Every year it is fun to go through your collection and assemble a fitting soundtrack for Halloween.
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Here are some picks your party guests are sure to love.
1. THE VINCE GUARALDI TRIO, “THE GREAT PUMPKIN WALTZ”: The theme to the landmark “Peanuts” special is actually more soothing than frightening. But its calming flute, piano and guitar interplay provides a slightly dark tension to get you in the spirit of the season. The soundtrack to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” just received its first official release earlier this month.
2. DJ JAZZY JEFF & THE FRESH PRINCE, “A NIGHTMARE ON MY STREET”: DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s 1988 album, “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper,” is most famous for “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” but this song, placing Will Smith in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, was also a monster hit, complete with a creepy synth-line and verses from Freddy Krueger. After Freddy kills Jazzy Jeff, he maniacally declares, “I’m your DJ now, Princie!”
3. THE POLICE, “MURDER BY NUMBERS”: The final proper studio album by the Police, “Synchronicity,” may have produced the stalker anthem “Every Breath You Take” and the occasionally lyrically unsettling “King of Pain.” But the kicker is the closer of the record, where Sting leads a jazzy musical manual for serial killers.
4. “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC, “NATURE TRAIL TO HELL”: On his second album, “In 3-D,” the same collection in which he parodied “Beat It” and turned it into “Eat It,” Yankovic delivers this original song, promoting a fictional horror movie about a doomed cub scout troupe. Think of this as his own operatic, tongue-in-cheek answer to “Thriller.” One of his best originals, this is a strangely ambitious and hypnotizing song.
5. RADIOHEAD, “WE SUCK YOUNG BLOOD (TIME IS UP)”: This low-key, jazzy mood piece arrives somewhere in the middle of “Hail to the Thief,” capturing Thom Yorke at his eeriest. This is probably no one’s favorite song on the record, but by itself, it will definitely leave you unsettled.
6. THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS, “EXSQUISITE DEAD GUY”: You have to love when playful musicians go in a darker direction. They Might Be Giants would later sing songs for kids but here on this track from “Factory Showroom,” they are singing playfully about a mysterious, unidentified body. The whole thing is a silly head-scratcher.
7. THE WEEKND, “PARTY MONSTER”: This “Starboy” track is a pretty typical song by the Weeknd and yet it has vibe that is sad, ghoulish and celebratory at the same time. The Weeknd has always loved this kind of tone, combining a party vibe with elements that are taboo and sensual. Plus, when the beat picks it, this is good for momentary slam-dancing.
8. PORTISHEAD, “HALF DAY CLOSING”: This song is just about the most unsettling song ever recorded. Taken from the band’s self-titled second album, it finds Beth Gibbons’ affected voice heading towards the stratosphere over a ragged guitar line and a woozy organ. This song isn’t for everyone. It is perfect for a haunted house.
9. THE RAVEONETTES, “KILLER IN THE STREETS”: In spite of its title, this song (taken from their “Pe’ahi” album) is more for the lighter side of Halloween. The Danish duo cover a fat beat with grungy layers of guitar, creating an excellent, unexpected party jam. The darkest aspect of this track is its title, but it still fits.
10. LADY GAGA, “BLOODY MARY”: Lady Gaga used to live every day like it was Halloween, so it makes sense that this track from “Born This Way” sounds like an orchestral horror movie score at its start. Along the way things get operatic as she mixes dance beats and religious imagery.
11. DONOVAN, “SEASON OF THE WITCH”: Sure, this classic from his album “Sunshine Superman” has probably become a cliché Halloween staple but its endurance is well earned.
12. SMASHING PUMPKINS, “STARLA”: You shouldn’t have a Halloween list without at least one Smashing Pumpkins song. Not only does this song make the most out of a five-note rising scale, it goes from delicate to rocking within a matter of moments.
13. THE ZOMBIES, “TIME OF THE SEASON”: The Zombies are a more friendly and upbeat band than their name suggests and this signature hit has a sense of menace. In general, the track has a very autumnal tone.
14. RYAN ADAMS, “HALLOWEENHEAD”: Foul-mouthed and unhinged, this standout single from “Easy Tiger” finds Ryan Adams cracking wise about his “head full of tricks and treats.” It’s a bizarre and awesomely enjoyable track.
15. WARREN ZEVON, “WEREWOLVES OF LONDON”: Taken from Zevon’s 1978 album, “Excitable Boy,” this track was supposedly inspired by a conversation he had with musician Phil Everly after watching the 1935 film “Werewolf in London.” It is good, ridiculous fun.
16. POE, “HAUNTED”: This track was the title track to Poe’s second album which was dropped on Halloween of 2000. The song had been used in “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2,” and sets the tone for a beautifully uneasy record.
17. HALSEY, “CASTLE”: Halsey opens her debut album “Badlands” on an authoritative and chilling note with the stunningly, attitude-driven “Castle.” Complete with eerie instrumentation, it is a stunner that should immediately grab you attention.
18. BECK, SCARECROW (REMIXED BY EL-P): The original version of this track can be found on Beck’s album “Guero” but this remix from the album “Guerolito” by El-P (of Company Flow and Run the Jewels-fame) ups the creepy factor quite a bit. It is also quite dance-able.
19. DAVID BOWIE – “SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS): Bowie had a lot of Halloween-ready songs, but the title-track to 1980’s “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” sounds like a backing track to a fun party at the gates of hell.
20. MONO, “MADHOUSE”: This song can be found on the soundtrack to Gus Van Sant’s remake of “Psycho,” and hits its apex when it goes into a breakdown that samples the classic “Psycho” score music. It’s definitely a cool, obscure track to pull out of your pocket.
21. TV ON THE RADIO, “WOLF LIKE ME”: This standout from TV on the Radio’s 2006 album, “Return to Cookie Mountain” is as stirring as it is insistent. When it changes tempos in the middle of the track it becomes downright cinematic.
22. SIA, “BREATHE ME”: This track is sadder than it is eerie and yet it will always be associated with death due to its placement during the final scenes of the series “Six Feet Under.” It is still a jarring, moving ballad.
23. ROCKWELL, “SOMEBODY’S WATCHING ME”: Rockwell is Kennedy William Gordy, the son of Motown founder Berry Gordy. He managed to get Michael Jackson to sing the hook to this single, an anthem of paranoia and uneasiness.
24. SEA WOLF, “YOU’RE A WOLF”: The signature song by Los Angeles indie-rockers Sea Wolf has an eerie, somewhat gothic undercurrent as leader Alex Brown Church sings about an interaction with an “old Gypsy woman” with “lip-stained red from a bottle of wine.” The track is somehow both welcoming and shunning at the same time, as the woman tells him, “You’re a wolf, boy. / Get out of this town.”
25. SKRILLEX, “SCARY MONSTERS AND NICE SPRITES”: This track goes from a blissful party to something more evil sounding. The dub-step bass sounds like it is about to devour the track as a sampled scream adds punctuation.