Our Senior Editor (Miles Vance), Music Director (Jamiliyah Ismaiel), and General Manager (Danny Gutierrez) explore the more haunted side of music! Read on, if you dare!
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You”
“I Put a Spell on You” is a standard Halloween track. It’s been covered countless times and helped influence aspects of metal and “shock rock”. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ live choreography for this song included rising from a coffin, prancing around in a cape, and laughing maniacally. In other performances, he would cradle a human skull a la Hamlet, and he fully placed into his role with the macabre. These elements can all be inferred by listening to the studio recording, which places a lot of emphasis on Hawkins’ howls and haunting laughter. The instrumentation evokes images of a dusty piano playing by itself in a dilapidated mansion. If you’re planning on having a Halloween playlist, you really can’t make it without this addition. If you want something more chill or a bit less harsh on the ears, I recommend looking into Nina Simone’s version.
System of a Down – Mezmerize
One of the most important Nu-Metal bands of all time. System of a Down. It would feel wrong to not include their dark and conscious music in a spooky list, because nothing is spookier than the exploitations born from capitalism. Serge Tankian’s impressive melodies and attention keeping lyrics carry this album. In terms of sound, there is a great speed and the instruments evolve with the songs. Something System of a Down has mastered is having a song that can sound like it’s a completely different song depending on the section you scrub to.
Notable tracks: "B.Y.O.B.," "Revanga," "Radio/Video," and "Question"
Paramore – “Monster”
The first time I heard this song was when Transformers: Dark of The Moon came out, and my little emo-middle school self fell head over heels in love with it. The theme is not only perfect for the gory, spooky vibes of Halloween, but it also does such a wonderful job of capturing the essences of having fun and rocking out on the glorious All Hallows Eve. If this song could talk it would say “It's Halloween you idiot, go crazy, rock out, have fun, but…but BEWARE” Dundunduuun!!!
Genre- Alt Rock; Post-grunge
Black Midi – Almost their entire discography
If you define “Halloween music” as “scary music”, and you define “scary music” as “music that would offend your grandparents”, Black Midi is most certainly a safe bet. The British post-punk outfit lean into obscure and dark sonic aesthetics, while also maintaining a clever lyrical presence and a sense of humor. If you fly too close to the sun that is Black Midi’s discography, you’ll notice that the band’s work is just a group of three insanely talented musicians having fun with flying guitar licks, virtuosic drumming, and speedy, throaty bass playing that utilizes every note possible. Sometimes, this presents itself in ways that feel initially frightening. Some sufficiently spooky tracks include “bmbmbm”, “John L”, “The Race is About to Begin”, and the aptly titled “Welcome to Hell”. You can’t describe Black Midi succinctly through words, so give them a listen! I promise that for better or worse, one listen will have you feeling very strongly about them. My roommate heard “bmbmbm” and hated it, but I will sometimes catch him muttering the refrain, “She moves with a purpose”.
Banks - “Begging for Thread”
This song captures the seductive, bad ass, eerie side of Halloween. That side that lures a lot of us in and makes us feel hot yet dangerous. If this song were a person she would be drop dead gorgeous, having her victims in the palm of little her hands with eyes that say “Come play with me…..so that I can have some real fun and kill you..pleaseee”.
Genre- Alternative indie, pop
Arca – “Brujas”
Brujas by Arca is a choppy experimental electronic track. Arca is known for her experimentation in her beats and iconic voice. This Halloween, I recommend her experimental perreo tracks, punchy and danceable, they are also eerie and metallic in the way Halloween requires. Her haunting vocals following what I can only describe as witchy-bitch track verse, possess the room with a welcome electricity.
Other notable tracks: "Incendio," "El Alma Que Te Trajo," "Rakata," "Prada," and "Tiro"
Death Grips – “You Think He Loves You for Your Money but I Know What He Really Loves You For it’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”
Listen, it’s Death Grips. They’re scary. Put the track on and try telling me with a straight face that your grandmother would listen to this without having a heart attack. This track, like so many others from Death Grips, opens on a piercing note, and from that point moves through a cycle of destruction and visceral noise. The instrumentation is haunting, the drums are constantly pounding like a cyclone of broken glass, and the vocals are filled with screams. This song is not for the faint of heart, but for those who like their music with a little bit of noise, it’s utopic in its delivery.
Hozier - “Arsonist’s Lullaby”
This song captures the grunge and gore of Halloween. I chose this song not only because of the skilled lyricism but Hozier’s AMAZING vocal style. This song gives you chills, the kind that are perfect for All Hallows Eve. I feel like this song would be more of a place than a person. It’s like being in the woods all alone on a dark, silent night, feeling like there’s someone watching your every move ready to jump out at any moment. Tell me that’s not awesome! Oh wait. You can’t, mwhahaha. Guess you’ll just have to go listen and find out.
Genre: Alternative indie/ Singer-songwriter/ Country
I don’t think I need to tell you what specific songs or albums to listen to for Rico. Rico Nasty is a notable Punk Rapper, and one of the most punk people in general. Rico isn’t afraid to scream and yell her verses, reaching into the depths of her anger with the circumstances. If you’re a grumpy punk but you still want to bust a move, Rico is a great choice. She’s fun, experimental, edgy, and full of energy.
Post 2017 Rico is the most crunchy.
Metallica – “The Call of Ktulu”
Metallica is often dismissed these days as the pinnacle of dad rock, lacking the dark edge of “heavy” metal that their name would suggest. While the band might have toned down its image in recent years, some of their early work remains heavy and influenced by elements of the macabre. This is evident throughout Ride the Lightning, which has some pretty “killer” imagery of men strapped to electric chairs, getting trapped under ice, and yes, hearing the terrifying call of the lord of darkness himself. The Call of Ktulu reaches almost nine minutes in length, slowly building a crescendo of horror that works from slow, crawling riffs that invoke creeping tendrils until the song culminates in a wailing guitar solo reminiscent of victims’ screams and the call of the titular beast. Give this song a listen if you want some terrifying background music that will set the tone for a night of terrors.