Inevitably, after the softcore indulgences of autumn, spooky season must fall upon us. The annual “When Harry Met Sally” rewatch must be followed by a first-time “Rosemary’s Baby” viewing. “Autumn in New York” is a jazz tune that lasts as long as the changing leaves do, and the coffee order switch from “iced” to “hot” becomes less a delightful mark of the oncoming brisk weather, and more of a necessity to keep the blood in our fingers circulating.
As we welcome in week-long gray, wet storms, it’s hard to say which is more spooky: this abrupt change in weather marching slowly into Halloween and further climate anxiety, or the Michigan tendency to bring up the weather any chance we get.
So in an effort to redirect our attention to October’s main attraction, with cartoon depictions of skeletons and the appropriate excuse to play dress-up once a year, the music beat presents a playlist perfect for getting anyone ready for Halloween. With the tension of an Aphex Twin beat, the witchy house tracks of Crystal Castles, the haunting of Spelling’s beautiful vocals and the chaos of a noise rock song from Daughters — what better way to get in the spooky mood than to blindly press play on a playlist curated by college writers?
“Ocean Song” – Daughters
Often when thinking about Halloween and its accompanying seasonal mystique, there’s a duality of emotions at play. One of these involves the festive playfulness we attribute to the more juvenile qualities of the holiday, a sort of jubilant exploration of the macabre; the other is sheer terror. The noise rock and grindcore band Daughters must have had this in mind when releasing “Ocean Song” and its respective album only five days before Halloween. Perhaps it’s terrifying because of the absolutely crushing story of a man allowing the monster inside of him to take control, maybe it’s the endlessly organ-twisting dissonance of the guitars whose timbre sounds more like an electric screwdriver than a musical instrument, or possibly it’s the fact that both of these attributes are stretched out for over seven minutes. In any case, “Ocean Song” is quite easily one of the most terrifying songs I’ve ever heard. Frontman Alexis Marshall summons something potently evil from his monotonic delivery. It’s a song that claims that humanity is just a ticking time bomb, that deep down inside us all, there is a satan in the wait.
— Drew Gadbois, Music Senior Arts Editor
“Icct Hedral” – Aphex Twin
This track has an almost cartoon-ish video game quality to it as if it’s made for some darker version of the Luigi’s Mansion theme in Mario Kart. Layers of ominous synths and flute drift over tenebrous strings, building slowly into a kind of suspenseful harmony. Like much of Aphex Twin’s discography, “Icct Hedral” is unsettlingly off-kilter, its foreboding pulsations placing the listener into an otherworldly realm. It’s not exactly the type of song you’d throw on at a Halloween party (or maybe it is if you’re pretentious), but in my mind, its spine-chilling ambiance is clearly tailored to the season. Moreover, I would argue that the semi-disturbing album cover for …I Care Because You Do is undoubtedly a Halloween-friendly jump scare.
— Nora Lewis, Daily Arts Writer
“Phantom Pt. II” – Justice
While Halloween is a day to celebrate fear and spookiness, it’s, more importantly, a day to just have fun; few songs are as fun and intense as the spookily titled “Phantom Pt. II” from Justice’s 2007 debut album, Cross. Containing elements of electronic, rock and disco, “Phantom Pt. II” is texturally chaotic but rhythmically very orderly. The song is danceable and upbeat, but it’s also gritty and aggressive thanks to its assortment of brutally harsh synth timbres. Although French house musicians began making similarly rough-sounding music decades before Cross, Justice turned it up to 11 on their debut record. “Phantom Pt. II” is a dark and hectic song that exaggerates the gritty house sounds that influenced it, just as a good Halloween costume visually exaggerates the scariest features of its source material. It’s a spooky track, but more importantly, it’s just a blast to listen to.
— Jack Moeser, Daily Arts Writer
“Someone to Die For” – Belly
The opening guitar plucks of ’90s alt band Belly’s song “Someone to Die For” sound like the twinkling melodies that little porcelain ballerinas dance to in music boxes — only something is off. Minor notes skip off each other, settling an eerie, off-putting sensation in your bones as you listen. When Tanya Donelly begins singing in her whining, breathy voice, the haunting feeling only increases. “Poor thing,” Donelly addresses a mysterious subject. “Do you have a sister?” This seemingly innocent question takes a turn when she suddenly inquires, “Would you lay your body down on the tracks for her?” Throughout the entirety of the song, Donelly sings a series of questions over persistent guitar melodies, drawing out her words as if to provoke the listener. The track ends with Donelly repeating, “Don’t you have someone to die for?” — a question that would not be so spooky if the emphasis was put on the “someone,” rather than on the dying.
— Bella Greenbacher, Daily Arts Writer
“Haunted”- Taylor Swift
There’s nothing spookier than a past love that continues to haunt you even after you’ve ended things. From her 2010 album Speak Now, “Haunted” lives up to its title with heavy minor chords and mysterious strings backing Swift as she encounters the graveyard of a ruined relationship. On top of the fully-produced version of the song, Swift also released a chilling acoustic version of “Haunted” that places listeners in an intimate setting with Swift as she unloads the presence of a lingering nostalgia over a soft piano accompaniment. “Haunted” will have you remembering all the ghosts of past relationships this Halloween.
— Kaitlyn Fox, Music Beat Editor
“Street Pulse Beat” – Special Interest
Special Interest makes music for “a modern world gone mad.” “Street Pulse Beat” embodies this through its industrial punk sound. Special Interest’s vocalist Alli Logout’s screeching sounds command the listener to feel what she’s feeling. The song feels like walking into a house on fire or setting a house on fire. The track’s sound starts with an electronic industrial sound but gets faster with the distorted bass taking lead. This is the track for Devil’s Night, for breaking glasses and screaming at the top of your lungs.
— Katy Trame, Daily Arts Writer
“Wandering Star” – Portishead
It would be a crime to have a “spooky playlist” without including Portishead in some form, so someone had to step up and sacrifice originality to include the harrowing music of ’90s trip-hop. It’s haunting, it’s moving, it’s energetic, it’s sexy, it’s sad and it’s everything a soundtrack for a campy thriller set in the suburban Midwest wants to be.
— Conor Durkin, Daily Arts Writer
Listen to Daily Arts’ Spooky Playlist here.