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20 Best Halloween Songs – Halloween Party Playlist for Adults
Thom Yorke – “Suspirium”
Because Radiohead’s Thom Yorke making the score for a Luca Guadagnino horror film is the best Halloween gift ever.
Julee Cruise – “Falling”
Because few songs conjure fear and paranoia better than the theme for David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.
Huey Lewis & the News – “Hip To Be Square”
AC/DC – “Who Made Who”
Because it’s the best part of Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive.
Q Lazzarus – “Goodbye Horses”
Because it’s impossible to hear this song and not think of the Buffalo Bill scene in Silence of the Lambs.
The Knife – “Silent Shout”
Because the club can be creepy too.
Tyler, the Creator – “Yonkers”
Because few people can create hip-hop as menacing as Tyler, the Creator. And if you throw this stunning music video on at your party, you’re bound to freak out the guests.
Ramones – “Pet Sematary”
Because while the guitars are tuned to the eighties, this is downright timeless: “I don’t want to be buried/in a Pet Sematary / I don’t want to live my life again.” Bonus factoid: The Ramones are name-checked in the Stephen King book and were subsequently commissioned to pen the film version’s theme song.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds feat. PJ Harvey – “Henry Lee”
Because nothing says Halloween quite like being stabbed with a pen-knife. Except maybe PJ Harvey’s voice, which happens to be here, too.
Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer”
Because the oversized David Byrne suit is an underrated Halloween costume.
Ryan Adams – “Halloweenhead”
Because Halloween dutifully stands in for the horrors of addiction on what might just be the second song we know about trick-or-treating in a red-light district.
Michael Jackson – “Thriller”
Because this is the preeminent Halloween pop song. If you could call horror-pop a genre, it’s a genre that started with Michael Jackson. Plus, the ’80s haven’t been this cool since the ’80s.
Robert Smith – “Witchcraft”
Because what’s scarier than Robert Smith jazz-scatting on a Sinatra classic? Even so, when he’s actually singing, every exaggerated syllable sounds suitably sinister.
Alison Krauss – “Ghost in This House”
Because whether you read it literally or as an analogy for the lovelorn, this is the most beautifully heartbreaking ghost story in country-music history.
Warren Zevon – “Werewolves In London”
Because as tempting as it is to include the Grateful Dead howling live on Halloween about this hairy, hairy Chow Mein-eating man, nothing quite touches the way Zevon unfurls the bit about Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen.
Willie Nelson – “Gravedigger”
Dave Matthews wrote it, but Willie, 74 at the time of recording, sells it.
Fiona Apple – “Werewolf”
Because while, admittedly, the “werewolf” in the title is too fleeting for this to be a true Halloween song, the way she uses a “full moon” reference to take some of the blame off a lover that left her for dead is a clever little slice of songwriting nonetheless.
The Flaming Lips – “Halloween on the Barbary Coast”
Because it’s the only song we know about trick-or-treating in a red-light district. And because we never noticed how much Wayne Coyne could sound like Perry Farrell.
Lyle Lovett – “Friend of the Devil”
Because who knew the devil wants your $20 bill? And because this is the definitive version of one of the best tributes to Satan ever.
Robert Johnson – “Hellhound on My Trail”
Because it’s important to remember that when you make a deal with the devil, he might just send hellhounds as bounty hunters.