Music is one of those things that needs to fit my mood for me to actually enjoy it. There are albums that I don’t listen to unless I’m feeling the right way. Likewise, I sometimes use music as a way of making myself feel a certain way–usually happier–which is why, in my attempt to actually enjoy the spooky season, I’ve been collecting songs that put me in the spirit. Then I ranked the ones I liked the most!
So, first, the rules:
- Only 1 Song per Artist: some bands/artists do creepy better than most so to avoid having the list be mostly a single artist, only one of their songs can be on the list.
- No Thriller: this isn’t really about one particular song but about obvious songs in general–the ones that end up on every playlist when someone has a Halloween party. So there will be no Thriller or Monster Mash on this list.
And with that, here are the songs that I adore that also happen to be somewhat unsettling…
10. Come Little Children by Erutan (2013)
Okay, so I’m breaking rule 2 a little bit here since I’m certainly not the first person to link this song to Halloween but I hadn’t heard it until recently so I think that gives me a pass. Also, there’s just something really creepy about a lullaby. They’re always in these minor keys and have an inherent quiet quality to them that makes me a little uncomfortable once I start to think about it. The plucking violins are a nice touch too.
9. A Gorey Demise by Creature Feature (2007)
I mean, the song is really weird and morbid since it’s an alphabet of death. Give me one other holiday where that would be acceptable. At the same time, I’m pretty sure that this band specifically does songs that are related, if in a silly way, to Halloween. At the same time it’s actually a really catchy song and I find myself kind of bobbing along to it even though I understand maybe I shouldn’t dance to it. It’s just a really fun song that I feel is a good alternative to a lot of the fun Halloween songs that always get played all the time. I feel like this one could be up there with a lot of the generic and cliched songs.
Check out their other songs too since they all fit with the season.
8. But Never A Key by Dirt Poor Robins (2019)
I cannot put into words how beautiful I think this song is, at least not words that will justify how I feel about it. It was a weird song that came on to my suggestions on Spotify and I fell in love with it almost the moment the lyrical melody came in. I had never heard a song from this band before but I was enthralled by the whole thing–no matter how many times I’ve heard it I’m still enamored with it. At the same time there’s an off-putting beauty to it and part of that has to do with the melody itself.
Also the strings that are put into it and the harmonies creates this very mythological feel to the song. I think a band that creates music like this that’s so beautiful and yet has a strange sinister undertone to it is really interesting and I’ve been drawn to their other songs. Hopefully they’ll continue to release stuff that is just as captivating.
7. Secret by The Pierces (2008)
Nothing makes a song creepy faster than the inclusion of some carnival music. I don’t know what it is about carnivals that makes them so unsettling but it certainly does the job here.
There’s something so pure about the vocals on this song that draws me into the story of it. And the story is part of what makes this song a great Halloween song–though not just about the murder. Stories is such a big part of horror–at least the kind I’m interested in–because it draws into the world and characters. It’s the reason it’s shocking when weird and terrifying things start to happen.
This song has a wonderfully compelling story that meshes well with the overall sound.
6. Let’s Kill Tonight by Panic! at the Disco (2011)
Okay, so I really just wanted to have a Panic! song on this list but this song it also really good and fits with the vibe. True, I could have put Nearly Witches here but that seems a little too on the nose for my tastes.
Besides the obvious morbid content on the song, what I think really adds to the creepy factor of this song is the laying of synths during the chorus. Mix in some string instruments and choir vocals into the bridge and the creep-factor gets turned up even more. I also love how the song ends with string and just kind of dies out after the chaos of the rest of the song.
Plus, Brendan Urie’s vocals. Enough said.
5. Necromanin Dancin by Bear Ghost (2016)
Bear Ghost is one of those bands I’ve only discovered this year but I absolutely LOVE their music! It has such a whimsical feel to it that pulls me in every time.
Which is why I think they’re such a good fit for this list. All their songs have an odd leaning to them but this one is one of my favourites. The random inclusion of layered vocals is wonderful and there are so many melodic changes in this song to keep you on your toes the whole time.
4. Blood by My Chemical Romance (2006)
Considering how many of their songs involve death and horror imagery, there were plenty of MCR‘s songs that I could have chosen. At first I was pretty sure Mama would be the one to make the list because that song is odd even within the context of the album, but then I thought, “no, if it has to be the weirdest song then it has to be Blood,” so here it is.
This bonus track has an almost old radio distortion on it that already makes it sound strange. Mix that with the lyrical content and Gerard Way’s eery backing vocals and you have one strange cabaret-esk track. Maybe the video doesn’t lend itself to the horrifying and creepy, but I can’t think of a better list for this track to be on (or any other list that it won’t seem weird to have it).
3. Visitation of the Ghost by The Brobecks (2009)
Okay, so I’m cheating a little bit here since the last part of this list included a song by Panic! at the Disco and Dallon Weekes was in that band as well as The Brobecks but I’m making an exception since Weekes didn’t record on the album Vices & Virtues–he only toured with the band after the album was released–so really I’m not talking about the same artist twice… right? (I just really like Dallon Weekes).
This is a track that I fell in love with when I saw a video of it being performed live. We don’t need to get into how much I love Weekes or his amazing live vocals because it’s really not the point of this list, I can always come back and talk about his vocals if I do an album review or something so we’ll just focus on the actual song here.
Again we have a song that tells the story of a murder but this time we also have ghost imagery–’cause, you know, Halloween. There’s even those off-putting strings. What I think really leans itself to the creepiness of this song is the way Weekes writes lyrics with this cynicism and almost detached feeling to them.
2. Wake the Dead by The Used (2007)
I remember the first time I heard this song it was late September and I thought that it fit so well with the time of year–i.e., leading into Halloween. For whatever reason, rock music–which is usually what I listen to anyway–seems to fit better with the odd and fantastical nature of Halloween in general.
Not just because of the death imagery but because there is an eeriness to the instrumentation too. I absolutely love the violin in this song and the way the jerky notes add to the unsteady feeling of it. Not to mention the weird breathing sounds that start and end the song around the actual music.
1. The Clown by Beecake (2014)
Alright, so this song has nothing to do with Halloween but you can’t tell me listening to this song doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable–which I assume was the point. I chose this as my #1 pick because I actually forgot about this song until I was putting this list together and was quickly reminded of how much I love this song and this band. It helps that the music video is a bit creepy too.
The contrast of the lower lead vocals with the higher backing vocals that are slightly out of sync with each other makes this song really interesting to listen to–a song that could have otherwise been boring to listen to if not for how wonderfully it was produced.
Plus, clowns are always creepy.
Well, there you have it–10 whole songs that remind me of Halloween without explicitly being about Halloween!
This was a lot of fun to put together so let me know if I should do more of this.
And of course leave your own favourite songs in the comments so I can add to the list. Who knows, maybe I’ll do this again next year!