Our writers choose six tunes for the spookiest time of year...
#1. ‘Lullaby’ - The Cure
Back in 1989 the Cure released possibly the creepiest song of their career, and in my opinion of all time, ‘Lullaby’. This ironically titled track, which was the Cure’s highest charting in the UK reaching number 5, is certainly not one I would go to sleep with, not unless you had a nightlight anyway. Nevertheless, Robert Smith is at his absolute best on ‘Lullaby’, his whisperings of “the spiderman is having me for dinner tonight” send shivers down necks and hairs prick up at the sound of Smith’s Spiderman “looking for the victim shivering in bed”.
The guitar work, accompanied by strings and piano, creates an almost hypnotic melody to accompany the spooky storytelling. Smith has offered contrasting comments on ‘Lullaby’’s lyrical content, which mostly centre around childhood nightmares or abuse; however, fans previously speculated that Smith’s inspiration may have come from drug addiction or depression which may have inspired lyrics such as “its much too late to get away or turn on the light”. Lullaby is clearly suited to spooky settings, with its music video portraying Robert Smith appearing at his own window to haunt his nightmares alongside the hit being used in an episode of American Horror Story. ‘Lullaby’ is clearly one spooky song that I would not recommend listening to after turning out the light, because “the spiderman is always hungry”…
#2. ‘Disturbia’ - Rihanna
Making the yearly Halloween playlist has become just as much as a tradition for me as wearing a costume is for kids. Sadly, I find a lot of the typical Halloween songs out there just a little underwhelming (come on, ‘Thriller’ isn’t really THAT good?)
The one track which will always make an appearance for me is Rihanna’s ‘Disturbia’. To be honest, I have no real clue what she is on about in the 4 minutes of spooky perfection, although I do remember her playing a mad woman in the music video – which was bizarrely released in December 2009.
‘Disturbia’ succeeds where a lot of other Halloween tracks fail in finding the middle ground between a song that is club-ready and theatrical at the same time. It’s just as ready for pre-drinks as a kids party. The track went to Number 1 in the U.K. and the U.S. and is certified over six times Platinum across the states.
A slight drawback in the bop’s appeal is that Chris Brown is a credited co-writer, his treatment of Rihanna at the time being public knowledge. So I’m happy to keep my enjoyment of the track a yearly affair…
#3. ‘It’s Almost Halloween’ - Panic! at the Disco
Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of men quite like video evidence of their unfortunate emo phase. Panic! at the Disco members (and ex-members) must be unable to watch the home video style music video for their classic seasonal hit ‘It’s Almost Halloween’.
Dressed as the inevitable werewolf, vampire, mummy, and Frankenstein’s Monster, the emo band have a bit of a jig in a forest. If you’re looking for spooktacular music for the spooky season, you might want to give this relic of Halloween Past a miss. MJ’s ‘Thriller’, it certainly is not. It’s actually probably closer to the ‘Monster Mash’ in tone, complete with easy to learn dance which is sure to be a hit at any Halloween party this October. Just gather up a few old emos who might remember this song’s release way back in 2008, and there’s a pretty good chance they’ll have the moves stored away right next to the lyrics for ‘20 Dollar Nose Bleed’.
Regardless of how low quality the video is, or indeed how absolutely ridiculous the lyrics are, ‘It’s Almost Halloween’ has a special place in my heart. It’s the perfect tune to gear you up for a month of dodging fake cobwebs and costume planning. Spooky enough to get you in the spooky mood, but chipper enough so that blasting it on October 1st doesn’t result in judgemental stares from disapproving friends.
#4. : ‘Splatter’ - Stolen Babies
It was hard to pick one song from Stolen Babies, the first band I think of when I think ‘Halloween music’. Sporting clown greasepaint and cabaret costumery, the Californian circus metal band performs aggressive, sardonic tunes, and ‘Splatter’ (from their 2012 album Naught) is no exception.
The song’s a comical exterior that’s horrific on the inside. It starts off with a guitar riff in the style of a B-movie soundtrack, but at the end of each measure, distorted, atonal chaos bursts from the seams.
Dominique Persi’s half-spoken vocals come in after that, rising to abrasive growls for the chorus: “take the knife, twist it in”. Her manic contralto matches the main riff in theatrical flair, while her accordion plays in the offbeats, adding a carnivalesque energy.
Through the bridge there’s a touch of melancholy, as a mournful accordion line plays over strummed minor chords. Then the chaos returns with a vengeance: over Dominique’s gritty screams, a dramatic guitar riff ranges up and down, slap bass and drums chugging out the rhythm with increasing urgency.
The band builds excruciating anticipation between albums - six years between There Be Squabbles Ahead and Naught, and coming up to seven years between Naught and The Stolen Babies, their 2019 outing. ‘Splatter’s not only a great Halloween track: it also promises a spine-chilling future.
Jess Taylor Weisser
#5.‘Gravedweller’ - The Wytches
‘Gravedweller’ certainly isn’t a paradoxical title for this gloomy psych record from ‘surf-doom’ trio The Wytches. The loose murky bass unquestionably sets the tone for my own Hallows’ Eve.
The band have a penchant for the ghoulish and unnerving, their lyrics conjuring imagery straight out of the pages of a Victorian gothic novel, satisfying any remnants of our own 2k7 emo souls *brushes side fringe away and puts down black nail polish*. The Wytches’ whole 2014 debut album Annabel Dream Reader serves as a pretty hellish (in the best kind of way of course) playlist for a Halloween party, but this track in particular pushes you straight down the infernal rabbit hole with its psychedelic heavy guitars.
Lead vocalist Kristian Bell wails down the mic “Well they are coming after me...” and you find yourself incessantly looking over your own shoulder just in case his cries have transcended. The track is eerie enough to cause a momentary spook whilst calling out for some pretty good headbanging; you’re in for a good’un.