Welcome back, vampires and vampiresses; for it is the haunting hour and no one is safe. You may remember last year that “Andy’s Alternative Hour” fashioned a Halloween playlist and yet again, it is time for more tunes that didn’t make the initial cut. Below you will find some of my favorite Halloween-themed songs, but beware: you’re in for a scare.
“Zombie” – The Cranberries: Do you ever have one of those songs that entices you, as chilling as it is? “Zombie” may perhaps be one the most exquisite pieces of the 90’s, outside of the Seattle grunge scene. Dolores O’Riordan’s voice is affirmatively the best part of the song, but the composition as a whole stands out as the gem of their catalogue.
“Jack the Ripper” – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: I can still remember the cold, dreary day that I picked up my first ever Nick Cave record many years back, which couldn’t describe his tone any better. This one off of 1992’s “Henry’s Dream” is eerily dramatic with a buildup to a bewildering chorus that will have anyone bursting out of their graves.
“Halloweenhead” – Ryan Adams: It is only fair that my favorite singer-songwriter makes the playlist with this Halloween-tastic song from “Easy Tiger.” When I first started getting into Adams, this song was one of the first pieces that drew me through his catalogue. Don’t even get me started on that Grateful Dead-inspired guitar solo.
“Gravedigger” (Live) – Dave Matthews Band: Although I exhibit an unwavering passion for DMB, the studio version of this song is mediocre compared to when the group fleshes this number out live. Carter Beauford’s extended drum intro is rhythmically superior and adds a nice context to the grim lyrics while Matthews’ weathered vocals compliment Tim Reynolds’ guitar licks.
“This is Halloween” – Marilyn Manson: “Wouldn’t you like to see something strange?” If you’re a Marilyn Manson fan, this rendition of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Disney classic is strange enough to be purely brilliant. I highly recommend that if you enjoy this song, you check out the “Nightmare Revisited” soundtrack, which includes songs from the movie performed by the likes of The Polyphonic Spree, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Rise Against.
“Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo: If this track doesn’t scream 80’s, I don’t know what does. Maybe it was the heavily synthesized percussions and vocals, or the harmonization of the guitars. I have cemented “Dead Man’s Party” into my ultimate playlist, which has all my favorite songs in it, so you know that this song is good.
“Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” – AC/DC: All of the hellish imagery attributed with Halloween can’t help but make me think of this one hard-rocking group of Australians. Bon Scott and Angus Young guide the listener through a lustful scenery of Hell, while having a little bit of fun on the way, in typical AC/DC Fashion. Fun Fact: AC/DC was the first concert I ever attended back at the tender age of 13.
“Spiders (Kidsmoke)” – Wilco: When flipping through my music catalogue to find tracks for this playlist, I admit, Wilco’s song wasn’t the first track that came to mind. After much deliberation, I decided to place this staple in here since it is one of my favorite pieces from the dad rock outfit. Patience is key as the song has a six minute intro, but once Jeff Tweedy kicks in with the vocals, the song turns into a psychotic mindgame of sounds and rhythms that make it memorable.
“Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival: This little number was pretty much made for Halloween with both its lyrical content and twangy progression. John Fogerty may be seeing “a bad moon on the rise,” but for you folks, the night is young and this song is the perfect way to kick it off.
“A Wolf At the Door” – Radiohead: “Hail to Thief” may be one of the most hauntingly elegant albums produced from indie masterminds, Radiohead. The closing number for the record brings together the album in one of the most boisterous and bittersweet melodies that breathes a cold wind through the eclectic playlist.
“Heads Will Roll” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Trying saying that band name five times fast. The indie pop group led by Karen O has a knack for layering synth instrumentation in a way that is both palpable and engrossing. “Heads Will Roll” is only the tip of the iceberg of their catalogue and it is a fast-paced way to usher in Halloween.
“Your Pet Cat” (Live) – Phish: During their 2014 Halloween show, Phish unleashed the unexpected by playing Walt Disney’s “Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House” during their second set. This song, though recorded live from their 2015 New Year’s Run, is funkified in typical Phish fashion while playing with the different samplings of the original track. Listen to the whole second set of the Halloween show when you get the chance.
“Time Warp” – The Rocky Horror Picture Cast: Halloween would not be the same without this song, which may be one of my favorite ensemble performances from any movie-musical. The various vocals contribute to an arc that is as fun as it is haunting. Overall, this song could not be more of a Halloween classic.