Halloween is absolutely my favorite holiday. It’s also my favorite musical subgenre, and while sticklers might contest that “Halloween” isn’t technically a valid classification, I would like to enter into the record of this blog post that I’ve listened to my personal Halloween Spotify playlist top to bottom a horrific number of times over a cosmically staggering quantity of hours. I like to think the dark gods of niche music categorization would factor this into their accounting.
And in the spirit of this holiday about spirits, I’ve distilled that playlist into 13 dark and deliciously different tracks that’ll get stuck in your head and linger there, haunting you like a festive ghost forever (do not worry: this is a good thing). On behalf of Nightfire, you are cordially invited to come VIBE with us:
For the full Spotify playlist, click here or scroll down!
Track 1: (Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult
Rolling Stone’s 1976 song of the year was written with mortality in mind. Lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser imagined an early death for himself and channeled that image into a haunting tune about accepting life’s inevitable end. But hey, this song gets to rock out before its final notes just like we do, which makes it a vibe to me. American Horror Story fans might remember Kathy Bates doing some quick murder at a gas station while this song plays, so that’s also fun.
Track 2: Join Us for a Bite – JT Music ft. Andrea Storm Kaden
I lived it: my favorite song is a tribute to Five Nights at Freddy’s: Sister Location. It’s a sugary pop bop about dead children possessing Chuck E. Cheese-esque animatronic nightmares who will tear you limb from limb. Cosplayers love this song, and you might be familiar with it from TikTok, even if you’re not as personally invested in the Five Nights at Freddy’s extended universe as some of us are… Okay. I’ll say it. I would like to join the animatronic family.
Track 3: Where the Watermelons Rot – Madelynne Whitt
Here’s another favorite tune for TikTok cosplayers, but that’s where the similarities between this song and the last one end. This track is echoey and downright eerie. It’s slow and haunting––the perfect song to play while you wander your living space casting forlorn looks everywhere with the hem of your elegant yet faded dress trailing behind you. You know, if that’s the kind of thing you’re inclined to do.
Track 4: I’m Your Boogie Man – KC & The Sunshine Band
This one’s kind of a stretch but I’m counting it because I do love it. Yeah, the titular “Boogie Man” is actually just a very committed dancing partner and not THE Boogieman, but it does say midnight and that is the witching hour, so. Eerie, haunting vibes definitely fall under the umbrella of Halloween, but so does party music! It’s Halloween. The Boogieman can be a Boogie Man if he wants.
Track 5: bury a friend – Billie Eilish
This song from Billie Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? sees her sing from the perspective of the monster under the bed. But what is the monster? Anything. Anything, so long as it is consuming your life. This hypnotic track will creep through your ears and burrow in your brain, and there it will lay at the back of your mind until you fall asleep. It’s a Halloween VIBE.
Track 6: Re: Your Brains – Jonathan Coulton
Jonathan Coulton is a comedic singer-songwriter with special interest in geek culture, and Re: Your Brains is a letter in the form of a song. A letter from a zombie named Bob to a human named Tom who works in an office down the hall. It reads like a business email as zombie Bob implores human Tom to just come out already because everyone wants to eat his brain. This song is humor and horror, and isn’t that what Halloween is all about?
Track 7: Ghost – Mystery Skulls
How about some electro retro funk? This song rocketed into massive popularity after fan MysteryBen27 (Ben Mangum) posted a Scooby Doo-inspired animated music video on YouTube. At least thirty of those 39 million plus views are mine and I’ve definitely listened to just the song on Spotify even more times than that.
Track 8: Captain Morgan’s Revenge – Alestorm
I hope you didn’t think you were going to escape this list without a little PIRATE METAL. Yarr, like the crew of the aforementioned Captain Morgan himself, ye be damned. You’ll find yerself unable to cease thrashing to this ballad of blackhearted mutiny––the tale of the cursed crew that sent Captain Morgan to the briny depths and the shadow of evil that followed them from that day to the end of their lives.
Track 9: Wonderland – Caravan Palace
If hearing “Halloween” conjures pictures of searing neon in a dark room where shadows shake their arms and legs in frantic time to electronic music, then I’ve got good news in the form of Track 9. This atmospheric jam’s driving dance beat peppered with funky instrumental breakdowns is your Halloween vibe and I want to party with you.
Track 10: Bloodletting on the Kiss – Bloody Hammers
This playlist would NOT be complete without a track from hard rock / darkwave artist Bloody Hammers, and Bloodletting on the Kiss in particular. You want a song you can scream to and still feel faded by the end? Do you crave the oblivion of a sinister synth? This is the vibe for you, and it can also be heard as the intro to Pseudopod, the horror fiction podcast.
Track 11: Let Us Adore You (feat. Christine Ebersole, Lisa Hannigan, Patti LuPone & Sarah Stiles) – Steven Universe
Steven Universe’s cute artistic style doesn’t immediately scream “Halloween” but this track from Steven Universe: The Movie tunefully calls just so in discordant melody. Another TikTok cosplayer staple, Let Us Adore You is still haunting even if you’re unfamiliar with the source material. Let the song wash over you and carry your mind away. You are lighter than air. You float. This Halloween, just let yourself be adored.
Track 12: It’s Been So Long – The Living Tombstone (ft. Aviya Dor-Kolan & Orko)
Yes, this is the second Five Nights at Freddy’s inspired song to make this list. No, I will not back down. The electronic music is BACK, now with notes of sadness and longing that intertwine with the wild rise and fall of synthesized beats to evoke a sense of desperation. You remember the dead children from Track 2: Join Us for a Bite? This song is from the perspective of the parents. Well, this specific batch of dead children is from Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 instead of Sister Location (there are currently 7 available games in the main series and many books and spin-off games. Good luck). Still! I declare this a Halloween vibe!
Track 13: This Corrosion – Sisters of Mercy
For the final selection of this playlist, I wanted to pick something with a touch of the grandiose to complement its ultimate placement. The song begins with a vast choir eerily harmonizing, and with your eyes closed, it’s not hard to picture an old and crumbling cathedral and other such Hallow’s Eve vistas. What follows is 10 minutes of driving goth rock. The Sisters of Mercy occupy a space between the post-punk goth music of the late 70’s United Kingdom and mainstream rock’n’roll.