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Emerald Recommends: What to play at your Halloween party

Halloween music is unarguably great. Though Christmas music can start getting old before the Thanksgiving turkey is cold on the table, funky and fun jams like Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” can get the party started any time of the year. What counts as Christmas music is obvious, but the nature of Halloween music is a little more ambiguous. From Siouxsie And The Banshees to Rihanna, pretty much any artist can fit into a Halloween playlist.

Here’s a playlist of classic Halloween picks and non-traditional favorites.


Ray Parker, Jr. – “Ghostbusters.” The best Halloween songs are often the funkiest, and the Ghostbusters theme is no exception. It’s also a song you’ll be hearing a lot more of soon with Paul Feig’s upcoming reboot next summer.

Michael Jackson – “Thriller.” Though he’s perhaps confusing thrillers with horror, the title track from Michael Jackson’s world-shattering magnum opus is as synonymous with zombies as Dawn of the Dead and Tina Belcher.

Bobby “Boris” Pickett – “Monster Mash.” Yes, you’ve likely heard it a hundred thousand times per October. But honestly, a Halloween playlist without “Monster Mash” is just kidding itself.


Rihanna – “Disturbia.” This classic deals with real-life scares like stress and anxiety, but it’s expressed through the language of horror, even sharing a title with a Shia LaBeouf horror flick from 2007.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put A Spell On You.” OG shock-rocker Jalacy Hawkins rode his batshit, drunken vocal performance of “I Put A Spell On You” to a successful career playing with skulls and emerging from coffins onstage.

Marilyn Manson – “This Is Halloween.” Marilyn Manson’s cover of The Nightmare Before Christmas’s eerie scene-scetter was the best rock/musical cinema pairing until Primus covered the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory soundtrack.


OutKast – “Dracula’s Wedding.” Even life in a haunted mansion can’t prepare the poor vampire of “Dracula’s Wedding” for the terror of the altar. And his bride, played by Kelis, doesn’t exactly reassure him (“so much at stake… oh, bad choice of words”).

The Who – “Boris The Spider.” Roger Daltrey squares off against a spider and one of the most skin-crawling choruses in musical history in this paranoid cut from the Who’s singles compilation Meaty Beaty Big & Bouncy.

Kate Bush – “Strange Phenomena.” Really any early Kate Bush song will do; she seems to cast spells with that bizarro voice of hers. But what better pick than the one where she’s actually singing an incantation?

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Meerah Powell

Meerah Powell