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Spooky tunes

A look into the strange world of Halloween music

 

Bear DJing on Haloween last year @ tribeca. Photo by Angela Gzowski
These are the "bear" essentials. Photo by Angela Gzowski.

At the risk of sounding like Jerry Seinfeld, What’s the deal with Halloween music? From Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash” to Tracy Jordan’s “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” Halloween-themed songs have always existed. But why? Except for Christmas, no other holiday has themed music that is only relevant for a very short time each year. When was the last time you woke up on a cold February morning and thought, “I’d sure like to listen to ‘Disco Dracula’ right now?”

Every year, new Christmas songs are released and many do very well on the music charts. Each December in England, there’s interest in who will have the number one Christmas single. The same is not true for Halloween. When was the last time a Halloween song was even on the charts, let alone number one? Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” released as a single in 1984, is the closest example I could find, and it was never intended to be a Halloween song.

After looking through various Halloween play lists, I decided to make one of my own. Like many of the ones I found online, I included the required novelty songs, as well as a few songs that fit well, even if they were never meant to be for Halloween.

 

“Monster Mash” – Boris “Bobby” Pickett: The Halloween song. It may not have been the song that started it all, but it is still the most well known. This song has it all: famous characters, such as Frankenstein and Dracula, silly voices, sound effects and a pretty catchy chorus.

“Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath: Dark, heavy, ominous — it’s everything that a Halloween play list needs. The song starts out calm, but always has a frantic feel, complete with screams for help.

“Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon: This is another song never intended to be a Halloween hit, but it’s so catchy it’s guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser at any party.

“Dracula Disco” – Gerry Bribosia/Voltaire: The most typical disco song you could imagine — if you usually imagine disco sung by Dracula. If you ever wondered what a French vampire who loves to dance sounds like, look no further than the version by Voltaire.

“Soul Dracula” – Hot Blood: Another poppy, repetitive disco song. Perfect for getting people dancing, but still respectful of Dracula and all that he believes in.

“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” – Tracy Morgan: I know this was intended to be a quick joke on *30 Rock*, but he did record a full three-minute version of the song. As well as being hilarious, it captures the essence of novelty songs like “Monster Mash” perfectly.

“Thriller” – Michael Jackson: This has become an essential Halloween song. But really, when do you ever need an excuse to listen to MJ? The fact that it is still brilliant almost 30 years later is not a coincidence.

“Purple People Eater” – Sheb Wooley: Everyone knows this song. You can’t go wrong adding this to any play list. It’s just pure fun.

 

Whether you are attending a big costume party downtown, or just getting together with a few friends, you are guaranteed to hear at least one of these songs before the night is through; but why stop there? Next time you wake up on a cold February morning, throw on “Monster Mash.” You’ll be glad you did.

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