Enough Of That ‘Monster Mash’ Crap: Here Are Some Legitimately Great Halloween Songs

OK, first off: nothing will ever be as terrifying as those g-g-g-ghost dogs. They’re making Forest Whitaker proud. They’re also about 492 times more horrifying than “Monster Mash,” “The Purple People Eater,” “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” or anything of the other Halloween-themed songs you listened to when you were a kid. If you’re throwing a Halloween party, or even just want to listen to some All Hallows’ Eve-themed music, you can do a lot better than Captain Skeleton’s Sing-Along Spooktacular. Here are 10 legitimately great songs about Halloween (i.e., they all have Halloween in the title) that are much better, and much scarier, than “Martian Hop.”

“Ghostbusters” is always perfect, though.

“Halloween” by Mudhoney

In 1988, famed indie label Sub Pop released a split-single, with Sonic Youth covering Mudhoney’s “Touch Me, I’m Sick” and Mudhoney covering Sonic Youth’s “Halloween.” It was a brilliant idea, and both covers stand up to the originals. In fact, Mudhoney’s “Halloween” might even be better than Sonic Youth’s — it’s a little more sinister, lurking along like a zombie for four lengthy minutes, before all Hell breaks loose in the final third. A classic.

“Halloween Candy” by the Spinanes

Going simply off the sound of the song, “Halloween Candy,” from 1990s indie rock duo Rebecca Gates and Scott Plouf (now a member of Built to Spill), isn’t very spooky. It’s sparse, sure, and slightly haunting in its minimalism, but the real horror lies in the lyrics:

Razor blades and sharper things
Cut in dreaded ways you shouldn’t feel
Sometimes sweetness is not what it seems
Lately feels like everyday is Halloween

Jesus. Play this song to your kids before they take ripped candy wrappers from Old Man Monty down the street.

“Halloween” by Dead Kennedys

Despite being one of California’s most famous punk bands, the Dead Kennedys only released seven singles between 1978–1986, beginning with the great “California Über Alles” in 1979. Three years later, the band put out “Halloween,” their last single, and maybe their most bitter.

You go to work today
You’ll go to work tomorrow
Sh*tfaced tonight
You’ll brag about it for months

Remember what I did
Remember what I was
Back on Halloween

It’s about how society only allows us to act differently one day a year (Halloween), while on the other 364, we have to go back to being “so afraid, what will people say.” Lead singer Jello Biafra also takes a moment to criticize people who brag about getting SOOOOOOOO WASTED LAST NIGHT, MAN, as if we should be proud of someone who ingested large amounts of liquid. He’s a very angry man.

“Halloween” by the Misfits

Obviously. “Halloween” was released 31 years ago, and it’s still F*CK YEAH. Last year, Danzig and the rest of the bastardized Misfits played a Halloween show in New York City (and I believe they’re doing the same again this year), but a part of me wishes every October 31st, Danzig would be “normal.” While everyone else dresses up as, well, him, he dresses up like everyone else. “Danzig goes to his day job in khakis” makes for a wonderful mental image, and a potential movie idea. Anything’s possible in this post-Ernest spinoff world of ours.

“Halloween” by Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie Sioux seems like the kind of person who howls at the moon. Just ’cause.

“Halloween in Heaven” by Type O Negative

So, what does a “Halloween in Heaven” look like, according to the gothic metal band?

Bonham on drums, Entwistle on bass as guest morticians
Bon Scott on Vox, Rhoads just for kicks
On guitar Hendrix, Lennon sits in
With his friend George, but where is Morrison?

“The Dead Walk the Streets on Halloween” by Greenbrier Lane

This should appeal to the Dropkick Murphys and Less Than Jake fan in all of us, without having to deal with the Boston Dropkick Murphys fans.

“Halloween” by the Coffinshakers

You’re restricting yourself to a very specific niche if you name your band the Coffinshakers, but luckily for them (and us), they’re more than worthy of their “haunting” moniker. “Halloween” is a Cramps-worthy rockabilly romp, with an at-times menacing Vincent Price-like inflection from singer Rob Coffinshaker. In that regard, they’re the Ramones of psychobilly.

“(Every Day Is) Halloween” by Ministry

I refuse to believe “(Every Day Is) Halloween” wasn’t used as the soundtrack for some mid-1980s cheap-looking horror movie, starring someone like Tim Curry or Corey Haim. I mean, COME ON:

Well I live with snakes and lizards
And other things that go bump in the night
‘Cause to me everyday is Halloween

I feel the same way about “Jesus Built My Hotrod,” too, though replace “1980s horror” with “1990s race car.”

“Halloween” by Helloween

OK, this one’s not scary in the slightest, but: HELLOWEEN. They’re the best. I mean, look at this:

Definitely my favorite German metal band with a holiday pun name, with only Yom Killpur even coming close.