By Elliot Alpern, Daily Music Columnist
Published November 1, 2013
Yes, I’m well aware that Halloween was officially last night. But really, what are holidays, besides excuses to get even drunker than usual? And everyone knows that the hardcore partying gets done on the weekend, as we don our last and greatest costumes to toast to another Halloween successfully celebrated.
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And yet, putting together the playlist for your classic Halloween party is harder than it sounds. Sure, you’d assume, just throw on some “Monster Mash” and other long-time classics together, and put it on shuffle. But when the ghosts are dancing at zombie pace, and the zombies are passed out in boredom from another play through of the “Mash,” you’ll realize that it’s harder than it looks. So, with that in mind, here are a few suggestions …
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
I list this first because, to me, it’s arguably the most important track to include. Look, I know it’s not the kind of song that will have everyone jumping with ecstasy — but it serves a vital function. “Superstition” is the change of pace, when we’re tired of horror-themed rap and timeless classics. The drums start us off, drawing in those curious about what Billboard-topper this could be. But then that classic guitar lick starts up, and even the freshmen will start grooving (if they managed to make it in, that is).
“Monster” by Kanye West
I shouldn’t have to explain too much why “Monster” is a Halloween staple. Terror-striking rap hit? Jay-Z spitting lines about goblins and ghouls? Add this, and don’t think twice about it. (“Black Skinhead” deserves a mention here, with some seriously ominous drums giving way to a tense, dark beat.)
“DARE” or “All Alone” by Gorillaz
“DARE” is the bigger hit here, so it makes sense that this is the Gorillaz song you want to add. It works well enough as a dance track, while still building that creepy vibe as forlorn vocals fade into the background (and, for the record, the video is pretty damn strange). “All Alone” can’t be ignored though — that first guitar bait sounds like a villain’s entrance song, yet it’s fast enough to feel the beat through the floorboards. And is there anything scarier than truly being all alone?
Anything from the “Moon” side of the Bravery’s The Sun and the Moon
If you’re alt-oriented, definitely go for the “Moon Version” of the Bravery’s better hits. “Believe” adds a spooky organ that feels like an Addams Family rock special, and “This Is Not the End” brings in a subtly scary guitar line. It’s as if the Bravery wanted its own Halloween album, and simply added it as a B-side.
A remix of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
Everyone plays “Thriller” as their centerpiece at Halloween — your friends, your co-workers, your grandma. And likewise, everyone expects it. But put a party veteran’s twist on it — maybe try to find a dubstep version, or at least something with synths that bust through during the chorus. No more minute-and-a-half where we awkwardly dance to the narrator’s ending monologue, at the very least.
“Scatta” and “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex
I mean, the latter has the word “monster” right in the title! I know it’s a bit stale by now, but hey, maybe it’s finally old enough to make a resurgence. If not, at least add “Scatta” — whatever that is in the background that sounds like an electronic organ gives it that tense Halloween flavor.
“Crying Lightning” and “R U Mine?” by the Arctic Monkeys; “Howlin’ for You” by the Black Keys
This is where it gets down more to personal preference, but as some rock filler for the playlist, these three serve equally well. The Arctic Monkeys have mastered, among other things, the ability to infuse a song with some darkness.