Chances are if you’ve ever been to a Halloween party in the past, these are the songs you were guaranteed to hear. Songs like “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and “I Put a Spell on You,” which has been covered by so many, are still virtual locks to make the cut. Classic theme songs like “Halloween Theme” composed by John Carpenter or “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr. come equipped with movies to watch if the scores still leaving you wanting more. And, of course, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in both audio and video form will live forever.
Sometimes your spooky tunes need a little bit more firepower. You can add the final hint of gasoline to the explosion with tracks like “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult. Black Sabbath was formed with the intent to scare, and that’s evident in songs like “Children of the Grave.” If you’re looking for something heavier, check out “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden, “Man in the Box” by Alice In Chains or White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human.” For something more on the psychedelic side, check out “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” by The Doors.
Some songs are so odd they make you feel weird about having to walk home alone. The most famous case of this comes from Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” but you can also get that feeling from Kraftwerk’s “Trans-Europe Express.” “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon & War was used to perfection in the film “Boogie Nights,” but on it’s own, it sounds so strange and shiver-inducing. Songs like “Psychobabble” by Frou Frou and Placebo’s cover of Kate Bush’s classic “Running Up That Hill” are masters at building suspense. Finally, the Pixies are famous for interesting song subjects, but they never sounded more ominous than they did on “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”
For a genre that has had its fair share of artists telling stories from dangerous situations, it’s no surprise to learn that hip-hop has plenty of scary stories to tell. The most famous of these most likely being Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” but another slip in sanity in the form of “Suicidal Thoughts” by The Notorious B.I.G. can’t be too far behind. You can hear Danny Brown’s struggle with drug addiction on “Ain’t It Funny.” You can hear a young man’s trials and tribulations with joining a gang on Immortal Technique’s “Dance With the Devil” and you can hear a tale of tragic child abuse on De La Soul’s “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa.” Oh, and yada yada yada Eminem killing his wife on “Kim.”
These songs are, frankly, not easy to categorize in a genre or style. Maybe the absolute scariest song of all time, Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)” is nightmare fuel personified. In a much different way, all three parts of Patti Smith’s “Land” will make you hold on tight to your comforter because of the build up and sheer amount of voices coming through headphones toward the end. Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop” has become famous for just how terrifying it is as a song with screeches that you won’t forget anytime soon. And what can I say about Death Grips’ “Giving Bad People Good Ideas” that hasn’t already been said about the Cleveland Browns? Horrifying. The only difference is this is horrifying in a good way. A jump scare in audio form, you’ll wonder why you keep coming back to it time and time again.