones is a band consisting of Ryan Gosling (yes, that one) and his buddy Zach Shields. They have one album, much to my dismay, and the album is absolutely haunting. All of their music is dark in tone, creepy in subject matter and generally perfect for a horror mood. The album also features the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir who belt out incredibly haunting harmonies, sometimes pitchy melodies and extremely reverby everything. Here’s a taste:
Happy Phücking Halloween, right?
As I’m listening to this album on repeat, I have the thought I mention above: Where is all the horror music? Surely, Ryan and Zach aren’t the first dudes to sit down and bang out some ghoulishly delightful music. So I enlisted my wife, Tee, to aid in building a massive, super eclectic playlist dedicated to music that was either a) dark in tone or b) dark in subject matter. I wanted to avoid stuff that was generally dark in a sad way as well as stuff just about creepy weirdos like stalkers and whatnot. I wanted it to be a list that could play and any selection would make you feel like your acting out b-roll in a horror movie. Eventually, I opened the floor to my Facebook peeps to give suggestions. Lo and behold, a few years later and I have accomplished it. I have built a fully comprehensive horror-forward playlist and I am super happy. I plopped as many of the Halloween staples in there and then made it public on Google play. Here it is for those who want a piece of the awesome. Just click the spooky ghost:
I’ll probably keep adding to it, but I feel happy with where it is at. Big shout out to punk music for really representing the horror scene. Gotta sift through a bunch of the punk suggestions I’ve received and at some more in there.
Tell me what you think. Hey, if you have any suggestions for additions, shoot them my way. I am sparse on country, honestly, and could use a guiding hand to some good horror country fare.
Ultimately, I hope the playlist successfully scares the HELL outta YOU!