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Musical Spooks – Our Halloween Playlist

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Halloween – it's an excuse for nutty dressing up and for gorging on pumpkin pie. More importantly, it's not just skeletons that will be coming out of the closets, but hoards of guilty musical pleasures. Here are ours!

Musical Spooks – Our Halloween Playlist

Filled with sweet treats and comedy costumes, Halloween is the perfect excuse for a party this autumn, be it on Zoom or in the, ahem, flesh.

Leaving aside 'The Monster Mash' and The Adams Family theme tune for a minute, there are some seriously good songs out there that might fit in with your Halloween theme.

Read on to discover the true meaning behind some of these songs – often entirely unrelated to Halloween – or jump to our Spotify playlist.

1 Witchy Woman – The Eagles

Witchy Woman was the second single from The Eagles' self-titled debut album released in 1972. Don Henley wrote it about Zelda Fitzgerald, the "bewitching" American socialite, whilst delirious with a fever.

2 I Put A Spell On You – Nina Simone

Written by 'Screamin' Jay Hawkins, I Put a Spell On You was originally intended as a gentle blues ballad. Legend has it, everyone got drunk in the studio, and Jay ended up laying down a nutty and very spooky recording instead. Regardless, it's Nina Simone's stirring rendition that has impressed itself on history.

3 Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac

Black Magic Woman first appeared as a Fleetwood Mac single in 1968 as a blues-rock song, and deals in the femme fatale trope: "She's a black magic woman / She's tryin' to make a devil out of me". Santana's cover of 1971 featured his signature Latin-rock treatment and became a huge hit.

4 Zombie – The Cranberries

Though written as a protest song about the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, Zombie has been assimilated into every Halloween playlist since. In April 2020 it became the first song by an Irish band to surpass a billion views on Youtube.

5 Monster Mash – Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett

Released in 1962, this novelty song was released with a full length LP called The Original Monster Mash, which included several other monster-themed tunes. The single, Monster Mash, was number 1 in October of that year (just in time for Halloween).

6 Season of The Witch – Donovan

An early example of 60s psychedelic rock, Season of The Witch has been featured in countless film and TV soundtracks including Grimm, American Horror Story and Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. A must for any Halloween playlist.

7 Dracula's Wedding – Outkast ft. Kelis

"My castle may be haunted, but I'm terrified of you," Andre 3000 sings in Dracula's Wedding, underlining the main theme of the tune. Vampires and monsters may be scary, but for some people, they aren't nearly as frightening as falling in love can be.

8 Zombie – Jamie T

"I've got bloodshot eyes and there's blood in my teeth". In his 2014 indie rock hit, Jamie T uses a zombie as a metaphor for writer's block. Perhaps with half an eye on seasonal radio airplay as well.

9 (Don't Fear) The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult

Recorded by rock band Blue Öyster Cult for their 1976 album Agents of Fortune, The Reaper made Rolling Stone's list of the top 500 songs of all time. The song deals with the inevitability of death. Perfect Halloween material.

10 Ghost Town – The Specials

This British 2 Tone classic spent three weeks at number one in 1983. Addressing themes of urban decay, unemployment and violence in inner cities, the song is remembered for being a hit at the same time as riots were occurring in British cities.

11 Boogieman – Childish Gambino

The lyrics of Boogieman discuss being seen as a threat merely by existing as a black man. On the surface a rocking R&B track that would make Prince proud; underneath a political statement about modern racism.

12 Spooky – Dusty Springfield

Originally written as an instrumental song performed by saxophonist Mike Sharpe, the definitive version adds lyrics and features the other-worldly vocals of Dusty Springfield. Although it's a fairly innocent song about young love, it's been a Halloween staple ever since.

13 Thriller - Michael Jackson

Yes, this one probably appears on every Halloween playlist ever written, but we can't leave it out. The spectacular video, the haunting musical themes and the unforgettable performance from Vincent Price add up to a legendary track which embodies the Halloween spirit!

14 Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys

From The Black Keys' 6th album, Howlin' For You is known for its infectious, sing-along chorus and modern blues sound. The star-studded video is in the style of a spaghetti-Western movie trailer!

15 Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

The theme to the film of the same name starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, this is a Halloween classic! It peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart in 1984, and stayed there for three weeks.

16 Bat Out Of Hell – Meatloaf

With lyrics such as 'There’s evil in the air and there’s thunder in the sky / And a killer’s on the bloodshot streets", it's no surprise that Bat Out Of Hell has proven to be a lasting Halloween hit. Traditionally the last song in every Meatloaf set, it was honoured with the Classic Song Award at the Q Awards in 2008.

17 Lullaby – The Cure

The Cure's 1989 single from their album Disintegration features decidedly creepy lyrics about a "spiderman" looking for his "victim shivering in bed". The song is the highest-charting single by the band in the UK, reaching number five on the singles chart.

18 Psycho Killer – Talking Heads

The band's signature debut hit is written from the perspective of a serial killer. Originally written and performed as a ballad, Psycho Killer became what AllMusic calls a "deceptively funky new wave/no wave song" with "one of the most memorable, driving bass lines in rock & roll."

19 Superstition – Stevie Wonder

You'd be hard pressed to find a wedding band who hasn't covered Superstition, such is the impact of this tune. Topping the charts in 1973, this is our funkiest Halloween offering.

Listen to our Halloween playlist on Spotify