A spooky, not-so-scary Halloween playlist for 2018
However you celebrate Halloween, these songs will add a frightful flair to the fall’s most chilling holiday.
It’s time for Halloween! Full of scary stories, sweet candy and creative decorations, music that has frightful horror tropes and unsettling beats is a great addition for any Halloween celebration. Listen to these tunes to get into the ghostly Halloween spirit.
“I Put a Spell on You” - Nina Simone
The 1950s hit by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was called one of the songs that “shaped rock and roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since its creation, it’s been covered by many artists, including Bette Midler in Disney’s 1993 film “Hocus Pocus,” in which the Sanderson sister witches sing to curse the town on Halloween night. The film’s cover isn’t on Spotify, but Nina Simone’s soulful blues tone is sure to give you chills.
“Disturbia” - Rihanna
As the title suggests, there’s something disturbing happening to Rihanna in this song. Classic Halloween horror tropes are present all throughout this song: “No more gas, in the red / Can’t even get it started,” and “Disconnectin’ your call / Your phone don’t even ring.” This song is perfect for your Halloween playlist because it’s an early 2000s classic and reminds the listener of all the disturbing movies seen and stories heard during Halloween.
“Zombies” - Childish Gambino
This song is from Childish Gambino’s 2016 album, “Awaken My Love!” It carries a different tone from the other Halloween-esque songs. There’s a slow R&B vibe throughout the verses, but the whispery backing vocals in the chorus give the song an unsettling feeling. The song’s background is similar to the score from the 1978 horror film “Dawn of the Dead,” which adds to the unsettling nature of the tune. Zombies are a common feature in Halloween decorations, but the song doesn’t use the undead as just a fear factor. The words suggest that zombies aren’t what we should be scared of, not even on Halloween: “They can smell your money / And they want your soul.”
“Somebody’s Watching Me” - Rockwell
Rockwell’s Motown song from 1984 features Michael Jackson’s distinguishable voice in the chorus. The eerie organ chords paired with electro-beats emphasizes the singer’s worries that he’s being watched. Halloween can make you believe in things that aren’t there: is someone watching you? The song’s paranoia, however, is contrasted by funny lyrics like “I can’t enjoy my tea!” This shows that Halloween is really about having fun, even if the holiday welcomes different kinds of spooks.
“You should see me in a crown” - Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish is a 16-year-old singer who is breaking into the pop music scene with EDM beats and troubling lyrics. The lyrics, “Blood on a marble wall / I like the way they all / Scream,” create an unnerving experience for the listener. The shivers you get when you hear Eilish sing are just like the shivers you feel on the night of Halloween. Put on your costume, imagine yourself in a crown and let the powerful, yet discomforting techno song get you excited for your night out.
“Hallowed Ground” - Bishop Briggs
Like Billie Eilish, Bishop Briggs uses EDM throughout her songs. “Hallowed Ground” is a title that refers to cemeteries and churches. Fittingly, her newest album is titled “Church of Scars.” This tune has a busy chorus that contrasts the opening piano chords with her repetitive lyrics. The unusual electronic aspects of the song plunge the listener into an empowered, alarmed and excited state. This song will prep you for any Halloween festivities while providing ghostly lyrics: “My soul can’t be sold. … My spirit never told.”
“This is Halloween” - Danny Elfman, Nightmare Before Christmas
The 1993 Tim Burton film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” lives in a limbo: is it a Christmas movie, or is it a Halloween movie? This song from the film, though, is without a doubt a Halloween song. The accented voices throughout the song are all gritty or high-pitched tones that makes the listener realize that they’re hearing something sinister. Each lyric pinpoints a fear that you might have. Whether it’s a “clown with a tear-away face,” a “slimy green” creature or “snakes and spiders,” this Halloween song is full of the frightful mood you’d expect.
“GHOST” - Jaden Smith
Jaden Smith’s album “Syre” was released in 2017, but recently his previous singles have been gaining more attention. It’s not just the title that makes this song the perfect fit for a Halloween playlist. The bell tones and muted horns in the background are reminiscent of the horror music that might play during a film while the camera slowly approaches the abandoned house at the end of an unfamiliar forest trail, miles from the nearest city. The looping bells could even be compared to the theme song from the 1978 horror film “Halloween.” The lyric “I knew that you wouldn’t last,” asks if you could survive a frightening Halloween night. Do you believe in ghosts?
“Glory and Gore” - Lorde
This song isn’t about anything too spooky, but Lorde’s alto voice paired with even deeper bass beats starts the song off with grim mood that’s perfect for Halloween. There’s an unruly tone throughout the song: “But in all chaos there is calculation / Dropping glasses just to hear them break.” These words match the playful and mischievous feelings we all have on Halloween. The song picks up at the chorus with a louder, faster rhythm, but the techno sounds in the background keeps Lorde’s song on point with a discomforting Halloween vibe.
“Thriller” - Michael Jackson
A Halloween playlist would not be complete without the eeriest song from the ‘80s, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. As of October 22, “Thriller” has re-entered the Billboard’s Weekly Top 200 at number 130. As Halloween approaches, it’s almost certain that this classic will continue to rise. The song tells a story full of classic horror tropes, from “something evil lurking from the dark,” hearing “a creature creeping up behind” as “horror looks you right between the eyes.” During the bridge, the song breaks for a discomforting monologue delivered by an unfamiliar voice, warning you of something terrifying. The song reminds every listener of Halloween spooks all while getting us to dance that universal “Thriller” dance.