Our favourite spooky songs for your Halloween playlist

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You’ve Monster Mashed.

You’ve Time Warped.

You’ve burned through most of the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.

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Looking for a few deep cuts to add to the playlist? We’ve got you covered.

Bill Buchanan: Beware (1963)

“If you don’t believe in vampires . . . turn up the radio.”

Imagine Bela Lugosi as a mid-1960s pop star and you’re pretty close. It’s a Monster Mash-ish mashup that combines horror with a dash of Motown.

Bo Diddley: Who Do You Love? (1956)

You’ve heard it – but have you really listened?

He’s got a brand new house on the roadside, made from rattlesnake hide, not to mention the chimney made out of a human skull.

One of rock n’ roll’s most enduring and influential guitar players, Bo Diddley also managed to inject a bit of voodoo into what was ostensibly a love song.

Alice Cooper: Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me (2001)

You could probably put all of Alice Cooper on the list. He’s recorded scarier songs (“The Ballad of Dwight Frye” is an unnerving tribute to the guy who played Renfield in the Universal Dracula movie.)

But Cooper was never quite so frightening and so funny as on this track. He even rhymes “booze” with “big ol’ floppy shoes.”

Nobody loves a clown at midnight, particularly if he brought his appetite.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: Whistling Past the Graveyard (1978)

Alice Cooper is often credited with bringing theatricality to rock n’ roll. This despite the fact that Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was leaping out of a coffin and holding conversations with a smoking skull when Cooper was in grade school.

Hawkins takes this gem of a Tom Waits song and – with the help of some beautiful horns – makes it his own.

He shouts, he snarls, and somehow he’s still as smooth as a vampire on a segway.

“Gonna tear off a rainbow and wear it for a tie. I never told the truth so how in the hell could I tell a lie?”

MGMT: Little Dark Age (2017)

“I grieve in stereo . . .”

A lovely thing about goths is that they never seem surprised to run into misfortune.

Less a story song than a synth-pop sojourn into overwhelming feelings of anxiety and trepidation. It’s not just that things are bad, but that bad things are inevitable.

However, there is a note of hope amid the post-apocalyptic imagery. The dark age is a little one.

Deadbolt: Tell Me Where He Lies (2005)

Warning: profane lyrics

These guys don’t sing. They don’t try to, either.

Instead, they marry surf rock riffs with spoken word stories of murder, curses, and revenge.

This particular story concerns a crime lord trying to find a certain unmarked grave before midnight. If crime boss and his goons fail, well, there could be consequences.

Imelda May: Hellfire Club (2014)

It’s rockabilly, it’s folk, and it’s a campfire story all rolled into one.

In this tune, May tells the story of a poker game with high stakes and a devilish gambler.

“He stayed and played one hell of a game.”

The Ghost of Smoky Joe (1939)

There wasn’t much Cab Calloway couldn’t do.

Besides being an amazing singer, musician, dancer and bandleader, he was a sensational lyricist.

He rhymes “off in” with “coffin” and he talks about a date on his estate in Hades.

It’s a rare Halloween song that’ll make you do the Charleston.

“You can tell me I’m not wanted but the joint will still be haunted.”

The Hand of Doom: They Who’ll Creep at Night (1979)

So heavy, so forgotten.

If you go to the Wikipedia page for “Hand of Doom” you’ll find a Black Sabbath song, a Black Sabbath tribute band, and a Dungeons & Dragons adventure but not a single trace of this wonderfully gothic metal band.

They only released one album with a terrible title (Poisonoise). But that album included this incredible song. It’s got a heavy riff, a solid guitar solo and the nerve to ask the most relevant question: “Have you seen them, creeping in the night?”

Kate Bush: Hammer Horror (1978)

She’s so much more than running hills and making deals.

It sounds like a tribute to Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and the movie studio that had the moxie to reinvent Dracula, Frankestein and the Wolf Man. But if you go over the lyrics, it seems to be the story of an actor who got the role of a lifetime because the original star was killed.

It’s a horror many of us can relate to: impostor syndrome.

“They’ve got stars for the gallant hearts/ I’m the replacement for your part.”

Ghost: Call Me Little Sunshine (2022)

A heavy metal band that’s equal parts occult and Abba.

This tune could be mistaken for a love song until you realize just who’s calling.

“You can always reach me. . . . All you gotta do is call me. . . Mephistopholes.”

The Pierces: Secret (2007)

It sounds like a record you’d find in a forbidden attic.

Beautiful voices sing of a secret and an unforgivable betrayal. There may be a scarier song but I’ve never heard it.

“Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”


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