My Top 5 Halloween Songs
Happy Canadian Halloween! It’s a lot like American Halloween, but we apologize for scaring each other. “Boo! Sorry.” Anyway, I’m doing nothing to celebrate. No costume, no handing out candy, no watching movies. I do work from 7-11 tonight. But I just don’t really care that much about Halloween. Just the same, hey, I may as well do something. So, here are my favourite Halloween-oriented songs. (And you can follow me on Twitter now, @XMenXPert.)
The North American Halloween Prevention Initiative – Do They Know It’s Halloween: This is probably the greatest Halloween song ever. It’s perfect. It’s dark and spooky but also really fun. Which is really what the holiday is all about. This is actually a charity song, done for UNICEF (which, you know, feel free to donate to). It’s inspired by Do They Know It’s Christmas, sort of. Basically, they found that song to be really preachy and condescending, and they thought it was stupid, so they decided to do a good charity single. It’s got a pretty great list of contributors – Beck, Karen O, Feist, Jenny Lewis, Peaches, Elvira, Nardwuar. This year is actually the 10th anniversary of the song.
Type O Negative – Black No. 1: What I like best about this song is how funny and sarcastic it is. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds creepy as hell, with the deep, heavy music and the deep, growly vocals. But then you listen to the lyrics. And it’s really funny. It’s basically just him mocking the kind of person who would . . . well, who would like this song, kinda. The kind of person who would think that smoking clove cigarettes in a cemetery on Halloween would be really cool. It’s mocking pretentious goths who get too into the whole image of being goth. The kind of person who would miss that this song is a joke, even though it includes the phrase, “Lily Munster ain’t got nothing on you.”
Buck 65 – Zombie Delight: So, I’m not a particular fan of hip-hop. There are very few hip-hop songs I enjoy. This is one of them, simply because it’s fun. It’s just a goofy little song about a zombie uprising. Coupled with a perfect video.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand: This one feels like it’s cheating, because it’s kind of an obvious choice. But damn, is it ever a creepy-ass song. This song is terrifying.
Hannah Fury – The Vampire Waltz: Supposedly, Fury learned piano just so she could get this song out of her head. I want that to be true, I really do, because it just adds one more layer of creepiness to a song that’s already filled with it. This is one of those songs that really requires a close listen to truly appreciate how haunting it is. It’s just a piano and vocals, and it gives me shivers.
I know I said I’d do 5 songs. But here’s a few songs that I felt didn’t quite fit, but are still somewhat Halloween-appropriate.
April Smith & the Great Picture Show – Terrible Things: It’s a song about a murderer who hides the fact that she’s a murderer. It’s a bit jauntier than I was going for with my list, but it still works as a Halloween song.
Be Your Own Pet – Zombie Graveyard Party!: Well, I mean, look at the name. Of course it’s appropriate. It’s a solid rock song about zombies in a graveyard having a party. She repeatedly asks to eat your brain. So, yeah.
Codeine Velvet Club – I Wish My Daddy: “You could be dancing with the devil/At this masquerade.” Gives a pretty good idea of why I think this song works. Also, it sounds like it should be played in some big ballroom or something, and it’s great.
The Hot Puppies – The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful: This isn’t really a Halloween song. But it is one with a very dark story. It’s about a woman who gets involved with a guy, and it turns out she looks a lot like his dead girlfriend. “He wants her/And I just want somebody there,” should give you an idea where the song goes.
Kristeen Young – Rotting On the Vine: This is a song about corpses. So obviously, it’s a good Halloween song. Especially since the music is dark, and Young’s vocals are creepy. I was going to put it in my Top 5, but bumped it for The Vampire Waltz.
The Long Blondes – A Knife For the Girls: This sounds like it should be on some movie soundtrack. Like, a horror movie that isn’t a big box-office success but is well-made and has a cult following. It’s not even just the lyrics, either, though they obviously have a bit of a horror vibe. It’s the music. It sounds like the music from a horror soundtrack.
Poe – Haunted: This feels like another fairly obvious Halloween song. It is, and there’s no other appropriate word so I apologize for the pun, a haunting song.
The Puppini Sister – Spooky: This song doesn’t really have anything to do with Halloween, other than the name. But the name is enough for me to include it here. And it’s a really fun song.
Shriekback – Nemesis: I’m not sure if this fits. It’s about evil and corruption and stuff. It also includes the word “parthenogenesis.” That doesn’t really have anything to do with anything, it just amuses me that a song has the word “parthenogenesis.”
White Lies – Death: It does have death in the title. I saw it on a couple lists of indie Halloween songs. It still doesn’t really feel like a Halloween song to me. But sure, OK, I’ll include it. If nothing else, it’s a really cool song.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Head Will Roll: This does have a definite Halloween vibe to it. The music video has even more of it . This is another song I saw on a couple of lists, and I think the video was a major reason for its inclusion, but it is a good song, and probably fits here.
My Little Pony – Bats: Shut up. Don’t judge me. I’m not ashamed. It’s a fun song.
And, fine, OK, this last one is pretty much required.
Bobby Pickett – The Monster Mash: I tried to make my list primarily songs that aren’t the big, obvious picks. But sometimes, you just have to do the Monster Mash.