Playlist: 13 Spellbinding Spooky Songs

Playlist: 13 Spellbinding Spooky Songs

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Boo! The spooky season is upon us. Have a horrifyingly immersive Halloween listening experience with these thirteen terrifying tunes.

Boo! The spooky season is upon us. Have a horrifyingly immersive Halloween listening experience that’ll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with these thirteen terrifying tunes that really go bump in earbuds.

Each pick has that spooky aura or backstory that makes it perfect for the season. Enjoy, and let us know what your favorite songs are for Halloween!

Danzig – “Am I Demon

The visceral, no-frills production on this slamming invocation of evil from Misfits vocalist Glenn Danzig’s solo debut is raw enough to make Stephen King cower. Without the comfort and safety of reverb, you feel the pain as drummer Chuck Biscuits whaps the snare drum with brutal, bone-crunching brute force.

Alkaline Trio – “This Could Be Love

Matt Skiba and co. dress up their macabre take on pop-punk with catchy melodies and hummable palm-muted guitar riffs, but beneath the earworms lies a darkness rooted in slasher flicks, Alfred Hitchcock thrillers and Edgar Allan Poe.

Nine Inch Nails – “Piggy

Trent Reznor gives a breathtaking (literally) performance on this terrifying track from 1994’s The Downward Spiral. With hushed whispers between labored breaths, Reznor gives us goosebumps on a grisly downtempo jam inspired by the Manson family’s 1969 murder of actress Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent and Jay Sebring. Scarier yet—Reznor recorded much of The Downward Spiral in the same Cielo Drive home where the crime occured.

David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

David Bowie teams up with King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp on this spooky title track from the album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). Savvy listeners will notice the bizarre effects on Bowie’s vocal in the chorus—is it tremolo? A ring modulator? Analog synthesizer? We’d like to tell you, but…

The Specials – “Ghost Town

Who says Ska isn’t scary? This two-tone tale of terror by second-wave Ska icons The Specials addresses the real-life horrors of violence and unemployment with monster movie organs, minor key horns and spookily subtle synthesizers.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Red Right Hand

As Goth’s elder statesman, Nick Cave needs little introduction. Like an alt-rock Vincent Price, Cave’s billowing baritone sets the stage for this dark and disturbing dirge about a shadowy, murderous figure. To build the song’s character, Cave reportedly filled an entire notebook with maps and drawings of buildings in the song’s fictitious setting.

Sonic Youth (w/ Lydia Lunch) – “Death Valley ‘69

Kim Gordon’s terrifying two-note bassline and ghastly guest vocals from NYC no-wave legend Lydia Lunch give this classic Sonic Youth cut the creeps. Listen at 4:40 as Lunch’s unhinged wail fades into the din of Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore’s twin guitar assault.

Siouxsie and the Banshees – “Spellbound

The witchy leadoff track from Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Juju casts a spell with creative vocal melodies and unsettling percussion. The drum fill after the line, “take ‘em by the legs / and throw ‘em down the stairs” sounds particularly painful.

John Carpenter – “Night

Semi-retired from Hollywood, screenwriter, director and composer John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York, Big Trouble In Little China) now spends his days watching basketball, playing video games with his family and recording synth-heavy soundtracks to the horror movies in his head.

If that doesn’t sound scary, think again. On “Night,” from 2015’s Lost Themes, Carpenter layers bass-heavy drones with eerie strings and prepared piano to create an atmospheric tension that stalks the listener across headphones just like Michael Myers.

Ozzy Osbourne – “Bark at the Moon

Before haunting cable as America’s favorite TV dad, the Prince of Darkness stalked MTV and the rock charts as the carnival barker of his own heavy metal circus—to the horror of concerned parents everywhere.

Listen closely to “Bark at the Moon” and you’ll hear a number of devious production tricks—starting with the stealth synthesizer at 0:53. Sleep with one eye open or you’ll miss the backwards reverb that announces Ozzy’s entrance at 2:52.

Slayer – “Dead Skin Mask

Listen to this one with the lights on. Slayer’s terrifying thrash metal true-crime saga shares a subject with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but honestly, it’s what you don’t see that’s scarier. The spoken word part gives us chills every time. “I don’t want to play anymore…”

Claudio Simonetti – “Tenebre (Remix)

A disco remix of the theme song to an obscure ‘80s Italian slasher flick? Stranger things have happened. The films of Dario Argento are revered in arthouse circles for their striking set design and over-the-top gory set pieces, but the real stars are Goblin’s innovative symphonic and synthesizer-heavy horror-prog soundtracks.

This solo outing by Goblin’s Claudio Simonetti from Argento’s cult classic Tenebre should appeal to fans of Daft Punk and everyone who saw Stranger Things.

The Cramps – “Surfin’ Dead

This Cramps tune from the Smell of Female LP (and the soundtrack to The Return of the Living Dead) answers one of life’s big questions: what would happen if zombies built hot-rod cars and went surfing?

Poison Ivy’s hollowbody Gretsch groans with a freaky fuzz tone and Lux Interior howls with wretched delight on this groovy slab of skewed rockabilly kitsch. Listen to the vocals at 3:03 to hear Interior killin’ it with his eerie elastic pipes.

BONUS: Tracy Morgan – “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

In 2007, 30 Rock laid a curse upon an entire generation. Our fate? We’re doomed to a life where there will never be another Halloween novelty song as hilarious as “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.”

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