Music sets the tone for a scene, or lets you know what may happen. Though I could delve into semiotics, music therapy, or any other hundred topics that have to do with music and the mind, I will put a pause on that for now.
My favorite time of the year-Autumn-comes with one of my favorite holidays. Yes, Halloween. And there are tons of great songs that always fit with the spooky, creepy, and dark themes of Halloween.
However, our experiences also impact this, of course.
I was listening to an interview the other day where an individual mentioned the song “Angel” by Massive Attack, and their daughter. It seemed odd to me. He explained that the song is trance-like, and his daughter is his angel. I had never thought of the song that way. Perhaps it is my association with the scene from Snatch, but the song has always seemed dark and sinister to me. Though I suppose I understand the trance reference, since I have used the song when jogging, and Massive Attack does get categorized as trip-hop.
Another example of how songs can evoke such polar opposite reactions is…well, I’m not going to say exactly. You see, there is a film out there that most children like or even love. I’ve never seen the whole film because my poor father brought it home one day when my sister and I were maybe four, and thought it’d be a fun viewing experience…except I remember hiding behind the couch and crying because the movie scared the living daylights out of me. There is a song in that movie that just makes me want to run in whichever direction the music is not coming from. So I am not going to say which movie it is for fear someone will find out and blast it outside my window, Lloyd Dobler style.
In addition, thanks to a Crypt Keeper special my sister and I happened upon as children, Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” stirs up images of decaying, zombie-like monsters crawling up from a kitchen table. I’m sure that is what Linda was going for.
Anywho, the point of this post is about Halloween/spooky songs and (HOORAY!) a contest. Our friends at Pop Karma are wonderful and have let me join them in this contest. However, this means you must be in the New York City area to collect your prize.
Tweet me your favorite creepy, spooky, Halloween influence, etc songs by Friday 10/19/12. Winner gets to pick up a Karma Keeper at Pop Karma, 95 Orchard Street (between Broome and Delancey).
To get the ball rolling, I’ve made a list of my favorite creepy or Halloween inspiring songs. In no particular order. Fear not (no pun intended), if one of these is your pick you can still use it!
I Put a Spell On You-The Sanderson Sisters
“Thank you, Max, for that marvelous introduction!”
How could I exclude this version of a classic song? I could certainly fill this list with music from the film but this one tops it for me. I know my sister and I wore out that videotape by watching Hocus Pocus over and over. And over.
Witchy Woman-The Eagles
I don’t listen to the Eagles very much, but this song always reminds me of Halloween. Something about the recording just makes me think of a 1970s horror flick.
People Are Strange-The Doors
One of my mom’s favorite bands, and when I was a kid this song conjured up images of black cats and creepy old houses. It was just a Halloween song to me, right away.
Sally’s Song-Fiona Apple
I may be biased because I love Fiona Apple and never saw the Nightmare Before Christmas until I was in college, where it was playing in 3D at the Boston Common theater and people started vomiting from it. What fun! Regardless, Apple’s voice and the instrumentation on this version are delightful yet sorrowful. I love the slow march of the drum set and the the strings, which just seem to shake their head along with the vocalist.
Face to Face-Siouxsie and the Banshees
My parents had the soundtrack to Batman Returns, which would often play on car rides. That score alone is likely my favorite by Elfman, though it did used to creep me out a lot when I was a kid. This song is from the soundtrack and, much like Zimmer’s leitmotif (if we can refer to it as such) for Catwoman, imitates the movement and mindset of the characters.
While I wouldn’t hop this up on a Halloween playlist, this song is creepy, disturbing, kind of sad…but yes, certainly makes the list of creepy songs. The music video does it in, too.
Gated reverb, synth, some angry ‘haha’s by Collins and some other guttural noise after the ‘haha’ (is it a burp? a sneer? a Gollum?) and you’re good to go…eep!
Hell-Squirrel Nut Zippers
Not that dark, but I still enjoy this song for Halloween. It’s jazzy, it’s dance-y, it’s fiery!
Skeleton Dance (adapted from Dance Macabre and others)-Stalling/Grieg
Seeing this as a child meant Halloween was near. Hooray. I’m just going to leave this here…
Aquarium, Le Carnaval des Animaux-Saint-Saëns
No, it’s not Harry Potter. It’s part of a musical suite from 1886. And it’s magical.
In the Hall of the Mountain King-Grieg
I have scary memories of watching a puppet version of Peer Gynt, where this song inevitably shows up. And the puppets scared me almost as much as the music.
No-more than the music.
This song was the one thing that stood out to me from the movie Little Nicky way back when. The instrumentation is dark but Bellamy’s vocals knock it out of the park.
The Number of the Beast-Iron Maiden
Are you kidding, I wasn’t going to leave this song off the list! Ok, good. Done.
No More Tears-Ozzy Osbourne
I don’t listen to a lot of Black Sabbath or Ozzy, but I always preferred this song from the repertoire. It’s the bass line. It’s not the creepiest song, but it’s on my list. Right next to…
Mr. Crowley-Ozzy Osbourne
The whole story behind this song is what makes it so darn eerie, but the repeating lyrics also make it kind of sad. Not sure if many people find the questions asked in it to be uncomfortable or not.
Also…GUITAR SOLO WHAT.
The Call of Ktulu-Metallica
Sure, this song has no Hetfield ‘yeah’s being shouted out there, but this song is an awesome instrumental. I prefer the Symphony and Metallica version, but either way…those drums come in and-boom!
A Perfect Circle-Mer de Noms
I know I said songs, but this whole album…eerie, beautiful, and haunting.
Poor Unfortunate Souls-The Little Mermaid (Menken)
Because if you’re a villain, you need a pretty super song, dark and sinister and all.
Wherewolf Bar Mitzvah’-30 Rock.
While it’s goofy, it’s also kind of spoof on Thriller.
I know I have missed some, some of my favorites, too. It’s late. Tweet me your top Halloween season song by Friday to win the prize from Pop Karma!
Pop Karma offers all sorts of flavors-some stuff you’d expect, and some you’ll be delightfully surprised by. They’re also very involved in the community and are currently supporting Malala Yousafzai with 5% of their sales this week. Check them out!