Well, it's that time of the year again, when little kids make their moms buy them overpriced costumes of the latest superhero to be featured in a summer blockbuster and the Kent crowd tries to outdo one another with drinking feats, costumes, and parties. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Halloween is nearly upon us. Many of you probably decided on a costume months ago, or will do so in the following week or two. If you are anything like me, you will also be watching horror flicks while munching on candy, eating apple or pumpkin pie and washing it all down down with some (hard?) cider. Costumes, candy, food, horror movies... Am I missing anything? If you answered no, you are wrong, and if you answered yes, read on...
Music is perhaps the most neglected aspect of Halloween. When Halloween music is brought up in conversation it usually starts with the Friday the 13th or Halloween theme and ends with the "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. This neglects the numerous other songs that are either inspired by Halloween or maybe simply fit the spirit of the holiday. Because of this, I have decided to compile a Halloween playlist, composed of my 13 favorite Halloween-esque songs, listed below: (While the "Monster Mash" is indeed catchy and a good song on its own right, I have decided to exclude it from this list in order to allow for more variety.)
13. "Dead Can't Testify" by Billy Talent: From their third album (aptly called Billy Talent III), this song is about the Salem witch trials. It is from the point of view of an innocent soul who is accused of being a witch and given the full treatment. The solution? Haunting the perpetrators until they die.
12. "Enter Sandman" by Metallica: This song is the lullaby the devil never wrote. Hetfield has always had a demonic voice, but ironically, he never sounded more demonic than when he utters "Hush little baby don't say a word...". The children's prayer in the middle of the song manages to take this one over the top.
11. "Nightmare On My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith: One of the more lighthearted entries in this list, Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith do an awesome job of bringing both Freddy and the Nightmare to the hood. The dialogue manages to stay "fresh" (pun intended) despite the length of the song.The background sound effects and the ending of the song are also priceless.
10. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne: Of course I was gonna have a song by the prince of fucking darkness. It just wouldn't be right without him. It's a song about barking...at the moon. You do the math.
9. "Gasoline" by Brand New: From their 2009 album, Daisy, "Gasoline" evokes images of the dark and macabre in human nature. It manages to go from fast to slow in a split second, which adds to its intensity. The fact that Jesse Lacey sounds as though he were on the verge of desperation and madness helps to make this a very sinister song.
8. "Teenagers from Mars" by The Network (Misfits Cover): Originally a song by the Misfits, Billy Joe Armstrong's short lived side project manages to breathe new life into this old classic. Alien domination never sounded so fun.
7. "Your Neck" by Alkaline Trio: Anybody who knows me knows that the Trio are my all time favorite band, bar none. Matt Skiba has the ability to infuse his songs with his own brand of witty dark humor while still making them sound refined. Example? "I'll do my very best to keep my feelings off my chest/and out of your neck, and out of your neck...". Matt is a Misfits fan. Who would've thunk it?
6. "Pet Sematary" by The Ramones: The godfathers of punk make our top 10 list with this 1989 song. Accompanied by a very entertaining video, The Ramones keep it short and sweet: "I don't want to be buried in a pet sematary/I don't want to live my life again". By the way, am I the only one who can totally see Joey Ramone and his crew as zombies?
5. "Night of the Living Dead" by Misfits: No Halloween song list would be complete without a song by the original Misfits. Although almost half of their catalog is about B-Horror movies, it was hard to pick just one song by them (they actually have 3 on the list). Although I felt tempted to go with the obvious choice, I could not include the Misfits' "Halloween" on the list. Instead, we have a great Misfits song named after a (surprise?) horror movie. Yes, they made the Devil's Lock famous, but it was great songs like this that truly solidified them as the pioneers of horror-punk.
4. "Hell" by Street Light Manifesto (Squirrel Nut Zippers cover): Why is the cover in my list and not the original version of the song, you ask? Quite simply, because it's my list and I happen to like it better. With that said, I think the trumpets add a nice flair to this version and that, along with a slightly faster pace, puts it over the top for me.
3. 'Thriller" by Michael Jackson: Did anyone really not think that this song would be somewhere in the list? Not only is it one of the highlights in the best album of all-time, it also took the music videos to a new level. A short movie complete with Vincent Price and a movie within a movie. Who would have known that 20 years later Michael Jackson the zombie would look better than Michael Jackson the man.
2. "A Little Piece of Heaven" by Avenged Sevenfold: This song is perhaps the best example of an original story in the list. It takes the premise of a man who engages in homicide, engages in necrophilia and cannibalism, and is then subjected to these same things by the spirit of the woman he has killed. Only Ax7 could take this twisted tale and manage to make it catchy.
1. "Halloween" by AFI (Misfits cover): I know a lot of you are going to take issue with the fact that I chose a cover over the Misfits original song. Many bands have covered this song (Alkaline Trio among them), but the reason why I chose AFI's version is that AFI brought speed and intensity to an already great song. Danzig's imagery is brought to life by Davey Havok's voice, which carries this song and runs with it, only to later be completely juxtaposed by a slow piano outro. If you can only listen to one Halloween song, make it this one.
...and there you have it, my 13 picks for best Halloween songs. Hope you give a few of 'em a try!