WSUM loves Halloween and hopes you do to!
While you are getting ready to enjoy our Freak Fest stage (details here), check out our favorite spooky tunes to get you ready for a night of tricks and treats!
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“Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield – The name is fitting because the main instrument in the piece is the tubular bells. It sounds really cool, yet very eerie. This duo is perfect for any horror movie fest as it gets you interested, but keeps you on the edge of your seat. Fittingly, this song was used as the main theme for one of the best horror films of all time, “The Exorcist”.
“GHETTO ASS WITCH (FEAT. GVCCI-HVCCI)” by RITUALZ – Remember witch house? That underground genre of electronic music that was really huge back in 2011? You may have stopped listening to it,but I haven’t. RITUALZ always stood out amongst his contemporaries for his experimentation with vocals and a much more prominent hip-hop influence, and this track is no exception. “Sacrifice her body, put it in a ditch, I don’t give a fuck, I’m rich like 66666,” GVCCI-HVCCI spits during the chorus, and with the thoroughly spooky production, you’ll come close to believing it.
“King Night” by Salem – The grandfathers of witch house, Salem released a killer album in King Night, and the title track is by far the standout. The song opens with a heavily effected voice saying “I love you,” in a sing-song voice, and it’s downright spooky. The track blasts into twelfth gear from there with what sounds like seven thousand layered synthesizers playing over a broken 808 drum machine, and it’s absolutely stunning.
“Body and Blood” by clipping – clipping are a noise rap trio that aren’t necessarily known for being spooky, but the opening track off of their debut album CLPPNG is downright terrifying. The song tells the story of woman who lures men in with the promise of sex only to kill and eat them. With lines like “she trying to suck face off the bone, you should know she is prone to swallow the marrow,” the song is perfect for any dark night.
“Stand by Him” by Ghost – “It’s the night of witch tonight,” Papa Emeritus sings in the chorus of this ode to Satan himself. Ghost are known for their showmanship, so it’s no wonder they do spooky so well. With one of the most badass riffs on the planet, this one will make everyone want to get out their pentagrams and headbang.
“Spooky Scary Skeletons” by Andrew Gold – Top YouTube comment on this song: “There is a skeleton in your body…” If that isn’t spooky, then I don’t know what is.
“Everyday is Halloween” by Ministry – I used to think this was too easy a choice. Then I found a 12″ single and now it’s really too easy. This is Al Jourgensen from one of his better periods.
“Peekaboo” by Siouxie & The Banshees – Insulting, Lame, “Sexy-Everything” costumes notwithstanding, What is Halloween done right, but a game of Gothic Peekaboo?
“Wolf Like Me” by TV On The Radio – Best “Werewolf Rock” song ever (sorry Warren Zevon). I think it’s been co-opted by bros, which saddens me, but is actually kind of appropriate.
“It’s A Curse” by Wolf Parade – Second best “Werewolf Rock” song ever. Plus, it’s got this whole “Monster Mash” vibe that is totally awesome.
“Who Can It Be Now?” by Men At Work – This is my jam when I don’t have any candy and am trying to dodge trick-or-treaters. Sorry-Not-Sorry, kids.
“Get Out Of My House” by Kate Bush -The final track on Bush’s 1982 album, The Dreaming, her first as sole producer. It adapts Stephen King’s The Shining, recasting Jack Torrance’s brutalized wife Wendy as its protagonist. Bush delivers the song’s titular command as a blood-curdling scream. For the oppressed, a plea is often a threat.
“One Life to Leave” by Out Hud – This electronic group’s sophomore (and final) release, Let Us Never Speak Of It Again, is a treatise against the Bush administration. The dance floor becomes a protest site, as it was for Daft Punk on Human After All, another album from March 2005. Let Us‘ seething lead single builds an undeniable groove and chorus around the phrase “it fits us to die” and creates a post-disco classic about literally dancing on your own grave.
“Hellbound” by The Breeders – A gleeful anthem about the reanimation of an aborted fetus. I hold out hope that Diablo Cody will turn this into a screenplay.
“The Ghosts That Wake You” by Follow That Bird! – From Matador’s Casual Victim Pile compilation about Austin’s mid-2000s rock scene (the title is an anagram of “Live Music Capital”). Frontwoman Lauren Green intimates about the regret and irresolution that comes with adulthood like a ghost story. Her voice and guitar evoke a bonfire’s crackle and an opaque night sky, while bassist Paul Brinkley and drummer Tiffany Lanmon steady rhythm becomes the flashlight in the wilderness. They are now Mirror Travel and they are still great.
“Home Is Where the Hatred Is” by Esther Phillips – The pride of Galveston covered Gil Scott-Heron’s song for her 1972 album, From a Whisper to a Scream. Phillips’ work on that album was so formidable that Aretha Franklin (!) ceded her Grammy when they competed for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance a year later. “Home” is a harrowing reflection about addiction and poverty’s demonic possession over the black inner city, with Phillips’ reedy alto imbuing the song’s elegy for a sense of home with a distinctly female subjectivity.
“Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt Kickers – This is my favorite simply because it is a Halloween classic!
“September” by Earth Wind & Fire – A) Earth Wind & Fire is an amazing band. B) September is pretty much fall and it talks about how beautiful it is!
“Dragula” by Rob Zombie – First off, the guy has zombie is his name. The song and Rob Zombie are kind of creepy as a whole, yet he puts it together in a nice rock song to sing along to.
“Everlasting Party” by Here Come the Mummies – Everybody loves a sexy mummy- so the song goes. Makes me think of Freak Fest and the party and costumes that come along with it!
“I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Covered countless times and featured in the Jarmusch classic Stranger Than Paradise, this pre-mod rock waltz offers a sparse saxophone arrangement as the foil to Hawkins’ jaw-shattering vocals. Apparently recorded when he was stone drunk, the song captures Hawkins in his rawest form–howling, moaning, and grunting his way through this spooky little ditty.
“Strychnine” by The Sonics – The Tacoma, WA garage rockers offer up this chilling ode to recreational strychnine ingestion with their quintessential lo-fi raucousness. If you like saxophone, if you like keyboards, if you like distortion, if you like screaming mod, maybe you should try a little strychnine — it’s the answer to all your problems kids!
“Bewitched” by Beat Happening – Erupting out of the feedback at the beginning of the track is a simple
but brutal guitar riff that doesn’t stop the whole song through. With their dumbed-down aesthetic (they never really had full command of their instruments) and teeny-bop sensibility, these Olympia hooligans
crash their way through this unsettling love number.
“Chinatown” by Naked City – While they missed the no-wave scene by a good eight years, Naked City is known for nicely synthesizing that aesthetic into their jazz-core stylings. But on this haunting ballad, the group reprises Jerry Goldsmith’s masterful score to the neo-noir classic, Chinatown, in nihilistic fashion, with reverberating guitar and saxophone lines that immediately conjure up the post-war moral black hole the film sought to capture fifteen years previous–“forget it Jack, it’s Chinatown.”
“Bad Houses” by Big Black – Roland the drum machine does his thang at the start of this track, glitching his way through a bombastic beat that nicely complements the iron-lungish guitar musings. Most chilling of all, though, is Steve Albini’s deadpan lyrical delivery, which acts as an interior monologue for a brothel frequenter. Seedy, stuttering, and sardonic–what more could you want??
DJ Vitamin D
“The Devil’s Den” by Skrillex and Wolfgang Gartner – What happens when two already-very spooky artists collaborate? The result is a track that would even scare the Grim Reaper himself.
“EDM Death Machine” by Knife Party – A giant mechanical boombox robot haunts Halloween in the year 2080. This is the song it plays.
“Big Bad Wolf” by Duck Sauce – If Thriller wasn’t playing when Michael Jackson turned into a werewolf, this would.
“Tarantula” by Pendulum – Can’t have Halloween without creepy crawlers. And what’s more scary than a giant tarantula?
“Psycho” by Infected Mushroom – I don’t think this song needs an explanation.
“Thriller [Frankie Knuckles & David Morales Def Thriller Mix]” by Michael Jackson – Of course this will end up somewhere! But what happens if Michael Jackson encountered the zombies in Paradise Garage or The Warehouse? This is the likely result!
“The Wolf” by Dave Clarke – Forget “Big Bad Wolf” by Duck Sauce – This is THE one and only original Wolf by Dave Clarke. Just make sure it doesn’t hunt you down!
“Night” by Benga & Coki – The title says it all. You don’t see no mummies or vampires in the sunlight. What’s the fun and spook in that?
“First Day” by Timo Maas w/ Brian Moko ft. Martin Buttrich – Five Night’s At Freddy’s was a Halloween game that has been long overdue. If that creepy mechanical bear popped up right next to you in your security room and decided to sing you a song on your first day of work, this would be it.
“Scarabs” by Ed Rush – You can’t have Halloween without bugs and creepy crawlers. This song perfectly portrays if Beelzebub, Lord of The Flies were to come out and devour you bit by bit.
“East St. Louis Toodle-Oo”, “The Mooche”, and “Black and Tan Fantasy” by Duke Ellington – All of these tunes have peculiar eeriness, thanks especially to Ellington’s clever orchestration and the growl trumpet playing of the ill-fated Bubber Miley. They are also among Ellington’s most significant numbers and give a glimpse of the “jungle” style his band had developed in the later 1920s. Bonus: check out the ending of Black and Tan Fantasy, with it’s creepy twist. [Note: each of these songs was recorded many times during Ellington’s career. Try the 1920s ones for starters, such as the 11/29/26 version of East St. Louis Toodle-Oo (recorded for Vocalion), the 10/1/1928 version of the Mooche (Okeh), and the 10/26/27 version of Black and Tan Fantasy (Victor)]
“St. James Infirmary” by Louis Armstrong and his Savoy Ballroom Five [12/12/1928] – This song begins with the haunting lyric “I went down to St. James Infirmary / Saw my baby there / Stretched out on a long white table / So sweet, so cold, so fair”. Overall, the song seems to suggest that death is never far away for us–it’s just out of mind. The music, which features singing and trumpet by Armstrong, sets a funereal mood.
“In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg – If you don’t know the piece by title, take a listen online, you’ll know it immediately. This is probably some of the first Halloween music ever.
“My Love for Evermore” by Hillbilly Moon Explosion – This is a 50’s nostalgia psychobilly ballad that involves love, betrayal, and murder. The whole psychobilly movement is based on old rock ‘n roll and bad B horror movies, what’s more Halloween than that?”
“Cereal Killer” by Method Man and Redman – “Murder, Murder, Murder, Kill, Kill, Kill”. For safe-harbor hours only.
“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo – While any Oingo Boingo song could fit well in a Halloween playlist (their Halloween shows are legendary), none can top the most obvious one. Musically upbeat and lyrically macabre, this song argues that the afterlife is going to be a grand party to which everyone is invited. But why wait for death when you can party right now?
“Ghost Town” by The Specials – Think ska is all about fun, games, and skanking? Think again! This unnerving tune featuring off-kilter vocals and a creepy organ is actually about seeing all of the clubs closed down during the depression in the U.K. during the late 70s. Spooky!
“The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum” by Fun Boy Three – The Specials obviously learned a thing or two about creepy music, because three of their members went on to write this spookshow of a song. Featuring another twisted organ and haunting vocals, this song ups the ante and talks directly about the cold war and the threat of nuclear Armageddon.
“Zulu Death Mask” by Deadbolt – Although their claim to be the “scariest band in the world” is a bit dubious, this gothabilly band makes a strong case with this song. Set to a reverbed-out surf rock backing, this spoken word song is about finding a magic mask that can kill. Surf rock only deals in polar opposites – the Beach Boys and Halloween.
“Faaip De Oiad” by Tool – Possibly one of the creepiest songs of all time, this is a remix of one of the most famous hoax calls of all time. The caller, sounding very distraught, claims to be a former Area 51 employee hunted by the government who knows that aliens are actually extra-dimensional beings, which is creepy enough without Tool adding crazy percussion and static. Do not listen to this alone at night if you get spooked easily.