In the days leading up to, and past, the Halloween holiday, I’ll be taking a look at and recommending all manner of Halloween horrors and spooky treats. These are the
Thirteen Days of Halloween
Day 1 – October 22nd: The October Country
Day 2 – October 23rd: Bone-Chilling Books
Day 3 – October 24th: Terrifying Television
Day 4 – October 25th: Petrifying Podcasts
Day 5 – October 26th: Grisly Games
Day 6 – October 27th: Creepy Comics
Day 7 – October 28th: Frightening Films
Day 8 – October 29th: This Is (A) Halloween (Mixtape)
Day 9 – October 30th: Halloween Horror
Day 10 – October 31st: Why Halloween?
Day 11 – November 1st: All Hallows’ Day
Day 12 – November 2nd: Día de los Muertos
Day 13 – November 3rd: Nightmares before Christmas
Day 8 – October 29th: This Is (A) Halloween (Mixtape)
Music is an important part of life. Music helps us connect. It helps us express ourselves. We attach meaning to songs, and those songs become a part of us, communicating something about who we are. We attach music to people, to places, to memories, and those songs take on a deeper meaning.
Ever since I first became obsessed with Halloween, there has been one band that has come to represent that season more than any others – Wolf Parade. I don’t really know how it started. I can’t remember if I just happened to be listening to a lot of Wolf Parade one Halloween, but I remember finding a lot of their songs spooky and unsettling, in a way that no other band has made me feel. I started to listen to them more and more and they became my October band. I purposefully avoid listening to them the rest of the year so that they can remain attached to October and Halloween in my memory. But Wolf Parade songs aren’t the only ones with that association for me, so I’ve decided to put together a playlist to show you what my Halloween sounds like. Maybe you’ll discover something you enjoy!
Side A: Sinister Songs
- National American Halloween Prevention Inc. (NAHPI) – Do They Know It’s Hallowe’en?
I just discovered this song this year and I’m horrified that it took me so long. You know the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Well this is the Halloween version, put together by a bunch of indie artists such to support UNICEF. Contributers include members of Arcade Fire, members of Wolf Parade, members of Rilo Kiley, Beck, Feist, Karen O, and… David Cross for some reason. I wasn’t a fan initially, but the more I listened to it, the more I grew to love it. It’s spooky, goofy fun, and I’ll be returning to this every Halloween from here on.
- Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Fright Night (Nevermore)
I don’t really have much to say about this one. The album Before Today showed up on some “Best of 2010” lists and I listened to it and this is the song that stuck out. I like it because it’s catchy and creepy. And the band has “haunted” in its name. And the song is called “Fright Night”. So… lots of factors!
- Michael Jackson – Thriller
This one’s kind of self-explanatory, isn’t it? I’m not even the biggest fan of this song, but that dance man… that dance has become kind of synonymous with Halloween, hasn’t it?
- Wolf Parade – Mr. Startup (2016 EP)
- Wolf Parade – Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts (2004 EP)
- Wolf Parade – Disco Sheets (2005 EP)
- Wolf Parade – We Built Another World (Apologies to the Queen Mary)
- Wolf Parade – Wits or a Dagger (2003 EP)
- Wolf Parade – Ghost Pressure (Expo 86)
- Wolf Parade – In The Direction of the Moon (Expo 86)
- Wolf Parade – Kissing the Beehive (At Mount Zoomer)
- Wolf Parade – Dinner Bells (Apologies to the Queen Mary)
- Wolf Parade – Claxxon’s Lament
Sigh. I know. 10 Wolf Parade songs is too much. I tried to go with 8 (one from each of their releases, plus a cover), but I couldn’t decide which songs to take from Apologies to the Queen Mary and Expo 86. There are many Wolf Parade songs that you should listen to, but these are the ones that I think are the most suited to Halloween. These songs are all favorites of mine and represent the whole breadth of the band’s discography. Their debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, features many of the same songs found on their first 3 self-titled EP’s, so I cheated a bit by including the EP versions of “Dear Songs and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” and “Disco Sheets”. As you (probably) can (not) tell from the list, I vastly prefer Spencer Krug’s songs to Dan Boeckner’s. In fact, of the songs I selected, the only one Boeckner sings on exclusively is “Ghost Pressure”, which is part of the reason I included it (Both Boeckner and Krug share singing duties on “Kissing the Beehive”). There’s just something inherently unsettling about Krug’s voice that I find fascinating. I hope you’ll enjoy this selection. Sorry I ended Side A on such a downer (“Claxxon’s Lament” is a cover of a song from Frog Eyes, one of Krug’s other bands). As a bonus, I wanted to include this video I had once watched that combined “Kissing the Beehive” with a short animated film called “The Hangman”. It was fantastic, and after searching every popular video site, I was unable to locate it (I believe it has been removed for copyright reasons). I did, however, find a link on this shady-looking Russian website called “HomeTube”. It adds a sort of thrill to the video, knowing that it can only be found and viewed on this Russian website. Please enjoy.
Side B: Thrilling Themes
- Danny Elfman – This Is Halloween
I mean… come on. You knew this was going to be here. This is inarguably that greatest Halloween song of all time. It is flawless. Perfection. This IS Halloween.
- Andrew Gold – Spooky Scary Skeletons/Spooky Scary Skeletons (Remix)
This isn’t really a theme, but I needed 13 tracks on each side, so it was either this or “Thriller”. Let’s argue that “Spooky Scary Skeletons” is the theme song for Halloween itself! Now go listen to 10 hours of the remix!
- Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters
Once again, another no-brainer. This is one of the best songs ever recorded. I really wanted to attach the original music video, but for some reason, it’s nearly impossible to find online, so this low-quality DailyMotion link is what you’re getting.
- Jon Brion – Norman’s Walk
This song might not really be appropriate for a Halloween playlist, but it’s my favorite track from one of my favorite Halloween movies and I just think it’s incredible. It’s both melancholic and hopeful at the same time, and it reminds me that not everything at Halloween needs to be spooky, scary, tragic, dangerous, or evil. Please watch ParaNorman guys. It’s so good.
- Douglas Pipes – Trick ‘r Treat Theme
Here’s the theme for my all-time favorite Halloween movie (The Nightmare Before Christmas is my all-time favorite Halloween/Christmas hybrid film). It has just the right amount of creep for Halloween night, borrowing heavily from Bernard Herrman’s score for Psycho. Speaking of which…
- Bernard Herrmann – Psycho Theme/The Murder
How could I leave off these iconic themes (I paired them together because “The Murder” is almost more of a sound effect than a song). Masterfully creepy.
- John Carpenter – Halloween Theme
I’m running out of things to say, because it’s like “Yeah, no DUH Carpenter’s Halloween theme made the list. How could it possibly not? Carpenter is a master at horror and a master of film themes.
- Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (The Exorcist Theme)
Broken record. Because OF COURSE Tubular Bells is here. It’s ICONIC!
- Akira Yamaoka – Silent Hill Theme/Winged Horse (Film)
- Akira Yamaoka – Laura Plays the Piano/Hope Drowns (Film)
- Akira Yamaoka – Promise (Reprise)/Lost Connection (Film)
- Akira Yamaoka – Never Forgive Me, Never Forget Me/Maternal (Film)
I’ve never actually played any of the Silent Hill games (okay, I played like… 2 hours of Silent Hill: Downpour last year but that doesn’t count), but I love the idea of them. I love the concept of this mysterious town filled with secrets that transforms into something horrible and grotesque – this place that you feel inexplicably drawn to and can’t seem to escape from. It’s for this reason that I love the Silent Hill movies. I won’t argue that they’re actually good films, but man, they just nail that ambience. The movies LOOK great, and they also sound great. Every time I watch them I’m blown away by the soundtrack. While looking up some tracks for this playlist, I discovered that composer Jeff Danna actually repurposed all of the themes in the film from the games soundtracks, which are composed by Akira Yamaoka (who consulted on the film soundtracks). For this reason, I included the names of the tracks from the games and their counterparts from the films. I prefer the film versions, but they’re often shorter, so I included what I thought was the better version of each.
- Marilyn Manson – This Is Halloween
I never thought I’d be recommending people listen to a Marilyn Manson song, yet here we are. I wanted to end this playlist on a more sinister note, while also book-ending this list of themes with another incarnation of the best Halloween song ever. Manson gives this Halloween classic a darker edge while still staying true to the playful roots of the original.
Here’s a link to a playlist containing all of the above songs. Or I could just embed it below I guess.