The Strains of the Screams
Just as there are drunken ditties of joy on New Year’s, love songs for Valentine’s, and Irish jigs to be danced for Saint Patrick’s, there are some songs which, upon hearing them, make one’s mind flow toward that spookiest of holiday times, Halloween. The holiday itself does not, like Christmas, have a great wealth of songs devoted to it over time that become renowned classics that every child sings on the special night in question, no. There are a couple of limericks and poems that most children learn to go with Halloween, but usually nothing more than that.
But don’t be fooled, friends, there are definitely songs that go hand-in-hand with an evening of devils, goblins and strange, short ninjas with colorful plastic weapons. Myself, I’m fond of the following ten songs as Halloween-worthy tunes, and will even offer a brief explanation as to why.
#10) We’re Out of Time: By Charlie Clouser- If you’ve seen any of the ‘Saw’ films in the last few years, you’ll recognize the soft, creepy tones of Clouser’s work, which first made a wonderful addition to the dark atmosphere in said film. The song presages a sense of the weird and unseen, letting the listener create their own monster within the mists that almost instinctively come to mind when listening to the soft murmurings of the electronic keyboard notes.
#9) Requiem of the Gods: By Apocalyptica- Another orchestral piece, this song can be heard in the sacred church section of the video game, ‘Castlevania: Symphony of the Night’. Anyone who has played the game knows how haunting yet beautiful the chorus sounds in this piece, almost Gregorian in nature. One round of this song can break gooseflesh on the listener’s arms, guaranteed.
#8) Hello Zep: By Charlie Clouser- Best known as the ‘End Theme’ from the first Saw film, the full length version of this song, while holding similarities to the above mentioned title, ‘We’re Out of Time’, contains a sense of impending dramatic tension not found in the previous song. It certainly doesn’t give the sense that anything good is to come of the song’s conclusion, and the mood invoked by the violin work is one of rushed fear, always good to have during the Halloween season.
#7) Braineaters: By the Misfits- As one might expect, there’s a couple of tunes from the wonderful days of the ‘horror punk’ phase of Glenn Danzig’s era with this iconic band he helped create. The song is essentially about Glenn taking the role of a zombie, one who, along with his mates, has gotten a little tired of the regimen of brains for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He just wants some guts, ‘Oy! Oy! Oy!’ This song from ‘Walk Among Us’ (1982) is a shoe-in on anybody’s list of Halloween songs if they’ve heard it, or at least, should be. And yes, thought the song may make you want to laugh, it’s rather appropriate for the season in question.
#6) Die, Die My Darling: By the Misfits- Combining aggressive instrumental work with the basic message that the singer (Danzig) wants nothing more than for his ‘Darling’ to keep her mouth shut and perish, possibly by his own hands, is certainly not a nice overall effect. It’s angry, violent, and calls to the darker side of the Halloween rituals and mythology, earning it a place in the top ten.
#5) The Number of the Beast: By Iron Maiden- British metal band Iron Maiden makes the list with this song which begins with a sermon-like invocation spoken by what the listener may presume is a man of the cloth, warning of ‘The Number of the Beast’, which he informs us, of course, is ‘Six-hundred and sixty-six’. Laced with classic metal riffs and references to ‘Satan’s work’, how could this tune not grace a list of Halloween selections?
#4) Vomit the Soul: By Cannibal Corpse- Like every other track on the album this title comes from, ‘Butchered at Birth’, this title sums up every B horror splatter flick cliché and, if you can actually make out what Chris Barnes is saying throughout the song, leaves the listener wondering if they should go and do an awful lot of praying for their immortal soul. Bear in mind, however, that this is not a song for the faint of heart; none of their material is. But the title deserves high mention on the list for its death metal instrumental work, which is superb, and the dark, menacing message it conveys. Halloween isn’t always cute and cuddly, folks, and neither is this song.
#3) Halloween: By the Misfits- The song is all about the holiday in question, and continues the tradition of enjoyable if somewhat disturbed Misfits B-horror inspired titles. ‘Spiraling, vertigo! Dead bodies hangin’ from poles, I remember Halloween! This day, anything goes!’ Paraphrasing the lyrics doesn’t do the song any justice, and I’d highly recommend a listen to this tune for the creepiest of holidays.
#2) The Monster Mash: By Bobby “Borris” Pickett- Yes, it’s a pretty old song, but when you set the song’s vibe and lyrics against the backdrop of Halloween, it isn’t hard at all to realize how perfectly the song fits the holiday. All of the big names get mentioned, including Dracula, Igor, reference to werewolves and Frankenstein, and an invitation to the singer’s ghouls to ‘get a jolt from [my] electrodes’. Infectiously catchy and clean-cut, this is a near-perfect song choice for the family to enjoy during the Halloween season.
All of these songs above are great in their own respect, and I have enjoyed them all (though #4 somewhat grudgingly). But there’s one song which should have no trouble standing tall atop the pile, for it is the very essence of the holiday in question, and that is
#1) This is Halloween: By Danny Elfman- With an orchestral performance that delights to serve the melodic litany of critters and creatures that introduce themselves to the listener and tell them how they operate to terrify, this song is a powerful definition of the holiday itself. The music, while beautiful, carries a drab, oppressive tone that fits the Halloween spirit perfectly. If you’ve seen the film ‘A Nightmare Before Christmas’, you likely think of the movie more as a Christmas film, and I’d have to agree. But this song clearly belongs to Halloween in its essence, and deserves its place atop this list.
And that’s all for this list of Halloween tunes which I highly recommend. Each fits the tone and theme of the holiday for its own reasons, and a collection this diverse could be difficult to come by. But if you’ve got iTunes or a similar application, perhaps this year, you could hunt down this list and see for yourself how wonderfully it encompasses that which is the spookiest of holidays. Cheers.