?Last year, Topless Robot featured a look at the 10 Best (and 10 Worst) Songs for Halloween. That list showcased obscure musical tricks and treats that you could enjoy/avoid while bobbing for apples or getting blind stinking drunk on pumpkin beer, because despite how many people fail to realize it year after year, there’s other songs you can listen to at Halloween besides “Monster Mash.”
So like its predecessor this follow-up list will only be featuring (arguably) lesser known songs that can be instantly used to replace “Monster Mash” and maybe half of the Misfits songs’ you have on your Halloween playlist — nothing against the Misfits, of course, but it’s always good to have some variety, right?). Unlike the last list, however, this go-round eliminates the negativity by only featuring more of the best songs for Halloween. I.e., it’s all treats, no tricks. So gorge yourself on fun-sized Milky Ways and check out this look at eight spooky tunes that you’ll be digging come October 31st. Bwahahahahahahahaha!
8) Tim Curry, “Anything Can Happen on Halloween”
There are two Halloween-themed memes currently making the rounds. The first involves pictures of people getting the poop scared out of them at the Nightmare Fear Factory in Niagara Falls. The second you see above. The folks at Everything Is Terrible! have recently made this clip taken from the 1986 adaptation of Jill Murphy’s book The Worst Witch (an infinitely less successful Harry Potter for 1980s kids) hip. But true Halloween music aficionados have known about it for years. With the help of some not-so-special green screen and Video Toaster special effects, the erstwhile Dr. Frank ‘N Furter belts out a campy ditty about why the holiday is so magical. Who are we to argue with him? I’m still not sure about the whole tambourine thing though.
7) Morrissey, “Jack the Ripper”
Morrissey’s music has drawn inspiration from notorious British crimes since the early days of The Smiths, so he was bound to get around to Jack the Ripper sooner or later. Originally hidden away as a b-side on the 1992 single for “Certain People I Know,” this unnerving gem is a sleek journey into the mindset of the Whitechapel Murderer. The incredible hushed vocals are what draws you in, but the song’s lyrics — which can either be interpreted as an exploration of the Ripper’s psychological makeup or as a metaphor for obsessive love — are what will have you listening repeatedly for hours. At the chilling conclusion, Moz has the Ripper reveling in the anonymity of his crimes. “Nobody knows me” he declares and chuckles before returning once again to the shadows as a chill runs down your spine.
6) Gorillaz, “Last Living Souls”
With the exception of the peppy “Feel Good Inc.” pretty much any Gorillaz song would be a good fit for Halloween listening. The cartoon band frequently references horror classics like The Exorcist and the original Dawn of the Dead in their music and videos, which is perfect for generating a vibe that straddles the line between funky and spooky. That said I’m singling this particular track out because it is the perfect soundtrack to a zombie apocalypse. Why it hasn’t been featured on The Walking Dead yet is completely baffling to me.
5) Concrete Blonde, “The Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man”
Best known for the Anne Rice-inspired album Bloodletting — which itself features a number of seasonal appropriate tracks — Concrete Blonde have more than just a passing interest in all things supernatural. Thus we have this foot stomper from the group’s Walking in London LP which is to my knowledge the only song ever written about a womanizing poltergeist (I always associate this track with Suzanne Vega’s similarly themed “Honeymoon Suite,” though that song doesn’t feature such awesome lines as “you don’t scare me I cried… to my ectoplasmic lover from the other side). If you want to kick off the dance portion of your Halloween party, you can’t do much better than this.
4) They Might Be Giants, “Dig My Grave”
Experiencing heartbreak this Halloween? Then kick back and check out this ditty from geek rock icons They Might Be Giants and have your relationship troubles melting away. Well, temporarily anyway. At just a bit over a minute long, it is the perfect opener to a spooky mixed CD. (Maybe even one you could use to win back your old love!) The group’s ode to existentialism “Dead” would be totally appropriate to listen to right around now as well, but that one’s a total bummer so skip it if there are sharp things nearby.
3) The Bollock Brothers, “Drac’s Back”
On last year’s list, British new wave jokesters The Bollock Brothers made an appearance with their celebration of fright flicks “Horror Movies.” Lesser known but probably even better is this cover of an obscure 1979 song by Andy Forray called “Drac’s Back.” The goofy tune has Dracula on the make and looking for love in a New York City disco. But the female patrons there have much more to worry about then chafing polyester and who brought the coke. It seems that Drac is hitting Studio 54 in hopes of finding his next victim, resulting in plenty of cheesy humor (probably the best way to describe this is as the spiritual predecessor to 30 Rock’s “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”). Forray’s original is a kitsch classic in its own right for sure, but The Bollocks sarcastic delivery of such lyrics as “they’re not hung over, they’re just vampirized” gives them the advantage.
2) Jason Segel, “Dracula’s Lament”
This song bookends the previous track perfectly, finding the bloodsucker back home and crippled by depression. As you should already know, Jason Segel’s “Dracula’s Lament” debuted in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Even outside of the context of that film, it succeeds as a ballad. A few years back, Segal was actually working on a real Dracula puppet musical like the one featured in the movie. Now that his involvement with The Muppets is wrapping up, hopefully he can return to it. Meanwhile, Frank Oz’s disapproval on how Segel is handling Kermit and company ignores the fact that this song proves that his love for Henson’s work was firmly established even before he was handed the keys to the Muppet castle. “Dracula’s Lament” could very well have been a cut song from the Alice Cooper or Vincent Price episodes of The Muppet Show. It captures the Henson magic that perfectly. If the quality of the material in The Muppets is anything as good as what you hear above, we are all in for something special indeed.
1) Ministry, “(Every Day Is) Halloween”
Long before Ministry became the industrial metal powerhouse it is today, they were an adorable pop band whose angst tunes often sounded like low-rent Depeche Mode. In other words, it was AMAZING. Arguably, the group’s first incarnation reached its creative peak with this parenthetical tribute to letting your freak flag fly. On the surface, it sounds just like a typical new wave Halloween song. But dive deeper and you’ll find a plea for acceptance that was to 1984 what “Born This Way” is to today. (Lyrical high point: “I’m not the one that’s so absurd” pouts frontman Al Jourgensen absurdly). As I mentioned, the band went on to make a complete musical overhaul. Truth be told though, I prefer their more melodramatic synth-oriented songs like this one. It’s the musical equivalent of eating an entire can of spam followed by a row of Oreos. You know it’s bad for you, but you just can’t quit it. Mmm. Happy Halloween everyone!