Lustmord (feat. Adam Jones) “Dark Awakening” Pretty much anything recorded by Brian “Lustmord” Williams is Halloween worthy listening. Recording his strange “dark ambient” sounds in dark, echoey and dank areas such as Dunster Abattoir in Bangor, Wales and Chartres Cathedral Williams took things to another level with OTHER (2008) by enlisting friend, and TOOL guitarist, Adam Jones to creep things up with his droning guitar playing on “Dark Awakening.” Definitely not music to listen to while drifting off to sleep, but perfect atmosphere setting ambiance for any Halloween event.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put a Spell On You” Covered by everyone from Creedence Clearwater Revival to Marilyn Manson, nothing beats the original Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version of his only real hit. Put it in context, “I Put a Spell On You” which was released in 1956, was wildly different from the year’s other top hits such as “Hound Dog,” Be-Bop-A-Lua” and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” Hawkins was arguably the first shock rocker and would inspire a host of future shrockers such like the aforementioned Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper.
Rosemary Clooney “The Wobblin Goblin” More famous these days for being the late aunt of George Clooney, Rosemary Clooney was once a pretty hot ticket, right up there with Bing Crosby. This odd little Halloween song about a “woblin goblin with a broken broom” whose broom was so broken that he eventually could only fly “when the witches took him piggy back” is truly a rare Halloween song gem. Yeah, it’s not scary, or even well remembered, but is just as odd as the holiday it celebrates. Male “goblins” wouldn’t be regularly considered to be broomstick riders until Harry Potter jumped on one, but apparently broomsticks were for on and all way before Hogwarts made them popular.
Mastodon “Halloween” No one ever needs an excuse to crank up some Mastodon at any time of the year, so why not on All Hallow’s Eve as well? This little masterpiece of a prog/metal/rock song helped bring their most recent album Once More ‘Round The Sun to a fitting close. Full of trademark Mastodon jazzy drumming, blazing solos, and plenty of lyrical Halloween-ish imagery (“Orange and Black take me back to Halloween/You will find spirits never rise without warning/On a moon soaked night/Death is riding with me”) the guys in Mastodon give much props to the spirit of the season with “Halloween”, and of course, totally effin’ rock.
The Orwells “Halloween All Year” Garageband punks The Orwells might not exactly be the Nirvana of the 2010s, but they might be the decade’s answer to the alt-rock legends. Not quite as hard rocking as Kurt’s short lived group, but full of the same malaise and ennui, The Orwells also know how to come up with a unique Halloween themed song. More slasher flick inspired than classically gothic, “Halloween All Year” is a weird song about knives, bodies on ceilings, and suspicious vials and effectively spooky for a Halloween spin.
Bauhaus “Dark Entries” Forever saddled with the popularity (and incessant replay) of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” the casual listener might wonder if Bauhaus ever had any other good, i.e. creepy, songs that warrant a spot on Halloween playlists. “Dark Entries’” descending chord opening not only slightly foreshadowed the inversion of punk chords that grunge would thrive on less than a decade later they also set the dark mood.
Godsmack “Moon Baby” Godsmack has always had a weird occult obsession running through their music and “Moon Baby” with it’s opening voice clips about, what else, the moon, (which the band would put to use on their Grammy winning track “Vampires” a few years later) the band would introduce themselves to legions of fans with this first track off their debut album.
Alkaline Trio “This Could Be Love” Perhaps the most punk-poppishly uplifting song (sonically) about slitting ones throat, playing in one’s blood, and wrapping oneself in dirty shirts (all for love of course) ever written. Seriously, what is more scary than true love anyway? At least for a million or so emo kids discovering it for the first time every few moments? Besides Alk3 put on the best punk rock Halloween show ever: “Halloween at The Metro.”
NIN (cover of Joy Division’s) “Dead Souls” Trent Reznor covered the original Joy Division track for what is perhaps the greatest, but little known as a “Halloween movie,” Halloween Movie of all time: The Crow. Based on the original James O’Barr comic book, the film version takes place on Halloween. The story of Eric Draven’s posthumous revenge on the street gang and professional criminal ring that took his and his wife’s life is dark and gothic (in the literary sense), and Reznor’s dark version of “Dead Souls” fits the material perfectly.
White Zombie (cover of) “I’m Your Boogie Man” Not every Halloween song needs to conjure horrific images or bloody deeds. Before going solo, Rob Zombie’s original musical project, White Zombie, recorded a cover of KC and The Sunshine Band’s “I’m Your Boogie Man” for The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack, and it was one of the few things good about that movie. Whether he’ll admit it or not, Rob Zombie was a pioneer of nu-metal and “I’m Your Boogie Man” is drenched in nu-metal kitsch. It’s nevertheless a great Halloween party song that should be on everyone’s playlists on Oct. 31st.