Halloween is fast approaching. Call me a black magician who preys on the souls of the innocent and occasionally sacrifices a goat in the name of Lucifer, but Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.
Last year, I more than doubled my Ultimate Halloween Playlist to 85 songs. Countess Bathory was not satisfied. "More blood!" she screamed from her claw-footed porcelain tub, or at least that's what I assume she said. Her Magyar-inflected Latin is hard to decipher sometimes. Regardless, I must accede to her presumed demands, so I have added 26 more songs to the list this year, compiling the best songs for you to use either at a Halloween party to set the mood right or in the background on Halloween night, when you're dressed like Pennywise, passing out candy and disemboweled rats to the neighborhood kids.
Halloween is the one time of year when it's okay to embrace evil. At any Halloween party or during trick-or-treating, you want there to be a certain level of creepiness, as well as some campiness, because Halloween is supposed to be a mixture of paganism, macabre, and fun. As a result, the playlist below includes songs that have dark and evil themes, talk about monsters or the devil or witches or the like, mention the word "Halloween," or are just plain creepy. My mix has a lot of heavy metal, but that's kind of expected, since metal bands are more likely to embrace darker subject matter than, say, Andy Grammer. You don't want to go too dark, like, say, Norwegian black metal, because you're going to lose your party-goers, or the neighbors are going to think you're really into church burning. And if you are into church burning, you're probably not going to want to tip the neighbors off by blaring Gorgoroth out your front door while handing their children fun-size packages of Skittles, even if you are wearing corpsepaint.
For parties, you'll probably want to mix these songs in with your regular party mix. After all, who doesn't want to hear "Year Zero" after "Shake It Off"? For trick or treating, you're probably going to want to just go straight spooky, which probably means a heavy dose of Ghost, Pentagram, Misfits, and Black Sabbath. Just make sure the songs you choose for trick or treating don't have any swears in them. Parents can be real assholes about that.
With that, here are my recommendations for your Halloween playlist, in alphabetical order by artist, with comments where I felt it was necessary. Unfortunately, with the demise of Grooveshark and my inability to find another website that allows me to embed playlists for free, I can't give you an embedded playlist this year.
1-4. "Highway to Hell," "Hells Bells," "Night Prowler," and "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" by AC/DC
"Highway to Hell" is an obvious choice and a crowd pleaser. "Hells Bells" has those instantly recognizable bells -- hells bells, if you will. "Night Prowler" is a slower, creepy song that, several years later, serial killer Richard Ramirez (aka, "the Night Stalker") claimed inspired him, or something like that. "If You Want Blood" was added solely to appease the Countess.
5. "Demon Eyes" by The Answer
6. "Howling for You" by The Black Keys
7-10. "Black Sabbath," "War Pigs," "The Wizard," and "Heaven and Hell" by Black Sabbath
"Black Sabbath" was inspired by a vision Geezer Butler had one night after reading a book about witchcraft that Ozzy Osbourne gave to him. He woke up in the middle of the night, and a black figure was standing at the foot of his bed. The figure disappeared, and when Butler went to get the book, it too was gone. "War Pigs" is about war, death, and bodies burning. "The Wizard" is about a wizard. "Heaven and Hell" is the title track from the first Sabbath album with Ronnie James Dio as the lead singer, and it is awesome.
11. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult
But do fear people who would actually vote for Ben Carson or Donald Trump.
12. "I Want Candy" by Bow Wow Wow
13. "Howl" by JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound
14. "Halloween Theme" by John Carpenter
Instantly recognizable as one of the more creepy horror movie themes.
15. "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash
16. "The Night Time is the Right Time" by Ray Charles
17. "Spooky" by The Classics IV
18. "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by The Cramps
19. "Am I Demon" by Danzig
No, no I'm not.
20. "Am I Evil?" by Diamond Head
"Yes I am."
21. "A Nightmare on My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
This is a classic late '80s rap song, playing off of the popularity of Freddy Krueger, who, for many of us growing up in the '80s, was the most terrifying of all the horror movie villains. I should also note that I did, in fact, perform this with a friend for our elementary school talent show in fifth grade. I was Freddy. It was pretty awesome.
22. "Dream Warriors" by Dokken
Speaking of Freddy, this was the title track to Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
23. "Season of the Witch" by Donovan
24-25. "The End" and "People Are Strange" by The Doors
"The End" is one of the creepier Doors songs, which says a lot.
26. "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran
27. "Murder On the Dancefloor" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
In case you're spiking your Milky Ways with molly.
28. "Trick or Treat" by Fastway
'80s metal band Fastway played the soundtrack to the 1986 the metal-themed horror film Trick or Treat. This is the title song.
29. "Kiss Me Deadly" by Lita Ford
30. "Close My Eyes Forever" by Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne
31. "Evil and a Heathen" by Franz Ferdinand
32-34. "Monstrance Clock," "Year Zero," and "If You Have Ghosts" by Ghost
"Monstrance Clock" is about conceiving "Lucifer's son," and "Year Zero" is about Satan in general and has a nice gothic feel to it. "If You Have Ghosts" is a Roky Erickson cover about having ghosts. To be honest, I would suggest just including all songs from Ghost's three albums and EP -- Opus Eponymous, Infestissumam, If You Have Ghost, and Meloria -- especially if you're looking for trick-or-treating background music. They are demonic in a polite Swedish way.
35. "Maneater" by Hall & Oates
36. "Hallow's Eve" by Hallows Eve
37-38. "Halloween" and "Mr. Torture" by Helloween
German power metal band Helloween obviously has the right name for a Halloween mix, and their song "Halloween" is included for obvious reasons. I also chose to go with "Mr. Torture" because I like the song. So there.
39. "Friendly Ghost" by Harlem
This one's a little more light-hearted, to offset the vast majority of this list.
40. "I Put a Spell On You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins
I prefer the original to CCR's cover (which is still very good) because Hawkins adds a level of voodoo campiness that CCR just couldn't have matched.
41. "Magic Man" by Heart
42. "I Ain't Superstitious" by Howlin' Wolf
43. "Devil Inside" by INXS
44-46. "Killers," "Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden
It was tough figuring out just one Iron Maiden song to include, so I went with three. The first two are from 1981's Killers album: "Killers," which is essentially about someone being stalked and murdered, and "Murders in the Rue Morgue," which is not only my favorite Iron Maiden song, but is also based on short story by Edgar Allen Poe of the same name. The third, "Number of the Beast," is a metal classic off of the 1982 album of the same name. Because of this song, my children know that 666 is the number of the beast.
47. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
This is a no-brainer and should be played at every Halloween party for eternity.
48. "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane
This is especially good if your partygoers are all on LSD.
49. "Devil's Child" by Judas Priest
50. "Hotter Than Hell" by KISS
51. "Pretend We're Dead" by L7
52. "Heeby-Jeebies" by Little Richard
53. "Look at Your Game, Girl" by Charles Manson
Recorded when Manson was still trying to break into the LA music scene and before he started ordering his minions to murder movie stars and grocery store owners, this song comes across as an innocent folky acoustic song. Then you realize it's sung by Charles Manson, and it becomes super creepy.
54. "Evil Love" by Meat Puppets
55-56. "Fade to Black" and "Creeping Death" by Metallica
57-60. "Halloween," "Death Comes Ripping," "Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight," and "Bloodfeast" by The Misfits
61. "Shout at the Devil" by Mötley Crüe
62. "Dead Men Tell No Tales" by Motörhead
63. "Spiderwebs" by No Doubt
64. "Running Scared" by Roy Orbison
65. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
66. "Dracula's Wedding" by Outkast
67. "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.
68. "Satan's Bed" by Pearl Jam
69. "Sign of the Wolf (Pentagram)" by Pentagram
Doom metal pioneers Pentagram have a good number of hard-rocking creepy songs, but this one is probably the most relevant to Halloween.
70. "Zombie Zoo" by Tom Petty
71. "The Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett & The Crypt Kickers
This is a classic Halloween song that should be played at least once at every Halloween party.
72-73. "Fallen Angel" and "Flesh and Blood (Sacrifice)" by Poison
74. "Halloween" by Matt Pond PA
75. "Going to Hell" by The Pretty Reckless
76. "Gates of Babylon" by Rainbow
The song is about sleeping with the devil. And then paying for sleeping with the devil. Probably because the devil gave you the clap.
77. "Diablo Rojo" by Rodrigo y Gabriela
78-79. "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Dead Flowers" by The Rolling Stones
80-82. "Soul Sacrifice," "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways" by Santana
83. "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs
84. "Angel of Death" by Slayer
While I would generally recommend steering clear of Slayer at parties, there is no more appropriate time to let it loose than Halloween.
85. "Bullet With Butterfly Wing" by Smashing Pumpkins
It just wouldn't seem right to have a Halloween playlist without a Smashing Pumpkins song on it. I went with this one, not only because it starts by exclaiming -– wrongly, mind you -– that "the world is a vampire," but also because it's an awesome song.
86. "Serial Killa" by Snoop Doggy Dogg
87. "Fell On Black Days" by Soundgarden
88. "Wicked Garden" by Stone Temple Pilots
89. "To Hell With the Devil" by Stryper
In case you are concerned that your playlist might be a little too devil-heavy, you can balance it out with this '80s Christian hair band classic.
90. "Santeria" by Sublime
91. "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads
"That's what they said about Son of Sam."
92. "Devil's Daughter" by Tax the Heat
93. "Here Comes the Night" by Them
94. "Killer On the Loose" by Thin Lizzy
95. "Sinister Minister" by Township
96-97. "Running With the Devil" and "D.O.A." by Van Halen
98. "The Black Angel's Death Song" by The Velvet Underground
I have never done acid, but I assume this song is what a bad acid trip would have sounded like in Victorian England.
99. "Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)" by W.A.S.P.
100. "Burning the Witches" by Warlock
101. "Got My Mojo Working" by Muddy Waters
102. "If My Mind is Evil" by White Lion
103-106. "Death Letter," "Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground," "Little Ghost," and "Walking With a Ghost" by The White Stripes
107. "Boris The Spider" by The Who
108. "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
109. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
"I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's / And his hair was perfect." Great line.
110-111. "Dragula" and "Living Dead Girl" by Rob Zombie