A spooky playlist is an essential part of any Halloween event. Not only does Spotify have a great selection of creepy tunes, but it also offers some readings of classic horror poems and short stories — maybe not ideal for a huge party, but perfect for a small get-together. If you’re sick of hearing “Thriller” and the “Monster Mash” on an endless loop every October, tune into our mix of Halloween-themed spoken word and music.
“Danse Macabre”— Henri Cazalis
Henri Cazalis’ famous poem imagines Death playing the violin at a party for the walking dead. This whimsical reading of the English translation is set to the popular instrumental of the same name, composed by Camille Saint-Saëns.
“Coin-Operated Boy” — The Dresden Dolls
This bouncy tune off The Dresden Dolls’ self-titled debut album might seem more cheery than spooky, but the song’s toy piano instrumentation and its “Black Mirror”-worthy premise of an artificial lover create an underlying eeriness. Most of The Dresden Dolls’ catalog follows a similar pattern; other Halloween-appropriate picks include “Girl Anachronism” and “Missed Me,” two Dresden Dolls’ songs that feature thematically heavy lyrics and intense, jarring piano instrumentation.
“Henry Lee” — Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and PJ Harvey
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds is known for a dark aesthetic and a tendency to put their own spin on creepy folktales and urban legends. This track, from the aptly named album “Murder Ballads,” features Cave and singer-songwriter PJ Harvey lamenting the murder of a man killed by his lover. The music itself is haunting and beautiful, so it’s a great choice even if you’re not paying close enough attention to the lyrics to hear the macabre story.
“Every Day is Halloween” — Ministry
While Ministry is perhaps best known for pioneering the industrial metal genre (which includes artists like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson), this track is a relic from their days as a new wave group. The song references Halloween, snakes and lizards, but it’s really about the judgment faced by members of the goth subculture as it was just emerging in the 1980s. It’s far from being a downer, however, as the frustrated lyrics are sung over an infectious synth-pop beat.
“Little Dark Age” — MGMT
This new single from MGMT, released on Oct. 17, arrived just in time for Halloween. Evoking the depressive darkness of goth post-punk bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus, the track mesmerizes with swirling synths and long instrumental breaks tailor-made for the final stretch of a party.
“Heels” — Disasterpeace
“It Follows” (2014) has been hailed as one of the best horror films of the decade, and Disasterpeace’s jarring electronic soundtrack is essential to the tone of the movie. The background music for the film’s opening sequence, “Heels,” is as intense and ominous as John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” Bernard Herrmann’s “Psycho” or any of the other great movie themes you’re used to hearing around Halloween.
“Tonight You Belong to Me” — Patience & Prudence
Fans of “American Horror Story” probably remember this creepy vintage song from the show’s first-season pilot and finale. For people who haven’t heard it in that context, it might not conjure up images of ghosts and murderers, but it still has an eerily saccharine quality that complements some of the more overtly spooky songs on this list.
“Night of the Living Dead” — Misfits
No Halloween playlist would be complete without a few songs from the Misfits, arguably the most iconic horror-punk band of all time. Whether you play through their whole catalogue every year or just recognize their logo from T-shirts at the mall, you’ll be drawn in by their intensity and dedication to the B-movie aesthetic. “Night of the Living Dead,” with its soaring chorus, is especially perfect for the end of a wild night.
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