There are plenty of great horror songs, and lots of good evil music, but we all know there are only a handful of songs that are truly made for Halloween. A good Halloween track can’t just be scary, it also has to be a little ridiculous, and has to go well at a party. It has to say, Sure, we’re evil, but we’re also fun.
As much as we’d like to kid ourselves that our favorite jaunty kids’ tune or shrieked metal track is Halloween-appropriate, we all know that the great Halloween soundtrack songs are pretty obvious, and stand alone. Sometimes, they’re meant to be spooky. Other times, they’re just fun songs that turn out spo0ky. The best ones, of course, are both.
So let’s call ‘em like we see ‘em and throw down the thirteen best Halloween songs of all time. Enjoy, and feel free to make this playlist yourself.
13. The World/Inferno Friendship Society, “Pumpkin Time”
A wild circus-punk revival anthem dedicated to the rising of The Great Pumpkin from Peanuts. Amen.
12. Roky Erickson and The Aliens, “Night of the Vampire”
No track so embodies the cape-spreading moonlit ascent of the vampire into the night sky as this ominous garage rock tune by psychedelia’s most tortured soul.
11. Type O Negative, “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)”
A brooding doom metal death march dedicated to goth chicks everywhere, sung by a man who sounds like Dracula grew up in Bay Ridge.
10. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “Little Demon”
Hawkins’ chaotic proto-psychobilly classic embodies the pitchfork-carrying imps that frolic among Halloween’s more devious moments.
9. Bauhaus, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
This stark, somber new wave track is the sonic equivalent of a black and white vampire movie.
8. The Misfits, “Halloween”
Equal parts fun-loving and blood-spilling, this howl-filled punk rock rager by the kings of horror business reminds us of all the good (and scary) aspects of October 31st at once.
7. Alice Cooper, “Feed My Frankenstein”
No song better captures the overlap between Halloween and heavy metal than Alice Cooper’s energetic hair metal party anthem.
6. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, “Time Warp”
There’s nothing like a showtune singalong with a specific dance that goes with it. Especially when said showtune is about alien servants going into psychic ecstasy.
5. Warren Zevon, “Werewolves Of London”
Quirky, catchy, and full of cool cinematic references, Zevon’s werewolf anthem is a truly unforgettable Halloween track, perfect for kids and grown-ups alike.
4. Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas, “This Is Halloween”
The denizens of a dimension entirely dedicated to Halloween, singing about the glories of Halloween. What else needs to be said?
3. Bobby “Boris” Pickett and The Crypt Kickers, “The Monster Mash”
This fun twist-along track about a crazy party being thrown at Castle Frankenstein connects with the era when Halloween went from a beggar’s holiday to a national horror celebration…
2. John Carpenter, “Theme From Halloween”
…but Carpenter’s inimitable synthwave soundtrack brings the day full circle, beyond the Ben Cooper-filled innocence of classic monsters and into the slasher-stalked streets of modern Halloween.
- Michael Jackson, “Thriller”
Aaaand then there’s “Thriller.”
A perfect blend of horror worship and pop music that’s danceable, menacing, and overflowing with lively atmosphere. While plenty of songs give Halloween its due, few are as much fun to play at a Halloween party, and none of them besides “Trhiller” have a gorgeous poetic outro intoned by Vincent Price. And man, you can’t argue with that video. The spookiest song of all time, hands down.