By Abby Lorch | October 17, 2022
You know the classics: “Monster Mash,” “Spooky Scary Skeletons,” and “Thriller.” But there are many more songs that, while not exclusive to Halloween, are sure to bring haunting depth and variety to your seasonal playlist. These are 13 spooky tunes to get you in the mood for fright this October.
Photo Credit: Reader’s Digest
1. “Special Death” by Mirah
This track, famously featured in the first season of “American Horror Story,” is equal parts eerie and melancholy–perfect for those looking to dial up that fall angst.
2. “Ritual” by Ghost
Named one of “The 50 Most Evil Songs Ever” by Kerrang! in 2020, this metal track tells of Satanic horrors in terrifying detail. Ghost, a Swedish rock band whose work centers on the concept of a demonic pope and his posse of ghouls, is a great choice for any listener who enjoys religious horror.
3. “Ghosting” OR “Oh Ana” by Mother Mother
Mother Mother is a phenomenal playlist pick for any season, but the band’s haunting sound and lyricism practically scream “Halloween.” The choice between these two songs depends on the kind of spook you’re looking for this October. If you want to listen to a catchy acoustic tune ripe with seasonally-appropriate metaphors for breakups, go with “Ghosting”. If you’re in the mood to feel your soul leave your body as you reckon with the spiritual horror of existence, you’ll love “Oh Ana”.
4. “Arsonist’s Lullabye” by Hozier
This chilling track focuses on the power of fire and of the individual who controls it. With a strong, foreboding sound and haunting lyrics, “Arsonist’s Lullabye” is a powerful song that will resonate with the most unhinged, vengeful parts of you. “Don’t you ever tame your demons,” Hozier warns, “but always keep them on a leash.”
5. “I Know The End” by Phoebe Bridgers
Those who are familiar with Phoebe Bridgers’s discography can attest that this track is gut-wrenchingly beautiful from start to finish. As the title suggests, the song describes the end of the world. With its gradual but devastating progression from soft crooning to all-out screaming, this tune delivers apocalyptic thrills–and maybe a bit of existential dread.
6. “Howl” by Florence + the Machine
This song sees Florence Welch, frontwoman of Florence + the Machine, at her most powerful and untamed. She belts out visceral metaphors that highlight the animalistic nature of love. It’s the perfect soundtrack for wandering out into the woods under a full moon and contacting the beast within.
7. “Get Out Of My House” by Kate Bush
With Stephen King’s The Shining among its inspirations, this harsh track perfectly encapsulates the horror of isolation and anxiety. It follows a paranoid woman trying to keep a hostile invader out of her house.
8. “Bad Things” by Cults
You may recognize this song’s musical motif from the wildly popular “She Knows” by J. Cole, which heavily sampled the Cults track, but you simply can’t beat the original when it comes to eerie feels. “Bad Things” is a surreal listening experience that will leave you with the uncanny suspicion that something dreadful is on the horizon.
9. “Haunted” by Laura Les
If you’re a fan of hyperpop, you may already be acquainted with 100 Gecs, the musical duo of which Laura Les is one half. “Haunted” is Les’s only solo project to date, and it’s well worth the listen this October. Short and sweet, the song tells of a haunted house and its inhabitants with heavily pitched-up lyrics and frantic vocalization.
10. “A Forest” by The Cure
This song is a hard-hitter. It follows a person lured into a dark forest by the apparition of a girl. Nearly six minutes long and dominated by ominous guitar riffs, “A Forest” immerses listeners in supernatural scares.
11. “Decode” by Paramore
Featured in Twilight (2008), this Paramore classic is dark and broody. Hayley Williams’s powerful vocals and the song’s cutting lyrics inspire angsty thrills fitting of the season. It’s a great Halloween playlist pick for edgy teens and emo enthusiasts alike.
12. “Witches” by Alice Phoebe Lou
If you’re aiming for a lighter holiday mood, you can’t go wrong with this catchy tune. Alice Phoebe Lou croons with spunk and magic in her ode to the witch as a cultural icon. “I’m one of those witches, babe,” she sings. “Just don’t try to save me ‘cause I don’t wanna be saved.”
13. “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell
You all saw it coming: “Somebody’s Watching Me” is a classic which no Halloween playlist is complete without. Catchy, eccentric, and paranoia-driven, it has everything you could want in a spooky song. Plus, you can dance to it!
Happy streaming, witches!