65 Top Pop, Rock, and Country Songs for Your Halloween Party
Have a Howling Good Time With These TunesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Celebrate Halloween With a Spooky Song List
An eerie hush falls over this Halloween night after trick-or-treaters have made their rounds. Sugar-high children have assessed their haul, and parents have sampled several of the best pieces of candy (for safety and quality control reasons, of course).
As neighborhood porch lights dim, jack-o-lanterns still flicker. There is a distant howl. While the rest of the world folds wearily into November, your Halloween party at the end of the street is still going strong well into the wee hours.
If you're planning to celebrate Halloween, here are both perennial favorites and lesser known songs, sings-a-longs and haunting tales. Include tunes about monsters, ghosts, magic, witches, werewolves, and more! Have an eerie good time!
Do the Monster Mash: It Was a Graveyard Splash
1. "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Borris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers
So you're a mad scientist who is hard at work in your laboratory late one night (work with me here, people). The monster you're trying to create suddenly rises from his stupor. Awake, he starts to dance his electrodes off.
Quick. What do you do?
You join him! And so do Dracula, zombies, the Wolfman, Igor and a bunch of other creepy friends. This song was originally released in 1962. No list is complete without it.
Back in 1984, We Thought Rockwell Was Just Being Paranoid
2. "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell
Released decades before revelations that the National Security Agency has been watching us all, Rockwell (1984) sings about about a man who feels like he is "just a little touched." He feels unsafe because the neighbors and the mailman are spying on him—and maybe even the IRS.
Call me crazy, but maybe this guy wasn't as paranoid as he believed himself to be.
How do you do the "Monster Mash?"
3. "I Would Die For You" by Matt Walters
Though it shares the same name with a Prince and the Revolution song that was released in 1984, that's where the similarity ends for the song of the same name by Australian indie musician Matt Walters.
Walters' version originally found YouTube fame when it was uploaded by a fan and viewed by millions. It is a haunting tale about a man who knew his love with a woman was cursed the first time he set eyes upon her. There was a foreboding of the tragic fate that would befall them when she promised that she would die for him.
4. "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker, Jr.
In 1984, a blockbuster movie about paranormal investigators used this number as its theme song. It had everyone singing along:
If there's something strange
in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call?
If there's something weird
and it don't look good
Who ya gonna call?
I ain't afraid of no ghosts
I ain't afraid of no ghosts
Ray Parker, Jr. both wrote and performed the song but was sued by another musician, Huey Lewis, for copyright infringement. Lewis alleged that Parker stole the song's melody from "I Want A New Drug." They settled out of court.1
He's Coming For You
5. "The Purple People Eater" by Sheb Wooley
In 1958, Sheb Wooley introduced the public to an alien—"a one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater"—who descended to Earth so that he could get a job in a rock 'n' roll band.
6. "I Want Candy" by Aaron Carter
This 2000 song by Aaron Carter isn't referring to a Snickers bar and lollipops. He was a teenage crush on a girl named Candy. His whiney, repetetive sing-song refrain of "I want Candy!" sounds very much like all those tweens and teens who are too old to be trick-or-treating.
7. "Love Potion No. 9" by The Searchers
Unlucky in love, a man took his troubles to a local fortune teller who concocted a potion to cure what ailed him. After drinking it, the man started kissing everything in sight. However, his new amorousness came to a sudden halt when he smooched a policeman.
Although we know that the policeman broke his bottle of love potion, no one knows if that's all he broke. The song was made famous by The Searchers in 1963.
8. "Abracadabra" by The Steve Miller Band
The Steve Miller Band released this song in 1982. Inspired by Diana Ross, the song is about an enchanting woman who has magical seductive powers over the narrator. It became one of the Greatest Songs of All Time on the Billboard list.
9. "Phantom 309" by Red Sovine
Classic country singer Red Sovine tells a spooky tale about a hitchhiker who caught a ride with a mysterious trucker. (You have to remember it was the 1967, and people hitchhiked then.) The hitchhiker was unaware until he got out of the cab that the trucker was a ghost who was traveling the same route that put him in the netherworld. Spooky, eh?
How Did the Tradition of Trick-Or-Treating Start?
Trick-or-treating is the ritualized begging for candy by costumed-clad children. It is celebrated in the United States, many parts of Europe, Canada, and in some other parts of the world.
Elements of the practice date back 2,000 years ago to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced "sah-win"), a pagan end-of-harvest holiday in which the dead were believed to return to roam the earth.2
Celtic celebrations were marked by bonfires and edible offerings left out to appease the spirits. People also dressed up in devil, ghost and similar costumes to try to blend in with evil spirits or to ward them off.
Another possible predecessor included the practice of "souling" about 1000 years later. Poor children would dress up and visit the homes of affluent families on November 2, the day designated by the church All Souls Day. In exchange for small gifts of food or money, the kids would promise to pray for the souls of the homeowners' dead relatives.
Also, in Scotland and Ireland there was a tradition called "guising" involving youth going house to house and reciting a poem, singing a song, or performing another talent in exchange for sweets, nuts or coins.
The practice of trick-or-treating didn't become popular in the United States until the 1930s. Americans today spend in excess of $11 billion on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations, and other items.3
10. "Witchy Woman" by The Eagles
The Eagles released this song in 1972, inspired by the lifestyle excesses of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, Zelda. It was one of the first songs that band member Don Henley wrote for the Eagles. He had become mesmerized with Zelda's persona after reading a biography about her.4
Zelda was an enchanting woman who lived a lifestyle on full throttle. She was uninhibited, glamorous, and all-out reckless, even though it cost her extensive stays in mental institutions.
Raven hair and ruby lips
Sparks fly from her finger tips
Echoed voices in the night
She's a restless spirit on an endless flight
Wooo-hooo, witchy woman, see how
high she flies ... .
Sadly, Zelda died in an asylum fire in 1948.
Magic Potion, Magic Spell, Cures Your Sickness, Make You Well
Are All Witches Evil?
Throughout history, witches have practiced both black and white magic. "White witches" have included folk healers and spell casters with benevolent intent. Some of their efforts have taken the form of spells to
- cure sickness
- mend relationships
- bring good luck and happiness
- find lost items and
- communicate with the spirits.
Like He's Not Responsible Too?
11. "Devil Woman" by Marty Robbins
In this 1962 country classic, Marty Robbins is the cheating husband who blames his marital misdeeds on the dark charms of a seductress. Like a moth drawn to a flame, he finds her irresistible.
It's a weak man to use such a convenient excuse to evade all personal responsibility. "The devil made me do it." Huh! Couldn't he think of something more creative?
A song by the same name was released by Cliff Richard in 1976 and superbly updated by Bruce Willis. (If you didn't know he could sing, watch the YouTube video below.) The song is about a man who encounters bad luck after crossing paths with a stray black cat. He sees the assistance of a psychic medium, however, and discovers that she has the same alluring eyes. The psychic had been the one to curse him in the first place.
Who sang "Devil Woman" better?
12. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
This Michael Jackson classic (1982) describes the terror of being surrounded by zombies and other creatures of the night. The Thriller video features MJ in his heyday—red leather jacket and light on his feet—before depigmentation, surgeries, and drug addiction took him away.
With the release of the Thriller album, the King of Pop overcame racial barriers. Just two years previously, Rolling Stone had declined to do a cover story on him, allegedly because African American musicians on the cover didn't sell magazines.
Thriller: Vintage Michael Jackson
13. "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon (1978) tells the strange tale of werewolves on the loose in one of the greatest cities of the world. Even if the lyrics don't make sense to you, don't pass up the opportunity to repeatedly howl like a werewolf: "Aaoooooo!"
14. "Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band
Who knew that the Devil played the fiddle? The Charlie Daniels Band (1979) tells the tale of a fiddle playing devil who was frustrated that he hadn't claimed as many Georgia souls as he needed. When he ran into a young fiddle player named Johnny, the Devil challenged him to a fiddle playing contest. The wager was Johnny's soul for a golden fiddle.
In an impressive musical duel, Johnny defeats the Devil, who lays the golden fiddle at his feet.
15. "I’m Your Boogie Man" by KC & the Sunshine Band
At the height of the disco era, KC & the Sunshine Band made this song famous (1976). Although the song has nothing to do with a ghost or ghoul, it's a convenient play on words. "Boogie" is a slang term for dancing, but the disco boogie man in this song is interested in canoodling and wherever that might lead.
Even Gouls, Ghosts, and Zombies Have Emotional Baggage
Emotional Baggage and Symptoms
Source Of His/Her Psychological Issues
Frankestein has deep identity, anger and abandonment issues. Being a humanoid, he is also unable to form normal human attachments and is socially awkward. The creepy creature is without a true social support system.
He's a medical experiment gone wrong. The monster has no mother, and his mad scientist father abandoned him and tried to kill him. People are afraid of him just by looking at him. His appearance frightens others because he was assembled from old body parts, is 8 feet tall, and has bolts sticking out of his head.
This graveyard creature suffers flattened affect, impulse control, and inflexible thinking (all he wants to do is eat brains). He has deep-seated concerns about group affiliation (i.e., Am I living or dead? Am I heaven bound, headed for Hell, or forever stranded to roam the Earth?)
He's a rotting corpse, rejected from both Heaven and Hell. He has a severe case of the munchies because he hasn't eaten in weeks and is a notoriously picky eater. Wouldn't that make you feel aggressive, too?
Rejected by her peers since childhood, the witch seeks revenge against those who would do her harm via magic spells. Both the anger and shame she feels threatens to sentence her to a life of social isolation, as other members of her social support system were burned at the stake.
Traumatized, publicly ridiculed and persecuted for her sincerely held religious beliefs and green skin color, this sorceress feels grief-stricken, unjustly targeted, and unwelcome in her own community.
"They've Come To Take Me Away. Ha! Ha!"Click thumbnail to view full-size
16. "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaaa!" by Napoleon XIV
Napoleon XIV blames his ex-girlfriend for his mental breakdown in this 1966 song, but then he confuses whether it's his beloved or his dog he's talking to. Blaming his trip to the "funny farm" on being abandoned, he includes laughter in his maniacal tale.
Remember when you ran away
And I got on my knees and begged
You not to leave
Because I'd go berserk?
You left me anyhow and then
The days got worse and worse
And now you see I've gone
Completely out of my mind.
17. "The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia" by Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire tells a tale of double murder with a surprise twist in the end in this 1991 country hit. A woman recounts how her brother returned from being away for two weeks, only to learn that his young bride had been stepping out on him, including sleeping with his best friend.
Both the best friend and the cheating wife end up murdered, although the body of the unfaithful Mrs. "will never be found". An innocent man—the same one who was cheated on—takes the blame for both deaths. However, his little sister, is the real killer. She's fast at pulling the trigger but not nearly as quick to tell the truth.
18. "Better Dig Two" by The Band Perry
There is nothing spookier than being told by your wife that she loves you so much that if you ever betray her, she'll put you in the ground and then follow you there herself. These are twisted lyrics good enough for Halloween. The song was released in 2012 by The Band Perry.
19. "Legend of Wooley Swamp" by The Charlie Daniels Band
This Charlie Daniels Band song from 1980 tells a ghost story of a greedy old backwoodsman named Lucius Clay who buried all of his money in mason jars. Some nights, he digs it up just to run his fingers through it. Mean neighbor boys conspire to steal the old man's hoard, but they get what's coming to them in ole' Booger Woods.
20. "The Ride" by David Allan Coe
Country singer David Allan Coe describes a hitchhiker's encounter with the ghost of legendary singer Hank Williams Sr. in this 1983 ballad. They ride together from Montgomery to Nashville as the ghost of Hank Williams Sr. warns him that stardom is "a long hard ride."
21. "The Addams Family Theme" by Vic Mizzy
Anyone who has ever seen an old rerun of this memorable television show (or the original) can recall the Vic Mizzy theme song. It's a short, snappy tune that celebrates this macabre family with a style all their own. The original television series ran from 1964-66.
22. "Ghost In This House" by Alison Krauss
Alison Krauss (1999) provided the most haunting, angelic rendition of this song which describes a heartbroken spouse who has been abandoned and is living in the depths of depression. Whereas once she was alive with fire and passion for her husband, she is now a mere ghost, confining herself to the house.
The woman doesn't even go through the motions of picking up the mail, or answering the door or phone. She has given up all semblance of living. The wife compares herself to a ghost, and the listener senses that she has one foot in the grave already.
23. "Nightmare On My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince tell a nightmarish tale about how the homicidal movie character Freddy Krueger is chasing after him. If the rapper in the 1988 hip hop song sounds familiar, that's because the Fresh Prince would later become known by his real name, Will Smith.
24. "Creepin'" by Eric Church
Just as ghosts can haunt one's house, Eric Church (2012) describes a former lover as creeping into his memory. As her memory infiltrates every aspect of his daily life, he is unable to forget her, and he finds it unnerving:
Your caffeine kiss and nicotine love,
Got under my skin and into my blood,
That need you back comes over me,
Like ivy crawlin' up a hickory tree.
Just a creepin' Creepin' ... .
25. "Walk Like A Zombie" by HorrorPops
If you've never heard of this 2005 song, there's a good reason: it was released by a Danish rockabilly band, HorrorPops, and didn't exactly hit the top 40.
But the seven-plus minute song is catchy if you give it a listen. It's about a woman who is in love with a zombie. He makes her cry, wants to hold hands with her in the cemetery, prefers to live in isolation, and dreams of naming their kids Morticia and Fester.
She puts up with his bringing her dead flowers and howling at the moon because she loves the guy—rotting corpse and all.
Even More Halloween Songs
26. Walk Like An Egyptian
28. Witch Doctor
Ross Bagdasarian, Sr.
31. Black Magic Woman
32. I Put A Spell On You
Screamin' Jay Hawkins
33. Red Right Hand
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Squirrel Nut Zippers
36. Light 'Em Up
Fall Out Boy
My Chemical Romance
38. Dracula's Wedding
39. Heads Will Roll
Yeah Yeah Yeah
40. Werewolf Bar Mitzvah
Tracy Morgan and Donald Glover
41. Walking With a Ghost
Tegan and Sarah
42. Ghost Town
Hall & Oates
44. The Devil Comes Back to Georgia
Charlie Daniels and Mark O'Connor (featuring Travis Tritt, Marty Stuart, Johnny Cash)
45. Bloody Mary
48. Witch Queen of New Orleans
49. Season of the Witch
50. Marie Laveau
51. Dance in the Graveyards
52. Bottom of the River
53. Dark Lady
54. This Is Halloween
55. Dead Man's Party
56. Running with the Devil
57. Highway to Hell
58. Pet Sematary
59. I'm a Hex Girl
60. Calling All the Monsters
China Anne McClain
61. Hungry Like the Wolf
Florence + The Machine
63. Bad Moon Rising
Creedence Clearwater Revival
64. Fortune Teller
65. Paranormal Love
1VanHorn, Terri. "Ray Parker Jr. Suing Huey Lewis Over ‘Ghostbusters’ Comment." MTV News. Last modified March 23, 2001. http://www.mtv.com/news/1442126/ray-parker-jr-suing-huey-lewis-over-ghostbusters-comment/.
2HISTORY.com. "History of Trick-or-Treating - Halloween." Accessed September 29, 2014. http://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-trick-or-treating.
3Cho, Janet H. "Halloween-loving Americans will spend about $125 on candy, costumes and decorations this year | cleveland.com." cleveland.com. Last modified September 26, 2014. http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2014/09/halloween-loving_americans_will_spend_about_125_on_candy_costumes_and_decorations_this_year.html.
4Wikipedia. "Witchy Woman." Last modified August 28, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchy_Woman.
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