If you can’t already tell, it’s that time of year again! There’s that special chill in the air, the leaves are starting to change into their patented Autumn wardrobe, and the Spirit Halloween stores have finally risen from the dead. That’s right, folks, it’s October, and that means that you have a Halloween party to plan!
You have the snacks ready, the cobwebs are hung, and the bowl of cold spaghetti brains is on display. The only thing missing is the music. You’ve forgotten the music! Never fear, my fellow Halloween Fiends, we here at Pixel Elixir have your back. Whether you’re planning a neighborhood-friendly bash or a “We’re Doing Keg-Stands in Uncomfortable Costumes” all-nighter, these 15 songs are sure to make your party the place to be.
“The Crypt Jam”— Tales From The Crypt
As your guests enter the party, they are going to want to know what kind of shindig they’re in for. Well, ladies and ghouls, they are in for a treat. This incredible jam from the Crypt Keeper lets them know that they are about to ‘dance themselves to death” and are about to have “skele-tons of fun”! It’s genuinely a perfect song that I can’t imagine living my life without.
“Black Magic Woman”— Fleetwood Mac
This 1975 classic from Fleetwood Mac is one of the grooviest, sexiest spooky songs in history. It appeals to both the boomer and millennial crowds and is a perfect way to get the party dancing after your guests have made a few trips to the punch bowl.
“Living Dead Girl”— Rob Zombie
You could create a killer playlist with 40 songs from Rob Zombie alone, so narrowing it down to just one was a difficult proposition. I chose “Living Dead Girl” because it’s sexy, mysterious and doesn’t bang quite as hard as “Dragula” or Superbeast”. You should definitely include those songs, as well, but make sure LDG plays first.
“Square Hammer”— Ghost
Your guests have imbibed, the fog machine is on, and you need to get things going. I don’t blame you. There’s nothing worse than watching people drink your booze then leave for another party. All you have to do is throw on this killer track from Ghost and you’ll have the whole house rocking in no time.
“Monster Mash”— Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt-Kickers
If you throw on “Monster Mash” at your party and someone has the gall to complain about it, you can legally kick them out of your home for being a lame. It’s true, I’ve checked the books. It’s illegal to not love this song. Your guests may not know how to “Mash”, but what they need to learn is that, deep down, we’re all just Monsters looking to get down.
“Waves”— Dance With the Dead
Much like my selection for Rob Zombie above, it’s nearly impossible to select just one DWTD song to play at your Halloween bash. I picked “Waves” for the same reasons I selected “Living Dead Girl” for RZ: it’s sexy as hell, has a beat you can get weird to, and it won’t make your guests head-bang like some of their other songs. For more creepy tracks from Dance With the Dead, and a whole bunch of other retrowave artists, check out Pixel Elixir’s Spookwave playlist on Spotify here.
“Cry Little Sister”— Gerard McMann
After a solid string of songs to get the blood pumping, it’s important to play a couple slower jams so that give your guests a chance to hit the punch or the bathroom. This song, from everyone’s favorite mullet-vampire flick The Lost Boys, is the perfect combination of spooky sing-a-long and groovy nostalgia. It will make sure that, even when taking a break, everyone still knows that your party is the jump off.
“People Are Strange”— The Doors
Versions of this 1967 masterpiece from The Doors have been featured in tons of horror films, from The Lost Boys (covered for the film by Echo And The Bunnymen) to 2014’s Deliver Us From Evil. It's a slower, almost blues-like song that has a mysterious, appealing feel. It will give your guest the opportunity to still feel spooky without having to scream over the speakers.
“On Our Own”— Bobby Brown
So, you want your guests to make their way back to the dance floor, but it’s impossible to puppet their bodies like the fellas from Weekend at Bernie’s. What’s a host to do? All you have to do is play the song that slaps harder than any song that has ever been released before or since. That’s right, I’m talking about Ghostbuster II’s “On Our Own”! The only thing you have to worry about is people throwing their backs out when Bobby hits that rap verse.
“In the Room Where You Sleep”— Dead Man’s Bones
Some people only know this song from the closing moments of 2013’s The Conjuring, and others have worn out their vinyl copy of Dead Man’s Bones 2009 release. Either way, this is the groovy mix of creepy and adorable that every party needs. As a bonus, you can break the ice to any man or woman you have your eye on by mentioning that the lead singer for this song (and one-half of Dead Man’s Bones) is the unearthly handsome Ryan Gosling.
“Pet Sematary”— Ramones
Embarrassingly, I had no idea that this song existed until I started doing research for this article. Now, I can’t stop listening to it! Written in 1989 in Stephen King’s basement, “Pet Sematary” is the perfect song to jam out to on a cold Halloween night.
Sometimes people just want to relax with their drink and enjoy the view. Ladytron’s “Ghost” is just the ticket for them. It’s a great song to stand in the corner and nod your head to. As they hit the chorus, you might even shimmy your shoulders a little. I won’t make any promises, but I know that I listened to this song 12 times this weekend and shimmied every single time.
“Goodbye Horses”— Q Lazzarus
It’s impossible to listen to this song without thinking of Buffalo Bill, and that’s the point. It is a song that stands on its own as a creepy/spooky single, but it’s the ball of dread that hearing it puts in your stomach that makes it a perfect Halloween party song. Believe me, the quotes that people will be screaming at each other when this song comes on will make your party one for the ages.
“Psycho Killer”— Talking Heads
This 1977 jam from New York City’s Talking Heads is a song that everyone knows, even if they don’t realize it yet. As soon as front man David Byrne hits the “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa” part of the chorus, everyone will be singing along and having a good time.
“Mr. Sandman”— The Chordettes
Has there ever been such an innocent song that brings with it such vivid feelings of dread and horror? This 1954 classic from the Chordettes is instantly recognizable from the first few notes. It is the perfect song to let your guests know that not only is your party ending, but that you wish them pleasant dreams and happy thoughts about Halloween H20.
Honorable Mention: Interludes
Every good Halloween party needs the occasional interlude. Here are a few shorter songs that you can mix into your playlist that will turn the spook levels up to 11!
“Halloween TV Commercial”- Tommy Lee Wallace and John Carpenter
This short song from the Halloween III: Season of the Witch is one minute and thirty seconds of pure Halloween bliss. It will instantly have everyone at your party screaming “STOP IT!!!” in a good way.
“End Credits”— Richard Bellis
This little circus tune will make everyone at your house stop and feel weird. It’s what I do every time I hear this beautiful song that played over the end credits of 1991’s It miniseries. Its happy, smiley, and at the same time completely creepy and disturbing.
“Tiptoe Through the Tulips”— Tiny Tim
This song will never not give me the creeps, and it will do the same for your guests. Featured during the “the Further” sequences in Insidious, people will never be able to separate Tiny Tim’s vocals from the red-faced demon.
So, there you have it! Those are the 15 songs that you really should include on your Halloween party playlist. The real lesson for you to learn is that there are no wrong answers here. Halloween is a time to party and have fun with your friends and neighbors, and there are hundreds of awesome songs to build a playlist around. If you follow our suggestions, though, your party will be the talk of the town all year long!
To check out our Halloween Party Radio playlist on Spotify, featuring these songs plus other classic jams for the spooky season, click here.
Tyler Liston is a contributor for Pixel Elixir and lives in the Midwest with his wife and son. He's known to do the Monster Mash at Halloween parties.