What songs make you think of Halloween?

What songs make you think of Halloween?

Gif: Natalie Peeples

This week’s AVQ&A is here to help you prepare your Halloween party playlist:

What songs make you think of Halloween? These don’t have to be explicitly Halloween-themed, although they absolutely can be. Just songs that exhibit the vibe of the holiday.

2 / 9

“This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas

“This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas

“This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas

This seems a little on the nose, but go with me here—it’s got to be “This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s not because I watched that movie as a kid or anything, because weirdly, I did not. Instead, it’s because of how prevalent it is at Halloween events out where I live in L.A. Since moving here almost four years ago, I’ve heard it hundreds of times at haunted hayrides, kids’ parties, and different events. I’ve actually grown to kind of love it, which is good, because now my kids are into it, so I anticipate hearing it year-round. [Marah Eakin]

3 / 9

“Saturday Night,” Misfits

“Saturday Night,” Misfits

“Saturday Night,” Misfits

I have been diligently adding Misfits to every single Halloween playlist I have ever made for myself (and for others) since I was like 14. So, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw a Misfits song on here. “Saturday Night” is both my favorite Misfits song (I know, I know) and the one that reminds me of Halloween the most. I don’t personally engage in Glenn Danzig vs. Jerry Only discourse, okay? I just know that the moment the clock strikes midnight on October 1, I am hitting play on this deceptively catchy, ’50s bebop-inspired song and belting my spooky little heart out. [Shanicka Anderson]

4 / 9

“Season Of The Witch,” Donovan

“Season Of The Witch,” Donovan

“Season Of The Witch,” Donovan

The month of October is undoubtedly the “Season Of The Witch.” Donovan’s psych rock diddy about the feeling of impending doom spurs images of sinister ghouls and paranoia as the narrator looks through his window at people below. Feeling antsy and concerned about every figure on the corner, there’s something innately spooky about someone pointing out the strangeness of the world. Similar to Norma Tanega’s “You’re Dead,” Donavan’s raspy vocals and the tumbling guitar lines lend themselves to the most haunting time of the year. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

5 / 9

“People Are Strange,” The Doors

“People Are Strange,” The Doors

“People Are Strange,” The Doors

Given that the entire point of the holiday involves dressing up in strange ways, it’s probably not too shocking to hear my answer to this question. “People Are Strange” by The Doors always conjures up images of kids decked out as ghosts and ghouls, walking down a darkened street with sacks filled to the brim with candy. Though, if I’m honest, the association came about via a cinematic connection: The end credits of The Lost Boys features a version of the classic track by Echo & The Bunnymen. True, you could argue, “But Alex, The Lost Boys isn’t a Halloween movie!” To which I would reply: You are wrong. It is maybe the most Halloween movie, in spirit if not actual practice, and the screenwriter of movies like IT and Annabelle: Creation agrees with me. So there. (“Cry Little Sister” from the movie comes in a close second.) [Alex McLevy]

6 / 9

“I Was A Teenage Zombie,” The Fleshtones

“I Was A Teenage Zombie,” The Fleshtones

“I Was A Teenage Zombie,” The Fleshtones

Every Halloween, I shake the polyester cobwebs off the same batch of albums: Misfits’ Static Age, John Carpenter’s Lost Themes, The Cramps’ Off The Bone. But for whatever reason, every October, I spend one entire day listening to “I Was A Teenage Zombie” by The Fleshtones. The theme to an okay movie that, for some reason, is always available among the Criterion Collection’s digital offerings (first, on Hulu, then Criterion Channel), the song is more than surfy garage rock with lyrics about a melancholy undead teen looking for a zombie girl. It’s a whole Halloween vibe. Kitschy garage punk and jack-o-lanterns always pair well together. But few songs encapsulate the kind of party I want to go to on Halloween night quite like this one. [Matt Schimkowitz]

7 / 9

“Little Fang,” Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

“Little Fang,” Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

“Little Fang,” Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

What makes “Monster Mash” the definitive Halloween hit? It’s the sound effects, of course, especially those jangling chains and ominously bubbling liquids. That’s why “Little Fang” from Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks (the one-off supergroup featuring members of Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, and Ponytail) feels like its closest spiritual successor, dutifully employing both effects as well as ghoulishly layered vocals to create a retro funhouse vibe perfect for the spooky season. And, just like the “Mash,” “Little Fang” is supernaturally catchy, with an uplifting, sing-song-y chorus that’s much more likely to brighten your mood than frighten you. [Cameron Scheetz]

8 / 9

“The Killing Moon,” Echo & The Bunnymen

“The Killing Moon,” Echo & The Bunnymen

“The Killing Moon,” Echo & The Bunnymen

Shoutout to the second Echo & The Bunnymen reference on this list—and to my husband, who enjoys listening to WLUW, Loyola’s college station, while making dinner. I appreciate his musical kitchen soundtrack because the DJs all sound hungover, just like when I was in school. So I’m cribbing this from one of those DJs, who recently played this song during a Halloween-themed hour. I thought it was a great add, as “The Killing Moon” is undeniably creepy, succumbing to the power of a love you can’t control, as you know your fate is inevitable: “Under blue moon, I saw you / So soon you’ll take me.” Is the object of affection here a vampire? Death itself? Even Ian McCulloch isn’t saying: “It’s about everything, from birth to death to eternity and God—whatever that is—and the eternal battle between fate and the human will.’” Okay, that doesn’t really clear anything up… just adding to the mystery of this great Halloween song. [Gwen Ihnat]

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