Love songs—and the inevitable breakup songs—aren’t hard to find, but the ever-elusive, seasonally-on-the-nose Halloween songs deserve some recognition too. From the incredibly explicit Rob Zombie tracks made for his iconic blood-heavy slasher flicks, to the wholesome, PG-13 Beck songs about scarecrows, there’s a quietly large market of Halloween-ready jams. Whether you’re cool with some gore, or you edge closer towards a family-friendly cat costume when the 31st hits, here’s our favorite picks for your Halloween party playlist.
“I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone
Though Simone’s rendition is a cover of Jay Hawkins’ 1956 original, her haunting voice makes it all the more bewitching.
“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.
For partiers who “ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”
“Monster Mash” by Bobby Pickett
That one children’s party favorite that just can’t seem to die.
“Time Warp” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
You can’t do Halloween without Rocky Horror, especially if it includes its own dance.
“Pet Sematary” by The Ramones
One of the Ramones biggest commercial hits, “Pet Sematary” originally belonged to the 1989 cult classic film.
“Scarecrow” by Beck
Throw on “Scarecrow” to cool things down a bit. It’s a softer take on everyone’s favorite fall festivity, but it still cares a looming sense of something spooky.
“bury a friend” by Billie Eilish
To add something a bit more modern to the list, Billie Eilish’s “Bury A Friend” is the experimental pop star’s take on nightmares and night terrors.
“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads
Before its bass line was interpolated by Selena Gomez, this was a perfectly-eerie ’70s rock classic.
“A Nightmare on My Street” by D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
For that very niche and narrow intersection where Halloween and ’90s hip-hop meet.
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
Once that funky opening riff comes in, it’s impossible not to dance—even if you’re in costume.
“This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas
This one’s for you, Tim Burton fans.
“Haunted” by Beyoncé
Only Queen Bey can scare and slay this much at the same time.
“Monster” by Kanye West
The scariest part of this song? How good Nicki Minaj’s verse is.
“Zombie” by The Cranberries
Nothing says spook like ’90s alternative rock.
“Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones
A perfect match for your Mick (or Bianca) Jagger costume.
“Creep” by Radiohead
For the weirdos and misfits celebrating the creepiest night of the year.
“Heads Will Roll” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Dance till you’re dead” indeed.
“Disturbia” by Rihanna
“Monster” by Lady Gaga
Gaga has the dance-inspired anthem for anyone who’s been wronged by heartless men.
“Gods & Monsters” by Lana Del Rey
The list is not complete with out our witchy goddess, who performs actual spells in real life.
“Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell
An ’80s pop classic with just the right amount of spook.
“Witchcraft” by Frank Sinatra
Break up with the eerie vibes with some big band and Sinatra.
“Burn the Witch” by Radiohead
This track from the rock bands A Moon Shaped Pool album is haunting in more ways than one. In addition to containing chilling sonic devices, its startling music video literally references a horror movie—The Wicker Man (1973).
“Black Magic Woman” by Santana
The guitar legend’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s original is the smooth antidote for a scary night.
“Sorcerer” by Stevie Nicks
Get witchy with a true ‘Coven’ queen.
“Murder” by Justin Timberlake feat. JAY-Z
JT and Hov detail falling for a femme fatale.
“Killer Queen” by Queen
Freddie Mercury is a whole mood.
“The Addams Family” by Vic Mizzy
You know you can’t help snapping along.
“Kids See Ghosts” by KIDS SEE GHOSTS feat. Yasiin Bey
At the very least, this Kanye West-Kid Cudi collab is a clever reference to The Sixth Sense. But the phantoms they rap about aren’t just physical; they manifest through internal struggle and societal pressure.
“Creep” by TLC
The iconic R&B group suggests getting back at your man’s infidelity with a taste of his own medicine.
“Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC
Feel free to scream along into the night.
“Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But…” by Arctic Monkeys
For when you run out of insults.
“Which Witch” by Florence + The Machine
Florence Welch explained that this song was inspired by an idea where a young witch falls in love with a boy, he dies from a tragic accident, and she inevitably gets blamed.
“Scary” by Stormzy
The standout Grime rapper goes hard on a haunting beat.
“Howlin’ for You” by The Black Keys
Despite the fact that it’s been in every commercial possible, this famous Black Keys hit is an essential addition.
“The Hills” by The Weeknd
A moody narrative track with an obvious reference to an iconic horror movie? Yes please.
“Close Your Eyes” by Kim Petras
The pop up-and-comer chills with a whole eight-track EP of Halloween-inspired songs, and this one is especially catchy (and creepy).
“Come to Daddy (Pappy Mix)” by Aphex Twin
Aphex’s Twin’s 1997 Come to Daddy album comes with three renditions of the track, the opening version being the most perverse, seemingly unhinged copy, complete with a tripped-out, creepy kids video.
“Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson
A distorted masterpiece from the king of goth.
“Reverend’s Walk” by Phillip Glass
One of this century’s most famed composers has been the mastermind behind the jolting thrills, screeches, and high-pitched jabs associated with some of movies’ most lasting murder scenes. In 1992, he scored the soundtrack for Candyman, ending the film with this menacing, carnival-themed cut.
“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
“Living Dead Girl” is a screeching, metal track from Rob Zombie, who has made a career as part horror movie maker, part horror music maker.
“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” by The Beatles
In an eerily cheerful tone, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is a fantastical nursery rhyme about mass murder.
“Halloween” by Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising record has “Satan Is Boring,” “Ghost Bitch,” and “Death Valley ‘69,” but there’s something especially standout about “Halloween”—a rambling, yet seductive monologue from a woman who is seemingly in the process of becoming possessed.
“Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac
Stevie Nicks, who is totally not a witch, comes through with a song about the power and grace of a Welsh witch.
“The Twilight Zone” by Bernard Hermann
Originally the soundtrack to one of the most cutting edge sci-fi shows of all time, “The Twilight Zone” has become omnipresent jingle for anything that seems to be on the edge of something spooky.
“Bath Salt” by A$AP Mob feat. Flatbush Zombies
In 2012, “bath salts” had a stint in the headlines after an incident in Miami, and what came with it was folklore of zombie-like symptoms and news stories of shocking cannibalism. A$AP Mob teamed with fellow New York heavy-hitters Flatbush Zombies to capitalize on the chaos.
“Dracula’s Wedding” by Outkast feat. Kelis
“You’re all I ever wanted, but I’m terrified of you,” Andre 3000 pleads to his soon-to-be wife.
“Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Cave’s menacingly deep baritone narrates the story of the “Red Right Hand,” an ominous symbol known mainly as the hand of Satan.
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult
Immortalized by one of Will Ferrell’s most famous SNL sketches (cue the cowbell), this classic is an obvious and easily recognizable addition to your Halloween party playlist.
“We’re All Gonna Die” by Slash feat. Iggy Pop
Really leaning into the inevitable, “We’re All Gonna Die” is a hardcore classic that addresses bottom line at the epicenter of all of our worst fears.
Listen to the whole collection in the playlist below. And make sure you follow Harper’s BAZAAR on Spotify. FOLLOW
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